As any drummer will tell you, standard circular drum cases can be a pain, particularly when you’ve just finished a gig, you’re dog tired and trying to get your kit packed up in reasonable time to get on the road and hopefully get some kip. The American Ahead company has clearly been out there talking to gigging musicians to find out what’s their ideal semi-rigid drum case and it isn’t circular! When you’re talking toms there’s the mounting hardware to consider, so they’ve come up with a teardrop design along with an ingenious zip configuration that by way of a cutout, allows full access to the case, where the head of the case acts as a hinge. This also allows you to get your hand into the case so that the drum can be easily removed or placed back into the unit.

Made from twin layer DX-Core high impact foam padding for both protection and stiffness, with a weatherproof nylon denier cover, premium grade Sherpa fleece lining and a patented heavy duty nylon DynaZip, the Armour cases are not dissimilar to another well known brand that is currently the market leader. With a padded grab handle and a rather fetching rubberised logo, we reckon they’re worth your attention.

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Yet another striking cymbal from Meinl’s Byzance series, the 20-inch Benny Greb signature Sand Ride cymbal is handmade in Turkey and finished in Germany. Greb comments that he was trying to produce the sound qualities of the bell of a heavy cymbal alongside the vintage stick definition of a light cymbal in one model, and in this he’s clearly succeeded.

With a sandblasted top and a raw mostly unlathed bottom the Sand Ride has a beautiful Latin bell and crystal clear stick definition. Jazzwise tested the ride in a 20-piece big band setting where it more than held its own – its light wash performing with clarity across all volume levels. It has a great crash sound if needed and with the perfect combination of a clear bell and the ability to be crashed, this ride could cover any situation.

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In mid 2010 four experienced Turkish cymbal smiths got together and decided to produce cymbals that would be manufactured using only traditional methods ie: coal, wood and hammers – with no machines automating the hammering. Given the background of the artisans, it is not surprising that the Impression cymbals closely resemble other leading Turkish brands. The cymbal make up formula like all cast cymbals is however, described as a “secret recipe”. We sampled the 20” Ride Jazz and Dry Jazz models. In a big band setting the cymbals were used “in partnership” to create two distinctive Ride colours – which worked perfectly. The sound of the Dry Jazz model exactly matches the hand hammered, rawness of the cymbal’s unlathed appearance. Stick definition is excellent with a very low smoky feel. This cymbal is capable of handling every volume level, but showed it’s real class when backing a soloist, where the subtleties of colour and character really shone through.

The Jazz model is a lively, shimmering Ride. It’s thinness means that it moves around a lot – especially when played near the edge. This might produce a pleasing effect, but we reckon that the Jazz works best when the ride pattern is played mid cymbal – although there is still some movement in this position. The overall tone of this cymbal is lower than we expected, but this of course helped in the ‘partnership’ with the even lower rawness of the Dry Jazz model. Once again, this cymbal gave excellent stick definition and carried a shimmering under wash. Interestingly, both cymbals have a smaller than normal bell and this slightly reduces the volume of any “bell effects”. With all Impression cymbals being signed beneath the bell by the individual cymbal smith, these cymbals ooze quality and compare favourably with other models two or three times the price. There is just one thing that is slightly OTT though – that Impression Logo!

These 20-strand Custom Pro brass snare wires are the latest addition to the much heralded Puresound range. They come in 13” and 14” snare drum sizings and are shipped with Speed Release Straps, which makes for a speedy turnaround should you want to change your wires in a hurry. We tried out the CPB1420 and found that there was certainly a warmer tonal response than on our bulk standard wires. But are we really going to want to change over snare wires when we’re half way through a gig? We think not.

The CPB 1420 certainly has that definable brass brightness and resonance and like all Puresound products is made from the highest quality materials. If you’ve never experienced Puresound we recommend that you give these a try and we can confidently predict that you won’t be disappointed.

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The design of these 30th Anniversary cymbals was clearly inspired by the original K Zildjians and these Istanbul Agops can truly claim to be handmade, with a single cymbalsmith being responsible for each instrument, making each cymbal truly unique.

We were sent a 20” ride (there is also a 22”). Apart from being beautifully covered in the craftsman’s hammer marks, each bell is hand shaped and signed, bringing a true ring of authenticity. Our 20” offered up a classic vintage jazz sound, with a defined stick definition sitting right over a lovely dark wash. This never built too far, so not diverting attention away from the stick pattern. But there is an ocean of colour sitting just below there, which is a major factor in the overall sound.

We tested the ride in small and big band settings and it didn’t disappoint in either scenario. It took a while to get used to the wash, but in a live situation this only added to the colours, sitting well behind the soloist or with a driving brass section. The handcrafted bell of the cymbal delivered some subtle dark latin effects, and if you’re short of space, the 30th Anniversary makes for a surprisingly good crash.

There’s no doubt that this is a true jazzers’ cymbal with a very special pedigree. But you’re going to have to go check them soon, as they were only in production for a year… and stocks are getting low.

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