Solid Drums was founded in 2014 by drummer/ carpenter Christoph Anlauf in an effort to blend his passion for drums and a love of wood. All of Christoph’s instruments are made by hand from only sustainable, locally harvested wood. Barrel-style stave construction is used, which Anlauf believes is the superior style because it maximizes the natural tone and beauty of the timber. Solid offers snares and drumkits in a range of species and sizes. We were sent two unique drums: a 7×12 beech (aka “the Twelve”) and a super limited 5×14 maple with gold leaf diamond inlays. Both drums feature proprietary Swiss-made “stair” lugs, a Trick throw-off, Canopus wires, and Remo heads (Ambassador Coated batter and Ambassador Snare bottom).

This mini-beast has six lugs, 2.3 mm triple-flange steel hoops, and a 12 mm stave beech shell that’s finished with natural satin oil. The bearing edges are cut to a precise 50-degree apex, and they have a rounded back cut. The snare beds are deep but have a gradual slope that spans the distance between the lugs on each side of the wires. Beech is a medium-hard wood that traditionally occupies a sonic space somewhere between birch and maple. Solid sources wood from a local merchant, and the exact GPS coordinates of the tree used for each drum are indicated on an interior shell sticker.

If you’re a fan of the dense, powerful, and super-tight “pop” often used by session great Steve Jordan, then this 7×12 is a musthave. It’s one of only a few 12″ drums I’ve played that maintains depth and body when cranked all the way up. The overtones are perfectly balanced and controlled, adding some subtle natural ambience after the initial attack without lingering too long. Backing off the tuning by a quarter or half turn at each tension rod brought out a more aggressive bark without detracting from the drum’s super-focused, studio-ready smack and crispy snare response. Lower tunings produced a fatter, wider tone that packed a tight, chesty punch. You might not think a 12″ snare would be versatile enough for general use, but this Solid Drums 7×12 stave beech is here to convince you otherwise. Retail price is $1,050, which includes a high-quality, handmade gig bag.

I’m not usually one to become awestruck by a drum’s appearance, but this limited-edition 5×14 12 mm stave maple snare is one of the most beautiful instruments I’ve ever seen. It features four meticulously crafted 12-carat moon gold and 23.47-carat rose gold diamond inlays, fabricated by artist Nina Leuenberger, and a rich blue/black stained finish. The stainless-steel hoops are handmade and are held in place with eight mini-claw hooks. As on the 7×12 beech, the bearing edges on this maple drum are precisely shaped to 50 degrees with a rounded back cut. The snare beds slope gradually down to a fl at plateau where the wires seat.

So as not to allow this drum’s flawless appearance to sway my judgment on its sound, I tested the Solid maple next to a few other similarly sized wood drums that were already in my studio. I recorded each drum in succession at a few different pitches and then shuffled the files so I could evaluate the results without knowing which drum was which. While none of the test drums were losers—they were all high-end, professional instruments— there were distinct differences between them in terms of fullness, presence, projection, clarity, and articulation. After several rounds of listening, I kept gravitating back to recordings of the Solid maple. It sounded fuller and livelier than the others, and it was more tonally balanced at each tuning. It could be cranked for a strong and funky “pop” without choking, and it articulated subtle jazz comping with perfection. Slightly lower tunings had a richer and more tuneful character, while detuning the batter all the way drew out a quintessential disco fatback. All of these sounds were achieved with minimal fine-tuning and no muffling. This is a rare specimen, and only ten are being made. Put your orders in now, folks. Retail price is $1,600 with the custom gig bag.