Drum Set Reviews
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The Yamaha Stage Custom Birch is a mid entry-level set. It offers players the chance of owning some 100% Birch drums with that classic Yamaha sound.
It can be bought as a shell pack, or with some Yamaha hardware included as well.
The review kit here includes a 22"x17" bass drum, 14"x5.5" snare, and 10", 12", and 16" toms. Also included is Yamaha's 700 series hardware.
Yamaha have been making quality Birch sets for more than 30 years, and now offer that sound for a lower price. Let's take a closer look...
All shells on the Stage Custom, apart from the bass drum, are made from 6-plies of Birch and are 6mm thick. The bass drum uses 7-plies and is slightly thicker for a more powerful sound. Having a closer look at the shells, they have standard 45-degree bearing edges, and they look generally well put together and smooth.
The toms and snare drum have 1.6mm steel hoops, and all the drums are fitted with small bullet-shaped lugs to increase shell resonance. The tom mount gives a decent range of positioning options and is quite straight forward to use. It's all nice and easy.
Lastly, there are 8 laquered finishes available for this drum set, from Raven black to Saphire blue. The review kit came in a Cranberry red finish, and looked smart enough to me. It doesn't dazzle, but it does look good.
The Yamaha 700 series hardware accompanying the set is all single braced. It would have been nice to see some double braced hardware but this is still ok. Included is a hi-hat stand, snare drum stand, 2 boom cymbal stands, and a bass drum pedal.
The boom cymbal stands and snare stand are sturdy enough, flexible, and are easy to use. The hi-hat stand also performed reasonably well, but the legs didn't extend as wide as they could. As a result, it wasn't as stable when using the pedal hard. Bummer.
As for the bass drum pedal, it has a single chain drive and felt beater. It's a little on the basic side and isn't something I'd like to use day in day out. It would suit a beginners needs just fine though, until you were ready to upgrade.
Now onto the all important sound. Birch naturally has quite a warm tone, with some higher end presence. It's no suprise then, that the toms sound rounded and warm, but also have plenty of attack. The 16" floor tom gives that bit more low-end as expected, and sustains the sound well.
The 22"x17" bass drum delivers a very big sound that perhaps lacks some clarity. It has plenty of volume and projection, but benefits from some dampening to get a more soild sound. Once it has been tweaked, it's more focused and to the point.
Playing the 14"x5.5" snare drum gives a fair old 'crack', and rim shots cut through, especially at a slightly higher tuning. Overall the drum is quite responsive and produces a respectable sound. Great, what about the tuning range?
Well, after playing around with different tunings, i'd say the Stage Custom would have a good enough range for most needs. The toms are all easy to tune and sound good at higher or lower pitches. The bass drum offers a fair range of different sounds, but I liked it best tuned to a medium-low tension.
Lastly, the snare drum is best at a medium tuning were it gives a good responsive sound. Tuning the snare quite high or low didn't sound as good. Still, you'll be happy with it, unless the sound you want is really out there of course.
Yamaha have been making great sounding Birch drums for more than 30 years. The Custom Birch offers this classic sound but in a lower priced, mid entry-level set. The focus of the set is on the quality of this Birch sound, and that's where Yamaha have spent most of the money. The hardware is still does a good job, but could be better.
The Stage Custom Birch stands up well against other kits in this price range. There are, for example, 100% Birch kits from Mapex, Pacfic, Sonor and others that are also worth looking into. There isn't a lot to choose between them in this competitive price range, they all have a good sound and are priced well.
Any downsides? There are a few negative points I have to mention about the this drum kit. The snare drum struggles slightly at higher and lower tunings, the hi-hat stand could be steadier, and the bass drum pedal is a bit mediocre. Still, like all kits in this league, there are always going to be some imperfections. Thankfully, these aren't too much to worry about.
What about the price? The Yamaha Stage Custom Birch, with hardware included, is a good deal. There are cheaper 100% Birch kits available, but they don't have that classic Yamaha sound. 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: this is Yamaha's classic Birch sound at an affordable price. It's not perfect, but at the lower cost...it's a really decent set.
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