Thoughts on DW drums!

kdgrissom

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I think one way DW (or any drum company) could gain a larger market share and vastly improve their image internationally would be to market a 100% US made entry-level kit for high school/college age kids that has all the professional elements in it at a price that's within the reach of a working class family.
Yamaha did a lot of things right when they got serious about getting into the US market, but as a multi-faceted international corporation, I'm sure they were able to take a loss (for years) on manufacturing drums in order to secure market share. American drum companies from the late 60's through the 80's were being tossed around in corporate acquisitions and as a result, dictates from their non-music oriented corporate over-lords led them to lose touch with their own customers.
 
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avedisschwinn

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I never understand the vitriol and disdain many Drummers have for DW. DW pretty much restarted the US made drum industry . They made US drums cool again . I would think especially if I was American that ai would hold the company in better stead .

DW are fantastic marketers and it goes without saying . Is this not an admirable trait for a Company ?
DW has been innovative , has not been devious about their manufacturing practices .

Why the dislike folks ? Is it trendy or cool to like on DW ? Maybe I missed the memo ?
I have never owned a DW kit, but I am sure I would be happy with one. My experience with the company have been few, but I did work for another drum company just getting started, and Don Lombardi came to our NAMM booth and gave us some excellent advice on sourcing parts. I think the disdain comes from two things: 1) Because they are so good at marketing. Things like pitch matching shells seems like magic to some folks and like hocus pocus to others. 2) Because they are so damn popular. It's just the nature of things - when you are the King someone wants to chop your head off. Confession: I own Gretsch, Leedy, and Tama. I think I could make any intermediate level kit sound good enough for my ear. I love drums more than drum companies, but also, I can't imagine feeling "dislike" for a drum company
 

rculberson

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That DW Kool Aid I'm drinking just keeps tasting sweeter and sweeter. Used my hype monsters at a gig last night and they sounded, well, just like pro-level drums. The huge, gaudy lugs don't bother me at all. In fact, I really dig 'em. The drums are round, the badges are round, the lugs seem like a natural extension of that.

I'm sure this is merely abstract bullsh!t on my part, as I'm pretty punch drunk on the propaganda machine at the moment, but I liken the experience so far to driving an old Cadillac (used to own a '71 Coupe DeVille)... these drums feel like they're built for cruisin'. I'm inspired to play fewer notes on them, which is a great thing for what I do.
 
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cobaltspike

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Never been a fan of those turret lugs even back in the Camco days. To me they are too high priced for what they are. Don't get me wrong, they have some beautiful finishes but half is covered up by lugs and mounts. I personally have never thought they sound any better than any other quality drum.
 

hsosdrum

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My take on DW:

• Their marketing has always been way too much "Blessed With Unicorn Tears" for my taste. Ever since the '90s when DW was using Keller shells (which made them a drum finisher, not a drum maker) I chafed at their "We're So Special" marketing approach, since if you don't make your own shells you're not responsible for any mojo your drums may have. This has left a bad taste in my mouth for the brand that the past 25 years has not removed.

• If you know how to tune a drum it doesn't matter what friggin' note John Good says the drum's shell is supposed to be. Sheesh. (P.S. Selecting the right heads for the sound you want is way more important than selecting the right shells.)

• DW still markets their wood finishes more than they market anything else about their drums, and I've always thought that wood finishes look lousy on stage. Throw colored lights on 'em and they all turn into a cross between coffee and chocolate milk.

• Their drums just don't have enough 'bite' to satisfy my ear. I want my toms to bark, and DW toms don't (especially with those coated/clear factory heads). And their bass drums are way too much 'thump' for my taste, I like my BDs to have more presence with intact reso heads. Their snares aren't bad, but nothing I can't get from other brands for fewer $$$.

• I HATE the turret lugs; I hated them all the way back to when Camco was still up and running in Oaklawn. They're a deal-breaker for me.

• I also hate that "around the lugs" suspension mount. Of course, I hate all suspension mounts. Max Weinberg has it right: Screw a bracket onto your tom shell, hang it from a bass drum tom mount with an L-arm and get down to business.

• I LOVE DW bass drum pedals. I'm using a pair of 9000s and they're by far the best pedals I've ever laid my feet on. You know that 'direct contact' feeling you get when you tap your foot on the floor? That's the way playing with DW 9000 pedals feels to me — like there's nothing intervening between my feet and my bass drums. No other pedal has ever felt that way to me. A total game-changer.

So as far as I'm concerned, DW is the best pedal company out there. Everything else? Not so much.
 

bbunks

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My take on DW:


• If you know how to tune a drum it doesn't matter what friggin' note John Good says the drum's shell is supposed to be. Sheesh. (P.S. Selecting the right heads for the sound you want is way more important than selecting the right shells.)

• DW still markets their wood finishes more than they market anything else about their drums, and I've always thought that wood finishes look lousy on stage. Throw colored lights on 'em and they all turn into a cross between coffee and chocolate milk.

• I also hate that "around the lugs" suspension mount. Of course, I hate all suspension mounts. Max Weinberg has it right: Screw a bracket onto your tom shell, hang it from a bass drum tom mount with an L-arm and get down to business.
A few thoughts from my cheap seats:

— I have a Slingerland kit and the mounted toms may as well be from different sets. They don’t play well together.

Also had a Pearl kit and had a hard time making those toms sound good.

In both cases, I’ve tried a variety of heads. The outcome: I only use 1 mounted tom on the Slingerlands, and I sold the Pearls.

My DW toms are the easiest drums I’ve had to tune with any head I’ve tried - single ply, double ply, vintage, heads with sound rings, etc. If it’s shell matching or unicorn tears, I don’t care - they tune beautifully.

— my DW has a Zebrawood finish. Looks great under the lights.

— I’m a RIMS / suspension mount guy. To my ears they sound better. But, those are my ears.

Regardless, it’s a great time to buy drums - so many choices and the quality is better than when I bought my first pro kit in the 70s.
 

RIDDIM

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My take on DW:

• Their marketing has always been way too much "Blessed With Unicorn Tears" for my taste. Ever since the '90s when DW was using Keller shells (which made them a drum finisher, not a drum maker) I chafed at their "We're So Special" marketing approach, since if you don't make your own shells you're not responsible for any mojo your drums may have. This has left a bad taste in my mouth for the brand that the past 25 years has not removed.

• If you know how to tune a drum it doesn't matter what friggin' note John Good says the drum's shell is supposed to be. Sheesh. (P.S. Selecting the right heads for the sound you want is way more important than selecting the right shells.)

• DW still markets their wood finishes more than they market anything else about their drums, and I've always thought that wood finishes look lousy on stage. Throw colored lights on 'em and they all turn into a cross between coffee and chocolate milk.

• Their drums just don't have enough 'bite' to satisfy my ear. I want my toms to bark, and DW toms don't (especially with those coated/clear factory heads). And their bass drums are way too much 'thump' for my taste, I like my BDs to have more presence with intact reso heads. Their snares aren't bad, but nothing I can't get from other brands for fewer $$$.

• I HATE the turret lugs; I hated them all the way back to when Camco was still up and running in Oaklawn. They're a deal-breaker for me.

• I also hate that "around the lugs" suspension mount. Of course, I hate all suspension mounts. Max Weinberg has it right: Screw a bracket onto your tom shell, hang it from a bass drum tom mount with an L-arm and get down to business.

• I LOVE DW bass drum pedals. I'm using a pair of 9000s and they're by far the best pedals I've ever laid my feet on. You know that 'direct contact' feeling you get when you tap your foot on the floor? That's the way playing with DW 9000 pedals feels to me — like there's nothing intervening between my feet and my bass drums. No other pedal has ever felt that way to me. A total game-changer.

So as far as I'm concerned, DW is the best pedal company out there. Everything else? Not so much.
- If you don't like something, don't buy it.
 

hsosdrum

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- If you don't like something, don't buy it.
That's why when I bought a brand-new drumset in 2013 it consisted of Ludwig drums and DW pedals. Me = Happy Camper!

Don't forget, the OP asked for "thoughts on DW drums". I'm sure they meant all thoughts, not just positive ones.
 

JDA

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Back before the internet I bought a second hand 6 X 14 DW snare 6+6 ?or 10 +6? what do I remember.. it was RED. Hmm. But it was affordable. I liked that drum Nice strainer it was everything. Not a Ton of character. But nice. And it was RED. lacquer. Had to go . didn't last with me.
Another time...again pre internet.. I was at Waddells one night in Leechburg ( a minor hit of the 40s..) and He had taken in on trade a DW whitish blue marine pearl matching wood snare, 16X20, 8X10, 8X12, and a 14X14. Oh...boy...

Everyone got real quiet. They thought I was going to buy it.
Man those drums sang. The pearl was curling up on each drum but that didn't bother me. I liked them. The way the toms sat on the bass the angle(s) were perfect. Nice little funky. For get the price did I buy them NO But haven't forgot them.
After that all the DW sets I saw got crazy. But I remember that one/
 

drumphils

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The first DW set I’ve ever owned was purchased in the summer of 2018.
Built in 1991, 7x8, 8x10, 9x12 12x14, 16x20. DW slide mount on the bass is, perfect! DW batters with the white rings, clear DW batters as reso heads. DD, 74 on the 8,10,12, and 72 on the 12 and 14, I think 72 on the bass....
I have only positive feelings about this set.
 

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cashmanbashman

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This seems an outrageous and indefensible statement to me.

Without knowing the specific claim how do you dismiss it unilaterally?

You basically just said that, without even looking into it or knowing specifics, anybody on any drum forum who states that they had quality issues with DW is a liar while inferring that they only made this statement because they don’t like DWs sound or image or marketing.


How does someone “like” this statement?

We just had a member here who had quality issues with a new DW kit. Hopefully I can provide a little cover fire for him to at least relate his experience for context.
Here you go, and I still love DW but there not devoid of a problem here or there.
E9058A8C-F333-46F2-A485-C220BE8CC3C4.jpeg
 

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bob

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here is my take on , dw drums .... i like them .... you can't beat their champagne glass glitter finish in my book of booklets
 

cashmanbashman

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JDA

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"This is the closest most of us will come to a vintage Camco set in jazz sizes. The new Santa Monica replicates those early 6+6 maple shells comprised of thicker, 1/32" plies.

This shell pack consists of:

*14" (depth) x 18" (diameter) bass drum;
*8" x 12" mounted tom;
*14" x 14" floor tom; and
*5" x 14" snare drum."



"Ooooooookay...
 
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CigarScott

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I think one way DW (or any drum company) could gain a larger market share and vastly improve their image internationally would be to market a 100% US made entry-level kit for high school/college age kids that has all the professional elements in it at a price that's within the reach of a working class family.
Yamaha did a lot of things right when they got serious about getting into the US market, but as a multi-faceted international corporation, I'm sure they were able to take a loss (for years) on manufacturing drums in order to secure market share. American drum companies from the late 60's through the 80's were being tossed around in corporate acquisitions and as a result, dictates from their non-music oriented corporate over-lords led them to lose touch with their own customers.
If you watched the profit, SJC tried this and if you listen to their episode on the Drum History podcast that they abandoned this similar concept once they realized that it was economically impossible. As much as I like "buying American" or buying from friendly countries and avoiding buying stuff made in China, if DW can mass produce a standard 5 piece kit in the US with 3-4 finishes and get it down $1500, that's still twice the price of a Pearl Export or Mapex or Tama equivalent and hard for a lot of parents to justify.

I had a friend recently wanting a smartphone that wasn't made in China or made with core components made in China. I found this small company in the US that assembles the phones in the US of core components from place like Taiwan, India, Malaysia, and so on but the phone is $2000 and with no major carrier support so there is no payment plan that can be tied to your monthly bill. Unfortunately, at this time only a niche market exists for the security conscious and people that seriously want to avoid buying Chinese-made products who are willing to spend $2000 on a no-name Android phone instead of getting a Samsung or Apple.

Point is that I think most non-Asian drum makers have ceded this market segment to the manufacturers with large factories in Asia. There is no way that you're producing a drum kit in the US, Canada, Australia or any European country, for below $1000 and break even. And you can get some really nice intermediate or low-professional level kits for $1500 nowadays so most rational people are going spend their money where they get more bang for their buck.
 

Core Creek

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For me value always plays into a kit. What did I pay for it and what is it worth.

I’m sure DW kits are great sounding with the right heads, but at this point there are few deals to be had, and there are comparable kits for far less....

Case in point... I recently bought a set of Kaman Legends, 8,10,12,14,16,22 and matching snare for a great price, and it uses the same Keller shells that DW used in the 90’s. But I paid less than half of the going rate for a comparable DW kit. And with high prices I always wonder if the premium is because the product is better, or am I paying for advertising, or hype. I sort of feel the same way about PRS guitars - I got a Carvin that does everything the PRS does and more for half the price.

I tend to find that DW became a fashion trend in the 2000’s. If you were “anyone” with a deal you got DW, and so their presence became ubiquitous. And every impressionable drummer followed suit. I’m not saying they aren’t great drums, just that they became very trendy, and my desire for a deal never has me follow the trends.
 

Core Creek

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Oh, as for hardware, I am not a fan. I’ve done several sessions at a local studio that has a DW kit and hardware and I was always wrestling with the hardware to get it how I liked.

And man do I hate the 9000 pedals.... heavy and way overpriced. I could never get fast triplets on one when it was so easy on my Iron Cobra. I had a student who’s dad bought him a nice set of Starclassics and a 9000 double pedal and he asked me to help sell it on Craigslist and get him an iron cobra as well....
 

kdgrissom

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Point is that I think most non-Asian drum makers have ceded this market segment to the manufacturers with large factories in Asia. There is no way that you're producing a drum kit in the US, Canada, Australia or any European country, for below $1000 and break even. And you can get some really nice intermediate or low-professional level kits for $1500 nowadays so most rational people are going spend their money where they get more bang for their buck.
You make a good point, that I didn't really consider. I did the math and realized that the Rogers Swivomatic kit it bought brand new (at a music store!) in 1975 for about $750 would be around $3,600 in todays dollars.
 


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