I was fortunate to test drive the first Canopus Zelkova drum set. Anyone who has played the Canopus flagship Zelkova snare will most likely agree that it is one of the top ten, maybe even top five greatest sounding snare drums ever built. In short, it is ridiculously sensitive, rich, dynamic and powerful - a sheer joy to play. Canopus has been building the Zelkova snares for quite a while now, but is just now introducing the toms and basses The drums are built from 200 year old native Japanese Zelkova tree stumps - one drum per stump. The stump is hollowed out to produce a solid shell; no plies, no glue, no reinforcing rings, etc. The unique global shape of the shell is something you won't see in other one piece drums. It increases the durability of the solid shell and prevents cracking, which is a common problem with contiguous shells. There are many other unique proprietary researched factors that go into the construction of the Zelkova drums and it is worth reading Canopus's detailed explanations on their website. http://canopusdrums.com/en/product/zelkova-snaredrum/
The set at NAMM was a prototype and not a finalized product. Canopus wanted to make this very clear, and I want to make sure my readers understand that the photos and my opinions and review are of the one particular set that was at NAMM, not the production model that will come later. These are not available to order yet. I assume that the only thing that may change are hardware choices and maybe some added sizes and finishes, but that remains to be seen.
The set was a four piece bebop size kit - 14 x 18 bass drum, 8 x 12 mounted tom, 14 x 14 floor tom and a Zelkova snare drum. It was tuned extremely high, in the jazz and bebop range. It sounded beautiful. Extremely clear tones. Very resonant and with great projection. Very rich sound. Very dynamic - great response and sustain at all volume levels. I'm very familiar with this high pitched tuning and have always kept at least one set in my collection tuned up in that extremely tight range. I did not check the tension difference between the bottom and top heads but I'm assuming they were equal because the drums were producing a distinct pure note. The drums have a great tuning range. The medium and low tunings are just as responsive and full.
The Zelkova wood is stunningly beautiful as you can see from the pictures. This set has a very attractive dark red finish which is an excellent contrast with the big distinctive grain of the Zelkova wood. I normally don't prefer gold colored hardware, but gold was the perfect hardware color choice to go with this wood and finish. Great contrast
Except for the proprietary Canopus tube lug which is height adjustable at the center pole to allow for possible expansion and contraction of the wood, the rest of the hardware is typical high end Canopus hardware. This sneak preview at Summer NAMM was a great surprise. Canopus is one of the most innovative drum companies in the world, if not THE most innovative; constantly inventing and crafting new instruments and accessories that are an improvement on the old but still honoring the traditions of the great drum builders of the past. So, I can't wait to see the final Zelkova drum set model.