Friday, 4 April 2014

Product review: Dixon Drums

Hey, well seeing as I am having the motherload of hits I should keep adding things to this blog! Ok so today comes from my experience with Dixon drums. Many may know them as cheap hardware makers etc, but they have been now making drums for some time. My first experience was the black widow series of drums that I saw at the london drum show back in 2011, but I never tried them.... I dont know why. They just didn't jump out at me. Now forward to 2013 when I walk into bell percussion in london to trade in a DW snare and with some extra cash looking for a new snare. Now I already have a nice range myself. A pearl masterworks, free floating, traps a400, albermore custom etc, but I wanted something special. One such snare that was shown to me was a Dixon Classics Cherry. It was apparently (after some messaging) a one off prototype in response to being asked to make an affordable cherry snare drum. So after playing most snares in the store (and it coming to a tie between this and a luddy), i was just so overwhelmed by the snare that I bought it. So I took it home. Fast forward to this year and I finally get to play on a set, a dixon fuse at omega music. Here is what I thought from the snare and drum experience (I will not review the snare on the kit, as it will just seem confusing reviewing the cherry classic and the kit one):

Build
The snare is a BEAUTIFUL natural cherry with transparent lacquer with 20 low mass lugs. The inside shows a darker and just as stunning natural cherry. The snare is just beautiful. The lacquer perfectly showcasing the dark natural wood and all its grain. The hoops are triple flanged and the strainer is a basic but eloquent one. It came with proper evans heads, not cheap UT heads, the real deal, which was a nice bonus. It came with dixons own 20 strand wires which from what I could tell (and still today) are a rather nice affair.

The kit was simply stunning. Matte silver hardware and beautiful satin finishes. This whole thing oozed class. I was shocked to find it was just a "performance grade" kit aimed at beginners or a step up kit. From any angle it looks professional. The only sign that it was a lower end kit was the 12 lug bass drum on the jazz kit and the 16 lug kick on the 22. However this is really nitpicking. The kit was amazing to me. The tom mount was a professional affair with ball and socket tomholders and the tom suspension was similar to that on my ludwig. The legs and floor tom feet were the same gibraltar style versions seen on many kit, and seem to do the job nicely enough. The heads were an own branded kind, and although I think I would change them out quite quickly, they were good enough to showcase the sound of this kit.

Hands-on.
Well the snare... To say I am obsessed is an understatement. I did the usual three tuning ranges that I learnt off drum center portsmouth videos, and with the help of a trusty drumdial quickly had it tuned in. At low tunings it held a lovely sloppy sound, perfect for blues and some rock. The overtones was controlled and pleasant. Tuning it up to mid way gave a lovely all rounding sound with plenty of crack, with many of the overtones staying. I found this great for most genres, especially rock. Then I tuned it up high which gave it utterly piercing rim shots, and an amazing sensitivity. I at one point after hitting it and letting the sound die away, placed my drum key on it to get a drink and it bounced right off! Then finally I tuned it into my personal tone, an almost slack resonant and not-quite cranked batter. Immediately after hitting it I just sat there. I remember just being shocked at how amazing it sounded. Full of woody tone, It was that perfect woody thonk sound. It was sensitive, and it screamed "hit me". It had amazing warm overtones, perfect woody crack and shocking sensitivity. To say I am obsessed is an understatement.

The kit... wow. Firstly the 22". The misleading thing about this is the sites picture states 20 lug kick. Sadly this is not the case, it sticks with 16. But upon playing I no longer cared. Both kits projected a heavenly woody tone, that at no matter what tuning always sounded consistent and with a sound deeper than expected. The overtones again were controlled and pleasant and no matter what tuning I played it in it performed perfectly. I then decided to try them in my own tuning, and whilst the 22" sounded good, it was the 18" that sounded GREAT. Everything tuned high they responded perfectly both to my brushes and sticks. I just sat there and mouthed "this is it.... this is the perfect sound". Honestly I fell in love with it. I wish that I had gotten to try a 20" bass drum as they are my ideal size, but from what I tried, I loved.

Verdict:
The snare stole my heart. I am utterly obsessed with it. It sits proudly as my main snare with a remo active snare gate on it and I cant think of a better snare. The kit? Well lets just say if they gave me just the bare basic 12 lug jazz kit, no hardware and the basic heads and said: you can have this if you continue to review and demo on site and in stores/drum shows, I would have it in a heartbeat and never need another kit again. However that is just a dream, so sadly with no money I had to part the kit that stole my heart. But I THOROUGHLY recommend these kits to anyone reading. To the (now thousands :D) of readers, hope you enjoyed the review :)
Oli

Friday, 7 March 2014

What to bring to a rehearsal or audition?

I get asked this a lot. Many people go to band auditions or rehersals and either come over prepared and bring a ginormous kit and spend half an hour setting up, or dont bring enough and let the music suffer because of this. When I get asked what I bring I tend to just say "whatevers necessary". If you are going to a band audition, a first impression doesn't start with the playing but with the communication. Make sure you know the style they play so you know how much is appropriate. If they want a hair metal drummer then by all means bring a full kit. But if they say "oh were a five piece folk band" dont turn up with your giant kit. They wont be impressed, more likely think "oh gods an over the top too loud drummer who is taking up the entire practice area with his ego drum kit". I play in a 3-5 piece blues band with variable lineup. Now for practice and my audition I bring the same. I turn a floor tom on its side, bring a snare, hi hats and a crash ride. I then bring brushes and sticks and a pedal. This is all that is needed, and for most auditions this will do too. Even a rock band, because a steady rock beat is what drives a band, and if you can get through a whole set with just this you are more likely to impress them with your versatility under such a restrictive setup. Bringing brushes (in anything other than metal. Seriously even rock) is a MUST. You dont know how loud the band will be, and you dont want to deafen everyone. Plus the proper use of brushes again shows both a willingness to adapt to the bands music and even more versatility in the way you play. Plus it opens up whole new sounds for the restrictive set up you use.
So the big ones are:

1) Dont bring too much or too little.
2) Communication is key!
3) Bring a spare parts bag. This is common sense!
4) Brushes!!!


Follow those four steps and good luck on your next audition!
Peace and goodwill!

2k views!!!

Wow! I neglected this page and come back to find 2k views! Good grief I must be doing something right! Thanks everyone! Well im doing a new post tonight, and upcoming will be a review hopefully on flix drumsticks that I plan to get. If anyone is in the UK, my band will be gigging again shortly, so come check us out! Dates will be on here :) Thanks again!
Peace and goodwill!

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Apology

Hey guys and gals, thanks for lovely comments about what to add, sorry I neglected it for a month, had things to sort out. So whats new? Well Im back in a band! Yes, that's right, I am still doing the session work with the amazing Stuart on the side but I have now also joined a full fledged band, rather nice eh? Got myself a new snare, custom made and designed for my specs using 4 ply beech with re rings. Utterly amazing. One last thing before I go and start working on new posts for tomorrow:

Check out these guys, They are british, which lets face it is awesome! And they seem to be putting out some really rather nice gear. Have only heard a few samples but from those they seem to already be damn good. They don't seem to be falling prey to the "gimmicks" a lot of companies seem to do which is also fresh. From what I can see the quality really is there, and one day I may hold one to be able to test the quality of them in a live situation and check bearing edges and give the usual thorough blog review. But for now, check the drum port out, especially the vintage ludwig barber style acrylic snare!

https://www.facebook.com/northcustomdrums



So yeah, peace out readers!
Oli

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Cymbal Review: Istanbul cymbal review

Well, I recently was given, to keep, a full set of Istanbul Samatya cymbals, so I decided to do a review, with a bonus one at the end. So first what do I have to review:
14" Istanbul Samatya Hi-hats
16" Istanbul Samatya crash
18" Istanbul Samatya crash
20" Istanbul Samatya ride

So, lets get started:
Hi-hats. I found these rather fantastic. They are heavy cymbals and mean you get a beautifully crisp sound out from them with a lovely washy sound when opened. They had great stick definition and were quite bouncy. I really enjoyed these, they were very pronounced and quite bright despite their weight. Overall, I really enjoyed these.

16" crash. I loved this, very bright and immediate response. The decay wasn't too long but the overtones were lovely. It's quite a dark sounding cymbal, the hand hammering was because of this.

18" crash. A lot like the previous but with a deeper tone and slightly longer decay. It had an almost gong like property, still much darker than standard crashes of this size.

20" Ride. Amazingly pingy ride. Lots of wash and rather heavy. A very dark sounding cymbal with excellent stick definition. It's a fairly controlled cymbal and the ride doesn't get away from you. Has plenty of overtones and a very bright sounding bell.

Bonus Review:
Istanbul 20" Sultan heavy ride. Now this is an interesting cymbal. It is the darkest ride I have ever played. Hitting the bell produces a gong like sound that cuts through any piece of music, and playing the actual ride results in a washy dark sounding ride. Personally the best sounding ride I have ever tried. It is also totally uncrashable due to its sheer weight. Hitting near the bell creates quite a bright tone, near the centre creates the lovely dark ride sound, and near the bow brings a very washy uncontrollable sound, great as a crash ride.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Review: DrumPort

Well, I have had this now for a few months so I think now is time for a full blown review. Most people by now realize I am quite an old fashioned drummer. I don't like a kit more than 5 drums, I like vintage gear and I like rounded bearing edges. I also don't like any drum longer than 14". So stuck in my old ways I was very skeptical when I first saw the drumport at the london drum show, but being inquisitive I had to go take a look. It was then that I first heard it and immediately I was hooked. Beyond its very modern look it gave something very vintage. The best way to describe it is a really tight ambassador choked and with a felt strip and a reso the same. The dull thud on vintage bass drums. Except it gives a bonus, it keeps the tone. This way you get the vintage thud and keep a lovely rich deep tone making it sound like a few inches bigger. For instance my 20x14 is genuinely comparable to a 24x14. Just tapping the funnel gives a nice deep tone, but a good old bury the beater produces a much sought after deep thud.
So is it like resonantless bass drum or a ported bass drum? Well.... neither. Its utterly unique. Its something you really have to try. Whether you want the old school vintage sound without having to use loads of dampening, or to just boost the sound of your bass drum, go for it.
10/10

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

PICCIES!!!

Yep, I just found the picture icon haha, so you can now enjoy your fav blog posts with new fresh pictures, ENJOY!!!
Oli