What separates one drum builder’s instrument from another? We used to say it was unique lugs or a unique badge, but there are so many independent drum builders out there now and so many drums on the market it is getting hard to tell them apart. So it always comes down to tone, doesn’t it? How does the drum sound? How does it feel to play it? Is it just another pretty face or does it stand out from the crowd when you hit it? Does it light up the eyes and the ears? Michael Bouvier of MBW drums has a new model that is one of the best sounding snare drums I’ve ever heard, and it’s also a beauty; a “Sleeping Beauty”.
The 6.5 x 14 shell is a thin aluminum straight cylinder with no bearing edge flanges. The bearing edge is a single forty five degree cut to the inside with a slight round over on the outside. The snare beds are deep and wide which cuts down on buzzing.
The finish on the shell is classy and elegant - weathered aluminum with copper vein patina. It’s a completely hand finished effect. No two will be exactly alike. The hardware is all brass; 2.5mm brass single-flange hoops, full length brass tube lugs and a George Way type, hand turned brass beer tap throw off with détente tension settings, all weathered by hand and sealed to protect the finish. The aging and weathering of the finish is so realistic that, at first glance, this drum appears to be a very old vintage drum.
Sound: When I first started tapping and hitting this “Sleeping Beauty” snare drum, I thought I might be over reacting because it was the first drum I had heard that day. It sounded phenomenally great but I wanted to be sure of what I was hearing. So I went around the Drum Room and hit some of my first string and holy grail snares as a point of reference.
My ears were not deceiving me. This drum has some serious, serious tone and it is elegantly beautiful to boot. Several of my pro students came in a little later and had the same reaction and opinion.
I don’t like to use over used words like “crack”, “loud”, etc. to describe drum sounds. The first word that came to mind with this drum was “rich”. The fundamental tone is very evident with a nice blend of shell overtones and just enough head ring to give it a little sustain, even with the Evans Dry head. Combined with its very even snare response, it produces a nice throaty “honk” that I like to hear out of a metal drum. Rim shots have a nice, tight pop or snap to then. The snares responded perfectly from the center to the edge of the head. It came tuned to a medium high note and was very easy to tune down into the “fat” tuning area. Nice big, low sound at that low tuning. The very high tuning was very good – no choking and it gave a nice loud report when I laid into it at triple forte. The drum feels really good to the hands. It is a pleasure to play.
I have a drum track overdub recording session tomorrow in the Drum Room with a name artist and this will be the first snare I will pull out. It would surprise me if they want me to change it out for something different. I’ll report back about that.
The judges’ decision? A solid ten. This “Sleeping Beauty” (love the name) is a keeper. This one is already sold and I am going to miss this one when I have to give it back. I might have to buy one of my own. I really think this falls in the category of a “go to” drum. Each drum will ship with and Evans HD Dry batter, Evans 300 Hazy reso and Puresound Super 30 wires. The snare I reviewed is a 6.5x14. Any size of this model, form 5x14 – 8x14, is sold for $795 shipped anywhere in the continental US.
Additional charges may apply for overseas. Michael says these he has these shells made in any size all the way up to bass drum diameters. Pricing varies on the snares depending on other diameters.