This review originally appeared in the March 2015 issue of Modern Drummer, which can be purchased here.
Natal Walnut US Rock Drumset
A top-notch kit created for aggressive, deep, punchy sounds.
Natal’s history and vision are worth exploring. The company’s story started back in the early ’60s, when the need for high-quality percussion instruments emerged out of the London music scene. Natal’s popularity grew quickly, and its products eventually found their way on stage with big-time acts like Santana, Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac, and the Rolling Stones. Fast-forward to 2010, when Marshall Amplification partnered with Natal to take its output to the next level. Why Marshall, you may ask? Well, it just so happens that founder Jim Marshall was a drummer. Both brands are dedicated to providing the highest-quality products available.
Consistent Components and Configurations
The concept for Natal’s current lineup of drumkits is unique in that they’re offered as a range, as opposed to different series. All kits have the same quality components: lugs, tom mounts, Tri-Throw snare mechanism, and heavy-duty bass drum spurs. It’s the species of wood that distinguishes one range from another and sets the price. We received a walnut kit with a red-to-orange sunburst finish; the kit is also available in three other high-gloss lacquers.
This 7-ply American walnut outfit comes equipped with Remo U.S. batter heads,
2.3 mm hoops, brushed-nickel hardware and tom arms, and nylon-dipped tension rods to help the drums hold their tuning. The kit is available in multiple configurations. US Rock ($3,599) includes a 14×24 bass drum and 9×13 and 16×16 toms. US Fusion ($3,799) comes with an 18×22 bass drum and 8×10, 9×12, and 16×16 toms.
The Sound of American Walnut
There’s no doubt that this drumset was created for players with a specific need for an aggressive, punchy, low-end-heavy sound. As stated by Natal, American walnut is “darker in tone and looks than bubinga.” Regardless of how we tuned the drums, they consistently produced a deep and thunderous tone. The toms provided just enough attack and articulation to avoid muddy stick definition. When tuned high, they still had lots of low-end resonance that made the kit perfect for tom-heavy patterns that need to cut through a mix without sacrificing attack and depth.
The 14×24 walnut bass drum capitalized on the low-end frequencies of the wood but got out of the way quickly. Its shallower depth helped to provide more of a focused and controlled tone, while the large diameter offered a deep, dark punch. In a heavier rock application, we ended up putting a thin blanket inside the drum to tamp down some of the resonance. When we tested the kit in a fusion setting, we kept the kick wide open, as the extra resonance allowed us to control the sound a bit more with playing technique and head choice.