We recently received this email from one of our customers. We thought it would be good to share it with you so you can know what to expect if you ever purchase any drums from us.
Dennis Leeflang - Walnut 14x6 Solid Stave Snare Drum
First off, the shell... Forget about the sound for a minute. I have owned dozens, if not hundreds of drums in the past 20 years. I've bought, sold traded, found, built and custom-ordered drums. This drum is by far the most perfect, flawless, beautiful drum I have ever owned, disassembled and scrutinized. It is almost impossible to comprehend that this shell was made entirely by hand. When I took the heads off, I was just mesmerized by the inside of the shell. The re-rings aren't glued in but part of the shell, the absolutely flawless and 100% perfect bearing edges, the wood grain, the fact I can not even find any seams between the individual staves, and.. the smell! The drum smells wonderful! The outside finish is breathtaking. The high gloss is mirror-like. It's glossier than any of the other drums I own or have owned that have a high gloss lacquer finish. There is not the smallest little imperfection on the finish, no matter how close and hard you look. Also, the snare beds look and feel incredibly perfect and precise. It's truly a work of art. The shell looks like a beautiful sculpture more than a drum shell.The drum is equipped with a very classy and perfectly smooth and functional throw-off. Definitely one of the best "side lever" throw-offs I've ever used. And then one of my favorites: the badge. The HD badge is hands-down the most awesome, yet classy badge I have ever seen on a drum.
OK, the sound....! This drum proved to go against a lot of things I've learned through my experience with metal and ply shells. Out of the box, I tuned up the drum to where I usually would tune it, and put it on my kit. At a medium tuning, the first hit sounded like "pawnnnnnnnnnnnnnn". The shell rang FOREVER. I have never heard a shell or snare note sustain that long. But, man... It is one BEAUTIFUL tone. Not the annoying type you want to immediately kill with Moogel or gaff tape. It's TONE, not overtones. And it is a delicious tone. However, I enjoyed it very much just jamming on my kit with this snare, and such sustain might be great for on a loud stage, but I knew it would probably be too much for a recording situation. So I was going to have to experiment with hoops a little. Now, I am generally not a big fan of die-cast hoops. In most cases, such rigid hoops take away so much of a drum's tone and "life", as well as low frequencies, that you're left with a dead sounding drum with no character. Here's where the HD walnut stave confused me again. Once I put die-cast hoops on this drum, everything fell into place. The sustain, while still very much being pleasantly present, had now been brought to a perfect balance. Additionally, the drum now sounded FATTER and had more low frequencies present. Beats me! Everything just came together.
This drum is a dream. It feels futile to try to describe the sound,but the first word that comes to mind would be "FAT" (in all capital letters). The tone and character of the walnut stave shell are something that simply does not compare to any ply or metal snare. It's a whole different flavor in itself that you have to hear. Well here's the thing... The way the drum sounds on its own means nothing. It's about how it sits in a mix, or how it sounds with a band. The HD stave has all kinds of frequencies that a ply snare doesn't. With most ply snares, when the band starts playing, or you add the rest of the band in a mix, it's like putting a blanket over the snare. Most frequencies and tonal quality gets eaten up and you have the start EQ-ing and compressing to make the snare punch through the mix and still sound decent. The HD has all kinds of tone and frequencies that aren't eaten up by other instruments. So the drum is there, and its character comes through. For a wooden snare, that's really hard. Unless you use a very deep snare (which adds more frequencies to the shell's character, especially low ones), but that makes the snare sound bigger and more sluggish than you necessarily want. The only shell material I've found that doesn't get eaten up easily in a mix/band, is brass. That's why half of my snare collection is brass snares. But brass never sounds as thick and warm as wood. It'll always be a metal shell. In other words, the stave (at least the walnut one, but I assume other woods as well) is just a whole different animal that makes you play comfortably. I jammed along with some loud music on my PA with a student yesterday and the HD snare was all there. Every bit of it remained audible through all the loud music. Most other snares become just the pop/crack of the head without any body or texture. Long story short... The sound of ply snares is 75% head and 25% shell. This stave snare is pretty much the other way around.This drum sounds dense, thick, but articulate. By no means muddy or undefined. If you're a fan of tuning your snare relatively high but don't want to sacrifice fatness, this is your drum. Tuned low, this thing is simply a monster. Think Steve Gadd's snare sound, but a beautiful tone rather than the (in my opinion) ugly "pewng" of a steel shell. Plus, no Powerstroke 3 head or excessive dampening needed. I opted for a Remo CSX, which is just the right head for this drum. Not too open, not too muffled. A small 1/4 piece of Moongel in the studio to tame the overtones when needed, but let 'r rip on stage. Key here is the clear separation and difference between "overtones" and "tone". Tone is good, and there's a ton of it in this thing. This drum is in a whole different league than anything factory-made will get you for the same money. You owe it to yourself to order one. And I'm not paid to tell you this. I'm a customer who paid for his drum!
-Dennis Leeflang (Lita Ford, Bumblefoot)
Dave Antosh - Walnut Stave Drum Kit
"For years, I've owned a Keller shell, maple drum kit. I paid to have the edges expertly cut, and all drilling done for me. Once assembled, did it sound good? Yep. I thought it would be the last kit I would ever need.
As years passed, I realized that this wasn't the sound that I had in my head that I truly wanted. It's likely I bought into the prevailing hype at the time that maple was the way to go. I started searching again, this time with a bigger budget. I looked at all of the major manufacturers. I found that, while some sounded better than my normal kit, and others sounded worse, the differences weren't great enough. Some were nearly indistinguishable.
I started doing research on shell construction and tried to look past any marketing hype. Many owners and makers were talking about a truer tone from stave, steam bent, 100% solid shell constructions.
I looked for a maker that could build me a stave kit. I selected stave due to the unstressed vertical grain as a lover of deep fundamental tone. I sent emails and filled out forms on websites. Rhett at HD was the fastest to respond by a landslide, so we started talking.
I knew stave would be right for me, but bearing edges and wood I was clueless about. We discussed back and forth and came to a decision: Walnut shells with 45 degree with outside round over edges for the rack toms and full round over edges for the floor toms and bass drum. We decided on ply maple hoops for added focus and warmth. They are also quite stiff and make tuning a breeze. Because of how quickly Rhett helped me and responded to each email, I pulled the trigger and went with HD.
Throughout the building process, I was given pictures of the it coming along. Whenever I had a question by email Rhett answered fast. Really fast. Often he'd answer within a few minutes.
When the day finally came, as I eagerly unpacked them, I saw just how gorgeous they are. On the outside, the seams from the staves are nearly invisible, and the finish was completely flawless! More importantly though, how did they sound? I did a hasty tuning and set them up as quick as possible.
Unbelievable! There it was. The sound in my head was finally in front of me! Deep, warm sounding drums that project like cannons. Through everything I threw at them, no matter how fast or dynamic or articulate I played, every note could be heard to to tremendous sensitivity, even on the 16 floor tom. I had never experienced that before, especially with the lazy tuning I did. There was no muddy blending together when playing double strokes. If I wanted, I was able to pull off a press roll on any tom. The attack was also tremendous at loud volumes, and could be accentuated by doing a rim shot on the wood hoops. The bass drum had all the deep sound I wanted, with a very pleasant, musical note that carried through. Again, that was a first for me.
One other thing to call out in regards to the sound is the overtones. Many times, they are a necessary evil for drummers. Often dampeners are applied to reduce them, but the overtones are what help carry the sound to the audience. Well, these have more overtones than any drum I have every heard, but they are the best sounding overtones you will ever hear. They sound just as musical as the fundamental tone, and complement the overall sound beautifully.
One last thing. When they arrived I was having trouble with the 14 inch floor tom. After much back and forth, Rhett was ready to take the drum back to inspect and repair if necessary then ship back for free. Throughout the process, he was once again responsive and incredibly helpful. Luckily, it turned out to be the way I was using the floating floor tom basket. Adjusting that brought the drum completely alive. I only mention this so you will know that Rhett and HD completely stand behind their drums. You never have to worry about your investment and I can't imagine any horror stories coming out about their customer service.
I'm going to wrap up here. I could write a novel about the finer points of these drums, but I'd rather go play them! Thanks HD!"