When Outlaw Drums founder Michael Outlaw decided to try making snares from reclaimed lumber, he began with the estate remains of former Confederate soldier Charles Edward Wilder, who served in the 17th Georgia Infantry Regiment. Upon returning from the Civil War, Wilder built a home from the wood of the native pine trees that grew on his land.

Preserving the Story

The trees used for the Wilder house date back to the 1600s. Trees of that age and type are extremely hard and dense and have a very tight grain pattern. Taking up residence in a building for more than 150 years allowed that old timber to cure and dry evenly.

With all of that history in mind, it made sense that the historical origins of the wood be celebrated when it was repurposed into drum shells. For the two drums I ordered, I suggested Outlaw embed Civil War–era bullets into the wood to make them even more historically relevant.

My drums included a 6×14 with ten tube lugs and a 6×10 with six tube lugs. The shells are stave-constructed and have reinforcing rings for added strength. Outlaw uses a bearing edge that falls somewhere between a rounded vintage edge and a more modern design.

Both drums were made from the same board of reclaimed lumber. The idea was to timbre-match the drums as closely as possible to make them a matched set. Hardware was employed with the same strategy. The 2.3mm counter hoops, lugs, and air vent are black nickel–plated. Matching Trick three-position throw-offs and PureSound snares were used.

The Civil War–era bullets embedded in the shells were wood-struck. Two of them had hit dead-on, producing a mushroom shape. The other two hit at about a forty-five-degree angle. Two of the bullets were from the Confederate army, and two were from the Union. One Confederate and one Union bullet were placed in each drum.

To finish off the design, Outlaw used a rough exterior and an aged white and blue paint to give the drums a weathered look that harkened back to the original building. A dab of dark red paint was applied around each bullet. This color was used to represent the terrible cost of the Civil War.

The stave-constructed shells, made from aged heart pine hardwood, give these drums a very reflective, lively sound with a controlled openness that’s devoid of unpleasant overtones.

While being incredibly sensitive and responsive, both snares sounded earthy, warm, and deep. They had plenty of presence to prevent them from being lost in a mix, while being devoid of any unpleasant, overpowering tendencies. They’re especially suited for large stages and loud environments, but they’re versatile enough for any application. The 10″ snare was ideal for accents, effects, and adding a layer of higher-pitched grace notes.

Outlaw brings a lot to the table with its superior instruments—no detail is overlooked. For those who enjoy great-sounding drums that have a story to tell, check out what the company has available at outlawdrums.com.