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Hands-On Review: Yamaha Tour Custom Series Drums

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Magnificent maple

By Don Simmons

Yamaha’s Tour Custom Series, first manufactured in the ’80s and early ’90s, is a solid mid- to high-level line popular among working pros and school bands. The big news is that Yamaha has just introduced an all-maple-shell version. Maple is coveted by drum builders for its big, warm tone and vibrant projection, and is the wood of choice for Yamaha’s top-of-the-line Absolute Maple nouveau drums.

The mojo of maple

While unpacking the drums, I admired the Yamaha's brown sunburst finish of the maple shells, the gleaming low-mass chrome lugs providing a nice contrast to the dark colors. The Fusion set delivers a wide tonal range in the toms—from a 10" x 8" mounted tom down to the big 16" x 16" floor tom.

After giving the set a basic tuning, I laid down a few beats. The drums felt responsive and punchy, with a rich, slightly mellow tone. This probably has to do with the 60° bearing edges of the shells. It’s the first time Yamaha maple shells have been cut to this spec, and it gives the drums a clear fundamental tone, reduces excess ring, and adds warmth.

I replaced the front bass drum resonant head with a ported front head, as most drummers would do to prepare the set for gigging. I then placed a small pillow inside the 22" x 17" bass drum, and it delivered a satisfying low-frequency thump. Full and round sounding, the kick had just enough sustain to let it integrate sonically with the rest of the kit.

The 6" x 14" snare had both snappy, sensitive high-end response and plenty of midrange body. This is a very versatile snare—you can crank it up high and it’s perfect for club dates or jazz gigs; tune it lower and it has the presence needed for concert hall-filling sound.

Yamaha Tour Custom 5-Piece Fusion Floor Shell Pack

I received a five-piece Fusion configuration of the Tour Custom with a floor tom for review. (The set is also available with a suspended floor tom.) The reviewed kit came with Yamaha’s single-braced 700 Series hardware pack. For playing gigs around town, the lightweight strength of the 700 Series hardware would be a good fit. If you have your own hardware, you might want to save some cash by choosing the Tour Custom shell pack version.

For serious touring, you may prefer the double-braced HW-768 Hardware Pack option—industrial-strength stuff that will stand up to whatever the road throws at it. However, Steve Gadd and countless other top drummers use the 700 Series hardware on tour.

The TH-945 Ball Clamp and Triple Tom Holder comes standard with all versions of the Tour Custom. The ball is made of super-hard resin, and manipulating a single bolt lets you adjust the angles of your toms to your preference easily and quickly. The design makes adding another tom or cymbal as simple as inserting another tom ball clamp or cymbal holder.

Every aspect of these drums down to the wing nuts has been designed to function intuitively and ergonomically. Yamaha’s drum hardware is very functional, at times even elegant, and is one more element that gives their drums an edge.

Yamaha Tour Custom 4-Piece Shell Pack

Yamaha Indonesia

Maple Tour Customs are the latest drums to roll out of Yamaha’s Indonesia drum division, where advanced engineering is combined with skilled craftsmanship in a modern factory that’s a model for the industry.

The strict standards of quality control and high production standards that originated in Yamaha’s legendary Japanese drum manufacturing plant in Osaka have obviously been exported to Indonesia. Every piece of metal used in the drums minus the tension rods is made in their motorcycle facility, so you can expect light weight and high strength to be the norm.

Signed, air-sealed, and delivered

Every Yamaha drum shell is constructed using their Air Seal System to produce drum shells of legendary strength and perfect roundness. Two- or three-ply master plies are cut to very precise tolerances with a diagonal angle at each end. The plies are glued and then placed into a mold one at a time with the diagonal seams staggered for increased strength. An air bag is then inserted into the mold and inflated, clamping the shell with 360° pressure all around. This process creates perfectly round shells of incredible strength.

Quality you can feel

Maple Tour Custom drums look and sound great, and are versatile sets that would be excellent for heavy touring, club dates around town, or as a main kit for educational institutions or churches. The maple shells combine with enlightened design to allow you to create clear, crisp, musical tones that inspire melodic exploration as well as serious grooving. A great set of drums has something special that draws out your best playing, pushing you to play things you’ve not tried before. Yamaha maple Tour Customs will do that.

Features & Specs

Yamaha TOUR CUSTOM 5-PC FUSION FLOOR SHELL PACK:

  • 22" x 17" bass
  • 10" x 8", 12" x 9" toms
  • 16" x 16" floor tom
  • 6" x 14" snare

Yamaha TOUR CUSTOM 5-PC FUSION Shell Pack:

  • Same as above with suspended 14" x 12" tom in place of 16" x 16" floor tom

Yamaha Tour Custom 4-Piece Shell Pack:

  • 22" x 17" bass
  • 12" x 9" tom
  • 16" x 16" floor tom
  • 6" x 14" snare

Tags: Acoustic Drums Yamaha

Comments  

# Rick 2014-06-08 12:40
I bought and still own Yamaha Power Tour Custom kit back in early 1990. I still have the receipt an some very limited literature on it. It is a 6 -piece PTC-1280 per the original sales receipt. I paid close to 2K new in early 1990 from a local dealer.
I can't seem to find any reference to this model of kit on Yamaha's website history.
Extra depth drum sizes are:
22x20 bass
10x10 tom
12x12 tom
13x13 tom
16x16 floor tom
Is this a rare kit?
Maple shells? Any information on this kit would be appreciated.

Thanks
Reply

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