Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Sonor HLD 593 Signature Snare Drum

Over the years, many drum companies have offered the 4 x 14 snare drum in their catalogs. In some cases, this size snare drum was offered, but was not pictured in the catalog and was only offered on a special order basis. In the 1920's and  early 1930's,  the 4 x 14 was considered an essential part of the modern dance band.  By the middle 1930's,  all this changed with the Swing Era and most big band drummers, following the example of Gene Krupa, switched to bigger drums to compete with the sound of the big bands.

But by the 1940's, Be bop became popular and drummers, led by the great Max Roach, began to switch back to smaller kits and the 4 x 14. The Grestch Drum Company, in particular,  pushed the whole concept of smaller kits. Grestch  used the term, "Progressive Jazz" in talking about these drums.

But truth be told, the 4 x 14 never reached the popularity of the 5 or 5 1/2  x 14 snare drum. Except for perhaps the Gretsch Drum Company, drum manufacturers did not consider the smaller snare a staple of a drum kit and, in the 1950's, 60's, and 70's, this snare drum was rarely offered as part of a standard set. You could buy a 4 x 14 snare drum, but only by special order. There were exceptions to the rule, of course. For a brief period, the Slingerland Drum Company offered the Buddy Rich  4 x 14 offset lug snare drum as a standard item in its catalog.

All of which brings me to the gorgeous little beauty you see pictured here. I'm not sure if the Sonor Drum Company was attempting to make the perfect 4 x 14 metal  snare drum when they offered this drum for sale, but if they were, they came awfully damn close. Beauty, of course, is in the eye (and the ear) of the beholder.

The shell is made of bell bronze and is cast from one piece. It is also 5 mm thick and has a 45 degree angle cut on both edges of the shell. She sports die cast hoops and all the mounted parts are copper plated. She weighs 15 pounds which, for the time, was the heaviest 4 x 14 on the market.  As you would expect, this little drum is loud, but very sensitive. The only caveat I have about her is the rim mounted muffler that sits on the batter head.  Perhaps it's not the best place for it. I suspect by experimenting with different heads and even some moon gel, you could control any unwanted sharpness in sound. But all of that is a matter of taste.

This drum was only offered for a very short time. By the late 1990's, it vanished from the catalog. Obviously, it didn't enjoy great sales success. Nevertheless, there's no denying her beauty.