Handcrafted from a single species for a pure, all-purpose sound.

Bucks County Drum Co. founder Chris Carr developed the Prime series in order to provide an alternative to his flagship Semi Solid custom line for players looking for a more traditional ply-shell drumset without sacrificing quality and craftsmanship. Available in three configurations (8×12, 14×16, and 15×22; 9×13, 15×16, and 14×24; 8×12, 14×14, and 16×20), Prime series drums are made from 6-ply shells of cherry, walnut, or oak. We were sent the 12/16/22Criterion setup with cherry shells.

 

The Specs

Contrasting the Semi Solid series, which can be custom-ordered in just about any species or combination of species for a fully customized kit, Prime series drums are limited to three configurations and wood types, and they all feature the same hardware, bearing edges, Evans drumheads, and natural satin finish. The rack toms come with five lugs rather than the standard six, and they feature Bucks County’s proprietary tone mount that allows for unencumbered resonance without excessive bulk.

The rims on the toms are 2.3 mm triple-flange steel, and the lugs are a full-length tube design. The floor tom legs are bolted to the shell and isolated with plastic gaskets. The bass drum spurs are an old-school gull-wing style that are set at a fixed length but allow for some height adjustability depending on how they are angled. The toms have Evans G2 Coated batters and G1 Clear bottoms. The bass drum has a single-ply EQ4 Clear batter with an internal dampening ring and an EQ3 Coated front, which is a 7.5-mil head with a 10-mil overtone control ring.

The three Prime series configurations were selected to provide the most versatility while targeting specific sounds and applications. The Paragon setup (9×13, 15×16, and 14×24) is ideal for rock, modern country, and anything requiring big, deep tones. The Classic has an old-school jazz/R&B vibe, with 8×12 and 14×14 toms, and a slightly deeper 16×20 bass drum. The Criterion that we got for review sits right in the middle. It comprises an 8×12 rack tom, a 14×16 floor tom, and a 15×22 bass drum. The word criterion means “a principle or standard by which something may be judged or decided,” and aside from situations requiring super-quiet and small drums, like unamplified jazz or acoustic singer/songwriter gigs, this Prime set could easily be your go-to kit.

The Sounds

The first time I played this Prime series cherry kit was for a clinic at the Delaware Drum Show. The room held about a hundred people and was a typical small banquet-style hall, complete with tile flooring and wood paneling on the walls. The drums were tuned in the medium range, but the sounds they emitted through the room were massive without being unruly. The bass drum had incredible punch plus a deep, warm tone. Everyone I talked to after the clinic commented on how great the bass drum sounded. And that was without adjusting the tuning at all and with no muffling. The toms sounded equally rich and warm, and they were very responsive at all dynamics. Light strokes and hard hits all elicited a full tone with clean articulation and a quick but balanced decay.

When I got the kit back to my studio, I put it through its paces, starting with the drums tuned as high as they could go and then exploring each tuning below that. All three drums were amazingly consistent throughout the entire range, producing pure, musical notes with perfectly balanced attack and resonance, and fast but smooth decay. Not many drumsets can be played wide-open and sound like they’ve been tuned, dampened, and tweaked to perfection. The Prime series can. They’re also surprisingly lightweight. Win-win.

All three-piece Prime series shell packs list for $2,195.