June 11, 2007

Gear Review: PDP 6"x10" 805 Series snare drum

I'm in a band that plays R&B and hip-hop music, and I'm a drummer who happens to be quite particular with sound quality. With my band K24/7, I always thought of adding a small snare drum which would complement our style of music and simulate some of the electronic snare drum sounds processed on many R&B and hip-hop recordings.

Lyric Music is now distributing DW and PDP (Pacific Drums and Percussion) products here in our country. I'm glad that Lyric thought of bringing in a good selection of PDP products; snare drums in particular. I appreciate the fact that there are a good number of snare drum choices, in regards to shell sizes, materials, and finishes. And I'm glad they realized that small, auxiliary snare drums (in particular, 10" "popcorn" snares) are becoming more common nowadays. Talk about great timing! Last April, I purchased a 6"x10" PDP 805 Series snare drum.

The way I see it, the 805 Series is PDP's "base model" snare drum line. Its overall quality is decent enough for professional use (knowing that PDP is DW's sister company; so PDPs have some of those DW traits). Value-wise, buying an 805 snare drum isn't gonna cost us drummers an arm and a leg, which is a cool thing that most drummers will appreciate (because drumming can be quite expensive). The 805 snares are available in hybrid maple-and-hardwood (maple inner and outer plies) and chrome-over-steel shells.

And now, about the 6"x10" 805 snare... Aesthetics-wise, this is an attractive little drum. There are many finishes to choose from. Hardware finishes include chrome, black, and even red and white! The PDP website (linked below) only shows a few examples, but there are actually various shell/hardware combination finishes available. I want the all-black finish, but Lyric didn't have it on stock. So I chose the orange finish with black hardware, which still looks cool. I thought the finish is too wild for my taste (I prefer more elegant-looking finishes), but later on I appreciated how it looks. It never fails to attract other people's attention whenever I set this up on our gigs. Its finish makes this drum stand out in any setup. It also looks like a toy drum, which I think is cool.

But wait 'til you hear how this little dynamite sounds. This little drum pops and cracks, and this is how 10" snare drums are meant to sound like. Naturally, its sound is in the higher voice ranges. One major asset of this drum is its volume. I don't need to mic this drum during our bar gigs. Its sound can really cut through. This is a great side snare drum which will work on "groove" genres, such as hip-hop, R&B, funk, drum n' bass, pop, and many more. Though its use is not limited to these musical styles. It's also up to one's creativity and imagination. This drum may not work as a primary/main snare drum; but it's a great choice for a secondary/auxiliary snare drum.

This drum came with stock PDP drumheads - a one-ply medium coated batter and a one-ply medium clear snare side head. Before I bought this drum, I read its online reviews first; and most say that this drum works best with high/tight tuning on both top and bottom heads. I tried that, and I definitely agree. With tight tuning, the true voice and character of this drum really shouts out. I tune the batter head a bit tighter than the snare side head. I don't crank the snare side head too much because when I do, it chokes the drum. I want to give it some breathing space, since this drum is meant to be used for plenty of accented backbeats.

Sound is pretty good, though I felt that this drum has more potential. Better-quality drumheads can greatly help. I replaced the stock batter with an Evans G2 coated head, which is a 2-ply model. Thanks to the G2 head, its sound became rounder and more full-bodied. The beat-up stock batter produced a thinner sound. The G2 head is doing a great job. A quality single-ply batter such as an Evans G1 or a Remo Ambassador will surely work well for this drum. I'm also sure that a quality snare side head will bring out more sensitivity. The stock snare side head seems to be too thick. I should order a quality snare side head.

The set of snare wires is a basic 16-strand model. The snare throw-off mechanism is simple to use and effective. I set the strainer mechanism in a medium-to-tight setting. If it's quite loose, the throw-off has the tendency to drop whenever strong backbeats are played. So better set it up right if you don't want the snares to "turn off" in the middle of a song.

With the snares turned off and with tight tuning, this drum can also simulate timbales, which is an added bonus for this drum. Drummers who play plenty of ska, reggae, and Latin-style music, or to those who want an alternative, timbale-like drum, take note!

This drum has a built-in mounting bracket, so that you can set it up anywhere on the drumkit using an L-arm mount. Take note: this drum can only accommodate 10.4mm-sized L-arms (which is standard on DWs and PDPs). And that means thicker L-arms from other drum manufacturers won't fit on this drum's mount. A snare drum stand which can accommodate a 10" drum can do. I prefer mounting this drum on a stand. Its mounting bracket is directly screwed to the drum shell. And with constant backbeats, I'm afraid that if this drum is mounted on an L-arm, the mounting bracket might "give in" and damage the shell sooner or later. I would perhaps mount it if only it has a suspension mount.

Overall, this is a very fun drum to play. I don't think this drum is for everybody. But for certain drummers and for certain musical applications, this can be a great addition to one's drum arsenal. And the best part: its price. Investing on one is not a pain in the wallet. The maple+hardwood hybrid wood shell 6"x10"s cost only Php4K, while the chrome-over-metal 6"x10"s cost only Php6K! Bang for the buck indeed. For me, this is a wonderful add-on to my equipment, and it's great that I don't need to shell out so much of my hard-earned money. My bandmates and everyone who has seen and heard it are digging it. Sound-wise, quality-wise, value-wise, and in terms of "fun", I'm happy with this drum.

Musicplayers.com review of PDP 805 snare drums
Musiciansfriend.com reviews of 6"x10" PDP 805 snare drums