Drum Set Reviews
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The Ludwig Accent CS Custom/Elite is a 100% birch set available in 4 different shell configurations - Power, Fusion, Fusion Plus, and Jazz. Plus, there are 2 versions of the set - the Custom and the Custom Elite.
They are identical except that the Custom comes in a choice of 2 satin oil finishes, while the Custom Elite has 5 high gloss laquered finish options.
Just to confuse things a little more there is also an Accent CS 100 set that is at the cheaper end of the Accent CS series and only comes in basic wrap finishes. In this review we're only covering the higher Custom and Custom Elite verions.
The Accent series kits also come complete with some Ludwig hardware too, but you should be able to buy shells seperately if you need to. Anyway, here i'm reviewing the CS Custom Elite Fusion which has a 22"x18" bass drum, 10"x8", 12"x8" and 14"x14" toms, with a 14"x5" snare drum. Let's try these babies out...
Well, as I mentioned earlier, the shells are made from 100% birch and have been put together with 8-plies at a total thickness of 8mm. Inside, the shells are completely smooth, pale and look like they've been cut from good quality wood. The set has been made in China, but these days that doesn't mean lesser quality, far from it! This set has been very well made.
The shell hardware is reassuringly Ludwig with proper Ludwig lugs (known as the 'small classic' to fans) that have been used on Ludwig sets for years. They really jump out at you as saying - 'this is a real Ludwig set!'. Another nice feature are the isolation brackets that are made from pressed steel and hold the rack toms in place. They attach to the lugs and leave the shells free to vibrate fully giving a better sound. I guess they are a little on the chunky side compared to very high-end sets, but they still do a good job.
Other than that, the bass drum is kitted out with rubber insulated tension claws to protect the wooden hoops. And, the spurs have the adjustability and functionality we've come to expect from Ludwig, with extendable legs and spikes.
So, on to those lovely finishes! The Accent has 5 high gloss laquered options to choose from, and they do a great job of making it look like a pro kit. The Ice Blue finish on this set has been infused with flecks of metal and the two-tone effect of blue and silver really works! On the CS Custom, you'll have the choice of natural or wine burst satin oil finishes, but whatever set you go for, one thing is for sure - it's gonna look great.
The hardware pack that comes with the kit contains a snare stand, straight cymbal stand, boom cymbal stand, hi-hat stand, and a bass drum pedal as standard.
It's double braced and solid as you like. The chain-pull bass drum pedal has a beefy, split footboard and a two-faced beater (I don't mean it talks behind your back!) with a rounded plastic side and felt on the other. A nice touch is that it attaches to the bass drum hoop with the same rubber insulating as the claws.
The hi-hat and cymbal stands all do just as good a job and will stand up to about anything you can throw at them, unless you're Mike Tyson that is (so Mike, if you're reading, don't use this hardware!).
Anyway, what's really important here is the sound. And as you'd expect, the birch shells give the kit a good attack with a bright, clean tone. The projection is there too and this set isn't lacking in power either.
The 10"x8" and 12"x8" rack toms both pack a punch and have plenty of clarity, tone, and penetration thanks to the quality birch and the shallow shell sizes. They're just great fun to play and reproduce rolls and fast notes without a hitch.
Just as fun is the bass drum that has enough power and low-end depth to suit most people's needs. After a little playing around with the tuning and adding some dampening, I got a much nicer focused sound with a fat punch!
The snare drum doesn't need much encouraging to give a good old crack! either. It's responsive, crunchy and fat, with a great birch wood tone too. It's got the attack and high-end cut that you'd want in a snare. I've heard better, but it's a decent all-rounder.
However, tuning up the kit took a little longer than i'd have liked. The rack toms, snare, and bass drum weren't too difficult, but the 14" floor tom only has 6 lugs (8 would have been better), so I had a harder time getting the exact tuning I wanted. Still, the set has a good range overall, but the Fusion set-up was suited to a higher tuning, apart from the bass drum that was good a medium to low tuning. If you want a lower sounding set, the Power set-up will be more your thing.
I found that the Ludwig Accent CS was much better than it's budget label suggests. In fact, I wouldn't call it a budget set, i'd just call it a really good set that doesn't cost you an arm and a leg.
The hardware, sound, and pro looking finishes show just how good budget drum sets can be. Sure, you don't get all the bells and whistles of a high-end set, but the Accent gets all the important things right.
Any downsides? Well, i'm not too keen on the large oval-shaped Ludwig badges on all the shells. They could look a little bit cooler, but that's just my opinion. Plus, there are only 6 lugs on the 14" floor tom, when 8 would have made tuning easier. But, you can get the 16" floor tom instead that has 8 lugs. The only other thing is that someone at Ludwig decided to call the RIMS style tom mounting brackets 'Vibra-Bands'. I just don't see the point. Still, that's a little petty, the set itself is pretty damn good overall.
What about the price? Ludwig are charging the same amount for each of the 4 Ludwig Accent set-up configurations, and they're available at a fairly low price at the moment. Where's the cheapest place to buy? Here's the cheapest site i've found. They usually have the lowest price and sometimes free delivery too, so I recommend checking them out for the best deal!
The final word: the CS Custom/Elite shows that you don't have to spend crazy money to get a pro sounding and looking drum set. It gives more expensive sets a run for their money, so it's definately one to consider.
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