Before I get into the meat of this review, let me say that I was already very familiar with the Zelkova snare drums, having played a few over the years. I knew what to expect with this particular review drum. I have a predisposed bias to this drum so I apologize in advance for gushing.
The Zelkova is a unique snare drum cut from a hollowed section of a 200 year old Japanese Zelkova tree stump. This wood is also called Japanese elm or redwood. Using the traditional techniques of making the barrel shaped Japanese Taiko drums, Canopus achieves the resonant and sonorous sound of the Taiko. The barrel shape is designed to be stronger than other barrel shaped stave drums which have traditionally prone to cracking. Its unique thickness and structure of the shell disperses the tension forces equally. The shell is thicker in the middle and thinner at the edges. The bearing edge is extremely sharp. The shell is seasoned for three years and the drum is dried in a specially designed wood drier to reduce the moisture content down to nine percent. This drying procedure also contributes to minimize the shrinkage and cracking of the drum shell. The snare beds are fairly shallow. The craftsmanship that goes into the shell is immediately obvious.
Fat, warm, solid, thick, sweet, rich, sharp, strong, throaty, resonant, with a lot of body. It is a unique sound that I have never heard from another snare drum of any kind. It does not sound like maple. It has its own distinctive tonal qualities which can not really be compared to other woods. powerful love spell
The hardware is kept to a minimum: eight small and simple, yet somehow expensive looking, solid brass lugs, each of them attached to the shell with just one screw. The reason for eight lugs as opposed to ten is to lower the overall mass of the hardware and to allow larger sections of the shell vibrate freely, unimpeded by the lugs and screws. The revolving height adjustable tubular lug has a mechanism which enables height adjustments at the interval of plus or minus 2mm by turning its center pole. The die cast rims keep the drum perfectly in tune even with extended playing times. The snare mechanism is a simple P85 type that works well, and the snare wires are Canopus.
If you are worried about tuning with just eight lugs, don't be: the die cast rims keep the snare perfectly in tune, as I can attest, having played it for about half a year now. The leather washers under each tuning screw also help keep the heads in tune. Those washers are actually a Canopus product that can be bought separately, called "Bolt Tight". The air hole is simply that; a hole cut in the drum with no grommet, in keeping with Canopus's philosophy of minimal hardware and contact.
When I play this drum, it feels different than other drums. It feels like the shape of the shell produces more "give" in the head, which is very pleasing. The sound has a lot of character - lots of bottom but with crisp highs at the same time. And the bottom does not disappear with high tunings. The tuning range is very wide. The snare sensitivity is perfect - very even all the way across the head. The drum is very responsive and does not choke when played loudly. I was not hesitant about digging into it. The rim shots and rim clicks are very crisp while maintaining the warm, fat shell sound - not unlike a triple flanged hoop feel. Most drums with die cast hoops have a drastically sharper rim sound. The Zelkova rim sounds are more organic, even with the die cast hoops.
One of the best snare drums money can buy. A definite "10". I wish I owned one but I need another snare drum like I need a hole in my head. It is a very versatile drum that does not bring attention to itself in a recording mix. It's just……………right. Let's hope that the Canopus Drum Company has a long history with this holy grail drum. You can hear very accurate sound samples of the 5x14, 6.5x14 and the 8x14 models at the website.