A super-limited drum built from wood harvested from California’s T&P Farms.
“Do I pick the hardest projects in the world?” asks DW senior executive vice president John Good, rhetorically, in a promo video for the new Collector’s Series Pure Almond series.“Yeah, I’m guilty.”The wood harvested for these drums—of which only fifty snares and fifty kits are being made—came from old trees found in the vast array of orchards at Arbuckle, California’s T&P Farms. Let’s find out if Good’s extra effort pays off.
New Wood, New Shell Style
Almond is a difficult timber to work with, especially for drums, because the trees are thin—a maximum of 12” in diameter—and they rarely grow above 30 feet. The wood is also very dense, boasting a Janka scale measurement of 1,700, which is harder than rosewood, sugar maple, and most of the common species used in drum making. For these drums, DW had to create a new shell layup, which it’s dubbed “staggered tandem core.” The interior plies used in the Almond shells are formed from small rectangles of wood that are stacked vertically and offset horizontally to create a strong, stable core. The inner- and outer-finish plies are made from single laminates of almond and feature a gorgeous wavy and burled grain pattern.
We got our hands on a prototype Pure Almond snare for review. It is identical in design to the fifty drums that are currently available. The finish is a luscious natural-to-toasted almond fade that goes from light to dark to light over the span of four lugs. The 12-ply shell measures 6.5×14 and features clean 45-degree bearing edges.
The turret lugs, heavy-duty 3 mm triple-flange True Hoops, MAG throw-off, and 3P butt plate have a classy nickel finish that’s not as shiny as chrome but still has a bright, crisp look. The heads are a Remo single-ply Ambassador Coated batter and an Ambassador Hazy snare side. The wires are DW’s twenty-strand TrueTone snappy variety. The True-Pitch stainless-steel tension rods have about 20 percent more threads than standard rods, translating into more exact and stable tuning.
Out of the box, the Pure Almond snare was tuned right in the middle of its range, somewhere close to the shell’s resonant pitch of F, which is indicated on a sticker placed on the inside of the drum. The wires were at medium tension as well, providing a crisp response and just a touch of resonant rattle to complement the open, sonorous tone of the shell. Though plentiful, the overtones were balanced and controlled at low volumes, and they provided a strong, robust voice at higher dynamics.
To my ears, this unique drum felt most at home at medium and higher tunings, exhibiting impeccable range, projection, and articulation in the upper levels. Lower tunings elicited a punchier, chesty tone with an interesting downward pitch bend in the overtones shortly after the attack. If I had to use this drum at a lower tuning, I’d probably want to employ a touch of muffling to focus the pitch more in the midrange and to keep the shell from ringing out between backbeats. But the Pure Almond snare is really at its crunchiest and tastiest when put under a bit more tension.