Midnight Edge and Narra King Snare Drums
by Miguel Monroy
Custom single-ply and hand-painted stave-shell drums.
Doc Sweeny is a high-end custom drum company whose mission is “to create works of drum art that will enhance the experience of drumming enthusiasts for years to come.” The San Diego–based company just wrapped up its freshman year of business and boasts the exquisite work of drumsmith Steve Stecher. The current lineup of options from Doc Sweeny includes one-of-a-kind single-ply and stave-shell snares constructed from countless types of wood, hardware, lug, and finish options.
We were sent two snare drums for review: a 5.5×13 single-ply elm in “midnight edge” finish ($750) and a 6.5×14 with a shell constructed from three different types of wood (figured narra with bubinga and maple accents) and featuring bubinga wood hoops with bird’s-eye maple inlays. This drum is called the Narra King and sells for $1,250.
This beautiful drum has a finish that has a subtle tribute to Van Gogh’s masterpiece painting Starry Night. The deep, rich blue color is accented by the prominent wood grain and black-nickel hardware. The drum includes a Trick three-position throw-off, Puresound snare wires, and a Remo Coated Controlled Sound batter.
Sonically, this drum is a workhorse. At a medium-high tuning, it has a crisp, woody Vinnie Colaiuta–type crack. Pushed into higher tunings, it provided a beautiful tone, gorgeous resonance, and an aggressive bite with each rim shot. Tuned low, it produces a nice, fat sound when hit in the center of the head, with a long, deep sustain. This drum would be a great choice for live or session work, as its wide tuning range makes it ideal for all types of music.
The .5″–thick stave shell on this drum is big and beautiful. It came equipped with a Trick three-position throw-off, chrome-plated solid-brass tube lugs, Sabian snare wires, and a Remo Renaissance batter head. The wood hoops add just enough width so that not every snare stand will be able to accommodate the drum, but what they add to the aesthetics of the drum is worth it. The maple inlay in the hoops transitions perfectly to the body of the drum, providing a timeless look.
When cranked high, the Narra King projected a deep, resonant “ping” with each rim shot, but there’s a lot of meatiness in the tone as well. Tuned low, the drum had less projection, and the timbre became darker and thicker, evoking the sound of a tribal drum designed to prepare ancient warriors for battle. Although this snare wasn’t created to be as versatile as the midnight edge, it was our favorite because of how well it excelled in the lower frequencies.
Shells: single-ply elm and stave narra/bubinga/maple
Sizes: 5.5×13 and 6.5×14
Prices: $750 and $1,250