Vic Firth’s new split brush was designed by German drummer Florian Alexandru-Zorn, a teacher, musician and author who specialises in brush playing.
Coming with two separate rows of wire, the brush has a relatively wide rubber grip (we would have preferred something a little thinner), with three spread positions on the pull out rod for maximum flexibility.
Angling the brush to the drumhead creates two contact points made by the long and short wires, a combination that offers a wealth of colour and effect.
When sweeping, we found that the longer brush has a brighter high-end sound when compared to the short wires, which produce extra volume and a mid-range tone.
“The creative possibilities are almost endless”
With the three settings on the pull rod producing differing lengths of wire, the creative possibilities are almost endless.
The sweep volume is enhanced by the design and this is significant on the snare and toms, where you simply get more sound – ideal for the big band arena.
And with all the control options there are plenty of creative effects to be tapped into – bouncing the grip on the rim worked well.
These brushes took some getting used to, but we think the resulting sound will see the split brush becoming an essential part of any drummer’s arsenal, and not just a mere gimmick.
This extraordinary little hollow box brings a whole new meaning to the fabled art of foot tapping – and it’s made in the UK! What looks like a chunk cut out of a wooden kitchen worktop, but is in fact a piece of quality Sapele, has a non-slip rubber base and a 1/4 inch jack socket screwed into one end. Inside is a dynamic mic capsule that picks up the sound of anything striking the wooden surface, whether it be on the top or on the end. Placed on the floor, we found that it was possible to not only get subtle variations in pitch across the top surface, but also to get different tonal effects depending on which part of the box you were tapping. Changing from rubber soles to leather soles also made a difference to the quality of the sound – we didn’t try wooden clogs...!
Having used the Logarhythm the way it was intended, we decided that there was no reason why it couldn’t be played with hands, fingers, or for that matter sticks and brushes. This threw up all sorts of interesting sonic possibilities, not least of which was the lower pitch that can be found on the end panel (not of course possible when using your feet). The Logarhythm is probably the most basic instrument that we have ever had on the test bench, but it is also one of the most versatile. Upright bassists might want to use it as a rhythmic device to embellish solos or generally kick out a beat. While drummers could potentially use it as a piece of “table top” percussion alongside a kit, or alternatively in an acoustic setting when a kit is neither practical nor required. LogJam also produce a couple of useful accessories in the shape of the Heel ’n’ Toe and the Wedge – the possibilities are endless.
Remo’s launch of tucked synthetic conga heads in 2001 with the Nuskyn range revolutionised conga heads in much the same way as they had done with the introduction of plastic drum heads in the mid-1950s. At once conga players were relieved of the rawhide head’s pitch and tuning problems associated with temperature, humidity and moisture, as well as uneven skin thickness.
In 2004 Remo introduced the slightly brighter tones of the Fibreskyn tucked head and has now developed the Skyndeep tucked head.This latest introduction features a graphic infusion of pigment into the polyester surface giving a range of finishes including calf skin, Puerto Rican flags, black calf skin and tiger stripes. The heads are tucked around a steel insert hoop, just like traditional rawhide heads, and are highly durable and able to handle extreme tensioning. The Skyndeep calf skin graphic head reviewed here looks exactly like natural calf and combines the warmth of the Nuskyn with the brightness and projection of the Fibreskyn. The heads tension and tune with absolute ease right out of the box: open tones sound clear and resonant, the tumba bass head has a deep low end with no unwanted overtone while the slaps are capable of a defined pop that cracks like a pistol. For live work these are a must, even for the most ardent of natural skin-on-skin traditionalists, and are kinder on the hands than rawhide heads. Once used you’ll never go back.
Cajons are becoming increasingly popular in acoustic ensembles and there are now numerous models being produced by the various percussion manufacturers to suit both the small and the large purse. We decided to look at a new mid-range cajon from one of the smaller specialist companies based in Seville, Spain, who have a family history that is closely linked to the birthplace of the cajon and the art of flamenco.
The New Evo is typical of the Duende company’s attention to detail, quality craftmanship and innovative designs. Built with a birch wood front plate on an Okume wood chassis, the New Evo has an adjustable, two string vertical snare system set in a ‘V’ form, which is tuneable via a couple of machine heads set on a bar at the base of the instrument. These can be accessed via a hole in the rear panel, allowing the front plate to be glued to the body rather than screwed, which produces a much more compressed and tighter sound. Definitely louder than other cajons that have passed through our hands in the past, the New Evo has a wide dynamic range, and responds well at either end of the spectrum. Separation is good and there is a solid, full, rich, deep bass, a well defined clarity to the middle and a top where you can achieve crisp, clear slaps. Exceptionally lightweight, the New Evo has four rubber feet to hold it in place, while the seat comes with a non-slip surface – just in case.
When Remo launched its Mondo Key-Tuned djembes back in the mid-1990s not only did they come up with a robust, easy to tune, good sounding drum at a time when most traditional ethnic models were poorly made and notoriously difficult to tune, but the djembe’s Fibreskyn synthetic head meant pitch loss due to cold and humidity was a thing of the past. Now Remo’s tireless R&D department have come up with the Infinity Mondo Djembe, which takes the basic Key-Tuned model and moves it up to a whole new level. Standing 25 inches tall with a 14-inch head, the traditional shaped shell is made from Remo’s patented Acousticon recycled wood fibre with a Choco Red Eco-Grain finish – that has the look and feel of exotic wood – and is fitted with a thick rubber base to protect and isolate the shell.
The drum head is the company’s newly designed Mondo Skyndeep featuring goat stripe brown graphics while the drum-key tuning lugs screw into new black plastic Contour brackets that are immediately far more comfortable than previous models. The new Skyndeep head is quick to tune and produces crisp, stinging slaps, clear open tones and an extra deep, resonant bass sound from the centre that’s enhanced by the djembe’s extra wide belly. This drum has remarkable projection being somewhat louder than ethnic rope-tune djembes and players who prefer these traditional models will not be disappointed by this winning combination of west African heritage and modern materials.