Mapex Drums - Quality Ranking

DrummerCT

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In addition to other kits & drums (vintage and otherwise), I have a number of Mapex drums: Saturn 5-piece black cherry sparkle kit and a number of extra toms in varying finishes: Saturn's, Saturn Pro, M's, Horizons). Overall I'm very impressed with their sound and quality. In the last year or two, they've updated their product lines.

I'm wanting to refine my knowledge of their drum series, and below is a list of some (most?) of them. They're sequentially ranked from lower end to higher end (my opinion). If you're familiar with Mapex, are there any additions, series-wise? Is the sequence roughly correct? Are some of the series more or less equivalent?

I'd like to end up with a correct identification of their all their drum series, and get the sequence correct. Maybe some of them are "parallel" in terms of quality, in which case the updated list would have such on the same line.

Your opinions please...

Voyager
M – Birch or Maple Shells
Mars
Pro M
Armory
Mydentity
Meridian Birch
Meridian Maple
Saturn Pro
Saturn
Saturn IV
Black Panther
Orion
 
M

Matt Middleton

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Mars would come before M both sequentially and in terms of quality. Same for Pro M and Mars Pro. The Saturn series would all be equivalent. Before the Voyager would be the QR series. MyDentity and Meridian are equivalent. Between Voyager and Mars/M would be the Horizon series.
 

Tim Boettcher

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I was playing Mapex before my endorsement with them... I think they are, in my opinion, a very under rated drum company. In all my years of playing and all the kits that I've bought new, I have never seen a drum kit ship with perfect bearing edges like they do with Mapex. Some other kits I've bought in the past have been really good, close to perfect, but nothing like Mapex!! This being said, I have had experience on the MyDentity, Armory and Meridian Maple... Great tone and focused drums, flawless finish and great playability,

My phone didnt send whole message...

My rankings would be..

Black Panther
Saturn
MyDentity
Meridian
Armory
Mars
Voyager

Timmy
 

xsabers

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Boy, this is a tough one as you are crossing generations of product. The top 4, Saturn through Orion are indeed high quality and outside of the different woods and finishes, I would rate them all in the top spot. Saturn Pro may need to be in multiple categories as I believe the makeup changed over the years. Mydentity and Meridian Maple and Birch would be on the same rung of the ladder with the possible consideration that the Mydentities are wrapped, but built to customized specs so to me it's a wash. Pro M would be an earlier version of the Meridian so hardware upgrades and newer finishes would be the main differences. Armory are blended wood shells and while amazing, I might have them half a step below the Meridians. Again, improvements in design might move them up with the Pro Ms. The Armory hardware is vastly improved over the Pro M or Meridian. Mars is a problem because there is the classic Mars line, a step below Pro M, and the current Mars Line, a step below Armory. So I guess they might fall into the same ranking slot, they are vastly different lines with the exception of the name. At their ridiculously low price point, the new Mars may be the best bang for the buck in drumming. M-Birch; M-Maple are decent enough and once again, these drums morphed over time to Mars, Pro M and Meridian. A big step up from Voyager though. Throw in some of the odd ball offerings like the Deep Forest series, and the whole hierarchy comes into question.
 

DrummerCT

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Thanks, will see if a few others weigh in and then make an attempt at revising the list...

Hierarchy aside for the moment, I'm very impressed with the quality of the Mapex gear I have - the finishes, bearing edges and hardware. I recently picked up a walnut transparent lacquer finished Saturn 14 x 14 - the thing musically roars. Out of curiosity, I then pursued and found two new Horizon walnut transparent lacquer finished Horizons (8" and 12") and the quality of the finish is the same although the Horizons are birch rather than the Saturn's walnut/maple wood.

I looked at the Mydentity site yesterday, and yes they're all wraps, which is an affordable avenue for achieving certain looks that would be hard to do or too expensive using a lacquer approach.

I'm currently on the hunt for a 16" Mapex walnut finish that has sufficient quality to use as a floor tom --> bass drum conversion. This, in particular, is what got me curious about sorting out the Mapex product series... This would round out things and give me a matching transparent "bass drum" - a small venue kit of 16" BD, 8, 12, 14 toms.

I did identify an available Horizon 16" x 16" floor tom but there's only 6 lugs per hoop - not enough for using in a pounding bass drum conversion situation. So, am interested, instead, in an 8-lug per hoop walnut finish.

And then I'd need that matching Retrosonic snare drum (haven't heard one but on paper it looks great)!
 

mcjaco

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I'd never played a Mapex kit until I came across an M-Birch kit on CL with gig bags for $500. I couldn't pass it up. I love it (Honey Amber finish), and am truly impressed with the fit and finish, and the hardware. It's been a pleasant surprise.
 

Polska

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mcjaco said:
I'd never played a Mapex kit until I came across an M-Birch kit on CL with gig bags for $500. I couldn't pass it up. I love it (Honey Amber finish), and am truly impressed with the fit and finish, and the hardware. It's been a pleasant surprise.
That is almost exactly the deal I got, for the same finish too! Love 'em!
 

TDM

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Matt Middleton said:
MyDentity and Meridian are equivalent.
MyDentity is a lower end line with a lot of pre-set options. All MyDentity finishes are wraps, even those that look like natural wood. The Meridian line is actually two lines (birch and maple) and they are not the same. Birch is the lower end of the two, with a hybrid shell (not solid birch), fewer size options, lower grade hardware, and a mixture of wrap and lacquer finishes. Maple is a solid maple shell, with greater size options, higher end hardware, and all lacquer finishes.

I played a Meridian Maple kit for a while and ended up purchasing some Meridian Maple toms for a small gigging kit I put together. To my ear, the sound of Meridian Maple is as good as any high-end maple kit I've played. And, the build quality and finishing are superb, equivalent to medium and high end offerings from other drum companies. The key difference is price, which is considerably lower than one would expect. One of the best drum bargains around currently.
 

DrummerCT

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Thanks all - this is good additional information...

and, Yep, the honey amber is a great finish!

For the Saturns, I'm familiar with Saturn Pro, Saturn and Saturn IV. Presumably Saturn IV means it's the 4th generation; if so, what it the proper sequence to get to 4 generations of?
 

nicmilliner

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Here's what I remember from a year I worked there about 11 years ago. I also kept up in the subsequent years because my wife did graphic design stuff for a few years from about 06-08.

*Venus - V series - They started as Venus and the got shortened to V. The"Voyager" was a configuration of a mini kit within the V series. (These were basswood with wraps. At one point they did a "textured" V series kit that was lacquer but had a rough check/crackled look)

*Mars became M Series (I think these were basswood shells with lacquer)

*Mars Pro became Pro M (Pro M originally was basswood with outer and inner maple and had more finishes. Eventually they became all maple.)

*Saturn Pro became Saturn Series (went from basswood/maple to maple/walnut)

* Orion (all maple)

*Deep Forrest and Black Panther were specialty kits. Deep Forrest came in walnut and cherry shells with natural finishes and the Black
Panther kit had black satin finish with birds eye maple and black nickel hardware. The cherry had gold hardware and the walnut had black nickel. I don't think they made these for very long.

Around 2003 they added a line that was even more affordable than V and it was called Q series.

Also in 2004 they came out with a limited run of drums they called Orion Orbiter which was a maple shell but with all the hardware and fittings of Pro M drums. These didn't have anything on the oval shaped badge except "Mapex" and it was basically the same badge they put on the Q series. It really didn't make much sense why they did this.

At some point they made Pro M all maple and hence the reason why the Orion Orbiter was a only a limited run.

I think they eventually made M series with birch and or maple and then I think they did away with M and Pro M and came out with Meridian maple and birch and expanded the Saturn series with some other shell layup combinations like birch/walnut.
 

TDM

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Adding current-day context to my previous post. My concern with Mapex is the company seems focused on middle tier (and lower tier) niches. As such, their current lines offer less by way of sizes and customization than only a few years ago. I'm particularly disappointed to see the Armory series replace Meridian Maple. Meridian Maple featured solid maple shells and had grown to provide many sizes and options. Armory, by contrast, features hybrid shells and is a preconfigured, shell-pack-only offering. This same, "preconfigured" approach is filtering through to Mapex's higher lines too. This is turning me away from the brand because I want sizing flexibility (such as 20x14 or 20x16, instead of 20x18).
 

xsabers

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TDM said:
Adding current-day context to my previous post. My concern with Mapex is the company seems focused on middle tier (and lower tier) niches. As such, their current lines offer less by way of sizes and customization than only a few years ago. I'm particularly disappointed to see the Armory series replace Meridian Maple. Meridian Maple featured solid maple shells and had grown to provide many sizes and options. Armory, by contrast, features hybrid shells and is a preconfigured, shell-pack-only offering. This same, "preconfigured" approach is filtering through to Mapex's higher lines too. This is turning me away from the brand because I want sizing flexibility (such as 20x14 or 20x16, instead of 20x18).
Actually, according to MAPEX, the Mydentity replaced the Meridian line. They saw no need from a business standpoint to make two lines of high quality, maple shells. Your earlier comment about the Mydentity being a low end line is incorrect. If anything, the shells are a slight step up from the Meridian as they use some NA Maple plies.

The Meridian Birch were indeed all birch shells, according to the 2009 catalog. Same hardware as the Meridian Maple except fewer lugs on the FT (six vs. eight).
 

Tim Boettcher

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xsabers said:
Adding current-day context to my previous post. My concern with Mapex is the company seems focused on middle tier (and lower tier) niches. As such, their current lines offer less by way of sizes and customization than only a few years ago. I'm particularly disappointed to see the Armory series replace Meridian Maple. Meridian Maple featured solid maple shells and had grown to provide many sizes and options. Armory, by contrast, features hybrid shells and is a preconfigured, shell-pack-only offering. This same, "preconfigured" approach is filtering through to Mapex's higher lines too. This is turning me away from the brand because I want sizing flexibility (such as 20x14 or 20x16, instead of 20x18).
Actually, according to MAPEX, the Mydentity replaced the Meridian line. They saw no need from a business standpoint to make two lines of high quality, maple shells. Your earlier comment about the Mydentity being a low end line is incorrect. If anything, the shells are a slight step up from the Meridian as they use some NA Maple plies.

The Meridian Birch were indeed all birch shells, according to the 2009 catalog. Same hardware as the Meridian Maple except fewer lugs on the FT (six vs. eight).
Correct on all points! The MyDentity are far from low tier....
 

tamadrm

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Believe it or not Glen...agreed.I've heard Orions and even the discontinued Deep Forest cherry walnut series,and Saturns just seem to sound warmer,yet articulate.

So from top to bottom :
Black Panther
Saturn ..Orion
My Dentity
Meridian maple or birch.Equally good,it just depends on taste
Voyager or Horizon

And yes they build great drums for their price point.The first time I ever heard of them,Mike Palmer of Garth Brooks band was playing a double bass kit,and they sounded pretty good to me.

Steve B
 

TDM

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xsabers and Tim Boettcher,

xsabers wrote:
Actually, according to MAPEX, the Mydentity replaced the Meridian line. They saw no need from a business standpoint to make two lines of high quality, maple shells. (snip) If anything, the shells are a slight step up from the Meridian as they use some NA Maple plies.
To my ear, sonically, I don't notice much difference between North American maple and Asian maple. However, I do realize there is a difference price-wise and in terms of perception. Mydentity doesn't fill the shoes of Meridian Maple because the finishes aren't the same high-end lacquers featured on Meridian Maple. Also, Mydentity is only available in America. You can't buy Mydentity anywhere else in the world whereas Meridian Maple was a worldwide line. Though Mapex now places Mydentity above its middle tier lines, none-the-less, Mydentity seems like a downgraded version of Meridian, particularily due to the lack of non-wrap finishes. The shells may be similar, but the finishing and hardware between the two lines are quite different.

xsabers wrote:
The Meridian Birch were indeed all birch shells, according to the 2009 catalog. Same hardware as the Meridian Maple except fewer lugs on the FT (six vs. eight).
The original Meridian Birch and Meridian Maple lines were the same. Somewhere along, Mapex decided to downgrade the birch line. The later Meridian Birch kits were not solid birch and lacked the wide range of size options that continued expanding for the maple line.
 

xsabers

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TDM said:
xsabers and Tim Boettcher,

xsabers wrote:
Actually, according to MAPEX, the Mydentity replaced the Meridian line. They saw no need from a business standpoint to make two lines of high quality, maple shells. (snip) If anything, the shells are a slight step up from the Meridian as they use some NA Maple plies.
To my ear, sonically, I don't notice much difference between North American maple and Asian maple. However, I do realize there is a difference price-wise and in terms of perception. Mydentity doesn't fill the shoes of Meridian Maple because the finishes aren't the same high-end lacquers featured on Meridian Maple. Also, Mydentity is only available in America. You can't buy Mydentity anywhere else in the world whereas Meridian Maple was a worldwide line. Though Mapex now places Mydentity above its middle tier lines, none-the-less, Mydentity seems like a downgraded version of Meridian, particularily due to the lack of non-wrap finishes. The shells may be similar, but the finishing and hardware between the two lines are quite different.

xsabers wrote:
The Meridian Birch were indeed all birch shells, according to the 2009 catalog. Same hardware as the Meridian Maple except fewer lugs on the FT (six vs. eight).
The original Meridian Birch and Meridian Maple lines were the same. Somewhere along, Mapex decided to downgrade the birch line. The later Meridian Birch kits were not solid birch and lacked the wide range of size options that continued expanding for the maple line.


I would have to take your word for it because the catalogs just don't support the Meridian Birch separating too much from the Maple line. The last year the Meridian Birch was offered was 2011 and the catalog list the shell composition as "6-ply all birch". The 2012 catalog drops the Meridian Birch altogether and offers a Horizon Birch or the Mydentity Birch instead. In 2011, you could get the same bass drum options except in the maple you could order a few of the sizes with no tom mount. Birch had 15 rack tom options vs. 21 in maple and 5 floor tom sizes vs 7 in maple. Each came in 1 of 7 hand lacquered finishes.
 
M

Matt Middleton

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TDM said:
MyDentity and Meridian are equivalent.
MyDentity is a lower end line with a lot of pre-set options. All MyDentity finishes are wraps, even those that look like natural wood. The Meridian line is actually two lines (birch and maple) and they are not the same. Birch is the lower end of the two, with a hybrid shell (not solid birch), fewer size options, lower grade hardware, and a mixture of wrap and lacquer finishes. Maple is a solid maple shell, with greater size options, higher end hardware, and all lacquer finishes.

I played a Meridian Maple kit for a while and ended up purchasing some Meridian Maple toms for a small gigging kit I put together. To my ear, the sound of Meridian Maple is as good as any high-end maple kit I've played. And, the build quality and finishing are superb, equivalent to medium and high end offerings from other drum companies. The key difference is price, which is considerably lower than one would expect. One of the best drum bargains around currently.
As previously stated, MyDentity birch and maple shells are Meridian shells with wraps instead of lacquered. The wrap was done because they could turn around a customized instrument in under 30 days. Wrapping a drum does not automatically make it inferior. The 2 lines existed simultaneously at first.

The hierarchy I provided earlier is/was established by Mapex themselves and is not my personal opinion.

I have never seen anything in print or digitally to substantiate the clam that Meridian Birch is anything other than 100% birch shell. In the absence of any proof to the contrary, I'll assume it's an innocent mistake on your part.
 

TDM

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Hi xsabers,

I'm taking my information from various observations of the Mapex USA and Mapex International web sites over time, and from conversations with my dealer, who contacted Mapex numerous times on my behalf. It's possible I misunderstood some of the details. At any rate, I don't wish to get into a "who is right" type of debate. Indeed, I may well be wrong! :)

One thing I do believe to be true: Mapex is presently one of the best drum buying bargains. The drums are extremely well made, sound as good as top tier stuff, and with the exception of the very top end lines, typically cost less than mid tier offerings from other manufacturers.
 


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