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6.5×14 Oscar Seaton Hybrid-Shell Snare

Marrying birch with maple for ultimate clarity and depth.

DTS, or Drum Tech Services, was founded in 2011 by acclaimed tech Steve “Steevo” Morrison, who has worked with Tommy Lee, Stephen Perkins, Teddy Campbell, Joey Jordison, and Nate Morton. (Morton uses DTS snares on The Voice.) Morrison’s mission, as stated on the company website, is to “provide handcrafted instruments at reasonable prices.”

The options DTS offers are nearly endless, starting with premium Keller shells of various wood types and including any choice of stain, custom paint job, veneer, inlay, or lacquer finish. DTS uses PureSound Custom Pro snare wires and Remo drumheads (Evans and Aquarian heads can be used on request), and it offers many bearing-edge profiles and hardware options and finishes, including powder coating. All DTS snare drums are made to order.

Our review drum is a unique 6.5×14, 10-ply hybrid built especially for renowned R&B/pop/fusion drummer Oscar Seaton, featuring a top half of birch and a bottom half of maple, plus a checker-pattern maple inlay. It’s outfitted with black nickel tube lugs and die-cast hoops, black tension rods, a Trick GS007 throw-off, twenty-four-strand PureSound Custom Pro wires, and Remo heads (Coated Ambassador top and Hazy Ambassador bottom). The edges are 45 degrees with a rounded back cut, and the snare beds are fairly flat.

Since birch drums tend to have a focused, cutting voice and maple drums are known to have a more open, broad timbre, we expected this drum to feature a blend of the two, which it did. But it definitely leaned more toward the birch side of the spectrum, offering supreme pop, punch, and precision at any tuning. Part of that was also due to the die-cast hoops, which helped to tighten the overtones and add a bit of bite to rimshots.

Tuned tight, the Seaton snare was super-articulate and responsive, with a clean, focused “snap,” but there was depth and roundness to the tone that you don’t always get from drums at higher tensions. (I assume this is where the maple comes into play.) Medium tension sounded bigger and throatier, while still remaining focused and controlled. A lower tuning brought out even more fatness and a wider, deeper “smack,” without getting muddy or sloppy. No muffling was needed at any tuning, which is a testament to the quality of the build as well as to the smart combination of contrasting wood types and the tone-focusing die-cast hoops. The list price is $699.

Michael Dawson