Drum Set Reviews
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The Yamaha Oak Custom offers an alternative to the more popular maple and birch made sets out there.
Oak is quite a tough wood and is harder to make drums from, so Yamaha tested out the set on a few professional players before mass producing.
Originally offered in some unsual sizes, for example 13" and 15" floor toms (yikes!), the latest sets are a more standard size.
Included in the review set is a 22"x17" bass drum, 10", 12" and 16" toms, and a 14"x7" snare drum. It's only sold as a shell pack so any hardware you need will have to bought seperately. So, does the Oak Custom sound the business? All in good time my friend, first lets check out the specs...
The toms and snare shells have been made with 6-plies of oak, while the bass drum is a bit thicker at 7-plies. They've all been made using Yamaha's Air Seal System which has helped to make the shells consistent.
Oak is a very hard wood and isn't as easy to mold as maple or birch. But, here Yamaha have done a very good job. Running my hand over the insides of the shells, I couldn't find any imperfections, and the bearing edges have been well cut too. Splendid.
Fixed onto the shells are some small bullet-shaped lugs. These connect with just one bolt to help the shells resonate as much as possible. On top, the heads are fixed in place with 2.3mm triple-flanged DynaHoops which work well and look good.
To hang the toms, Yamaha give you their Enhanced Sustain System (YESS). This attaches to the toms with only two bolts, again the idea is to disprupt the shells as little as possible. The floor tom also uses this system, with the leg clamps connecting to it with two bolts each.
What about the finishes? (I hear you say). Well, there only used to be one finish available for the Yamaha Oak kit - York Honey Amber.
Thankfully, Yamaha have now added three more laquered finishes to choose from - Musashi Black, Red Oak, and Silver Sparkle. It's fair to say that they all look very attractive, and the York Honey Amber review set shone beautifully.
On to the most important question - how does the Oak Custom sound? Well, drums made out of oak are quite unique, so is the sound really unique too? I guess it is a little. The characteristics of oak are it's strong fundamental tone, biting hardness, and wide open sound. It's not as dark sounding as maple, or as bright as birch, but is somewhere in the middle.
The 22"x17" bass drum shows of these good qualities with it's power and definition. There is plenty of body to the sound too, and the low-end isn't lacking. I got a hard powerful boom! Nice.
That power is found in the toms as well. They have a good amount of mid-range presence and have a solid, direct sound. They do have some warmth as well though, and they project well enough to cut through a band.
As for the 14"x7" oak snare drum, all I can say is cracking! There's a nice high-end snap, but the sound of the wood also comes through and warms it up.
Thanks to the hard sound, whatever you throw at it, the drum keeps barking right back at you. And lastly, rim shots really stamp there authority. A very nice drum.
Tuning the Yamaha Oak Custom was not at all difficult, and there are plenty of different sounds that you can get from it. The bass drum and toms have a good range and don't lose there solid sound. The snare is really good too, but the 7" depth better lends itself to medium and lower tunings.
As I said earlier, oak drums are not all that common, with maple and birch leading the way. Does that mean that oak isn't as good for making drums? No way! The Oak Custom proves that oak can make some excellent sounding drums, and has it's own distinctive character. The power and strong tone would suit rock players very well, but the clean, wide open sound is ideal for jazz too.
The toms and bass drum perform very well and have plenty of power. But, the star of the set has to be the snare drum. With a hard and focused bite, it's really the heart of the set.
How does it compare? It's difficult to compare the Yamaha Custom to other sets, simply because there aren't really any other oak sets out there. But, generally comparing it to various wood sets in this price range, i'd say it's well made, sound great, and shouldn't be considered as just an alternative.
Any downsides? There isn't anything really bad to say about the Yamaha Oak Custom. Perhaps the sound isn't as universal as maple or birch, so isn't going to suit all musical styles. But, you can buy a few different shell sizes that gives you many more sound options.
What about the the price? Oak is a reasonably cheap raw material, which means that Yamaha are able to offer this pro quality set at a good price. 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: oak isn't as popular as maple or birch, but there isn't really any good reason why not. People just haven't caught on yet. The Oak Custom has a distinctive, quality sound. If you want something more unique - check these babies out!
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