Yamaha Corp. of America has so many strong new entries into many MI markets, including guitars, percussion and keyboards, that it’s difficult to focus on just one. But in honor of our percussion issue, we will highlight just that by looking at a product that has turned heads since its introduction at The NAMM Show in January: the Live Custom Hybrid Oak series drum sets.

Employing the hybrid shell construction from the PHX series, the drum set’s seven-ply shells are constructed with a phenolic ply between the oak plies, giving players more shell life, sustain and dynamic range, stated the manufacturer. To cut unnecessary frequencies and boost low tones, Yamaha developed the Bass Drum Frequency Control weight. This new process introduces dark-chrome Absolute lug weights that are strategically placed inside the bass drum to provide a stronger low end. Other features include the YES III Tom Mount to allow the shells to vibrate more freely, durable dark chrome lugs and hoops, and Remo U.S. heads.

The Live Custom Hybrid snare drums include high-carbon-steel, 25-strand snare wires in the 14-inch by 5.5-inch edition. The hybrid shells, designed for this snare, allow for maximum protection and sensitivity, giving that classic cutting tone that comes with oak wood.

The series features five new unique uzukuri finishes: UZU Ice Sunburst, UZU Magma Sunburst, UZU Natural, UZU Earth Sunburst and UZU Charcoal Sunburst. The traditional Japanese “uzukuri” finishing process creates a beautifully textured surface by carving only the softer grain of the wood with a brushing technique, noted Yamaha.

“For Yamaha, the sound is the priority, so creating a true hybrid set was done from a sonic perspective, borrowing the shell concept from both PHX and Hybrid Maple drum sets,” Steven Fisher, director of drums and percussion, Yamaha Corp. of America, told the Music & Sound Retailer. “This process is not simply adding an outer ply to an existing shell or blending wood species. The Live Custom Hybrid Oak drum set redefines the sound of a traditional oak shell by adding a center phenolic ply in between plies of oak wood. The hybrid shell combination gives players more shell life and enhances the sustain and dynamic range by accentuating its attack and projection.

In addition, to cut unnecessary frequencies and boost low-end tones, we developed the Bass Drum Frequency Control weight, which introduces dark-chrome Absolute lug weights that are strategically placed inside the bass drum. When musicians play the Live Custom Hybrid Oak for the first time, they will instantly recognize the diverse tonal characteristics that give drummers another sonically unique flavor choice.”

The Live Custom Hybrid Oak series is intended to offer excellent value to customers looking for a quality drum set that performs just as well on stage as it does in a studio. “These drums are made for the drummer that understands a ‘next-level’ drum set should offer something more than a new finish on a past model with slightly updated components,” said Fisher. “The Live Custom Hybrid Oak borrowed some of the same innovative elements, such as the Y.E.S.S. III mounting from the flagship PHX series. Not only do these drums utilize some of the top design elements from other lines, but they also introduce new patent-pending features, such as the Bass Enhancement Weights that attenuate low-mid frequencies, resulting in a tight, focused bass drum sound.

“On top of sounding amazing, these drums are beautiful too,” continued Fisher. “By using the traditional uzukuri method of hand finishing the wood shells, the natural oak grain is accentuated. With five stunning uzukuri finishes to choose from, dark silver hardware and black-finished shell interiors, these drums are captivating to the eyes as well as the ears.”

As for Yamaha’s thought process behind the Live CustomHybrid Oak series, as well as all percussion products, the company seeks artist input from the beginning before it builds drums, and uses these insights to focus on aspects such as sonic tonality in its products. “With a true pioneering spirit, Yamaha is not afraid to try out new materials and processes,” Fisher noted. “Yamaha was the first company to introduce an oak drum into the market, and also one of the first companies to create a true hybrid wood shell.

Yamaha is also uniquely suited to share knowledge across a variety of departments and industries to improve the quality of its instruments. This vertical integration traces back to the roots of Yamaha Drums using the same knowledge of wood-processing and painting technology that was used to craft fine musical instruments, like pianos and woodwind instruments. With vast resources and an unrivaled passion for creating the highest-quality musical instruments, Yamaha is able to incorporate the science behind a wide variety of products to achieve sounds unlike anything ever heard before.”

The Live Custom Hybrid Oak series has drawn plenty of positive feedback, Fisher confirmed. “Feedback has been incredible, and truthfully, meeting the demand for these products has been one of our biggest challenges,” he said. “Media feedback has been great, with reviewers using terms like ‘perfectly balanced,’ ‘flawless’ and ‘mic-ready.’ User forums and online customers have been raving as well, saying things like, ‘cleanest tones I’ve ever heard’ and ‘worth every penny.’”

Current artists playing Live Custom Hybrid Oak drum sets include Jamie Miller (Bad Religion, You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead); the drummers for Snarky Puppy including Jason “JT” Thomas, Larnell Lewis and Jamison Ross; and Ralph Rolle (Chic), to name a few.

“Yamaha has also been fortunate to have a loyal fan base and positive support from dealers who are happy to give glowing written reviews and create high-quality and fantastic-sounding video reviews,” Fisher concluded. “Some of the top video reviews by our dealers and fans on YouTube of the Live Custom Hybrid Oak have received upwards of 30,000 views in under six months.” Yamaha Live Custom Hybrid Oak drum sets feature an MSRP of $6,900, while its snare drums are offered at a suggested retail price of $1,140.

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