When the subject of NAMM rolls around, you can usually categorize three types of people. Firstly there are drummers who pack their bags, cameras and earplugs in preparation for a weekend filled with impromptu jam sessions, expensive $20 lunches and hanging around booths in anticipation of catching one of their heroes for a quick chat and a picture. Second there are the retailers ready to breathe in their yearly dose of NAMMTHRAX with sore ears, exhausted voices and have the same conversation over and over with different people. The last type of person is you, myself and everyone else who WASN’T at NAMM and has sore thumbs from scrolling through Instagram & Facebook seeing all the new gear (and a few drummers playing it with no idea). Yes it’s The NAMM Show 2020 round up blog, lets SEE what new offerings we have to unpack…get it? 2020, seeing clearly? It’s a vision joke! No? Okay, tough crowd…
Much like last years NAMM round up, we’ll be focusing on brands that we stock in alphabetical order and a few key highlights from each one. For all the details of everything released make sure you head across to the relevant brands website for more information. Now that we’ve dealt with the disclaimer, lets start with some British offerings…
British Drum Company
BDC announced late 2019 that Nicko McBrain had signed with the company, so it was only a matter of time before his signature KIT & Snare Drums followed. They announced the Nicko McBrain Signature “Icarus” Special Edition Legend Series kit at NAMM 2020. It’s 8ply Birch & 2ply Oak with a standard oak finish on the inside and Black Fishtail Oak finish ply on the outer. This goes beautifully with his Icarus Signature Snare Drum, the drum in which his kit is based off. Also announced was his signature Talisman snare drum, a 14×6.5in Seamless spun Steel shell with round over bearing edges and 42 strand snare wire and their first venture into hardware with their Casino hardware, which includes hi hat stands, straight & boom cymbal stands, a snare stand and both a single & double pedal.
Released before NAMM, DW gave us a closer look at the TrueCast Bell Bronze Snare Drum, designed with Dave Elitch in sizes 14×6.5in & 14x8in. It’s a completely machine-made drum, a first for DW. It features “TrueCast” hoops that feature Aluminium to reinforce it for the Hulk Hogan drummers out there. Also announced was their new “Pie” Snare Drums, which are 14x3in Snare Drums available in two materials; Wood (any wood & finish from their custom shop) & Space Carbon, which is crafted from high-grade up cycled Carbon from the space program. Neat! Some new finish options available in Design & Collectors series respectively as well as re-engineered 3000 series hardware!
Grestch announce the new Heritage Series configuration that’s available on both USA & Broadcaster Series drums. It’s a throwback to the “Playboy” where each drum would have 6, 8 or 10 double-sided lugs in the centre of all the drums and long tension rods, as opposed to two sets of 6, 8 or 10 one-sided lugs a each end of the drum. That was much easier to explain in my head than it was to write down. The mounting bracket for the tom is also drilled directly onto the shell instead of the RIMS mount. They announced the new Brookyln GranPrix Series, which is their foray into Aluminium Snare Drums, available in 14×5.5in & 14×6.5in. A USA Black Copper Snare Drum with a nifty laser engraved Gretsch logo is also on it’s way available in 14×5.5in & 14×6.5in. Also announced was the new Blue Burst Pearl finish in Brooklyn Series, the G5 Cymbal Boom Arm to fill that void in that Tom Holder for the “Look mum! No Stands” vibe and a special edition Catalina in Walnut Burst, Walnut/Maple hybrid shells with wood hoops. SEXY!!
Classic Maple is SO last decade…Classic Oak is where it’s at! The Ludwig Classic Oak Series makes its debut at NAMM 2020. Oak/Maple hybrid shells, which offer a rich tone that is balanced, focused and LOUD!! For a sound reference, imagine if Ringo Starr played drums for Pantera. This kit will be available in all the standard configurations like MOD, FAB, Downbeat & Pro Beat in a variety of stunning Lacquer & Wrap finishes. They delve into the Matrix with the announcement of the Limited Edition Neusonic Digital Black Oyster available in the FAB configuration (13/16/22) and add an 8-lug Black Beauty to the fold available in 14x5in & 14×6.5in. Also announced was the gorgeous Sahara Swirl finish for the BreakBeats, Legacy Mahogany Jazz Fest Snare Drums to kick start their throwback, a new Copperphonic finish AND…the return of the (Speed)King with updated and more robust components!
Mapex revamped the Saturn line. You could even say it’s undergone an EVOLUTION…so Saturn Evolution isn’t just a clever name. The Saturn Evolution comes in two different shell types; Birch/Walnut & Maple/Walnut. The beauty of this means that it allows you to mix and match shell types. You can have Birch/Walnut Toms with a Maple/Walnut Bass Drum and vice versa! They also come with the new SoniClear Two Halo Mount, which is a 180 degree rail mount fitted with an Attenuating Adjustment Knob to allow control over the resonance of the drums. Saturn Evolution comes in 9 finishes with standard flat colour finishes and exotic veneers coming. They also revamped their Black Panther Snare Drums with 14 new models coming. Details on each individual drum are scarce but we do know they all feature the SoniClear bearing edge & Sonic Saver hoops. One drum we DO have the scoop on is the Craig Blundell Signature Snare Drum aptly named “The Machine.” It’s a 14×5.5in 6ply Walnut/Maple Hybrid with a specially commissioned Aquarian Hi-Energy Batter & Classic Clear Reso. Offset Black Nickel Lugs, 45 degree bearing edges & pure sound Equaliser 16 strand wires & special multi-step trick throw off. We personally cannot WAIT to get our hands on this drum.
When we visited the Meinl factory in 2019 they did give a very VERY small inkling that changes were coming to their Byzance line, and that change is here. Meinl have removed their “Dual” cymbals from the Extra Dry line and announced Byzance Dual, the new 7th degree of dark. Byzance Dual expands upon the foundations of their Dual cymbals by adding 16in, 18in & 20in Trash Crashes, 16in, 18in & 20in Trash Chinas, a 19in Dual Crash, 14in Dual Hi Hats and a 14in Multi-Trash which can be a crash, splash, hi hat top or part of a stack. The options really are endless! Also announced was Pure Alloy Custom, which are all medium/thin cymbals with the same hammering & lathing as Pure Alloy. Within the line are 16in, 18in & 20in crashes, 18in Trash Crash, 15in Hi Hats & a 22in Ride. Meinl even gave their entry HCS line a makeover with HCS Bronze. They expanded the line to include a Trash Crash, Trash China, Trash Splash & some Bells. New additions to their Stick & Brush line include a Standard Long 7A, Rebound Multirod, Vintage Wire Brush, Conga Sticks and a Switch-Stick 5a, which is a Hybrid 5a Stick with a Mallet on the butt-end!
Lets not leave electronics out of this equation, cause Roland really brought it this year with the announcement of VAD; VDrums Acoustic Design. Electronic drums with real drum shells! Intended to look and sound like a real drum kit with Roland VDrum technology. Two variations are available with different configurations within, one powered by the TD-17 Module, the other by their NEW TD-27 Module. The TD-27KV kit along with the module brings a whole different crowd to the party. They’ve upgraded the snare pad even further to really blend the electronic/acoustic drumming experience!
There’s a theme of throwback present throughout NAMM 2020 and Paiste are no different. OUT with the new, IN with the old as Paiste relaunch their Formula 602 Series bringing some of the very best from that line with new additions such as the 20in Paper-Thin Crash, 17in & 19in Thin Crashes, 15in SoundEdge Hi Hats and a whole host of medium & heavy weight cymbals designed with versatility in mind!
Pearl have some of the nicest finish options available for drums and if you’ve been in the shop over the years, I’m sure you’ll agree that they really take centre stage in that area. So much so that at NAMM 2020 they announced new finish options for a whole host of kits from Export right through to the Reference line. They also launch a new Single & Double pedal within their Eliminator range called the Eliminator Solo Pedals. The Red variation features the Radical Progression Cam, which gives off a similar feel to a Direct Drive pedal. The Black variation features the standard Round Cam for natural feel. Both these pedals are designed with Eliminator feel without Eliminator price. Also announced were re-engineered Roadster thrones with lightweight, hydraulic lifts and alternate throne top options available and new 930 lightweight single-braced hardware.
Sabians on-going pursuit of “Not Giving A F**k” continues in 2020 with the announcement of Graphic Cymbals. Sabian launch these cymbals to not only support creativity within drummers musically, but visually as well. Sabian partnered with some of the best artists in the world to make your vision a reality and bring your own flavour to your cymbals. These graphics do not hinder the sound of the cymbal, allowing you to not only sound but LOOK your best! Also announced was expansion to the HHX Complex line such as 21in and 22in Complex Thin Rides, more additions to their overhauled AAX line including 15in Thin Hats, an FRX China cymbal & 10in Splash Cymbal! They also had some flat ride prototypes on show, which i’m sure the crazy cats at Sabian will have more on later in the year. Eyes peeled for those!
Our latest brand brings some wicked new additions with a new “suit” available for the Paramount Tuxedo kit. This Silver alternative will bring even more style to your performance and image. SJC introduce a Brass Snare to their Alpha Snare line, which is sure to turn a few heads along with a new Josh Dun Signature Acrylic Crowd Snare to expand his range. Finally their Pathfinder gets a new Cyber Yellow finish that looks amazing! We’re super excited to get our hands on more incredible products from SJC as we definitely can’t get them quick enough!
Sonor really brought the THUNDER at NAMM 2020 with the announcement of not one, but TWO brand new Benny Greb Signature Snare Drums, both made from different shell materials and with new features! We have a 13×5.75in Beech Shell, which is essentially an upgraded version of the original Benny Greb Snare with a Bubinga inlay instead of the black beading round the centre of the shell. Then we have the 13×5.75in 1.2mm Vintage Brass Shell, which is it’s own animal entirely. Both of these drums come with Teardrop offset lugs much like the Vintage Series kit that Benny plays, a dual-glide strainer and have TWO forms of internal dampening, “The Felt” and “The Sheep” respectively. They’re held on via Velcro allowing you to really mix and match your dampening method to get the exact sound you desire. The Grebster and Sonor have done it again!
We go the heads up of the Club-Jam Flyer from Tama right before NAMM but it’s totally awesome! It adds a new dynamic yet to be explored with a small kit by having a 14in Bass Drum making it even more compact while still sounding incredible! The new SLP Snare drums also made their public debut, which seriously turned some heads, especially the 14×6.5in Spotted Gum. Starclassic Walnut/Birch got some new finishes including Neon Yellow Oyster and Neon Orange Oyster so you can really stand out from the rest with incredible sounding drums! A limited run of Star Mahogany drums was announced adding to the GLORIOUS Star line along with Superstar Classic Exotix, making some gorgeous alternative finish options available for it!
Yamaha once again prove they are HIP with the release of the Stage Custom Hip, all the benefits of a small kit with all the power of a big kit! Yamaha always focus on how a drum sounds first and the Stage Custom Hip is no exception, utilizing the same Birch shells from the regular Stage Custom with a 20x8in (yes…TWENTY BY EIGHT INCH BASS DRUM), 10x5in Tom, 13x5in Snare Drum and a 13x8in Snare/Floor Tom. The SNOM is back, and just like that you have your balled snare drum at the flick of a switch! Also announced was a limited edition Recording Custom Limited Edition Steve Gadd Snare Drum. It’s a 14×5.5in Snare with a gorgeous Dark Chrome finish. If you want to get even closer to Gadd, you can do so with this very snare drum.
Zildjian round out NAMM news 2020. They’ve redesigned their Planet Z line making them much richer and crisp in tone and the perfect starting point for any beginner. They also announced their new I Family Cymbal Line as a replacement to their long-standing ZBT line. A great upgrade point from the cymbals that perhaps came from your first kit, crafted from a B8 alloy. They have a bunch of new additions to the line such as a few effect cymbals, which includes a trash crash. This lets young players emulate their favourite drummer without breaking the bank!
AND….BREATH!!! I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted and I wasn’t even AT NAMM. That’s all of the low down, down low, low down, down low of the new gear heading our way in 2020! I dare say they’ll have some cool surprises planned for later in the year but keep your eyes peeled and when the new gear lands, come have a play!