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Sonor Drums

Dave's Sonor Story 

I am extremely privileged to have been involved with SONOR as an endorsement artist since I started playing their beautiful drums in 1999 and to have maintained my relationship with the company as a SONOR artist throughout that time. I remember seeing the SONOR catalogues when I was a kid and drooling all over the pages in anticipation. At the time, one of my early mentors asked me what the best drums were and I said, "Sonor!" Once I started listening more intensely to recordings of drummers from all around the world such as Jack DeJohnette, Jeff "Tain" Watts, Adam Nussbaum, Steve Smith, Gary Novak, Ed Blackwell, and Jim Black, I noticed the growing of an awareness of a distinctive type of clarity in the sound of all the drummers who played SONOR and I began to desire that sound.

From those early catalogues I learned a great deal about the way drums are made. In the 1980s, SONOR was known as "The Rolls Royce of drums" with a corresponding price tag, and so the thought of ever owning a set seemed an impossible dream. The reason everything was so expensive is because they made every little part in-house to ensure absolute quality control. With the changing of global economics, this philosophy almost drove SONOR into the ground. But they'd already fled from East Germany to keep the business going, and so they managed to retool and restructure to stay relevant, and, I believe they are making finer drums today than ever - and they always made the best drums! My drums have been requested and played by some of the world's greatest drummers while touring through Sydney, and these include Jeff 'Tain' Watts, Jim Black, Gerald Cleaver, and Adam Nussbaum.
 


PROLITE SERIES (2014 - )
Simply put, my current set of SONOR drums is the best set of drums I've ever played and/or owned. I feel that with the introduction of this line, SONOR managed to tweak the greatest minutia of detail in order to come up with a set that is deftly balanced with a) a supreme and versatile sound and tuning capability, b) very practical portability and functionality, and c) gorgeous visual aesthetics.
 
14" x 5" brass snare with Powerhoops
8" x 7" tom
10" x 7" tom
12" x 8" tom
14" x 12" floor tom
16" x 14" floor tom
18" x 14" bass drum
 

 
SMART FORCE SERIES (2013 - )
While I was waiting for my ProLites to be made and delivered, I started using a Smart Force Combo set in Brushed Copper finish and with a Phil Rudd Signature Series snare. I used these for all of my professional engagements in 2013, including playing at The Hordern Pavillion with Felix Riebl. They're incredible drums and I received many compliments from musicians, audio engineers and audience members about how great they sound and look. When my ProLites arrived, I decided to leave these set up in The Drummers' Hub studio where I teach so that I can play my drums and my students can enjoy the Smart Force drums, and they do.
 
14" x 5" chrome over brass Phil Rudd Signature snare
10" x 8" tom
12" x 9" tom
14" x 14" floor tom
16" x 16" floor tom
18" x 16" bass drum
 

 
DESIGNER SERIES (1999 - 2013)
My first set of SONORs was in the Designer Series with Maple Light shells in Bubinga finish. I used them for most jobs between 1999 and 2013. They were incredibly versatile and fun to play. They tuned up very, very easily and confirmed what I knew from hearing others about SONOR drums producing a distinctive tone. That set comprised the following drums:
 
10" x 5" snare
14" x 5" snare with double lugs
14" x 5" snare with single lugs
14" x 6.5" snare with single lugs
8" x 8" tom
10" x 8" tom
12" x 8" tom
12" x 9" tom
13" x 9" tom
13" x 10" tom
14" x 10" tom
14" x 12" tom
16" x 14" tom
14" x 14" floor tom
16" x 16" floor tom
18" x 16" floor tom
18" x 16" bass drum
20" x 16" bass drum
22" x 18" bass drum
 

 
JUNGLE SETS (1999 - 2008)
I've owned two Jungle sets and I loved them. My first set was a Sonic Plus II in Wine Red finish and I played that between 1999 and 2002. The second was a Force 3005 in Autumn Fade finish and I played that between 2005 and 2010. They are wonderfully portable and surprisingly versatile. They came in very handy for a couple of tours involving severely limited cargo space, i.e. jazz tours!
 

FORCE 3000 (2006 - 2007)
I enjoyed owning an original Force 3000 set in Red Crimson and having it set up permanently in my home as a practise set. They were gorgeous drums!
 
14" x 6.5" snare
8" x 8" tom
10" x 9" tom
12" x 10" tom
14" x 12" tom
20" x 16" bass drum
 

 
SIGNATURE SERIES (2005 - 2013)
The flagship and benchmark of the entire history of SONOR's philosophy for building drums is represented by the late-model Signature series drums from the 1980s. Oh boy, how I used to lust after these! For many, many years I searched eBay for the right set, and in late 2005, a fellow member of the forum of The Unofficial Sonor Museum living in Japan posted an ad for the sale of his Signature series "bop" set (the HLK 285 EB) in the gorgeous Makassar Ebony finish. I had a ton of money in the bank at the time and ended up spending waaay too much on these drums, shipping them from Japan, and paying a hefty customs bill. It was all entirely worth it though, just so that I could experience the unique pleasure of playing on a set of Singature Ebony drums that were in mint condition!
 
14" x 6" cast bronze snare with Mark II throw-off
14" x 8" ferro manganese snare with parallel strainer
10" x 10" tom
12" x 12" tom
14" x 16" floor tom
18" x 16" bass drum with the best inbuilt bass drum muffler ever made - I wish they still made these mufflers!!! :(
 

 
BOP & SAFARI SERIES (2011 - 2013)
These are fun drums like the Jungle drums. I enjoyed using these drums around Sydney for a couple of years. I recorded with Jazz Nouveau and with Steve Brien Quartet using the Bop drums. I even used them on a national tour with Galapagos Duck, and they were great!

Ultimately, in 2013, I realised that I had six sets of disparate drums stacked in cases in my home studio (one with 19 pieces!), taking up way too much space and giving me a nightmare of choice, and so I decided to clear out and start again with only one set. That's when I placed my order for the ProLites, which I've been very happy playing on since March 2014.

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