September and Generation Series Snares
Unusual nine-lug and 16″ models from an innovative newcomer who’s not afraid to buck conventions.
Pfeifer Drum Co. is a Philadelphia-based company owned and operated by former Hollywood Undead drummer, author, educator, Knock Box metronome app developer, and self-professed drum nerd Daren Pfeifer. Pfeifer launched the brand in 2017 with the September series, which features an innovative snare design with nine lugs and off set snare wires. Since then, Pfeifer has expanded his offerings to include a range of metal-shell Imperial series snares and a handful of standard and unconventional wood-shell Generation series models. For review we were sent a 6×14 September maple ($649.99) and a huge 6.5×16 Generation mahogany ($699.99).
September series snares are available in one size (6×14) and two wood types (maple and ash). Both have ten-ply shells, ultra-precise 45-degree bearing edges, 4.5 mm steel straight hoops, small bass drum–style claws, brass tube lugs, nylon washers, a Trick three-position throw-off, Remo Ambassador drumheads, and high-quality German snare wires. The ash version has a natural finish, while the maple is solid black.
The nine lugs on September series drums are evenly spaced around the shell. But since there are an odd number of them, no two are aligned from one side of the drum to the other. This allows for more accurate and balanced tuning across the entire drumhead since there’s less indirect impact between the tension of one lug and the tension of the lugs on the opposing side. The nonparallel lug array also causes the throw-off and snare wires to be mounted a couple inches off center. Standard 14″ wires won’t fit these drums, so a 13″ assembly is used. The theory behind the benefit of the off-center wires is that by moving them away from the center, the bottom head will vibrate more freely, translating into increased sensitivity and a more open tone.
As intriguing as the science and physics behind this drum’s design might be, it would ultimately be meaningless if the drum didn’t sound good. Thankfully, it didn’t disappoint. It had an incredibly sweet and balanced tone with an amazingly open but not overly resonant sustain, and it had a seemingly limitless tuning range that extended all the way up to a Chad Smith–like “crack” and down to a super-beefy ’80s-style thud. The snare sensitivity was unreal all the way out to the edge of the head, yet the wires never buzzed uncontrollably. The wires could also be tensioned a bit tighter than usual before the head started to choke; this was very beneficial for playing in a light and articulate symphonic style.
Other than having to be a little more careful in regards to how I positioned the hoop, so that I didn’t smack tension rods when playing rimshots or rimclicks, this 6×14 September series maple proved to be one of the most versatile, easy-to-tune, and utilitarian wood drums I’ve ever played.
The Generation snare line currently comprises workhorse 6.5×14 maple, solid-maple, and purpleheart models, as well as a more specialized 5×14 acrylic, a 5.5×12 FX maple with tambourine jingles in the shell, and the behemoth 6.5×16 mahogany we got for review. This snare is designed to produce a huge, fat backbeat with a warm, dry tone. It features a six-ply mahogany shell with three-ply maple reinforcement rings, vintage-style round-over bearing edges, a natural finish, ten beavertail lugs, 2.3 mm steel hoops, a Trick three-position throw-off, nylon washers, PureSound Custom series wires, and Remo drumheads (Emperor Coated batter and Ambassador Hazy bottom).
The first thing to consider when adding this oversized beast to your kit is whether or not you have a snare basket that can expand wide enough to accommodate a 16″ shell. The heavy-duty DW 9000 series stand we had on hand in our studio worked. But that won’t be the case with every basket, especially if you use lightweight or vintage-style stands. An alternative solution would be to hang the drum from a suspension mount, like the Pearl I.S.S. that clips to the hoop. I was surprised how comfortable the Generation 16″ drum sat in the primary snare position in my kit. It does take up a bit more real estate than a standard-size drum, so you might have to make a few adjustments to your setup if you like to keep everything super compact. However, I envision this drum being used more often as an auxiliary drum that’s placed either to the left of the hi-hat or in the floor tom position. When used in those places, the extra 2″ of diameter presented no placement issues.
This 16″ Generation mahogany snare is tailor-made to provide deep, fat tones. Simply tune the batter head medium-low, throw on a generous amount of muffling, and adjust the snare tension until you find the desired balance of deep, compressed thump and bright, tight sizzle. Being 16″ in diameter, this snare will produce a lower fundamental note than a 14″ drum tuned with the same amount of head tension. As a result, the Generation mahogany had more rebound at lower pitches, which kept it from feeling like a sack of potatoes and thus limiting its playability.
Like the 14″ September maple, the 16″ Generation mahogany had a very rich, balanced, and open tone. This drum had longer sustain and more bell-like overtones, so some muffling might be required if you prefer a more focused sound. But the snare sensitivity was superb, and the tuning range was surprisingly vast. Obviously, I wouldn’t rely on this giant drum for everyday applications. That’s the September maple’s role. But for those songs or gigs requiring a snare sound with otherworldly fatness, the 16″ Generation mahogany is ready and able to deliver.