Hendrix Drums first caught our attention a few years ago when it debuted its American black walnut Archetype series drumset. Those drums feature thin stave shells and have amazing projection as well as low, pure fundamental tones and super-clean attack. This past year the company introduced the Perfect Ply series, which features 4-ply walnut shells with 1″ reinforcement rings. These drums are available in four- and five-piece shell packs with 18×22 or 16×20 bass drums and different combinations of tom sizes ranging from 8×10 to 16×16. We were sent the 5 Piece Rock configuration ($2,099) with 8×10, 9×12, 14×14, and 16×16 toms and an 18×22 bass drum.

The Nitty-Gritty Details

The Perfect Ply series is only available in walnut, but you can get the shells with a satin finish or a hard polyester gloss. Our review kit has the satin finish, which allowed the beautiful dark grain of the walnut to exist as naturally as possible. The 4-ply shells are thin (5mm), and the bearing edges are rounder than what you’ll find on most contemporary kits. Perfect Ply rack toms have forty-five-degree inner cuts and rounded outer edges, and the floor toms and bass drum edges are completely round.

The drums come with small single-point lugs that are milled from aluminum to minimize weight and maximize shell resonance. I was shocked by how lightweight these drums were; even the large 18×22 bass drum was easy to lift with one hand. The rack toms come with RIMS-style suspension mounts, and the floor tom legs have a 90-degree bend and hollow rubber feet to promote sustain. All of the hardware is insulated with plastic gaskets, including the bass drum claws, lugs, floor tom leg brackets, and spurs.

Perfect Ply series drums come stock with Remo Clear Emperor tom batters, Clear Ambassador bottoms, and the Powerstroke 3 bass drum system with a ported white front and clear batter.

How They Sound

Hendrix states that the Perfect Ply series was created with the objective of “producing a tonally pure, extremely sensitive, and versatile ply-constructed drumset.” Medium-dense walnut is used in this series because it has a warm, round, and deep tone with extra-punchy low-end. The shells are cut thin so that the drums have excellent response and produce consistent tones at all dynamics.

We tested the toms and kick across the entire tuning range and discovered that they were very consistent, with clean, crisp attack, round and robust sustain, and a moderate but smooth decay. Very high tunings had more warmth than I get from most, which kept them from sounding brittle or choked while promoting super-quick attack and a shorter sustain.

The drums had obvious sweet spots, however, in the lower registers. They could be tuned very low for a fat, meaty punch with a ton of low end minus excessive rumble or fluttering distortion. I didn’t need to fuss with fine-tuning or muffling the drums at any point in our review, yet they sounded as if they had been labored over for hours to dial in the perfect tone. Compared to my favorite vintage maple/poplar kit with round bearing edges, the Hendrix Perfect Ply had deeper low-end, stronger punch, darker tone, and cleaner attack. These are definitely modern-sounding drums, and they fall right in line with the powerful, hi-fi sound that defined Hendrix’s Archetype stave series, but they introduce some of the fullness and warmth that has made ply-shell drums the go-to choice for decades.