I spent the last day of our NAMM adventure this year just sort of absorbing the show floor. The crowd was huge on Saturday and it was difficult to maneuver around the area’s that were concentrated around drums and drumming. Especially around the Pearl Booth starting around 4pm. Tommy Lee from Motley Crue made an autograph appearance and the crowd was huge (the line for this started forming around noon, 12:30):
So I started at one end of the convention center and made my way around the entire show floor. (I even hit the basement “E” hall which provided nothing of interest but a less crowded environment)
One of the trends I noticed through the course of the show was the fact that there are a lot more e-kit’s popping up.
Behringer has entered the marked with a series of E-Kits, not listed on their website yet. Sitting down at these briefly – I couldn't help but compare them to the myriad of knockoffs and cheaply made electronic kits I’d seen throughout the course of the show:
They felt pretty much like this cheap kit:
So I ended up on a mission – to find the best feeling pad I could find on any e-kit that also fell into the inexpensive category.
Top of the rung is always going to be Roland – so I went back to their booth and fiddled around on the TD30 kit for a bit. The drums themselves are essentially the same as on the TD20, which I played on for several years at rehearsals. While the feel of the drums is better than a hard rubber pad of lower end kits, I’ve always felt that mesh heads had a little too much rebound. They are not, however, inexpensive.
Note: This photo was from earlier in the show.
Yamaha would have to be second on the list. The Textured Cellular Silicone heads from their higher end e-kits introduced a few years ago have to me a much better feel than Roland’s mesh heads, with more give than a rubber head, which is easier on the wrists in my opinion. They are also not in the “inexpensive” category.
Note: This photo was taken earlier in the show.
Pearls E-Pro series of kits, and now the availability of the Tru-Trac heads outside of the kits themselves, are a close third, however, they feel a little too dead to me – not quite enough stick rebound for my taste. I have yet to find any definitive pricing on the the Tru-Track head pack as of yet however I would like to see the availability of individual heads versus being stuck with a pack.
Next up was Alesis’s RealHead pads. I like the concept and the feel is almost right but not quite. Stick rebound felt a bit sluggish, for lack of a better term, though they had a little more than then Pearl heads. Rolls were adequate and might have been improved by adjusting the sensitivity at the module but the feel really just wasn't quit there. They are however, one of the cheaper configurations out there, with a 10” dual zone pad coming in around $150.
The last specific pad I’m going to touch on here is from Pintech. Pintech really didn’t have much of a presence short some rack space in the Duallist booth. The ConcertCast EZ Tune Dual Zone Mesh Pad was probably the best feeling most responsive pad I played on. The rebound was not quite as extreme as the Roland mesh heads but more realistic feeling and “alive” than the Alesis, Yamaha, or Pearl pads. Forget rubber anything if drawing a comparison here.
There were e-kits abound outside of the above manufacturers. The only real distinct brand being 2Box. Mark II, Behringer (see mention above) and more than a handful of cheap warehouse/department store brands. Some overlapped which means that somewhere overseas there is a factory cranking out e-kits that are cheap and basically crap – and bad for kids or adults to be using. Since I’m not really reviewing anything here, just sharing the day I spent at the show, I won’t get into my real opinions on these just yet.
So after I accomplished that mission, the only other goal I had was to wander about and check out the small drum manufacturers and see what was left. SJC, Truth, Pork Pie, all had booths – missing (unless I was blind) was OCDP and a handful of others that had popped up and drifted off in the last few years. Higher end quality offerings from Odery, Dunnett, C&C, Craviotto and others were also present.
Lastly I want to hit on Brady Drums. I have a fondness for these drums even though I will probably never be able
to afford a kit from them. They are genuinely some of the finest handcrafted drums I have ever laid eyes on and the kits and snares I’ve heard are phenomenal sounding drums. I stopped by the booth several times to say hello and snap some quality photos throughout the show, and on this third day I stayed until 4:30 for their press conference. The press conference was to introduce, for the first time in the 30+ years of Brady’s existence, their first endorsing artist, Shannon Forrest.
And that was really the end of the show for me and my wanderings. I’m not going to do a full show “review” per se, but more of an opinion piece later this week, where I will touch on various things I saw and noticed throughout the show.