DW Collector’s Series Pure Oak Drumset

Crisp attack, booming tone, and ultra-rich aesthetic.

by Michael Dawson

DW Collectors Series Oak Drumset

With all of DW’s experiments in drum shell construction, you may be surprised to learn that it wasn’t until recently that the company began to explore the bright, clean timbre of hard oak. The journey started in 2015, when DW vice president John Good purchased logs from a 1,500-year-old Romanian River oak tree to use for a few limited drumsets in the Timeless Timber series. Good enjoyed the sound of those kits so much that he decided to develop the Pure Oak series, which are made from red oak timber. We were lucky to get our hands on one of these new oak sets, so let’s check them out! 

The Shells
Our review kit included 8×10 and 9×12 rack toms, 12×14 and 14×16 floor toms, an 18×22 kick, and a 6.5×14 matching snare. The rack toms are 7-ply, the floor toms and kick are 8-ply, and the snare is 11-ply. The plies are thicker to cut back on the total number of plies per drum, and the glue has been reformulated to be twenty times stronger and harder, which DW says helps increase resonance.

Another interesting way that DW tweaks the tone of its drums is by combining veneers with long and short grains. The Pure Oak drums have a 3-ply core with a long-grain center sandwiched between two short-grain plies. The 7-ply rack toms are finished with 2-ply short/long laminates on the inside and outside of the core so that the outermost ply is long and the innermost ply is short. The short-grain interior is said to create a lower timbre due to there being less tension in the wood. The 8-ply drums have an extra short-grain veneer on the inside, next to the core. The shell layout used on these drums is called HVLT (horizontal/vertical laminate technology). The bearing edges are cut to be fatter on the outside, which also helps emphasize the lower frequencies.

The Hardware
The Pure Oak kit came with all the standard Collector’s Series appointments. This includes the True Pitch 50 tension rods, which have fifty threads per inch. This tighter threading allows for great fine-tuning and more stability.

The rims are DW’s True Hoops design, which are triple-flange with a fully rounded top for greater durability and a stronger rimshot sound. They are also guaranteed to be perfectly flat and round for better tuning. True Hoops are graduated in thickness, so the 10″ tom hoops are 1.65mm thick, the 12″ are 2mm, the 14″ and 16″ are 2.3mm, and the 14″ snare hoops are 3mm.

The snare has twenty-strand True-Tone snappy wires and a magnetic MAG three-position throw-off that allows you to switch between three degrees of wire tension with the flick of a lever.

The rack toms feature DW’s STM suspension system, which is a sleek design that connects to four of the lugs with minimal visual obstruction while allowing the shell to vibrate as freely as possible. The floor toms came with the company’s standard steel legs.

All of the hardware on this kit, from DW’s signature turret lugs to the bass drum claws and spurs, is nickel-plated to give the drums a very sophisticated, classy look.

The Sound
The Pure Oak kit tuned up very easily, and little fine-tuning was necessary to get the drums to sing with a clear, open tone. DW paired these dense shells with 2-ply Smooth White batter heads to introduce some top-end brilliance while also enhancing the low-end resonance. I absolutely loved the way these toms sounded tuned high and medium. The attack is super-clean, so everything you put into them is articulated perfectly. The sustain is very even and decays nicely. There’s also a good amount of heftiness in the tone, which makes them sound big and powerful, even at higher tunings. Unlike with some birch drums, where you end up sacrificing a bit of depth and breadth for an increase in cut and snap, the Pure Oak toms possessed a full, balanced tone with a ton of volume potential.

The bass drum has a big, boomy tone with a sharp attack that can be reined in easily with additional muffling and alternate beater types. The snare sounds chunky, articulate, sensitive, and powerful, and can be tuned high or low to great results. DW makes a lot of great drums, but the Pure Oak might be its most definitive offering yet.

Shells: 7-ply rack toms, 8-ply floor toms and kick, 11-ply snare
Finish: hard satin
Drumheads: 2-ply Smooth White by Remo