By Mark M. Thanks for another great review, Mark! Check out Gauger Percussion’s website for ordering information and more details about Lockerz.
I recently pulled a tired and well used 1980’s Ludwig 14×6.5 Supraphonic snare off a dusty shelf in order to use it on an upcoming southern rock blues gig. I had purchased the snare about a year prior and was waiting for the right gig to give it some well-deserved stand time. I immediately smiled as I sound checked it as it reminded me of the intro to Led Zeppelin’s Moby Dick; my all-time favorite snare sound and the reason I purchased the snare.
I love the sound of rim shots. I find rim shots really bring out the tone of a snare and for that reason, 90% of the time I play my snare, it’s a rim shot. Three songs into the night however; that fantastic tone I had dialed in at the beginning of the night was long gone, forcing me to work at quickly, re-tuning the snare between each song. If I couldn’t re-tune after a few songs, I could really notice a large change in the sound and feel of the snare as a result of a few of the tension rods – those closest to where the stick meets the rim – that had completely loosened up and were now rattling away. I struggled for the rest of the gig, attempting to keep it tuned to the sound of my liking, sometimes even tuning during a song. By the end of the night, I made a mental note to never gig with this snare again. I’m quite finicky about my snare sound and it can really dictate how good or bad a night I have. If my snare sounds great, I have great night, unfortunately, the reverse is also true.
At around this same time, I had been watching a lot of Raconteur’s live concert footage and noticed what appeared to be some sort of lug lock on Patrick Keeler’s snare. After a quick Google search, I was able to determine the lug lock to be a product called Lockerz by Gauger Percussion. Thinking this was exactly the solution I was looking for, I ordered a package without hesitation.
At the time I made my purchase, Lockerz were only available in grey and came in a package of 16. The Lockerz I saw on Patrick Keeler’s snare were red, which I preferred, but when I placed my order at Gauger Percussion, I noticed no option to select a specific color. The product was also only available in a package of 16. Most of my snares have 10 lugs, so i would have preferred a package of 20. This would allow the option to outfit an entire snare, top and bottom or if only using on the batter side, would provide the ability to outfit two separate snares. I contacted Gauger about this and was advised that they are currently determining quantity and color options for the next batch of production.
While awaiting the arrival of the Lockerz, I pondered over the best way to test the product, and to accomplish this in a way that would gauge the product’s full effectiveness. In a sense, provide a fair opportunity for the product to succeed. Currently, I’m the host drummer at a weekly jam, playing everything from Patsy Cline to AC/DC; and using everything from brushes and hotrods to 5A sized sticks. If I were to tune my snare and leave it untouched without the Lockerz installed, and play it all night using 80% brushes, how fair of a test would that be if I followed up with same snare the following weekend using the same tuning with the Lockerz installed, but now playing a heavy back beat with sticks for most of the night? Obviously, a heavy back beat with sticks all night would have a greater impact on a snare’s tuning compared to a night of playing predominantly low-volume stuff with brushes. In order to get a really good indication of how well they would work, I decided to test the Lockerz while on a gig as well as at home.
Using a Drum Dial, I tuned the Supra without installing the Lockerz and proceeded to play a simple AC/DC tune with a big fat back beat four times in a row. The song selection was deliberate. I wanted a song that only required bass, snare and hi-hat so that each time i played the song, it was played the same way. I then used the Drum Dial to re-check each lug to see how much they had de-tuned and made a note of the results for future reference. The Drum Dial really wasn’t required by this point because I could already guess the results by how different the snare sounded and felt by the end of the fourth song.
Next, I installed the Lockerz on the batter side only, and re-tuned the snare to the same Drum Dial setting I used previously. I found installing the Lockerz to be a bit tricky at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s quick and easy. The back of the product label includes a simple installation diagram. The diagram illustration shows the tension rod being partially loosened followed by snapping the Lockerz into place, however; I found completely removing the tension rod made the job a lot easier for me personally. (Make sure
that when you do install it, you hear it “snap” into place). I then proceeded to play the same song in the same manner four more times, then pulled out the Drum Dial for check.
The results were very encouraging. For the most part, without the Lockerz, most of the lugs had de-tuned by at least 2 to 3
measurements on the Drum Dial, with at least one of the tension rods completely loosened up to the point that it was rattling away – the aforementioned lug impacted by my rim shots, just like I had experienced during my southern rock blues gig. With the Lockerz installed however; I was surprised to find that most of the lugs had still de-tuned by about 1 measurement on the Drum Dial. A slight improvement but a part of me was expecting absolutely no de-tuning, which frankly is probably not a realistic expectation with the amount of repetitive force striking the head. The real surprise though, and what sold me on Lockerz, was the result of the one lug that was giving me the most problem. It had de-tuned by a measurement of 2. Yes, a bit more than I expected, but a vast improvement considering how much the tension rod had loosened without the Lockerz installed. More importantly, the snare was able to retain a consistent sound and feel throughout the 4 songs.
To round out my test, I brought the snare out to a recent gig, tuned it to my liking using the Drum Dial, and refrained from any further tuning for the rest of the 4 hour night. By the end of the night, the snare was still in tune and by again using the Drum Dial, I was able to confirm my suspicions. For the most part, there was little change to the Drum Dial settings.
I’m extremely excited about Lockerz! After a very reasonable $19.95 investment ($22.95 shipped to Canada), I can now give my beloved 1980’s Supraphonic the snare stand time it deserves, and do it with the utmost confidence that it will perform without concern thanks to Lockerz. And yes, I will be placing another order so that I can outfit the other three snares I have on rotation.