Black Swamp Percussion began in 1995, and its first two products were handmade tambourines and bamboo-shaft timpani mallets. Now a leading manufacturer of high-quality concert percussion instruments, mallets, and accessories, BSP also builds snares for drumset players, called Dynamicx. These drums, which are available with Unibody solid-wood, 9-ply maple, and titanium shells, are made in the U.S. and offer top-notch features and exceptional tones that work well in any application. We were sent one drum from each of the three Dynamicx lines: a Sterling series 6.5×14 solid cocobolo, a 5.5×14 Live! series solid ambrosia maple, and a 6.5×14 BackBeat series 9-ply maple.
Features for All
All Dynamicx snares come with Black Swamp’s sleek and modern-looking Arch Tube lugs, the smooth and secure RCK strainer, which has a notched and knurled thumbscrew and silent side-action lever, proprietary twenty-strand steel wires, an additional set of symphonic-style Ballad stainless-steel cable wires, a padded bag, a microfiber cleaning cloth, a chrome drum key, a certificate of authenticity, and a quality guarantee. Drumheads include Dynamicx-branded Remo Coated Ambassador batters and Hazy Diplomat bottoms.
Sterling Series Solid Cocobolo
The Sterling series is the most luxurious of the three within the Dynamicx lineup. These drums are only available in 6.5×14 but can be ordered with a titanium or Unibody steam-bent cocobolo, bocote, or bubinga shell. The wood options also feature a subtle .032″ sterling silver–plated wire inlay around the center of the shell. These ten-lug drums come with steel straight hoops and mini claws, and they have a matching wood air vent. The bearing edges are cut with a vintage-style profile and a 30-degree inner bevel.
Our review drum featured a cocobolo shell, which is a favorite timber for Black Swamp for its supreme sensitivity and versatility. Tuned medium-tight to very tight, this snare had a quick, biting attack, a thick and dense tone, and balanced but fast-decaying overtones. Sensitivity was super-clean and precise and sympathetic snare buzz was minimal. This drum, tuned this way, would be exemplary for funk, fusion, jazz, modern rock, and even symphonic situations.
Medium and lower tunings produced a punchier attack with a deeper and richer tone. The overtones became stronger while remaining sonorous and controlled. Snare sensitivity stayed crisp, and no muffling was required, even when the batter head was nearly slack. For anyone looking for a classy, top-shelf snare with modern cut and clarity and workhorse capability, the Sterling series cocobolo delivers on all fronts. Price is $1,047.99.
Live! Series Solid-Ambrosia Maple
Live! series snares feature 5.5×14 Unibody steam-bent shells in maple, bird’s-eye maple, ambrosia maple, walnut, or cherry. They come with 2.3mm triple-flange steel hoops, vintage-style bearing edges with a 30-degree inner bevel, and the sterling silver inlay. Our review drum had the ambrosia maple shell.
Like the Sterling series cocobolo snare, our Live! series drum had an incredibly balanced tone and exceptional sensitivity across all tunings. The ambrosia maple sounded a bit warmer than the cocobolo, which gave the Live! drum a more vintage vibe, especially at medium and lower tunings. This drum would excel in the studio when you want a classic snare sound that sits within the mix instead of cutting through it, and it’s a great choice for club gigs in brighter-sounding rooms. While the Sterling snare offered a super-clean, contemporary sound, the Live! ambrosia maple is like a new-and-improved version of the coveted solid-maple Radio King. Price is $769.99.
BackBeat Series Maple
The BackBeat series is designed for working drummers who need a professional-sounding instrument that records well and is built to withstand years of wear and tear on gigs. These drums are built from a 6.5×14 9-ply Keller Magnum maple shell, which features thicker maple veneers than typical ply shells. BackBeat drums are finished in the user’s choice of durable, classic pearl wrap (azure blue, copper, cream, graphite, green, purple, ruby red, or white), and the bearing edges are cut sharper and have a 45-degree inner bevel. The hoops are 2.3mm triple-flange steel.
Our review drum came with the copper pearl wrap, which looked super-classy without having an overt throwback vibe. Consistent with the other two Dynamicx snares we tested, the BackBeat had exceptional sensitivity and could be tuned high, low, or anywhere in between to produce a wide range of tones with a perfect balance of cut, punch, and control. It doesn’t have as much bite as the Sterling, and it wasn’t as fat- and warm-sounding as the Live! drum. It sat comfortably right in between the two without being denigrated as “middle of the road.” In fact, I would likely favor the BackBeat over the others for more everyday applications that might require tracking keeper takes in the studio during the day and slamming rimshots in the clubs at night. And the price is quite affordable ($469.99).