Creation Drum Company Custom Maple Kit
Review by: Christopher Golinski
|Features Usability Sound Documentation & Product Support Price
Contact Info Overall Rating—Product Summary
Around the same time, Greg Abrom was making drums under the company name Trinity Percussion, trying his best to get his name out there. As time went on, Greg had heard of Creation’s reputation as well as Anderson’s desire to let the company go. After confirming that Anderson wanted the company name to live on, Greg purchased the Creation Drum Company and moved operations to New Jersey, where they have been operating for the past two years.
Though a relatively new name in the drum industry, Greg has been making fast tracks in a very short amount of time. As demonstrated by the solid craftsmanship and uniquely attractive design of the custom maple kit they sent us, Creation Drum Company strives to provide quality custom instruments at a price that most professional drummers can afford.
The shells on our review kit possessed a lively sound that coupled a good mix of bright, full tones with strong attack. While we did not particularly care for the head combinations chosen for the two floor toms, the beauty of dealing with a custom drum company like this is that you can order drums with whatever heads (and options) you prefer. And if you’re not sure what the best options would be for your style of playing, just pick up the phone or send an email. Greg and sales manager Keith Droz routinely take a drummer’s desired sound, look and needs into consideration and then help them spec out the drum kit of their dreams.
Guitar players have been buying boutique instruments from small custom builders for years, but many drummers don’t realize that they have some cool custom options available, too. And if you’re ready to create a personal statement with your kit, Creation Drum Company needs to be on your short list.
It should be noted that one of the advantages of dealing with a custom drum company is that there is direct contact between the consumer and builder of the products, regardless of issues like where your band is on the charts or how quick your double strokes are on the kick drums. Thus, Keith Droz was kind enough to stop by and personally drop off one of their five piece maple drum kits. The set includes one 20”x18” kick drum, one 12”x8” rack tom, one 14”x14” floor tom, one 16”x14” floor tom, and one 14”x5” snare drum.
The kick drum is made of an eight-ply maple shell, the toms made of a six-ply maple shell, and the snare made of a ten-ply hybrid bamboo/maple shell. The maple shells are all manufactured by Keller, while the outer ply of the snare drum is manufactured by Veneer Supplies. Though Creation Drum Company can make drums from a wide variety of plys, we were told by Keith and Greg that this particular configuration is a sort of “home base” template that they use as their default specification. Of course shell size, thickness, and material are crucial aspects to consider when purchasing a new drum kit, but we cannot deny the almost as important, if not more important, criteria when purchasing new drums: aesthetic appeal. The fundamental question is, of course, “Will these drums help me steal some attention from the lead singer and guitar player?”
The likelihood of that happening with this kit is very high — the finish on this kit is quite striking. Not only does this claim apply to its physical appearance, but also when considering the concept behind its design. At first glance, we felt that it reminded us of the cover art from Metallica’s Load. For those of you who do not remember (or choose not to remember) that record, the cover art has a very lava lamp, flame (sort of), vibe. The Creation Drum Company kit had a very similar vibe, but with a very different color scheme. In place of reds and oranges, there are greens and silvers. At the center, a patch of silver resides around the circumference of the shell allowing for the most visibility of what we’ll call the Load design. As the eye gradually approaches the bearing edges of the drum, the color gradually changes from a light jade to a darker green and then finally to a black. Thus, when taking in the color scheme as a whole, the silver portion of the finish implies as absence of color as your eye gradually moves towards the shell’s center.
The design itself, according to Greg, was created in PhotoShop and then sent over to Cazdude Designs, who create a wide assortment of custom drum kit wraps. This particular design was printed on a chrome foil that could later be replaced with a new design if you ever grew tired of it, therefore allowing you the freedom to completely redesign the look of your kit while retaining the sound you love.
Though the included snare drum was not a matching piece, its appearance was equally as attractive, and it emanated a more sophisticated, classic image. The untouched outer ply of bamboo gave the snare a clean, natural finish, which is characteristic of many high-end drums. However, this drum does come with a twist. Included on the shell is a rather uniquely shaped air vent cut in the silhouetted shape of a certain cartoon mouse’s head. Larger air vents have become a sort of craze because they provide louder projection for heavy hitters (not to mention their use by high profile artists like Travis Barker). This is certainly one of the most unique looking vents we’ve ever seen. It should also be mentioned that it was cut through complete custom routing work.
The kit was also outfitted with matching black hardware (made by WorldMax) so as not to detract from the design. This included flanged hoops, off set triangular shaped bass drum lug casings, a Uni-Lock Tom Holder by Pearl mixed with a Star Cast Mounting System for the rack tom, and floor tom legs that appeared to be arranged in a sort of reverse mounting system (this will be further elaborated on in the usability section). Hardware on the snare included a Trick throw off and lug casings made of aircraft aluminum by Ego Drum Supply.
A pretty standard practice when buying a new drum kit fresh from the retail store or the manufacturer directly is to replace the included heads on the drums. The fact is, most drum companies are least concerned with the quality of their included heads when considering what is more commonly seen as a part that will need to be replaced immediately, not to mention the subjective issue of taste when it comes to a drummer finding his/her sound. However, with Creation Drum Company, kits leave the shop outfitted with whichever heads a drummer so desires. All head manufactures are available, so the possibilities are endless.
This particular kit came outfitted with an Evans Genera Dry on the batter side and an Evans 500 gl on the snare, Evans EC2 Coated Heads on top of all toms, Evans Resonant Heads on all the bottoms, and an Evans EMAD batter and resonant on the kick drum.
For the most part, the kit had a nice tuning range. Since the included kick was a 20”x18” instead of your standard 22”x18”, it not only had a broader tuning range and broader consequent application to various styles of music, but it was a lighter drum to deal with — it didn’t have a built-in tom mount. This makes it ideal for a gigging drummer who usually has to carry their own gear through anything like high staircases and small hallways.
However, there were two issues with the hardware that we found as a mentionable concern. For one thing, we felt that the included Uni-Lock Tom Holder by Pearl for the rack tom, though very study, cold have been replaced by a more flexible ball and joint tom holder. The latter would allow for much more mobility and less hassle as you would likely not have to mess with the cymbal stand itself as much. This could also be a concern when staging is an issue and while striving for comfort, you do not want to have your kit invade in another musician’s space.
Our other concern was with the nature of the floor tom legs. While most certainly an aesthetically pleasing feature, we felt that the addition of this “inverted star cast mounting system,” known as a floor tom cradle, was very impractical, if not a little clumsy. The system essentially holds on to the floor toms by a number of tension rods (in between the lug casings and hoop). Though there is a rubber stopper to prevent any metal on metal contact, the system moves for a moment whenever the floor tom is moved, thus making it (temporarily) feel unstable.Heights for the floor toms were adjusted via a drum key, which provided an additional issue with set up and minor adjustments — players with club gigs may find this system completely impractical. For a studio kit, however, or for a touring artist with a kit permanently staged on a riser (aren’t all of our readers multi-platinum superstars?), we don’t have any issues with it. Considering that multiple floor toms usually reside close to one another, the mounting system required additional space between the toms. We felt that as cool as it was to look at, it had the potential to compromise our desired kit configuration. Again, though, this is all custom stuff, and you can choose to get drums with different hardware.
As made clear to us by Keith and Greg personally, the primary goal of Creation Drum Company is to make a quality instrument that has a great sound first and a great look second. That desire can be seen in the fact that none of the drums on this kit were obstructed by any hardware whatsoever. It would therefore make sense that aside from the easy tuneability, high quality craftsmanship, and popularity of the Evans EC2 Heads, Creation Drum Company would outfit their kit with a head that strives to focus the sound a bit more and remove any unwanted overtones. Therefore, we decided to test out these bad boys not only through different tuning schemes using the provided heads, but we also tried the drums out (the toms specifically) after changing up the batter heads with Remo Coated Ambassadors and Clear Emperors.
Kick: The 20”x18” bass drum sounded great, period. Outfitted with what has become an industry standard when speaking of kick drum heads, the drum has wonderful presence which could be described as being a little cannon that after being fired, leaves some smoke behind in ambience. In our experience, we have usually dealt with two sizes of kick drum: the standard 22”x18” and the more jazz oriented 16”x16.” However, 20” kick drums have been getting more and more attention since they are being used by fantastic drummers like Billy Ward and Keith Carlock — each players who preach and demonstrate extreme versatility.
The advantages of this drum are that you get the best of both worlds: an extremely punchy base drum that has great articulation while simultaneously providing a great amount of low end that really allows you to feel the body of the drum. This drum would work great both in the studio and live for the above reasons.
Snare: Like most modern drummers, we enjoy our snares with a medium high to high tuning. For anyone out there willing to dispute the appreciation of this sound, consider the varying styles of music which use this as a characteristic of its sound: reggae, hip hop, heavy metal, funk, ska, pop, etc. However, with fantastic drummers like Kenny Aronoff, Shawn Pelton, Steve Gadd and Jim Keltner using a lower tuning scheme, it has been said that any snare can sound great high, but it takes a great snare to sound great at a wide variety of tuning schemes.
This snare definitely falls into the second category. It should be stated that we do not normally care for the “coughing” sound produced by the Evans Genera Dry Snare Head. However, “out of box” and untouched as far as tuning was concerned, the drum sounded great. The snare drum had a full bodied “bark” at the medium tuning that it was originally set to, and was very sensitive to softer playing. We could really hear the body of the drum. And when the drum was cranked up to what could be considered a more contemporary tuning range, it sounded fantastic! The sound it produced could be thought of as a marriage between a piccolo drum and timbale and compared to the Yamaha Steve Jordon Signature Series Snare. Whether for a gospel shed, funk jam session, R&B recording session or rock concert, this would definitely do the trick.
12” rack: With the EC2 Batter Head and Evans Resonant Head, the tom had a sharp, punchy attack coupled with a descent amount of sustain at a medium-low tuning. However, a good percentage of the drum sound was comprised of the initial attack. When we then replaced the batter head with a Remo Coated Ambassador, the drum opened up beautifully. The vibrant, lively projection so common of maple shells could be heard. This nice blanket of low end remained with the drum (and this particular head) throughout different tunings. At a very low tuning, the drum had great attack and low end while not getting too out of control. On the other hand, at a very high tuning (with top and bottom heads matching in relative pitch) the drum did not choke out and instead had a nice singing quality that could totally work for a jazz situation. With the Remo Clear Emperor Head, the drum retained its more open sound, like with the Remo Coated Ambassador, but with more punch. We wish to emphasize the great clarity of this rack tom.
14” floor: The smaller of the two floor toms also had a nice tuning range, though obviously not as wide as that of the 12.” When tuned lower as is more common in most pop/rock music, the drum had a nice punch with a good amount of sustain. However, when tuned higher with the Remo Clear Emperor, the drum actually sounded bigger. Coupled with the rack, kick and snare, a drummer could definitely make his way through a jazz gig nicely.16” floor: This drum was extremely punchy, regardless of what head we replaced on the batter side. However, we felt strongly that the drum was lacking in ambient presence and tone, which would give it more of a thunderous sound instead of a full thud. Considering the limited tuning range on such a large drum, we felt that the drum would have benefited from a thicker resonant head, such as an Evan G1 Clear 10mm head. We drew this conclusion as a result of the fact that the Evans Resonant Head (which is 7mm in thickness) actually allows for less sustain and therefore produces a punchier, brighter tone. However, since a drum of this size will be punchy regardless, we felt that this head choice deprived the drum of more potential presence. The Resonant Head suited the other drums as a result of their wider tuning ranges, but a head with more overtones and a wider tuning range would have benefited this drum much more.
Documentation and Product Support
The product support received in dealing with a company like this is unparalleled, as the makers are with you every step of the way from the inception of the kit’s design until you are testing it in their shop. Also, for those seeking to get an idea of design options and starting prices, all of the information is provided on their website. Greg and Keith made it very clear that their top priority is to make their customers feel satisfied with both the sound and look of their work. What more could a drummer ask for?
At $2,963, this kit is well priced for a custom creation (pun intended). When considering the fact that you can get a drum kit made to your precise specifications in both looks and sound for little more than half of what it would cost you to buy certain premium lines from the big drum companies, these drums are most certainly worth a serious look.
Below are the individual prices:
12" Rack $425
Above price includes, chrome hardware, any wrap, maple shells, standard floor tom legs, and Evans heads. Options on this kit include:
Black hardware: $20 per drum
Snare drum options:
Bamboo hybrid $80
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