After the five-hour trip back home, the fun begins. Ironwood logs only come in diameters of up to 22", so the largest drum Spirit can create is a 20" bass drum. (Their equipment could make a 22" bass if they ever found a log large enough). Very little timber is wasted, since it is an extremely valuable resource. The same log section used to create a 20" bass drum shell can also yield a 16" tom shell, a 12" shell, and sometimes an 8" shell as well.

The shells are lathed directly from the logs to a thickness of 12 mm (7/16"). The bearing edges are 40, and the snare beds are cut by hand. The insides of the shells are carved with a scalloped effect. Matt and Jim b elieve that this carving keeps the sound in the drum longer, increasing the complexity of the overtones. It also lends control to the sound, eliminating ring and giving a crisp, dry sound to the snares. It's interesting to note that Matt and Jim do different patterns from each other, and they are never the same.

After being turned, the shells are left to season. Then eight different layers of coatings are applied to reinforce their structural stability. The layers are hand-sanded between each coat. Finally, the shells are finished with a clear satin finish. Aside from looking great, the shells come with a lifetime warranty.

Added Attractions

Spirit does not equip their drums with any sort of mounts. Instead, they utilise RIMS mounts, which can be fitted with whatever brand of mounting system the buyer desires. Rack toms come with the "traditional" suspension-style RIMS; floor toms utilise RIMS mounts with legs.

The bass drum comes with maple hoops. Toms come standard with pressed hoops, with die-cast hoops available as an option. (Our review kit featured the die-cast hoops). Spirit offers snare drums in depth of 4", 5 ", and 6 ", and in diameters of 12", 13", and 14". (Spirit's Web site lets you hear the different snares by downloading MP3 files with sample sounds. There are also some recording of different-size kits as well). The 13" and 14" snares come with die-cast hoops; 12" snares are fitted with pressed-steel hoops. They all come chromed unless you opt for gold plating. In addition, Spirit offers polished brass on the rims and lugs. The snares also come with the Nickel Drumworks strainer, probably the smoothest and most effective strainer system available today.



The lug design is simple and very clean. Brass tubes that run the length of the shell are hand-threaded at each end. Each tube sits on a pintel, or rod, that acts as a pivot point. This allows the threaded section to move, which eliminates the chance for striping when a tension rod is threaded into it.

In his earlier review of Spirit snare drums, Rick Van Horn expressed a concern about the potential for stripping out a lug. At the time, Spirit's lugs were machined from a single piece of brass. That design did not allow for a threaded insert that would pivot and line-up with the tension rod. The new design is an elegant fix. The machining of the connection between each lug and pintel is so precise that it allows the lug to pivot, but at the same time will not let it rattle. The pivot is mounted in the centre of the 4" - and 5"-deep snare shells (lower on the 6" shell), 2" up from the bottom of the tome shells, and 2" from the back edge of the bass drum shell. The effect on the toms and bass is that there is a large area of the shell with no hardware on it whatsoever, which really shows off the natural wood.

The rack toms feature a second set of pintels near the top head to help stabilise the RIMS mounts. The floor toms don't need them, because their circular steel RIMS mounts sit directly under the mounting points at the bottom of the shells. (By the way, although Spirit's lug design comes standard with their drums, if you prefer a particular brand of hardware, they can work with that as well. Don't forget these are true custom drum makers).

The bass drum has shell-mounted legs that fold out for play and back against the shell for pack-up. The tension rods are drumkey-operated (as opposed to having "T" handles) for easy pack-up and precise tuning. The Spirit Drums logo is actually burned into the shell, which I found attractive. Along with the interior carvings and the dramatic exterior grain of the shells, it helps to give an almost "primitive" visual quality to the kit.

Stunning Sounds

These drums have the kind of presence that you hear in a concert setting on miked drums. The density of the wood gives the snare some of the qualities of a metal-shell drum, but with the warmth of wood. I found that it could be cranked into piccolo range or deepened to sound like a much larger drum. The small toms sing with full voices, which the floor toms possess richness and depth. The bass drum can be warm and full or punchy and explosive. Actually, good as it sounds from the playing position, its real impact is best felt from some distance away. A serious whoomp. I found the drums to be very sensitive to tuning changes. You'd need to have (or develop) a good ear to hear how each head is tuned to get the maximum from them. But I assure you, the effort would be well worth it.




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