As I returned home after a year of touring with Roger Daltrey, I immediately headed right back into the studio for some sessions. I had the pleasure of playing the Epic Standard Series kit in the studio with producer & friend Rich Mouser who is based in Pasadena, CA. I’ve had the honor of working with Rich on many different recordings in the past, but this session was one that needed tonal versatility. We basically tried to emulate 6 different known styles of modern music in tone, style and overall vibe.
With this challenge at hand I chose to bring in my Epic Series ProBeat Kit. The ProBeat configuration is:
In addition to these drums I also brought in some must have Ludwig snare drums including:
Now I admit that I probably did have a bit of prejudice going into this session based on that fact that I, like many professional drummers, always assume that you must always use the top of the line gear to get the best possible sound. While there might be some truth to that perspective, it is not an absolute truth. The Epic’s actually surprised me a great deal.
First off, the tone of the bass drum (which I left open) had an enormous powerful tone. It moved a considerable amount of air and was incredibly expressive. The harder I kicked it, the more power it had. I found it nearly impossible to choke the drum which can happen if you lay into a kick too much; such as burying the beater into the head. But with this one, I never quite did max it out. In other words, the drum has quite a large spectrum of dynamics depending on your technique.
In addition, for a few of the tracks I pulled off the front head & deadened it up quite a bit to give it more of a direct, precise punch. I find this approach to work better if your kick pattern is busier. This keeps the low frequencies from getting too cluttered. Even though the kick is a 24”, it actually emulates a smaller kick (22”/20”) quite well.
For most sessions I tend to favor the basic 1 rack, 2 floor configuration as I did with this one. What’s really nice about this Epic kit, you get a 10” & 12” Rack tom plus a 14” & 16” Floor tom. This really came in handy for this particular session because it gave me many options for tom tones. And since we were covering a few different styles within the same session, I was so pleased to have different configurations of the same kit to choose from. This is a powerful tool to have at a session. It’s nice to have multiple tom sizes, but all is part of a matched series so the tones are similar but the pitches change.
Generally speaking, the toms were extremely punchy; fiercely so. It was very easy to get the toms to punch through explosive washy crash ride sections and not disappear. Most sessions I’ve done, I tend to spend a certain amount of time finding overtones that we want to isolate, mute and tone down whether it be with gaff tape, moon gel etc. But with the Epic toms, I had very little tweaking to do.
The overtones were very controllable. They had just the right amount of ring without a ton of additional frequencies to identify & eliminate. This made it very easy to get the tones we were searching for without wasting valuable and expensive studio time. That alone made me glad I brought these drums.
I think sometimes drummers tend to overlook the matching snare drums that are included as part of preconfigured kits but I’ve got to admit that the Epic snare that comes with this kit actually produced a very cool tone. The tuning I needed was more of a deeper pitched, loose wires, vintage tone.
I would also like to mention that the 6 ½” Black Magic snare drum is a must-have. I used this snare drum throughout the most recent Daltrey arena tour and it was incredible. Obviously Black Beauties are incredible drums, but the Black Magic won out over all others. The snare is durable, powerful, snappy, deep, extremely versatile and most of all affordable. If you don’t already have one, make that your next purchase.
One of the most delightful surprises I found about this Epic kit was that I can no longer cling to the concept that you must always buy the most expensive gear you can afford. This simply is not 100% true. I’ve owned nearly every kind or type of kit from countless other manufacturers and of course I’ve loyally owned Ludwigs since the day I started playing drums, but the Epic’s are the only inexpensive kit I’ve ever played that you can literally open the boxes, put on your preferred heads and they are studio ready.
With other kits I found problems like hardware buzzing, lugs not tightly attached, mystery noises and various other frustrating and time consuming fixes that need attention prior to even playing the kit; but not with my Epic’s. I had these set up & ready to record in a state of the art L.A. studio within hours of pulling them out of the box.
One of the best selling points about the Epic’s is value. The entire 6 piece kit lists for only MSRP: $1,270.00, which is an incredible deal especially given the nature of the economy. Out of all the Ludwig drums I own, from vintage to new, I never thought my #1 studio kit would be a kit this affordable.
It is also worth mentioning that a kit this affordable is probably a little less durable than the top of the line Ludwig’s, so it is probably wise not to abuse the drums and to case them whenever in transit. But with these drums you get more than just an affordable kit, you get Ludwigs.
“I also tried shooting a 30 second live video of me playing The Who’s "Young Man Blues" on the Epic kit. This was shot on an iPod Nano with a Blue Mic attached to it to help compress the drums. Obviously this is not a fantastic recording or anything, but it proves that good drums sound good through anything!”