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Old 15th March 2009
Gear Nut

Ludwig Classic Maple vs. DW Collector's Maple- Studio Review

I posted this on a drum forum, but my friend who is an engineer, suggested some people over here might find this info useful.

Background- I recently recorded a few drum tracks (I brought my Ludwig for the first session and my DW for the second session) for my band in the studio. I had to go back to lay down one more track, so the engineer asked if I would bring both kits so we could experiment. We tuned the drums as close to each other as we could manage. (Even used a Drum Dial at one point.) We also ran the exact same head combos (even swapped the heads between drums just for sh!ts and giggles.)

The participants

2008 Ludwig Classic Maple in gold sparkle wrap
2008 DW Collector's (Maple) kit in green sparkle wrap.
The kits are exactly the same sizes (18X22 kick-virgin, 8X12 rack-mounted on a snare stand, and a 14X16 floor tom with legs and a 6.5X14 snare.)

Heads for toms- coated Ambassadors on the resos for the toms with and coated Emperors or coated Ambassadors on the batter side of the toms,
Snare- Ambassador snare side head and coated Controlled Sound head on the snares,
Kick- Remo PS3 clear on the front and smooth white on the reso for the kick. (One piece of felt on the reso side of the kick.)

General observations:

Without a doubt the DW kit had a lower fundamental tone-on every drum.

The DW's kick drum- "Now that's rock and roll" was the first thing the engineer said after he heard the DW's kick drum. It wanted to be tuned low and had a thunder/rumble sound to it that would work great for rock. The engineer described the kick drum as the lowest sounding kick he has ever recorded. (Same thing he said the last time I brought it.) He loved the DW's kick and even asked if I had made any modifications to it. (No, I did not.)

[B]The DW floor - again this drum did not want to be tuned high. It sounded nice when the whole kit was played, but not so much when it was isolated. The floor really rumbled, but it also sounded just a bit muddy and indistinct, even when we tuned it higher. This drum definitely wanted a coated Emperor as it sounded too thin with the Ambassador.

The DW's rack tom- It wasn't terrific or terrible, but rather good and worked fine. It had a pleasant tone and sounded good on recordings, if a bit generic. Interestingly, its fundamental tone wasn't necessarily low like the floor and kick, albeit it was lower than the Ludwig. The rack really wanted to have a coated Ambassador on it, and when I put the Emperor on the rack it tended to get boxy and kind of choke the drum a bit.

The DW's snare - Very flexible, if just a bit boxy depending on the head combo we tried. On the recording, it didn't have "the snap" or "the bite" the engineer was looking for, but it certainly sounded good to me. I had to run the snares looser than normal to get them to cut through in the mix, which I thought was interesting. This drum also had a low fundamental tone, which gave it a feeling of "power" if that makes any sense.

The Ludwig
As I mentioned the Ludwig kit did generally not have as a low of a fundamental tone. Having said that, the drums had a lot of "...character and body.." as described by the engineer. I would describe the Ludwig kit as having a "round" sound, if that makes any sense. My wife described it this way, " can hear some highs, some mids and some lows..." which I think is accurate. That is not to say you couldn't hear those different tones with the DW, rather they were not as pronounced.

The Ludwig kick drum - very clear and articulate, albeit not as low as the DW. The engineer described it as "punchy" and "lively" whatever that means. The drum still had a nice body to it but the engineer preferred the DW kick for the tune we were recording. (Sort of a rockin' Calexico kind of tune.)

The Ludwig floor tom- definitely not as low of a fundamental tone as the DW, although this had a "cleaner," more distinct tone. We wound up using this because I played sort of a train beat/Gene Krupa thing on the floor tom and the engineer wanted the hits and pops to be a bit more articulate. Honestly, we could have gone either way on this choice.

The Ludwig rack tom- both the engineer and I agreed the Ludwig's rack tom was better sounding than the DW's. The rack was very clear, yet still warm with a lot of character and a "rounder" sound. This drum was probably the most flexible of any of the drums we tested, as it sounded good tuned high or low. We used this on the recording.

The Ludwig snare- This one surprised me in that it sounded terrific on the recording. It was surprisingly articulate and full-bodied with a woody tone. I was worried since it sounded a bit thin while I was playing, but on the recording it didn't come across that way. We wound up using this on the recording. Listening back, I thought this drum had just a bit more character than the DW, but either would have worked for the tune.

Quick observation-
I was surprised by the lower fundamental tone provided by the DW kit, since it didn't seem significantly lower to me when I had played the kit previously. It was a bit addicting, I'll admit, to get the drums to rumble and shake. The clarity of the Ludwig kit it was what made the drums so appealing to the engineer and myself-at least on this recording.
Attached Thumbnails
Ludwig Classic Maple vs. DW Collector's Maple- Studio Review-dw-green-sparkle.jpg   Ludwig Classic Maple vs. DW Collector's Maple- Studio Review-ludwig-gold-sparkle-recording.jpg