Drum review part II: Yamaha Club Custom kit with 24” bass drum: It’s good. How good?

Now we get into forensic detail and a classic T Bruce Wittet editorial on the Yamaha Club Custom review kit. Nine out of ten.

How do you decide which drums to buy? Let’s say you’ve got $2,500 US saved up. What do you buy?

That’s roughly the cost of the kit I was sent for review by Sean Browne, Yamaha Canada marketing head.

You go to Google and you type “review Yamaha Club Custom”. You quickly realize that most web reviews are not, in fact, reviews. There are notable exceptions, the Memphis Drum Shop video drum/cymbal reviews chief among them. They are eminently reliable—well done Jim Pettit! But most of the time you reach some retail operation offering disguised sales pitches. If you read a few of these you realize that the similarity of phrasing and buzz words points to one thing: Most “reviews” are reiterations of company press releases sent out to the industry and media to announce new products.

I used to write scores of press releases and I know how it works. I love writing PR’s, seriously. I enjoy researching the history of, say, a pair of palladium-style congas and transforming a sales pitch into a history lesson and lesson in technique.

I’ve seen so many of my PR turned into magazine blurbs and Internet “reviews” I can spot the latter a mile away. It’s flattering to have my language lifted and parachuted into another format. But it’s no help to you.

That’s why when I review something for Modern Drummer or this website I give it to you straight. The difference is that I go on and on and on here. I keep it sensibly concise in MD.

Drum review in-depth, Yamaha Club Custom

Side view of Club Custom, floor tom removed, birch snare visible

In part I of this Yamaha Club Custom drum review I’ve given high marks. This is not a view from the armchair. I review from the throne.

Maybe you haven’t read part I. If not, you’ll welcome a couple of reiterated points. Ah, but I expand and elaborate and introduce new variables to simultaneously confound and guide you.

Most of what I say is about perception and ventures into the realm of psycho acoustics. Fine and good. If I was about to spend two-and-a-half grand I’d want to soak up any bit and piece of literature on the object in question. Even the roundabout wisdom I offer below, which, I’m told, helps many of you.

The state of the industry at the inception of the Yamaha CC

This industry was hit hard by recession and suffered greatly. It may be showing signs of new life again. The Yamaha Club Custom drumset is one of them. It’s a kit made to look like the past, painted in the present, and 99% of it is good. Bear with me and we’ll scratch around for the truth.

Yamaha Club Custom: Bigger is better

The Yamaha Club Custom review kit included a 24” bass drum. I could have asked Sean Browne, marketing head, Yamaha Canada, for a 20” or 22” but I wanted to go the distance. If you’ve worked with 24” kick drums you’ll know they can be finicky and, thus, good indicators of any possible issues: bass drums you find they’re good indicators of all sorts of things: focus, depth, solidity, fullness, note duration, etc. Besides the 24” bass drum can be finicky and sometimes you don’t end up with what you’re seeking. Not a problem with the Yamaha Club 24” kick.

The shell is constructed of 6 plies of kapur, a wood that is not common currency in the drum industry. Not in America, that is. I’ve checked around and Pearl makes a cool kit combining birch and kapur plies.

But the Club Custom is all kapur. Kapur is a hardwood ubiquitous in Asia, modestly priced, and is commonly used in the manufacture of outdoor furniture. Now don’t go rushing to assumptions here, instruments vs garden chairs. After all, maple is used for outhouse frames; hickory for axe handles. We’re talking drums and not violins. We hit them, you know?

When you consider that outdoor chairs and tables in Asia must stand up to tempest and typhoons, the turmoil of drumming barely dents it. One reason is that it’s harder than rock maple on the Janka Hardness Scale.

Point is this is respectable wood with a proven track record for stability and resistance to warping. You build it out of kapur (and I have researched this in depth) it lasts. Kapur, as it turns out, is native to Indonesia, which is (or was, when I visited in 2003) the home of two Yamaha factories, one turning out motorcycles and drum pedals, the other all sorts of name brand guitars you thought were built in America. The latter building, when I toured the place, manufactured Yamaha Stage Custom kits and the production standards similar to our ISO 9000. I’m not sure how many kapur trees I saw; I’m sure a good many, not that it matters. They’re plentiful and don’t cost an arm and a leg like maple.

Drum shells historically are made to withstand warpage

Kapur there, maple here. Birch, too. Poplar anyone? The early drum makers were about as concerned with tone as the cymbal smiths at the K factory in Istanbul (ceased production in 1977) were…as if they sat around hammering and then tapping gently. The deal is forming a shape that stays in shape. If you guarantee stability in that area, you’ve got a fighting chance at deriving diverse tones in diverse manners.

I have spent a lot of time with these drums and they are stable as the night is long. I did not record with them because the phone doesn’t ring for these purposes these days. But I sure played them on a lot of live gigs, miked or not. These drums offers something different, special, and it’s going to endure a while I the spirit of my friend, the great Yamaha guru drum builder Takashi “Hagi” Hagiwara, whose concern for the future would not permit him to cut corners in the here and now.

Not hard to hear the difference between kapur and your wood

You go to the drum department of your local big box store. Various authorities, both salespersons and hangers on, extoll the virtues of this or that shell. Birch vs maple vs oak vs poplar vs cherry.

Don’t feel bad if you can’t tell the freaking difference. I can’t either half the time.

But I hear the difference loud and clear with these kapur shells. And I can feel it. I believe you can, too.

It’s not as if Yamaha Club Custom kapur shells are replete with exotic, sub-low frequencies. Yes, when you loosen the heads until they are almost papery, those bottom dwelling tones will emerge. But the way I perceive it, the kapur shell is rich in the mids…extremely rich. When done up in Yamaha fashion, and when the bearing edges are slightly rounded, it seems that there is considerable complexity underscoring the initial punch. I’d strike an analogy between film and digital cameras. Film allegedly furnishes all this stuff that digital neglects. To me, film is maple. To me, kapur is digital. It goes to the heart of the drum sound and delivers an optimum snapshot of essential frequencies that project, not those that lurk somewhere I can’t find or hear.

The look of love

Kapur is a refreshing change if a little homely in appearance. I mean, you peek through the clear heads at the bottom of the toms and you notice, well, nothing particularly attractive. It’s a darn good thing Yamaha gave the exterior a decent coat because you wouldn’t want to be looking at kapur in its natural state under stage lights—shades of Orange, Asba, and Gary drums. I mean, the grain runs horizontally, fine and dandy, and it’s sort of tight and sort of nondescript. Birds eye maple it is not.

The edges, while exquisitely and consistently carved at something like 60-degrees, which means squat to me most of the time, are rounded over (means much), which is visible when put side to side with, say, a Birch Absolute. Exactly what I did. The woods are embued with different hues, grains, and tones. And kapur emerges as a different animal.

Funny about those rounded edges. They’re don’t seem as smooth as a baby’s bottom. They are, however, smooth beyond consistent. It’s just that the edges appear a little grainy or furry. Remove the batter head and rub my finger around the circumference and the bearing edge was smooth as it gets. So don’t rely on eyeballing alone when you encounter Club Custom drums, unless we’re talking exterior finish. At any rate, I’m thinking that the slight inherent graininess of kapur has loads to do with the organic tone that leaps forth.

When I did my usual placing a palm against a shell while striking with the other, I felt a pulsation, a rumbling that indicated to me that the kapur shell was not benign. It is not there simply as a frame that holds a drumhead. It is an active participant. Yes, rounded bearing edges have lots to do with it but are necessary but not sufficient conditions. There was serious internal combustion beyond all that.

An anecdote you might well skip but is sort of funny

Changing heads left and right to see what would happen, particularly on the bass drum, I yanked out (of my closet, overflowing with drumheads) a coated Ambassador, set aside for my 24” Camco. It didn’t sound, well, that great.

My issue with my Ambassador batter on the 24” bass drum was a nagging rattling. Not a mechanical rattling, either. Indeed the head sat consistently all the way around the circumference. I tested by applying finger pressure each stop along the way. The coated head sat smooth and comfortable like flying executive class. This gives rise to an anecdote.

True story. One evening I waited until all passengers had filed onto an airbus departing Heathrow for America. I’d requested an upgrade and it was 5 minutes ’til closing. A smiling supervisor finally came over to me, took away my hospitality ticket, handing me a seat in executive class up at the front. As it turns out, the word got out that I was not only Bruce. I was Bruce Cockburn. This was, as I recall, 1999, when the Canadian singer-songwriter was all over the radio and record player.

Sure, the Air Canada desk had matched my passport to my ticket an hour before when assigning me economy. But, since I’d already traveled from Switzerland and was a little edgy, I reckoned I’d accumulated enough points to qualify for an upgrade, maybe a free upgrade.

Push came to shove. The pilot was ready to leave and there were a few unoccupied seats. When viewing the list, and then eyeballing me at the departure gate, somehow the surname discrepancy went over their heads in favor of my appearance as it then was. Back then at the dawn of a new century, my hair was graying nicely, cropped tighter than now, and I was wearing round, wire-rim glasses. And, to be sure, a couple of times in past, the similarity had been drawn to my attention. I could have passed for his long lost non-identical twin.

Somehow, given the arduous cross-Atlantic trip ahead, I didn’t feel guilty when I stretched the truth, cutting off a flight attendant’s, “You’re Bruce…!” with a snappy and almost whispered, “Yes, I’m Bruce.” Believe it, brother, I toasted the fellow roundly and frequently with gratis bourbon.

I’ll bet if the famed singer-songwriter caught wind of me impersonating him, and if he had a rocket launcher, that son-of-a-bitch Wittet would die. (Google “Cockburn, lyrics”).

Okay, I’m back with both feet firmly planted. Regarding the Ambassador, I felt I could have taken the ping out of the batter head simply by dumping shredded newspaper strips or foam into the drum…just enough to cover up to the bottom logo. And then I’d have cranked the head way higher, maybe a full turn at each T-rod, Bonham style. So high that if you pressed on the batter with your finger, you’d be hard pressed to sink in more than a quarter of an inch.

By the way, the Remo Emperor batter, also the Evans G2, coated, sounded amazing on the 24” Club tight or loose. I kept thinking “calfskin”… For miked gigs, the Remo Powerstroke and especially Evans EQ1 were more prudent (comforting to sound techs).

Spotting the obvious classic connection

When I say the Yamaha Club Custom resembles vintage kits, I’d venture that the benchmark for the design was somewhere in the regular mid-1060s zone with a strong nod towards the Ludwig Standard, particularly the ones wrapped in beautiful stratas.

The Club Custom, however, is not wrapped. This is a lacquer job. It’s not that I feel wraps are vastly inferior to lacquer jobs; but definitely the absence of wrap frees up the shell (then again, when the wrap is glued as-one with the shell, who could tell?)

Well, you can sure tell the difference in aesthetic terms. First the shell is sprayed in the normal way (at Sakae Rhythm, Osaka) and then, word is, subjected to an ordeal whereby thick ropes coated in opposing colors are dragged across the surface. Dave Mattacks corrects me and points to a painting technique used in upscale architectural design whereby “claws” are dragged across surfaces while the undercoat is wet, thus creating the “galaxy” style rings. The proper name for the review kit finish is Black Swirl. Orange Swirl (and Blue ~ )is another available galaxy-style finish and it nods directly at the 1970s Ludwig mod orange. Except it’s hipper, it’s not plastic wrap, and the drums, in my opinion sound better. Again, no slag against Ludwig intended. Especially the current ones, which are infinitely better-constructed and better-sounding than their revered predecessors.

Yamaha Club Custom Gigging Diary

I tested a Yamaha Club Custom kit (24×15/12×8/13×9,16×15) on live gigs for a month. On each gig, the drums immediately worked perfectly. The only time any tom choked was when placed haphazardly on a snare drum stand. The light weight of all drums makes them sensitive, which is something you should note. If your drums are garden variety, you may not be prepared for the ease of tuning and immediacy of response that awaits you; also remember that if you’re clumsy and prone to exaggerated moves o f the key, these drums might be cantankerous.

The Club Custom shells are not undersized. Heads float but sit snug. There is no hint of the “Dresden effect”, which commends old, pre-Tama Camco drums, which were really shy of specs. A 12” tom, for example, would measure 11.25” (I’m guessing. But it was dramatic). The head extended significantly beyond the edge of the shell and delivered extremely long sustain.

That’s what’s curious about the Club Customs. Although they’re full-sized shells, to spec, they yield such remarkably long “decay” that they remind me of my old Camcos. So much for the much-espoused undersized-shell-Dresden effect. All things equal, the Club 12” tom lasted as long and as pretty as my Camco. And accompanying that long sustain was an almost paradoxical dryness. We’ve definitely departed from the maple grove.

One such “test gig”, a night at a pub

The club was Irene’s Pub located in Ottawa, Canada. I’m not linking to them because they’ve never done me any favors. But the floor space, modest but large enough to accommodate 120 seated, and the fair acoustics, make for a good testing environment.

In such a room, you don’t need mics—not if you tend to play a little on the loud side. The Irene’s sound tech disagreed with me on this and, since he knows the room, I left it to him for the most part.

He didn’t like the fact I hadn’t cut a hole in the bass drum. He didn’t appreciate that I asked him to use the mic I carry, an Audio Techica ATM25 instead of the house AKG D112 (I’m winging it because I can’t remember the exact mic; it might have been a large diaphragm Shure).

I explained to him the nature of my mic and its off-axis rejection, and, furthermore, its relatively flat response. There is no strong hint of artificially scooped out mids/bumped up lows and highs. The directionality of this mic, apparently recently re-released (and for good reason) enables me to quickly “shotgun” it at what I perceive to be a sweet spot. Speaking no-hole bass drum front heads, this would be the spot less complex in overtones.

Frankly, I’m not sure my assessment of the situation was valid. It seemed to me that the Club 24” bass drum was already relatively focused when heard from the front (I asked another drummer to lay into the head yet release the beater while I listened out front).

With regard to additional miking, the sound tech wanted to dedicate a mic to the snare drum—place it 2” from the batter. I politely but firmly refused. In small rooms all I get is static when they mike my snare: You’re too loud. Your rimshot is taking my head off!

So the mics were overheads. The snare drum was a 14×6” birch I’d designed and made in Japan (I always say this, as if a Red Badge) on 9/11. The reason I brought it out, instead of a steel, brass, maple, or fiberglass, is that Kira, one of my Carleton University students, had previously told me it sounded best of my snare drums with the Club Customs. I had her play the drums, toggling from wood snare to wood snare and agreed.

Credible Witness Ralph

For this particular test gig (Irene’s) my good friend/colleague (and head of the Montreal Drum Fest) Ralph Angelillo was in the audience. I’m grateful to Ralph for driving the 2 hours and change from his home in Montreal to catch my gig and hang/stay overnight at my place. Hell, I’m not drum festival material unless you count the guys busking curbside out front.

Ralph Angelillo and The Megatones in 1965

Ralph Angelillo lookin' good at his silver sparkle kit in 1965

Incidentally, Ralph’s not only a super guy; he’s a great, funky shuffle drummer who plays an “in the cracks” straight-eighth left hand snare shuffle like falling off a log. He got his chops touring the North American east coast during the 1960s with pop group The Megatones.

Ralph Angelillo's Ludwig drums

Ralph and band: gear circa 1964

During the brief soundcheck, I played the drums and Ralph seemed content with the tone and offered no suggestions. It seemed what I needed was getting out there. I did make a quick change due to the fact that the 24” Club Custom was undrilled, or, as they say, “virgin”.

Originally, I’d gone with a 13×9 first tom on a snare stand. I’d duct taped tiny cushions to the ends of each basket arm to prevent the tone from choking given each drum is lighter than you’d imagine and, thus, more flexible and susceptible to external constraints.

The 13” tom delivered such a hearty and disproportionate explosion, compared to toms I’d used in that room on previous gigs, I decided to swap out for the 12” tom I’d brought along; thanks, again, to Yamaha Canada’s Sean Browne. Good thing. The 12” was more focused, although equally explosive, and suited the “world music” vibe better, especially with bottom head tensioned a third higher than the top, a scheme that introduced a pleasing pitch bend. Nothing new there but it was certainly adamant.

The 16×15 floor tom was a no-brainer. I could have left it the way it came out of the box. It was everything a 16×16 ought to be. Perhaps the shallower 15” sped up the air column inside,thus fostering greater internal combustion, but it could do literally no wrong. I tightened the bottom head, I was rewarded with a nice pitch dip; I loosened the bottom head…err, I didn’t like it. I put the floor tom heads at the same tension, timpani time. Coated Ambassador as supplied as floor tom batter: perfect! Coated Evans G2s (given they were the new series with revised collars, alleged to sit better on especially Yamaha bearing edges): this was some thunder afoot!

And all this, of course, was in the relative absence of other instruments wanking away. Hard to know what’ll happen when everyone else joins in. Such is the case, however, in clubs. You’ve got to second guess how the drums will sound and this is key. Nobody wants solo drums. When the artist, Victor Nesrallah, came in with vocals, reso guitar, box guitar, and electric guitar, followed by electric bass and violin/mandolin, the truth was out. Incidentally, this was a loud gig—dynamic down to pp but occasionally reaching fff and staying there the length of an out-chorus.

During the first break, Ralph confirmed he could detect pitch, fullness, decay, and the various attributes he’d heard during soundcheck and at my home. He didn’t rave about the drums; such is his nature. But he validated what I sensed from the throne. When I snapped a stick to the head, they heard “my sound” back a few tables in the club.

That Great Gretsch Sound?

You may have heard drummers comparing the Club Customs to old Gretsch. What they’re referring to is an aggressive attack component = attitude. Attitude is good. But often it comes with a price, as I’ve discovered time and again with various old round badge Gretsch kits—the ones without vent holes: a hard feel and boingy overtones. I guess I haven’t grown up and tweaked to the vividness of the round badge experience. Half the time, guys crank them so tight it’s hard to assess the tone.

The point is this: During the break between set 1 and 2, I cranked up the drums. High. This 24” bass drum, sensibly measuring 15” in depth, was the closest I’d been to a Bonham 26” in years. I’d done lots of listening to Bonham over the years, particularly when researching two Modern Drummer cover tributes to the man. I was curious to see if his cranked-high batter/resonant heads modus would work with the Club drums, particularly the bass drum. The comparison is somewhat skewed in that I lightly muffled the bass drum with foam chips, meaning I’d taken off a head and dumped soft, couch foam cut into 2×2 squares inside, filling the drum maybe as high is the tiny drumhead logo at the bottom side. This is a method as old as swing/bop era Davie Tough. You strike the bass drum and it opens up and swells as the foam chunks (or newspaper strips) leap up then settle. To me, this is a more natural solution than felt strips. In studio days, those things would always buzz, remembering drums were always close miked and thrown into tiny isolation booths.At any rate, I cranked up the tuning rods and the drum amazingly retained tone and friendly feel—irrespective of how many turns I applied to the T-rods. Ordinarily when I really jack up the tension, the heads feel hard when I strike them. Not so with this one. And nothing sounded artificial.

For one tune, I popped in a 1940s fluffy lambs wool beater and this was a good thing. If I really dug-in, I received the full 24×15 response. Otherwise it was a subtle and satisfying rumble…sort of like you’re walking in Manhattan and a subway train passes under your feet. Most of the time, given we can’t be tuning bass drums between songs, I went with a mid-tension batter and slightly higher resonant (audience) head.

What Yamaha says about the Club Custom and what actually happens…

Following my first gig with the drums, I queried Yamaha Canada’s drum marketing head Sean Brown (who had kindly shipped the head exclusively for this review) offered 2 comments, which directed my scrutiny on subsequent gigs: (1) you’ll find that more than any other Yamaha drums, the kapur shells respond best when top and bottom heads are fitted with similar heads tuned almost identically; (2) thekapur Clubs are more consistent, from highest tom to lowest than any others in the Yamaha catalog, notable, given Yamaha drums are by nature consistent and nicely paired within various configurations.

Both of Sean’s conclusion were born out at various gigs. A roll around the toms was beautifully symmetrical, especially when I’d get the top and bottom heads in the same vicinity. I don’t normally enjoy Ambassadors or G1s (ie single-ply drumheads) but they worked wonders on the kapur drums. Maybe it’s something to do with the propensity of kapur to soak up tone and release on short notice. Or mitigate it somehow. Whatever. I want to state that Sean was correct in that the Club Customs provide an extremely even descent from high to low toms and the converse. I mean, my students noticed it without any steering on my behalf. They’d take a look at the finish, exclaim some, and then remark on the musical, family like nature of the toms.

You know how you have 3 toms and you tension tom-1 and tom-3 perfectly…but tom #2 never sounds quite right no matter what you do to it? For me, that drum would invariably be a 13×9. Not with the Clubs.

And this next bit may signify nothing but I found that remarkably I left no dents on the white coated heads that stuck with the review kit longest. No dents and very few visible stick marks. I’m not a light player. This continues to intrigue me. All I can suggest is that the Club Custom drums are “efficient” and don’t induce drummers to apply extra force to make the point.

The Joyous Jordan Clatterrrrrrr

It is public record. You can get all sorts of cool variations by cranking up one or both heads, witness (producer, bassist, groove drummer) Steve Jordan on youtube.com. But aside from Steve Jordan’s righteous ringing, all the usual settings are within your grasp, none difficult to attain.

Sustain is incredibly long, which might prove a mixed blessing in the studio—at least when close-miked. No kidding, I got over 4 full seconds of audible and usable sustain without a fuss. While I didn’t record these drums in session, I did so in a makeshift home project studio setting. My drum mics were but 2: an Audio Technica ATM25 and a new one from Blue Microphones, a Bluebird cardioid condenser (a mic that scopes out exactly per promo literature). I recorded to Adobe Audition full-edition software. Both microphones, on account of limited “studio” square footage outside my office take high SPLs and thus close placement was not a problem.

I added a single strip of 4” black theatrical tape and it did something nice to the tone. I’ve reflected on the absence of the crazies—bizarre overtones—so it wasn’t a question of putting the sound right but, rather, of tweaking it so the mics could “hear” it without sucking up too much room. And the decay is such that I felt tamping the Clubs down was a prudent move to get in control of the situation/mix. The single strip of tape didn’t do much except warm up the tone in the face of low-ceiling slapback. No kidding, it took about five of my 4” tape segments, a couple placed a little closer to the center than I usually venture, to affect any noticeable reduction in sustain. At the end of the day, I removed all tape and the drums were fine.

So there it is: the sustain is “good sustain”.

Preparing for my first major club outings, and looking for drummer feedback, I sent out a PR advertising one particular gig (see below) and announcing I was seeking drummer feedback on the Club Customs for my website review and on the Paiste 602 and Giant Beat extra-thins and thins for Modern Drummer magazine. As it turned out, I really didn’t need to solicit feedback. It was quick to emerge at all of the gigs. You probably have entertained the sort of situation where drummers come up to you at break and offer up good and bad. Well, the Yamaha Clubs suckered them in: everybody liked the finish. It’s this side of elegant yet remains street-friendly. I just hope the drummers who loved the tone weren’t hearing with their eyes!

Are they like old keystone or round badge drums?

I want to comment on a characterization I’ve read in forums, namely that the Club Customs resemble somewhat the old Gretsch sound or the revered old Ludwigs. I agree to some extent due to the pointed attack (RB Gretsch) and airy, full tone (key badge Ludwigs). So, I guess I’d agree. Except that I’d rather a Club Custom tom to an old Gretsch any day, ditto with Ludwig. I am emphatically not referring to excellent new Gretsch or new Ludwigs.

Yamaha Club Custom drums are about attitude. They don’t sit and think a second. They give it up. If you prefer drums that soak up the tone a little before regurgitating, and I hear you because I like that vibe occasionally, too, then I’d suggest you choose (limiting ourselves to the Yamaha camp) the older (late 1990s to early 2000s) Stage Customs, really well made drums that are cheap as dirt. I’ve been to the factory where they used to make them in Jakarta and I can assure you it’s a real drum making facility.

What I prefer about that bold, immediacy of the Club Customs is that it’s not like striking several of the old 6-ply (not the great 3-ply earlier) round-badge Gretsch with no vent holes. Unless you crank the latter up really high, they feel as if I’m striking Formica table tops. Take that with a grain of salt, however. The forum chatter contradicts me roundly and I’m willing to admit I could be all wet.

Bad news. Are the floor tom brackets a little tentative?

I feel that the floor tom mounts, while well-made and serviceable, harken more to the Stage Custom. It’s not that they’re crap quality or are going to strip-out, mind you. I feel that the floor tom brackets don’t “grab” in quite the manner I’m accustomed to relative to Yamaha top line drums. Bluntly put, the floor tom legs collapsed on me several times—that is, until I tweaked on the right tension to apply to the wing screw. It’s a matter of turning them clockwise a full turn more than I’m accustomed to but it required a little vigilance the first two gigs out.

That spoken, I’ve got the same brackets on a custom Yamaha Manu Katché kid’s set (16×16” bass drum, 13” floor tom, wood hoops substituting for metal, no stilts) in oak. I dunno, nobody dies if they have to turn the key an extra wee bit.

Not to belabor the point but I felt that an otherwise superlative drumset had been left with cheapish leg receivers. But not faulty ones by any means. I’d grow accustomed to the twist in a month. Less if I were as busy as this week.

Is the tone too in-your-face? One man’s fish….

The other possible difficulty, stress possible, with Yamaha Club Custom kits is an example of “one man’s fish is another man’s poisson”. As you see, I enjoy a real explosion of tone—an unambiguously brazen complement of “the right” overtones.

Often in past, bold came arm in arm with boing. There’s no boing in these drums even when tightened beyond what decency would dictate.

There’s a lot of competition in this price range, meaning a 4-piece kit going on the street for $2,500. I see the Clubs as a compelling option, an alternative to those kits purporting to be fully professional at a budget price. The Club Custom is already a fully professional kit that’s not copping the features of any existing kit. It stands alone and proud on the market. The tone is that distinguishable.

I’m bound to report one negative opinion among my beta test population.

Of the many drummers who came to my place and checked out the drums, only one objected to the tone. He’s a loud drummer and one who enjoys multi-tom kits. While he appreciated the boldness and projection of CC drums, he found the tone a little diffuse—a little unfocused. Mind you, I sat him first at a Yamaha Birch Absolute with smaller-sized toms (10X8 mounted and 14×12 on the floor) and the tone is, indeed, sweet and focused.

At any rate, that drummer, whom we’ll call Al, his real name, felt that a kit consisting of, say, 6 toms, would be overwhelming and it’d be difficult to discern 10” from 12” from 14” and so on.

Legitimate complaint, perhaps. I suggest to Al, and to those of you who fancy extremely focused toms, yet desire the boisterousness of the Club Custom, to try out sizes I’ve yet to experience—say the old fusion standard 10” mounted tom and a 14” floor tom.

Summary: Great drums in the spirit of the legendary great drums of the past but better in any imaginable way. Seriously.