Product Review: SuperDrum12 14×8 Chrome Snare

by Omar on April 15, 2012

in Product Review

Disclosure: TheParadiddler.com received this product free of charge for review purposes. However, TheParadiddler.com is not compensated in any way for sales of said product. We recommend that you do your own independent research before purchasing anything. Of course, since my business rests completely on my reputation, I can't afford to recommend anything that isn't fantastic quality. - Omar Alvarado, The Paradiddler

Of all the shells on a drummer’s kit, none evoke more passion than the snare drum.  The sound is as unique as the drummer playing it, and you can perform an entire solo on it and still wow an audience (a la Buddy Rich).  Can't really say that about any other drum in the kit!

Being that the case, there are not only drum companies that make entire kits, but also those that specialize just in snare drums.  TheParadiddler.com has focused a little bit on drummers’ fascination with the snare.  The article “Leave That Snare Alone!” expounded on the uniqueness of the drum and why some companies dedicate all their energy to the snare.

Because of the aforementioned uniqueness, drummers are presented with a plethora of choices for snare sound.  Of course, there’s the stock snare that comes with a typical kit, but sometimes it’s just not enough.  It may be that the stock snare is not ‘sensitive’ enough, or lacks ‘attack’, or is too sensitive to drum buzz from another drum in the kit, or is difficult to tune, etc.  Over time a drummer tends to gravitate to a specific sound they like, perhaps first being influenced by their drum heroes, and then later by experimenting themselves.

Although it’s recommended that the rest of the kit be of the same material and brand to maintain a consistent ‘timbre’ throughout, the same does not necessarily apply to the snare, since its sound and purpose is so pronounced and distinct.  It is very common for a drummer to have one or two kits, but have several different snare drums, of varying sizes and material.

In my case, I currently am using two snares:  a DW Pacific FS 14x5 birch (most of the time), and a 13x5 metal snare (also by DW Pacific).  These for sure are not the top of the line, since I find them a little difficult to tune, and they are very sensitive to snare buzz (especially from the 10” tom).  I even replaced the snares on the birch snare with Puresound snare wire.  I do find the drum sounding slightly better and a little bit more responsive, but it still remains a little difficult to tune, and the drum buzz also remains.

As many drummers are wont to do, I find myself perusing the snares at the local music store, and online.  I'm always looking for something different - not radically, but enough to draw attention to it (such as the Off-Set double bass pedal).  I saw an ad for the SuperDrum12, and I was immediately drawn to it.  Twelve lugs (on each side, actually) - really?  Is all that necessary?  Well, Bernard Purdie is a SuperDrum12 fan, so that automatically makes this company worth at least some consideration.  So I contacted the head man at SuperDrum12, Dave "Bedrock" Bedrosian, to see if he could send me a drum to review. What I got is a masterpiece of a drum - the SuperDrum12 14x8 chrome snare.

The company makes several models, made of chrome, maple, and brass.  The 14x8 chrome snare is one of the newer models.  Unboxing this snare revealed a shiny (and heavy!) drum that screamed "Hit me!  Hit me!"  I was only too happy to oblige.  I was eager to try a different sound to mesh with the rest of my birch kit, besides my obvious birch snare.  Every one of my drum covers up to this point were played with my birch snare (except my cover of Yes' "Future Times/Rejoice" (long ago), where I also use the 13x5 metal snare).  This monster was a complete departure from what I had.

All I wanted to do was just put the drum in place, and start playing.  I'm really not into all the technical details - does it sound good?  Does it feel responsive?  Good enough for me!  However, for those who like technical details, here are some:

  •       gleaming chrome finish
  •      45 degree bearing edge
  •      12 heavy duty lugs top and bottom with rubber shock gaskets (24 total)
  •      2.3 mm triple chromed hoop
  •      steel tension rods and teflon washers
  •      smooth, fast and quiet snare throw off
  •      20 wire snares standard
  •      all lugs doubly secured and washer reinforced
  •      unsurpassed clarity, articulation and response
  •      capable of extreme dynamic levels-very loud to very soft with superior aural image

Right out of the box, without any tuning, the drum was extremely responsive, and very easy to play.  It just seemed like the sticks bounced easily off the head, probably due to the more even tuning of 12 lugs.  I also noticed that it plays very loud, and very soft - lots of dynamic range.  And of course, the sound was incredible.

And there's the rub, really - it sounds incredible.  Remember that snares are as individual as the drummers who play them?  To me, this drum has character.  It projects well beyond the kit due to its size and solid construction.  Because of said construction, the sound is very detailed and articulate - it does what you want it to do.  And ultimately, for any part of the kit, be it the shells, heads, cymbals, gear, whatever - in the end, it's about how it all feels.  And this snare feels great.

Tuning

I got to discussing this snare a bit with a fellow drummer and they quipped that it would take forever to tune 12 lugs (actually, 24 lugs).  At first I thought that they may have a case, so I actually went ahead and removed both heads from the shell - hoops, tension rods and all - to start from scratch.  I then proceeded to put everything back together until I got all the tension rods finger tight.  I predetermined which rods I would cross-tighten, so-to-speak, using the following pattern:

1 - 7

3 - 9

5 - 11

2 - 8

4 - 10

6 - 12

I always try to determine a base, or starting point tuning, and then adjust from there.  I really like what Bob Gatzen mentions in the video Bob Gatzen - Snare Drum Tuning, where he tunes the resonant side head to a pitch of 'A' and the batter side to a pitch of 'C' (or 'C sharp').  This leaves the drum at somewhat of a 'default' setting, if you will, and you can always adjust from there to your liking.  Now, you would think that a drum with this many lugs would take a long time to tune and to get to the desired pitch, but in fact the opposite was true.  As I followed my predetermined pattern for tuning, I noticed that tapping near each lug after each go-around produced a very uniform pitch, with very little deviation if any.  This allowed me to quickly get to the pitch I was looking for, and when I got there, there was very little adjustment left to do.  It actually took me less time to tune the drum to the desired pitch than my other two snares, which have less lugs.

I credit the ease in tuning to the high level of construction of the drum.  Everything is very tight and well-reinforced, so once you get to your preferred pitch, it stays there.  I also really like the snare throw-off.  It's very smooth and opens all the way down (180 degrees) - those snares are not touching that resonant head.  I also was very pleased to discover that there was virtually no drum buzz when I played on the 10" tom - that was music to my ears!

Of course, now I had to record the drum in action, so the last two drum covers that I performed (as of this review) featured the SuperDrum12 14x8 chrome snare.  I took a couple of slightly different approaches regarding tuning for each cover.  For "Dancing with the Moonlit Knight/The Musical Box", I pretty much left the tuning as mentioned above, while adding one Moongel to reduce some of the overtones of the drum.  I'm not always a fan of overtones, and many times I'll use two or three Moongels.  But this drum sounded so good that I didn't want to drown out its character, so one was enough.  This allowed the drum to shine through the many dynamic changes that went on in the medley, and it sounded as good as any snare I've ever played on.

For "Parasite", I lowered the tuning of the batter head a little (about a quarter turn at each lug) to slightly fatten the sound, since it would suit the pure Rock feel of the song.  Even tuned down just a bit, the response from the head was still very high, so even though the sound was a little 'fatter', the rebound action off the head still felt 'fast'.  And if you compare the aforementioned videos to my cover of "The Analog Kid", you may notice that the snare is a little 'muddier' than the SuperDrum12, somewhat less articulate.

In conclusion, I think this snare drum is an absolute winner.  It tunes very easily, and the feel is outstanding.  It has incredible dynamic range, and I think would sit very comfortably in many drumming genres.  And at just $299, this might be the steal of the snare world.  I love snares so much that I may give ten out of ten paradiddles to more of them than I should, but there's definitely no doubt about this one - it's on that list.

SuperDrum12 official web site

SuperDrum12 on Facebook


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