Semi-Solid Mahogany/Poplar Drumset
Combining the strength and dependability of ply drums with the enhanced tonal quality of solid shells.
Unhappy with the quality of drums that were available to him at the time, lifelong woodworker Chris Carr put his years of experience to use and started building his own drums in 2005. After selling a few kits to other drummers, Carr decided to start his own company, Bucks County Drums, which is named after the region outside of Philadelphia where he lives.
Semi-Solid Shells and Specs
What makes Carr’s drums unique is his patented Semi-Solid shell, which features a single-ply steam-bent interior adhered to five plies of maple. Reinforcement rings are added on the inside of the solid portion to increase stability. The bearing edges of the toms are cut to forty-five degrees on the inside and rounded on the outside so that the drumhead sits squarely on the solid portion. Kick drums have forty-five-degree edges all the way to the outside of the shell. The kit we received for review is a classic rock–sized setup that included 9×13 and 15×16 toms with a solid interior of mahogany and a 14×24 bass drum with solid interior of poplar.
Bucks Co. offers a wide variety of wrap and lacquer finishes, and they can do custom colors on special request. Our review drums are finished in an old-school black-diamond pearl wrap. Long- and mini-tube lugs are available, as well as vintage-style beavertails, which is what came on our kit. The toms were outfitted with traditional 2.5mm single-flange steel hoops with clips, but we also requested sturdier 3.0mm triple-flange versions to see how the two impacted the drums’ tone and projection. Evans drumheads come standard, and our set was supplied with G2 Coateds on the tops and G1 Clears on the bottoms of the toms, with a Clear EMAD on the batter side of the kick and an EQ3 Coated on the front.
Power, Punch, and More
Mahogany is a popular timber for drums that are designed to have a classic, vintage-type sound, as it provides a warm, smooth tone with a lot of low end. The Bucks toms had a big, round tone reminiscent of vintage 3-ply drums but with more power and punch. They didn’t choke at high volumes, and they spoke fully when hit lightly. The toms tuned up quickly and easily, and there were numerous sweet spots between super-low and very tight that sounded pure and resonant. When outfitted with the single-flange hoops, the toms produced overtones that sprayed a bit wider. The 3.0mm triple-flange hoops reined everything in to a tighter and more focused pitch.
The 14×24 had a solid poplar interior, which Carr likes to use on bass drums for its warmth, punch, and increased volume. When played with the supplied EMAD and EQ3 Resonant and no additional muffling, this kick had a strong, snappy attack and deep, thunderous sustain that remained consistent whether the heads were tuned high, low, or anywhere in between. It’s a powerhouse kick that can pack a massive punch while also supplying some sweet, satisfying low tones. To soften the attack a bit, I swapped out the EMAD for an EQ4 Frosted batter. To my ears, the EQ4 was a perfect match for this drum because it rounded off some of the high-end “click” that I was getting from the EMAD. The result was a warmer and more balanced tone with an even spectrum of overtones, a chesty punch, and a darker sustain.
Similarly, replacing the clear bottoms on the toms with single-ply coated versions gave those drums a smoother, deeper sound that edged them closer to the classic fat tones of vintage drums without sacrificing power, responsiveness, or tuning versatility.
This is the second Bucks County kit we’ve reviewed, and in both cases the Semi-Solid shells succeeded in offering a “best of both worlds” option for drummers looking to combine the warm, punchy sounds of classic multi-ply drums with the rich tones and increased response of modern-made single-ply designs.