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Worldmax Black Hawg

Worldmax Black Hawg Snare Drum

(c) Penny Larson - Feb 2002

This is from our very own Mike Radcliffe ("-MIKE-"). I have to give Mike a plug and say that he was very quick and helpful with all of my questions and he shipped the drum exceedingly quickly. Thanks again Mike!

Worldmax Black HawgI originally wanted to order some vintage-style single flanged hoops with clips for my 5x14 Ludwig Black Beauty. I talked to Mike about it and he figured that it would cost about $100.00 (those little clips are $1.60 each - times 20, that adds up). He jokingly suggested I buy a Black Dog and then I would have the rims to use on my Black Beauty. I had actually been considering getting a 6.5"x14" Black Beauty later this year anyway.

I slept on it and decided that a Black Hawg, for about $175.00 more than the rims and clips would cost anyway, was something I shouldn't pass up. It worked out even better as I picked up the drum that Mike had bought as a demo model so he chopped about $20.00 off the price. I got the drum on Friday and knew that I wasn't going to be able to play on it until Saturday.

I took it out of the box to look at it. I was very impressed. This drum is visually every bit the equal of my Black Beauty. In fact, on 6.5" deep drums, Ludwig uses short tube lugs (the same as what they use on 5" deep drums). I'm sure this is done as cost cutting measure, but I think short lugs (and consequently LONG tension rods) on 6.5" deep snares look silly and cheap. The fact that this drum had the longer tube lugs was a very pleasant surprise. The black finish over brass is high quality and lovely to look at. The tube lugs and rims are also of solid construction.

Overall, this looks and feels like a drum that could easily cost a couple hundred more (like the real Black Beauties do). The strainer is a P-85 clone. Although, unlike the P-85, this strainer actually uses tension keys bolts instead of crappy little phillips-head screws! It also has a very nice die-cast butt. The heads and snares are a little cheap seeming, but certainly not awful, I think they're just not to my liking. Also, I think the drum wants something warmer. I'm pretty sure that I'm going to put PureSounds on it and maybe a FiberSkyn batter with a Renaissance snare-side. I will agree that the World Max logo is a little hokey-looking, but I haven't decided whether to take it off or not. All in all, I was more than pleased with the look of the drum.

I was very excited to be able to play it today and I wasn't disappointed. I expected a big brassy sound. That's exactly what I got. The drum was full and powerful. When struck dead center it had that chest-thumping presence that only comes from a metal drum. I settled on a very tight snare-side head, medium-loose batter head, and medium tension on the snares. This kept the bite from the drum but dialed in a little more growl. I usually like a fairly high-pitched snare, and this drum did work in that range, but I felt like I wanted to hear a little more ring from the shell, so I lowered the pitch to achieve that ring. It had such a beautiful ring that I didn't even consider any muffling (not that I ever do). I particularly enjoyed buzzing my left stick into the head as ghost notes during ride patterns. The shell almost sang in a steady pitch. It gave the effect of a sustained pitch very easily. The drum was full and meaty when played in the center of the head.

The brass shell sang with a zing that was very pleasing. Rim shots were full of tone. They spread out nicely after the initial impact sound. I found moving the stick back and forth gave me a great difference in the tone from rim shots (I always notice this, but it seemed more pronounced on this drum). The cross-stick sound was extremely full and woody, with just enough of the metallic bite from the shell to cut through.

Due to the drum's appearance, I was expecting and hoping for a "vintage" sound (not that any such thing really exists, I just mean a sound that conjures up images of the twenties and thirties in my head). This drum captures that sound in spades. I felt very nostalgic playing this drum (and I'm only 31). This is how I imagine a new "vintage-style" drum to sound and make me feel. I was much more inspired to do rim shots than I normally tend to be, and I think it has the best cross-stick sound I've heard. I think that brass ring in the tone was working on me! The drum was also very sensitive. I couldn't lose the snares anywhere on the head or at any dynamic. I could see using this snare for anything from jazz, where the sensitivity would be great, to blues, where the growl would bite, to rock, where the zing would really cut through. I am very impressed.

Comparing it to my '90's 5"x14" Ludwig Black Beauty with tube lugs and triple-flanged hoops is almost depressing. The Black Dawg looks better and sounds at least as good. It's a little hard to give an exact sound comparison as the Black Beauty is only 5" deep and has the triple-flanged hoops, but the Black Hawg seems like a more fulfilling instrument. A Ludwig Black Beauty would have cost about $150.00 more than this drum. I can't justify that price difference based on sound. In fact, due to the single-flanged hoops and long tube lugs, the Black Hawg looks MUCH better than the Ludwig 6.5"x14" Black Beauty. The 5"x14" Black Beauty isn't as meaty or throaty or as brassy. The first two of those I think I can attribute to the depth, but the last one I think has to do with the hoops.

From rim shots to cross-sticks to even just the overall tone of the drum, the nickel over brass hoops really make this drum come alive and kick the Black Beauty's ass! This drum costs $269.00 plus shipping from -MIKE-. I can't think of a metal drum of this quality for anywhere near that price. If you're looking for a big brassy snare at a reasonable price - look no further, this is it. And it looks cool too!

Take it Easy,

Penny

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