Canopus Snare Drums
Yaiba II Maple, Yaiba II Birch, and Black-Nickel Brass Snares
by Michael Dawson
A trio of top-notch drums to cover all your bases.
Canopus is one of the premier boutique drum manufacturers in Japan, specializing in reinventing classic designs from the past and refining contemporary drum construction methods. The Yaiba II series is the company’s foray into a more affordable price point and includes a limited but practical range of professional-grade maple and birch drumsets and snares. We were sent 6.5×14 6-ply maple and birch Yaiba II snares to review ($350 each), as well as a sleek 6.5×14 black-nickel brass ($724.07) with Canopus’s new thirty-strand Back Beat wires ($50). Let’s check them out.
Yaiba II Maple
Canopus cuts some of the expense of the Yaiba II series drums by using cast lugs instead of its higher-end solid-brass tube versions. Even though they’re cast, the Yaiba lugs are sturdy and precisely built; all of the tension rods fit into them perfectly with no sign of misalignment or strain. The maple Yaiba snares are available in two sizes—5.5×14 and 6.5×14—and in seven finishes, including three new matte lacquers (Antique Amber, Antique Ebony, and Antique Brown). We received the 6.5×14 version in the amber finish.
The Yaiba Maple snare has a 6-ply, all-maple shell, eight Yaiba cast lugs, 2.3mm steel triple-flange hoops, a simple side-action throw-off, Bolt Tight tension rods (featuring leather discs that sandwich the metal washer for greater tuning stability), and Canopus non-plated Vintage series snare wires. The drumheads are made by Remo and include a Hazy Ambassador Coated batter and a Snare Side Ambassador bottom. The bearing edges are smooth and precisely cut to forty-five degrees.
We tested all three drums at a variety of tunings, starting in the medium range and then exploring the limits of their higher and lower registers. The Yaiba II Maple had a very open, fat, pure, and musical voice at all tunings, and it never required muffling to dampen troubling overtones.
Medium tunings on the maple were tailor-made for rock, pop, and country studio recordings. Tight tunings brought out a strong and thick “pop” for modern R&B, funk, and fusion, and low tunings sounded punchy, dense, and powerful. Snare sensitivity was exceptional, but the drum never succumbed to uncontrollable sympathetic buzz when played within the kit.
Every drummer needs a great jack-of-all-trades maple snare in his or her collection, and the Yaiba II fit the bill as well as any.
Yaiba II Birch
The 6.5×14 Yaiba II Birch snare is constructed exactly the same as the maple, but it has a 6-ply all-birch shell. It came in the new Ice Black Sparkle lacquer finish. (Ice White Sparkle is also available.) Like the maple, the Yaiba II Birch snare has a very balanced, full, and musical sound regardless of how you tune it. Compared to the Yaiba II Maple, the sustain on the birch was a little shorter (but not choked), the attack was a bit punchier, and the overtones were more focused. Those qualities gave it incredible articulation at higher tunings and a more centered, fat “splat” at lower tensions. If you’re seeking clarity and control over breadth and versatility when shopping for a new snare, put the Yaiba II Birch at the top of your list. It’s fantastic.
Another must-own snare for many drummers is a top-quality brass model, like Canopus’s 6.5×14 black-nickel version. This drum features a 1.2mm brass shell, eight solid-brass single-point tube lugs, 2.3mm steel triple-flange hoops, and thirty-strand nickel-plated Back Beat snare wires. (The Yaiba drums came with twenty-strand Vintage wires with no plating and crimped end plates.)
This black-nickel-over brass snare is a powerhouse with a huge, singing tone, extremely crisp snare response (thanks to the wider snare wires), and remarkable presence and tuning versatility. Tune it medium for a perfect balance of bright and musical overtones and a fat attack, crank it up for symphonic-like articulation and powerful rimshots, or detune it all the way for a chesty thump coupled with sparkling high-end snap. Canopus’s Black-Nickel Brass snare is a beautiful beast that sports many different voices.