A&F Drum Co.
4×14 Raw Brass Snare
A contemporary take on iconic turn-of-the-century drums.
A&F’s first offering was a 4×14 raw-brass snare intended to replicate the sound and feel of some vintage pieces in Antoun’s arsenal, specifically a 6×14 thumbscrew-tensioned snare from Germany and a 1920s nickel-over-brass six-lug Ludwig. We checked out a 4×14 raw-brass snare at Antoun’s studio, where he also had the company’s proprietary 7-ply maple and 7-ply mahogany drumkits set up to demo. Both kits sounded larger than their modest sizes (12″ and 14″ toms and 20″ kick), and they featured the same rustic-looking hardware and hoops as our review snare. The floor tom on the mahogany kit also had a snare strainer installed on the bottom head. (A&F calls its toms with snare beds and wires Snoms.) A&F also offers a 6.5×14 brass snare, as well as some quirkier models, like a 3×12 brass Rude Boy ($625) and a 4×18 Gun Shot ($1,075).
The 4×14 limited edition Raw Brass drum ($1,200) has a weathered finish that’s designed to oxidize over time. The fourteen-gauge brass shells, which are handmade and finished by the A&F team, feature a forty-five-degree inner bearing edge and a slight forty-five-degree outer edge. The round, solid-brass lugs (Antoun’s patented design), the badge, and the hardware have leather gaskets at the shell contact points. The air vent has no grommet, and the strainer is a George Way–style beer tap model. The strainer, lug screws, and screw clips are the only parts not made in-house.
If you’re a fan of the warm yet brash sound of brass snares, this A&F is a delight, possessing a wonderful earthy honk. It offered a broader tuning range than the shallow depth would suggest, and the snares were sensitive regardless of tuning or where I played on the head. Also, small adjustments in tuning or muffling changed the character of the drum entirely, making it a highly versatile option.
The stock Remo Coated Ambassador batter head allowed plenty of colors to be explored with sticks, brushes, mallets, and other implements. When I tried a Coated Vintage Emperor, the drum offered a meatier palette that was very pleasing. High tunings produced a Roy Haynes–type crackle and pop that still maintained some body, and tuning the drum just above the wrinkle point made it sound similar to a field drum. A medium-high tension offered potential for this drum to be employed in orchestral work, and it produced robust rimshots appropriate for rock and funk.
A&F is producing the 4×14 Raw Brass in a limited run, so the drum isn’t cheap. But given its versatility and the potential time and money saved searching for a vintage equivalent, some might consider it a bargain. According to the company’s website (anfdrumco.com), it can make kits and raw-brass snares in any size, from 6″ to 22″ in diameter and between 3″ and 18″ in depth. (A 5×14 raw brass snare sells for $900.) If your local shop doesn’t carry any A&F stuff yet, follow the company’s social media pages for examples of how great its drums sound.