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Brady 5.5x14 Jarrah Ply Turtleback

Brady 5.5x14 Jarrah Ply Turtleback Gloss snare drum and

Brady 6.5x14 Jarrah Ply Wandoo Burl Gloss snare drum

Mark Polis

Well, after borrowing joem's Brady 5.5x14 Jarrah Ply Blue Fiddleback Gloss snare drum for a week or so, I was impressed and decided to splurge on both a 5.5x14 Jarrah Ply Turtleback Gloss and a 6.5x14 Jarrah Ply Wandoo Burl Gloss snare drum. (I felt that the funds were more safely invested in these little masterpieces than in today's stock market. I'm certain I was right.)

Review Brady 5.5x14 Jarrah Ply TurtlebackAs you can see, the drums are just plain drop dead gorgeous. The craftsmanship is impeccable. The finishes are beyond description - there are a slew of exotic veneers available from Brady, and deciding on which to purchase is tough. You can get the gloss (for ~$100 more) or the satin oil finish on any of them. As these nest behind Gretsch Customs, I went with the gloss finishes.

Upon examination (there's that medical thing), the bearing edges are picture perfect - smooth as glass. The snare beds seem "just right" - not too shallow to enable a lot of buzz, but not too deep, either. The Jarrah ply interiors are also smooth as silk, and the drums reek of fine workmanship.


The drums come with ten hefty-weight tube lugs. I'd recommend that the Brady people think about perhaps outfitting the drum's tension rods with nylon washers or else with something like Canopus's leather "Bolt Tite" washers, because the tension rods don't seem to want to stay put during tuning - I have already retrofitted my Brady's that way. It was either that or Lug Locks.

Review Brady 5.5x14 Jarrah Ply TurtlebackThe drums have the now-familiar Brady stick-on military drumming man logo "badge". I don't understand why the 6.5 came with the logo applied onto the shell *two* panels away from the strainer, while the 5.5 came with the logo applied *three* panels away(?!?!). Is this a "quality control" issue, or peculiar to the different sizes for some reason? Opposite the clear Nickel Drumworks strainer is a grommeted vent hole. All of the lugs and the vent hole are isolated from the wood shell with what appear to be rubber washer grommets. Very nice touch. The drums have 2.3mm well chromed triple flanged hoops and the business surface of these hoops lie LOW, just peeking over the bearing edges - SO low that with rim clicks (cross sticking), it is the shoulder of the stick that contacts the head rather than the tip! The same is true on both batter and snare sides.

The 5.5 came with a Remo coated Ambassador batter while the 6.5 came with a Remo coated CS dot (underneath) batter, however after switching batter heads a few times and tediously making careful comparisons, I would strongly recommend an Aquarian Texture Coated Satin Finish batter head for these snare drums, as these particular heads do these fine drums the most justice, IMO. They really bring out the drum's "meat" and subdue the harsher harmonics beautifully. The snare side heads are clear Ambassadors. The 20-strand snare wires which were supplied with the drums were generic-looking things and very buzzy, so I first tried 20-strand PureSound wires which were too "dark" for these drums, and landed on a Canopus 20-strand regular set for the 6.5 and a Canopus 20-strand DRY set for the 5.5. Voila!!!

Now the *sound* of these snare drums is something else. Edgy is the word that first comes to my mind. Much more bite than I'm ordinarily used to with my Jasper maple/gumwood Gretsch shells, and a much Review Brady 5.5x14 Jarrah Ply Turtlebacksharper sound (though lower pitched) than my Zelkovas - no doubt related to the dense Jarrah (a hardwood apparently from or related to the eucalyptus family) ply construction. They are very articulate snare drums, but without being too "dry" - but on the other hand, they're not quite as "wet" as the Ludwig snare drum sound - they are therefore less forgiving, so you'd better bone up on your flam paradiddles & Swiss army triplets before considering a Brady!! There is only a modicum of "warmth" to the Brady snare drums, and they will certainly excel in louder volume situations. Restraint is key for
us jazzers with *these* particular weapons. Drum rolls *roar* in, a la Art Blakey. Rim clicks and rim shots are resounding. They sonically remind me somewhat of Sonor Designer Maple Heavies, but with even more edge to them.

After playing a couple of tunes with them, you can actually feel yourself taking on a more aggressive posture behind your kit. The Brady's are *very* responsive, and moderately fat when tuned down a
trifle (but not nearly as fat sounding as the corresponding sized Zelkovas are). The resonance of the Brady shell is moderate, and they are neither ringy nor dry & confined sounding. These snare drums speak *authoritatively*. They have a definite "pop" to them, and make quick stick work a lot of fun. I also suspect they would go to tape exceedingly well. The salient quality to me, especially when comparing these Brady's to Canopus Zelkovas (which are hollowed out Zelkovturtlebacka wood log drums), is that there doesn't seem to be perceptible separation of snare and shell sound in the Brady's - there's more of a fusion or integration of these sonic components, the result being an "in your face" tight snare response. (With Zelkovas, you can actually almost hear the shell AND the snares as two separate sounds, if you get my drift - sometimes I find that annoying, and it often tempts me to tighten up the Zelkova's snare wires, and that *still* doesn't always seem to marry the two sounds, especially in outdoor venues.)

With the Brady's, I definitely prefer the 5.5 to the 6.5x14, no doubt about it. I think the 5.5 is their ticket (much like the Dunnett 6.5x13 sized Ti is the "magic" key). The 6.5 Brady was a bit more "hollow" sounding in comparison to the 5.5, and less responsive to my ear - however that 6.5 is still a killer, don't get me wrong. (The converse is true of Zelkovas, where the 6.5's body somehow contributes
positively to the drum's sound, responsivity and fatness, superceding the 5x14.)

The Brady's come in at about half the price of the Zelkovas' $1475 price tag, by the way. The 6.5 Wandoo Burl was on the Brady in-stock list, so it only took about a week and a half to receive. The 5.5x14 Turtleback Gloss was a custom order, but I had it in about three or four weeks!!!

In closing, I think that these beautiful Brady snare drums are worth every cent of their price. If I could only keep TWO snare drums (God forbid), I might keep the 6.5x14 Zelkova and the 5.5x14 Brady Jarrah Ply.

Thanks again to Joe (joem) M. for giving me the prelim intro to the Brady snare drum world. Also thanks to Morris Roberts and Robert Dotto for rendering descriptions which were remarkably accurate, before I ever did the hands-on thing with them.

Review Brady 5.5x14 Jarrah Ply Turtleback

 

 

Mark Polis





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