Drum Set Reviews
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The Yamaha Maple Absolute is part of Yamaha's high-end Absolute Series (the Birch Absolute is the other part). It's made from 100% Maple and comes with plenty of cool Yamaha features.
You'll find this set sold most often as a shell pack, but a few places sell it with some hardware too.
Anyway, for this review I got hold of a kit including a 22"x18" bass drum, 12"x8" and 16"x15" toms, with a 14"x6" snare drum. Yamaha seem very confident that this is a great set, even saying its "been the industry standard since it was introduced". Time to find out if that's true...
Well, the Maple Absolute has been made from 100% quality North American Maple. So, we're off to a good start. The tom and snare shells have then been made with 6 plies at 6mm thick, and the bass drum is a bit chunkier at 7 plies, 7mm thick. All the shells are fairly thin, basically because thin shells and Maple kinda go hand in hand, producing a very resonant sound.
The shells are all well built but, it's the features that really grab my attention. There's the re-designed tom mount system, cleverly called the YESS II. It isolates the toms and stops any vibration travelling through the hardware. It's a definate improvement on the original and works well.
Next, there are the small Absolute lugs back due to high demand, and the heavy duty bass drum spurs. If you get the set with an 18" bass drum, you'll get a floating bass drum system too. This raises the batter side off the floor meaning you don't have to shorten the beater shaft to strike the center of the head.
Now, the Yamaha Absolute gets even more interesting when you look at those little holes in the shells (don't worry, mice haven't tunneled into them). Yamaha say they have found out the right placement and number of vent holes to put in each size of shell.
Why do they do this? Basically these vent holes change the tone, sustain, and attack of each drum. So, they use them to enhance the sound qualities of each size of shell. We'll see how it effects the sound later.
Last up, if you're quite picky when it comes to finishes, you'll be happy to know that there are 23 hand-finished lacquers and one wrap available for the Maple Absolute.
The wrap is Marine White Pearl and is pretty basic, but the laquered options are superb. The colour on this review set is Luminous White Sparkle and while it looks basic in the daylight, wait til you see it in the dark. It literally glows luminous green! Awsome!
This Yamaha kit has all the hallmarks of a quality Maple set. There's the warmth, the smooth clear tone, the warmth, the increased resonance, and...did I mention the warmth? Good.
So, those little vent holes I mentioned earlier. They seem to boost the power and shorten the sustain slightly giving a more punchy Maple sound. It's pretty good, kinda like a Maple sound but with some of the punchiness of a Birch set.
The toms are really clear and sound more attacking than I was expecting. Still, they're very musical, and all the things I like about Maple drums are there too, especially the low-end presence. The floor tom is a beauty!
Talking of presence, the bass drum has buckets of it. It's quite a punchy drum giving a short burst of power that fades quite quickly. Again, that's probably helped along by the vent holes. Still, it hasn't not lost any of that lush low-end ooomph!
Completing the line up is the 14"x6" snare. It's crisp and meaty when you tune it lower, great for rock. But, it can crank out some decent hip-hop and funk like sounds too if you go higher.
The response is quick and whatever tuning you go for, it manages to keep that rich Maple tone. I'd happily play it at just about any live gig or in the studio.
So, how does the Yamaha Maple tune up? The snare drum is a good all rounder like I said, but the toms are better at a medium-low tuning because the shells are quite big and deep.
As for the beasty bass drum, i'm impressed with what sounds you can get from it. It's got a focused bop! if you take it high up, and a blunt boom! if you tune it low. Nice.
Let me put this in the simplest most straight forward way I can. The Maple Absolute is a really good drum set. Not the best Maple set i've ever played, but it's way up there. The sound is quick, a little punchy, warm, and resonant. And, considering you get a load of good features like the YESS II tom mounts, vent holes, and Absolute lugs, it's cracking set.
Oh yeah, one more thing. I almost forgot that you can actually get the Yamama Maple Absolute with hook lugs instead of Absolute lugs. These basically have minimal contact with the shells and are the same used on the top-of-the-range Yamaha PHX.
Any downsides? Because of the vent holes, the sound is a little different compared to other 100% Maple sets. But, this shouldn't really be seen as a downside, it's just personal taste. Other than that, it's a real Bobby dazzler! (that means it's good incase you were wondering).
What about the price? This drum set ain't cheap. Heck, what high-end set is? It maybe could be a little cheaper, but if you can get it at a good price, it's really worth while. Where's the cheapest place to buy it? 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 Yamaha Maple Absolute is a super set. It's full of warmth but with that slightly more punchy sound thanks to the vent holes. They give it a slight twist that sets this kit apart from the crowd. If you haven't already...put it on your hit list.
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