I really can’t wait to start talking about the subject of today’s review, but I want to add one more quick reminder about our Superdrum snare giveaway. Follow the link and enter to win before April 1, 2013.
Alright, now that we got that out of the way, let’s get to it.
1mm hand hammered copper shell
Crush proprietary tube lugs
Reverse flange hoops
Heavy-duty Chevron throw off
Proprietary part-brass, part-carbon steel strainer
When I visited Crush Drums’ headquarters this past December, co-CEO and founder, Terry Platt, sent me home with a copper snare drum from their Hand Hammered series, and offered one simple instruction: “Check it out.” It was kind of ominous. Well, maybe the comment itself wasn’t ominous. Dude used to be a professional wrestler, so maybe I was just a little worried about not liking the drum, writing a critical review, then waking up in the hospital after ending up on the wrong end of an Atomic Elbow.
Sorry. I’m getting off track here. So, I took the drum home, and immediately ripped open the packaging to get a better look. Right away, I was struck by how beautiful it was. The slightly pinkish-gold hue of the hammered copper shell coupled with Crush’s sleek “pregnant” tube lugs (see photo) just looked excellent. Normally, I’m not too impressed by chrome hardware on non-chrome metal shells, but there’s something about the texture and color of the copper that works perfectly with the added style of the Crush appointments.
After I got over the initial shock of how great the drum looked, I started noticing some of the extra little upgrades Crush threw in to really benefit the player. First, the inclusion of reverse flange hoops on a snare drum at this price point was just really nice (we’ll get back to that a little later). Also, equipping the drum with their unique carbon steel/brass snare strainer with a grosgrain ribbon strap made such a big difference in the response and tensioning of the snare set. Similar drums at comparable price points from other companies usually ship with snappy (crappy) snares and plastic straps – all of which need to be replaced. Not the case here.
One last note before we dive into the sound and all of that: the snare came with Remo heads installed – specifically, a coated Ambassador weight batter and a super thin snare side. They’re the UT models made overseas, but still a nice upgrade over the stock heads I’ve seen (and broken) on some other drums in this range. Just one more indicator that Crush wants to give you the best drum possible for the price.
So, after the Hand Hammered Copper passed the eye test with flying colors, it was time to get down to brass tacks. Well, maybe copper tacks. Whatever. Let’s talk about the sound.
Without any tuning whatsoever, the drum sounded superb. As soon as I laid stick to skin, I got a crisp, lively response with a dry follow through and just a little bottom end to finish (I need more adjectives). With the snares disengaged, the drum offered a surprisingly warm tone with a dry body and a little ring on the end – a little bit like blending some of the best characteristics of aluminum and brass shells, then adding a tiny bit of wildness to the end.
Engaging the snares gave the drum a whole new character, however. Soft strokes brought the combo brass and steel wires to life, producing a quick, warm buzz that never overwhelmed the sound of the shell. In fact, the snare response was so clean, even and rich, that I found myself tightening the wires a little more than I normally do to help bring out that sound (I normally keep my snares pretty loose and buzzy).
Similarly, heavy playing gave me a tremendous blend of both shell and snare sound that just kept getting better. It handled high volumes with no problem, and had almost no choking threshold. (It did eventually choke a bit, but that was because I hit it like a mob goon trying to break a knee cap – I had a little studio meltdown and flammed the rage out. Irresponsible, I know. Thankfully, no drums were harmed in the making of this review.)
One thing that really stood out while testing the copper snare was the effect the reverse flange hoops had on the sound. To my ear, the stick saver hoops (as they’re often called) were a little more rigid than regular triple flanged hoops, but not so much that the sucked the life out of the drum. They helped the snare stay in tune throughout everything I threw at it, and never seemed to take over the way die cast hoops do. Cross sticking was clean and very satisfying as well.
The hoops also really seemed to make a difference in how quickly my sticks were chewed up by rimshots. I play a lot of rimshots, so I get a good bit of splitting and breaking at the contact spot. Those stick saver hoops certainly lived up to their name, minimizing the wear and tear caused by prolonged play. I actually might pick up a few sets for my other snares.
While the drum sounded absolutely excellent with the stock heads in place, I wanted to try it with something a little heavier to see how the tone changed. So, I threw a three-ply Aquarian Triple Threat head on, and took it to a gig.
I was playing with a super loud band in a pretty large bar, so I wanted something that would be fat enough to sound natural in a metal/post-rock setting, but crisp enough to handle quieter passages. The HH Copper proved more than capable, giving me everything I needed with no problem at all.
Really, with the heavier head in place, it sounded like a different drum entirely. The extra fatness and soft attack offered by the three-ply skin gave it an arena rock thing that was super satisfying. And, thankfully, the sensitivity that had been so prominent earlier was hardly affected at all. Very interesting change.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the special throw off included on the HHC. In addition to working hard to build top-flight affordable drums, Crush also invests a great deal of energy in giving back to the community. In tandem with their contributions to the Wounded Warrior Project, Crush designed their Chevron throw off to be a clear homage to the men and women of the US Armed Forces. Very admirable.
Regarding the function of the strainer, it was a simple flip-out operation that worked smoothly and without trouble. It was a little louder than I’d prefer when you flip it off, but the size of the handle made it so easy to use and control that it overshadowed the noise.
My only other issue with the throw off (and really my only issue with the drum as a whole) was the size of the tensioning knob. I have fat guy fingers, and would have preferred something just a little larger. A very minor complaint, but I felt it worth mentioning.
I really can’t say enough good things about Crush’s Hand Hammered Copper snare. I’ve been using it almost exclusively since bringing it home, and it’s performed well in every situation. It offers a unique sound that fits comfortably between other metal shelled models, and draws on the best characteristics of each. If that’s not enough of an endorsement, I’ll finish with this: After playing the drum for about a month, I met up with the Crush team at NAMM and told them that I couldn’t send the drum back. It was just way too nice an instrument to give up.