At first glance, Taye’s StudioMaple BeBop appears to be just another of many standard configuration bop kits. Consisting of 18″ X 14″ Bass Drum, 12″ X 8″ Tom tom, 14″ X 14″ Floor tom and a 14″ X 5″ Snare drum. At a street price of a little bit north of US$1,000 and a list price of just under US$2,000, the StudioMaple Bebop is positioned square in the middle of the premium wood species shell bop gang. Take a look at our Jazz / Bop Drum Kit Roundup and you’ll see what I mean.
Scrape just a bit under the surface though and you’ll find that this particular bop kit has some characteristics all it’s own. For starters, Taye chose thinner than common shells for the Studio-Maple line. The tom tom is only 4.5 mm thick and made up of six plies, while the bass and floor tom are 5.3 mm thick and made up of seven plies. The 10-lug snare however is more mainstream at 7.5 mm, 10 plies.
At a time where the trend seems to be drifting away from all-Maple shells and leaning towards Birch, various hybrid mixes and more exotic woods like Bubinga and Rosewood, Taye has remained true to 100% premium North-American Sugar Maple for the Studio Maple BeBop.
Other differences that set this kit apart from the norm are innovations that it shares with most of Taye’s mid-high range drum kits. Keep reading for every little detail that give this kit it’s character. We put Taye’s Jazz kit under comprehensive scrutiny in this Detailed Taye StudioMaple BeBop Review.
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Detailed Taye StudioMaple BeBop Review
Detailed Taye StudioMaple BeBop Review
Finish selection for the BeBop configuration is limited to three options, White Pearl or Black Oyster Wrap and Classic Walnut Lacquer. All three options have the same list price. The kit featured in this review is the White Pearl.
This particular white pearl wrap is very white. Like crackled ice crystal particles. As such the very first impression I had when unpacking the kit was; “Wow – That’s bright!” Being so white the drums also give the illusion of being larger than they actually are.
Once my eyes adjusted to the sudden brightness I was able to take a closer look at the drums and gather my impressions. The wrap finish is not only bright, it’s also really sweet. Gleaming, glossy, shiny and shimmering. In addition, it’s nicely applied on the drums with the ends butted up rather than overlapped.
Everything is very well packaged. The drums came in two boxes, and the accompanying 6000 series hardware, (Hardware Pack A) in a separate box. There was so much packaging material that even with the drums removed from the boxes, there was still barely room to return the various Styrofoam and corrugated cardboard pieces back into the boxes.
The drums came assembled except for the bass drum for obvious reasons. They were also somewhat pre-tuned although quite low. Each drum has a bit of “heft” despite the thin shells. the weight being to a large part contributed by the 2.3 mm rims and chunky suspension mount.
A quick inspection of all the drums and parts revealed perfect flawless finishes throughout. Hardware and metal parts are all sturdy and perfectly smooth. The chrome plating is completely perfect throughout, as is the wrap and everything else within view. The bass drum hoops are a glossy clear over maple with an inlay strip of the same bright white pearl as the drums. The inside of the shell is as flawless as the outside with a matte clear-coat. The bass drum bearing edges are sanded smooth as silk.
Overall the first impressions are nothing but positive and really add to the anticipation of trying them out. However, I know from experience that if I don’t start with disassembling and performing the interior quality checks and tolerance measurements, I may never get to it.
Quality & Tolerances
In this Taye StudioMaple BeBop Review, Quality and Tolerances come before any actual playing takes place, having learned from my experience that once the kit is set up it’s hard to exercise the discipline to take the drums apart.
Once all the heads and rims are removed we can inspect the shell interiors, bearing edges, trueness of edge surfaces, “roundness” of shells and overall quality of assembly.
We start with checking the lug, bracket and any other screws for tightness. Taye’s StudioMaple BeBop passes this inspection with flying colours. Every screw is tightened nice and firm without being overly torqued. Just about the same tension as I use when assembling drums. The snare drum has nylon washers for the strainer and butt plate.
Moving on to the shells themselves. The interior matte clear-coat is as flawlessly smooth throughout the kit, just like the bass drum mentioned above. Inner ply seams are visible but impossible to feel with your hands. The wrap finish is installed with continuous adhesive across the entire surface and extends all the way to the bearing edges. Further the wrap is butted up at the seam rather than overlapped. The bearing edges themselves are all silky smooth without so much as a single inconsistency anywhere to be found. The snare beds are exactly the way I like them, about 1-3/4″ wide and only slightly lower than the bearing edge surrounding them.
I did notice one small issue to criticise; There is some residual wrap adhesive (contact cement?) along the outside bearing edge (Counter-cut) of all the drums except the bass drum. Enough that the heads were slightly stuck in spots, as was evident when removing them. This would have caused some challenge with tuning had I not spotted it. Before re-installing the heads I cleaned the adhesive off from both the bearing edges and the insides of the heads with steel wool.
Shell roundness is checked by taking measurements in a cross-wise pattern around both sides of the shells. The discrepancy between the longest measurement and the shortest is the number I report here. On entry level drum kits I expect as much as 3 mm “out of round” on the larger drums. On a Drum Kit of this level I would expect no more than 1.5 mm anywhere. Our StudioMaple kit just about “aced” this inspection. The floor tom is just under 1 mm out of round, while all the other drums including the bass drum are perfectly round. -Very Impressive!
I check the “trueness” of the bearing edge by setting the drum down on a 24″ X 24″ Granite tile that I have confirmed to be 100% flat. With each shell on the granite I press down gently along the side with one finger moving along the edge one inch at a time. If there is any “rocking motion” at all I gauge the largest gap between the granite and bearing edge with a feeler gauge and divide this number by two. On entry level kits I expect as much as 2 mm on the larger drums. On a kit in this price-range I would accept up to 0.75 mm on the floor tom and bass drum and up to 0.5 mm on the smaller drums. This kit impresses once again. There is absolutely no measurable gap anywhere. None, Zip, Nada! Very Impressive.
In the Manufacturer’s own Words
“At the heart of StudioMaple are hand-selected 100% North American Sugar Maple shells featuring EFS™ Shell Technology providing warm, well-rounded tone, with a balanced mix of bottom end punch, lower mid-range warmth, and hi-end attack.
StudioMaple tom and bass drum shells are extra thin, 6″ to 15″ are 6ply 4.5mm, and 16″ to 24″ are 7ply 5.3mm – accentuating maple’s qualities with maximum shell resonance and tonality. On the other hand, StudioMaple snares feature thicker 10ply 7.5mm shells, providing additional volume and projection for maximum cut where it’s needed most.
Besides its tonal characteristics, our maple is a beautiful foundation for our Brilliant High Gloss Lacquers featuring an extensive process resulting in stunningly deep, mirror-like finishes.”
- 100% North American Sugar Maple Shells
- Shells 6″ to 15″ are 6 ply, 4.5mm
- Shells 16″ to 24″ are 7 ply, 5.3mm
- Snares are 10 ply, 7.5mm
- EFS™ Shell Technology
- UB105 PocketHinge® Bracket
- BC100 Articulated Claw Hook™
- Brilliant High Gloss Lacquer Finishes
- Studded Gaskets
- SlideTrack® Tom Holder System
- SuspensionRings™ for Rack Toms
- 2.3mm Counterhoops
Construction & Design
I promised in the “Introduction” to this review to address what gives this drum kit it’s character and sets it apart from the pack. This section delivers a fair portion of that promise.
One of Taye’s innovations featured on most of their mid – high end kits is the patented “SlideTrack” mounting platform. In short, this device allows for mounting toms and cymbals on the bass drum, while maintaining a “virgin” drum shell. It also allows for lateral movement of the entire tom mounting post. This might be handy if you happen to be above or below average height, or like to extend, or retract your arms.
Noteworthy is that the snare drum has a full 10 lugs. Only a few other snares in the price-range share this trait. There are people that claim that a pro level snare must have 10 lugs, while others complain about them being difficult to position in the snare basket.
A few of Taye’s other innovations present on the StudioMaple BeBop include; (In Taye’s own words)
- PocketHinge Brackets: “effectively distributes force across a wide area of the rod to which it mounts, delivering dependable, slip-free performance”
- Studded Gaskets: “Patented studded lug gaskets remove any metal-to-wood contact allowing the drum to resonate more freely, delivering optimum sonic performance in all environments”
- Articulated Claw Hook: “Virtually eliminates the need to disassemble claw hooks and tension rods from bass drums when changing heads. The Articulated Claw Hook is designed to isolate the claw from the wood hoop, preventing unwanted tonal interference in live or studio applications”
- SideLatch: “Simply designed for optimum performance, this side-action release system employs a minimum of moving parts. With a large knurled tension knob for easy snare adjustment, and our unique SlipLock feature that prevents unwanted loosening of snare tension”
- Springflex Spurs: “not only improve bass drum resonance, the sleek design enables the player to easily position stands in and around the bass drum”
The “PocketHinge” brackets are indeed really smooth to adjust and the Sidelatch strainer is indeed a very slick design. I’m not sure how much is achieved by the studded gaskets since the washers, in direct contact with the screw heads, still contact the wood, but they do certainly reduce metal to wood contact.
Without quoting any marketing lingo though, every screw, bolt, tension rod, wing nut and other moving part operates smoothly and without “hiccups”. All metal parts throughout the kit is of high quality casing, casting and plating-wise.
Taye StudioMaple BeBop Review
Sound, Voice & Tone
One of the first things I noticed when putting the heads back on the shells, is a characteristic that this kit shares with Taye’s GoKit; (Reviewed here) Even with barely any tension at all, the heads start to resonate and sustain. The bearing edges are standard 45 degree with a small 45 degree “counter-cut. However they are just a bit more rounded over the peak than what I usually observe. Almost a hybrid between standard 45/45 degree edges and rounded edges. This in combination with the perfect smoothness is what I suspect provides the low end tuning range and incredible sustain. Sustain increases with increased tension to a point where even I would consider moon gel, or other damping methods. And I’m a proponent of not quenching sustain and ring.
The toms and snare are all equipped with medium gauge coated, single ply batter heads and ditto clear resonant heads. both bass drum heads are also of medium thickness with those “built-in” rings along the perimeters.
Describing the individual drum’s tone(s)
Both toms have very similar characteristics. As mentioned they are playable at a minimum of tension allowing for very low tunings if desired. The somewhat “warm” and “ringy” tone is consistent throughout the tuning range. The only change being the pitch and increased sustain as the tension increases. The toms will maintain their pleasant tone way beyond any desirable tension, which surprised me a bit as I was expecting thinner shells to not handle higher tunings as well.
The snare drum is incredibly crisp, loud and bright, easily able to cut through just about any mix. Like the toms, it’s able to sustain but said sustain is easily controlled by tuning the bottom “further” from the batter head, or increasing snare tension, depending on what sound you’re looking for. I usually like my snare drum tuned high, even for rock and blues, but this one I found myself tuning lower than I usually would just to tame it a bit. The strong presence and heavy rims make it easy to get pronounced rim shots and cross-sticking results in assertive and clear click-clacks. Down the road I’m looking forward to trying some other batter heads and further experimenting with tuning.
The bass drum is an absolute joy! There is not a bass drum sound I would want that I haven’t been able to wring out of it, even with the stock heads. It will perform just about anything from a lifeless “thud” to a ringing “boom” and everything in between. This is quite possibly the most versatile bass drum I’ve ever come across. It’s definitely my new favourite! It’s not as loud as a “full size” bass and won’t go as low as a 24″, but it comes surprisingly close considering it’s size.
The entire kit is quite articulate. Even with a light touch the response is clear, crisp and resonant. Increasing the force rewards with solid, warm and loud tones without loosing balance. Plying with a very light touch is quite enjoyable on the StudioMaple. Initially I thought the articulate response to be a product of the thin shells, but the snare also possesses the same trait, so some other explanation will have to be thought up.
A drum kit’s tone is very much a personal preference, The sound of this kit definitely pleases me. Their range, fullness and sustain leave nothing further to ask for. I’m curious to find out how various head selections will affect the voice of these drums. I’ve so far only played them on a wood floor. Placing them on a rug should also vary the sound a bit, possibly mellowing them out a bit.
In the past couple of days, I’ve played around with varying tunings as well as just listening while a couple of the other contributors to this site took the Taye kit for a spin. Regardless of playing and music styles, I personally liked everything I heard coming from this kit. The three other drummer’s that have toyed with agree for the most part with verdicts ranging from ultimately positive to “Not my style but pretty awesome for what it is”.
Using the DrumDial, I’ve tested the drums with ranges from well below “70” to well above “95” and while the extremes might not be exactly useful for any genre or drumming technique, these drums deliver clear tones even way out of what’s considered a “normal” tuning range.
Check out the YouTube video to the right, to make your own call whether Taye’s StudioMaple BeBop sounds “right” to your ears.
Value for Money
With a street price of just over a Grand, the StudioMaple beBop is still priced in the lower third of the serial produced Jazz kits available in North America. If we disregard the price for a moment and instead do a cross-comparison based on specs and features, the Taye Kit compares with models starting at US$1,500 and ranging all the way up to a street price of $3,500 and beyond.
Scanning through the options in our Jazz / Bop Drum Kit Roundup, doesn’t turn up another kit with a 10-lug snare under $1,500 and finding another set with the high-end finishes and components in the same price would likely prove challenging.
Considering the flawless finish, perfect tolerances, multiple high-end component choices and innovations, I would say the value would be hard, if not impossible to beat.
Taye is often noted to consistently provide excellent value across their range of products. The StudioMaple BeBop is no exception. CompactDrums.com join the ranks of many that mention Taye as an excellent value choice.
Verdict: Summing up the Taye StudioMaple BeBop Review
A traditional “Pros versus Cons” listing would end up severely “lop-sided”, with the numerous Pros out-weighing the few Cons with a wide margin. In fact I can only identify two drawbacks; The limited finish selections and the adhesive residue issue mentioned in the “Quality & Tolerances” section. The latter is quite possibly an isolated incident and may therefore not even count.
The upsides on the other hand are numerous with the flawless finish, perfect shells, high overall quality and of course tone topping the list but in no way ending it.
Sometimes I wonder what exactly makes a drum kit a “Studio” set… In the case of this kit I would guess that it’s due to the versatility and range. These drums, as the appearance would suggest is perfect for jazz, but can be tuned for, and excel at any genre from pop to hip hop, Rock, blues, folk classical and just about anything else you can throw at it.
I’d even go as far as saying that had it not been for the aforementioned adhesive residue issue, a perfect 10/10 score would have been awarded in this Taye StudioMaple BeBop Review.
The final word is a resounding “Thumbs up”, Recommended. This kit deserves serious consideration and a place on any short-list of bop kits to consider.
Taye Hardware Pack “A”
The Taye StudioMaple BeBop reviewed was coupled with Taye’s 6000 series hardware bundle.
The pack consists of:
- HH6000 HiHat Stand
- BS6300BT Boom Cymbal Stand
- CS6300BT Cymbal Stand
- SS6000BT Snare Stand
- PSK601C SuperKick Single Bass Drum Pedal
The cymbals stands all have Taye’s ball joint tilter which allows for adjusting the cymbal in any direction with just the turn of one thumbscrew.
The Snare stand also has a ball joint offset from the base, allowing for infinite adjustment and leg positioning.
The boom-stand has a full size hollow post boom which I personally prefer over the more common knurled, solid booms.
The cymbal stands are well functioning and all adjustments are smooth and firm.
All the hardware is comparable to other manufacturer’s highest #000 hardware with the ball joints on Taye’s being a nice added touch.
Personally I’ve really grown to like the Pedal and High Hat stand from this hardware pack. Both replacing my former “go-to” hardware.
Another great Taye StudioMaple BeBop Review: http://www.drummagazine.com/gear/post/taye-studio-maple-bebop-kit/