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Collector’s Series Cherry/Mahogany Drumset

Deep, pure tones and ultimate clarity.

The Collector’s Series is DW’s flagship line, comprising a variety of single-species shell types (maple, cherry, and red oak) and hybrid mixtures, such as the poplar/maple Classics, the maple/gum Jazz, and the bamboo/birch Eco-X. Adding deeper- and darker-sounding mahogany to the mix, DW has created new shells that combine it with maple and cherry. We were sent a gorgeous glossy lacquered Collector’s Series Cherry/Mahogany kit to review.

Art Lies in the Details

DW stands out in its attention to every detail of the drum-making process, from thoroughly researching how the grain direction of the wood plies affects timbre to developing some of the slickest and sturdiest hardware in the world. The result of such extensive R&D gives DW drums an incredibly high-end look as well as a very polished and pure sound.

Collector’s Series Cherry/Mahogany shells are made with inner and outer plies of vertical-grain mahogany. Mahogany is one of the softer species used in drum building, so it tends to have increased warmth and a lower fundamental. DW accentuates those properties by cutting the laminates with the grain going vertically, which puts less tension in the wood and thus lowers the pitch even further. The cherry inner plies counterbalance the mahogany by providing additional volume headroom, increased attack, and a shorter sustain, while also complementing the warmth of the mahogany with a dark yet dense tone.

Collector’s Series drums can be custom-ordered to any sizes from 8″ to 28″ in diameter, but our set came in a standard six-piece configuration with 8×10 and 9×12 rack toms, 12×14 and 14×16 floor toms, an 18×22 bass drum, and a 6.5×14 snare, all featuring standard chrome hardware. The toms and snare came with DW’s True Hoops (2.3mm for the toms and 3.0mm for the snare). These hoops are a variation of the standard triple-flange variety with a fully rounded top edge that increases durability and produces denser-sounding rimshots. The rack toms have DW’s STM mount, which is a low-profile design that suspends the shell from the lug casings to minimize choking and facilitate tuning and head changes.

The snare came with the super-smooth MAG magnetic throw-off, which releases silently from the side of the shell and features a knurled tension knob that’s easy to adjust from either the on or off positions. The 3P butt plate has a three-position lever that allows you to toggle between different degrees of wire tension (very tight, medium, and very loose).

Each piece of hardware on Collector’s Series kits is of DW’s design and provides great durability and flexibility without being overly engineered or cumbersome. My favorite tweak is one that would likely go unnoticed without sitting down at the kit and making your first tuning adjustment, and that’s the True Pitch 50 tension rod. These rods have a much tighter threading than more commonly used varieties (fifty per inch), which provides more precise tuning and expands the drum’s range. True Pitch 50 rods also have a smooth and effortless feel, which helped make tuning these drums a quick-and-easy process.

Sound Is King

I’ve played a number of cherry and mahogany drums over the years, but never drums that feature both woods within the same shell, so I was quite curious to hear the results. From my experience, mahogany drums usually produce a deep, woofy, vintage-like tone, while cherry provides a denser and more focused (i.e., contemporary) sound.

The first thing I noticed about the Cherry/Mahogany toms was how much deeper and purer the fundamental notes sounded—at any tuning—when compared with other all-maple and maple/poplar drums. Even when I tuned the heads super-tight, the Cherry/Mahogany toms produced clean tones with a rich, focused pitch and no dissonant overtones. When I detuned the heads close to the wrinkling point, the drums sounded big and fat while retaining a clear, distinct note. This extended tuning range allowed for each drum to perform at least 2″ larger than its size would suggest.

DW’s Cherry/Mahogany toms also have a short but unencumbered sustain, which gives them exceptional clarity and cohesion from drum to drum. Tuning these toms was as easy as it gets. As long as I adjusted the lugs up or down evenly, every place I landed on sounded sweet.

The 18×22 Cherry/Mahogany bass drum fell right in line with the toms, offering a ton of low-end thump coupled with incredible punch and a relatively fast decay. Although capable of a wide range of sounds, the 6.5×14 Cherry/Mahogany snare shined brightest at high tunings, where the naturally deeper note of the mahogany provided some great low-end support beneath the incredibly articulate and dense “crack” of the cherry. DW has hit on something special with the new hybrid Cherry/Mahogany shell, one that provides a ridiculous amount of focused low-end, as well as all the clarity, consistency, and cutting power that a contemporary drummer could need.

Michael Dawson