Liberty Jazz Series Drumset

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Liberty Jazz Series Drumset

Top-quality modern design with tasty vintage flare.

by Michael Dawson

Liberty Drums is a UK-based manufacturer that builds its own shells from nearly limitless timbers and veneers into a wide range of handcrafted drumsets and snares. In addition to allowing drummers to design custom kits online at libertydrums.com, the company also offers preconfigured setups in several series, such as Cast Acrylic, Rock, Fusion, Avant, and Jazz, which is what we have for review this month.

Jazz series drums are designed to be high-quality, modern instruments with vintage tone and appeal. They feature the company’s Opex bearing edges, which have a slightly rounded outer cut for more head-to-shell contact, and a 45-degree inner cut. The shells are cross-laminated from Finnish birch (9-ply/6mm toms, 12-ply/8mm bass drums, and 15-ply snares), and the drums come with die-cast Liberty Beetle lugs, 2.3mm triple-flange rims, wood bass drum hoops, a Dunnett SC-GW845 George Way–style snare throw-off, and Evans drumheads (EQ4 Frosted kick batter, EQ3 Smooth White resonant, J1 Etched tom batters, G1 Clear tom bottoms, Strata Staccato snare batter, and Hazy 300 snare bottom).

The finish of our four-piece Jazz series kit is the new Electric Blue Flame wrap, which Liberty says is fully bonded to the shell to maximize resonance. Drum sizes on this kit include a 14×18 bass drum, an 8×12 rack tom, a 14×14 floor tom, and a matching 5.5×14 snare. (List price is $2,491).

Given that the name of the series is Jazz, it makes sense to assume that this kit’s ideal application would be in low-volume straight-ahead swing situations with the heads tensioned super-tight for maximum rebound and dynamic response. While they did sound fantastic and had clean, strong presence when cranked high for a 1964-era Tony Williams sound, I found that they were most at home at medium and medium-low tunings.

The birch shells have a more contained sustain, focused pitch, and punchier attack than a standard maple shell, while the rounded bearing edges enhance the low-end depth. The warmer, darker models of Evans drumheads on the drums also helped emphasize lower frequencies and minimize overtones without added muffling.

During our testing period I was also working on a Rolling Stones–inspired track, and this Jazz series kit was perfect for that jazzy blues-rock Charlie Watts sound. Tuned medium or medium-low, the bass drum sounded nice and punchy with just enough boom to keep it natural and earthy, the snare had clean and snappy response and a gorgeous open tone that didn’t ring for too long, and the toms threw out warm, rich, and fat tones with short but even decay.

These Jazz series drums sounded amazing acoustically, and microphones loved them too—I didn’t need to overdo the EQ or compression to make them cut and be present in a mix. The retro Electric Blue Flame wrap is one of the coolest I’ve seen, and the contrast between the blue and purple flames varied considerably depending on the type of lighting being used. You certainly won’t go unnoticed, visually or sonically, if you were to bring one of these kits to your next gig or session.

Tech Specs
Shells: Finnish birch
Sizes: 8×12, 14×14, 14×18, and 5.5×14
Finish: Electric Blue Flame wrap
Drumheads: Evans
Price: $2,491