Ronn Dunnett’s penchant for innovation in the modern drum-smithing community is nearly without rival. His contributions to the industry have been written about extensively, so I won’t try to reiterate what others have better said before me, but I find it hard to address the quality and craftsmanship of anything from the Dunnett Classic Drums shop without at least some regard for the man behind the brand.
The same goes for George H. Way. The two masters share an unparalleled reputation, which is why Dunnett’s adoption of the production techniques (and name) pioneered by Way makes such a perfect fit (Dunnett re-launched the George H. Way Drum Company in 2006). The new George H. Way Co. snares are faithful to their predecessors, and the model I reviewed certainly served the name well.
Early last year, I took a chance and purchased the “Studio” model on reputation alone. This was one of the few times in the years I’ve spent acquiring gear that I had absolutely no reservations about spending some extra coin to get what I was looking for. It should be said that the Studio is the most affordable drum in the George Way arsenal, but it definitely isn’t cheap.
When the drum arrived at my door, I eagerly tore through the excessive tape job and yanked it out of the box. I was immediately struck by its weight. Expecting something very substantial in my hands, I was stunned by how little the drum weighed. Concerned I had been bested by e-hype, I gingerly placed the snare on a stand and gave it a very modest whack.
An hour and fifteen minutes later, I slowly floated back down to Earth, knowing I had made the right decision.
The drum, equipped with a special coated Remo Ambassador head bearing the George H. Way logo, is a total knockout. Crisp and woody, the Studio snare is far more versatile than other drums of similar depth. Tuned medium-high, the snare’s clean, warm crack reminded me of the much sought-after sound heard on The Wallflower’s “One Headlight”. A little less tension on top brings out that big, fat whallop central to so many Nasheville records. The drum performs excellently at all tuning levels, remaining dynamic, sensitive and lively no matter how tight the head.
Visually, the Studio is all class. The drum I purchased wears a glossy, tuxedo black finish that just looks great (I usually think black drums look cheap ̶ not the case here). The lugs, common to all models in the GHW family, are simple, clean and elegant, and don’t overwhelm the drum’s appearance. The throw-off and butt plate replicate the original design, and offer smooth operation without much clutter. Finally, the 4-ply wood shell is painted white inside, then date-stamped and signed. Like I said, all class.
In my introduction to this blog, I mentioned approaching future reviews with a more critical eye than that seen in the purely positive write-ups that I posted initially. This being the first of those future reviews, I assure you that my evaluation of the George H. Way Studio snare drum was as critical as possible, but I just couldn’t find anything negative to say about it. The Way name is surely safe in Mr. Dunnett’s hands.
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