Up front let me clarify that as in any blog or review, the content is solely ~my~ opinion and observation based on my collective experiences and perceptions. I am not an endorsed artist and do not currently represent any manufacturers in an official capacity. I do from time to time receive items from companies to check out and review – but that’s rare and it comes with absolutely no obligation to be biased towards gear received.
I have played Mapex Drums for a long, long time. I love their drums and hardware and have purchased two kits from them; I have a 20 year old Mapex Mars Pro kit that still kicks major rear end to this day, and I have a new Mapex Saturn IV kit that’s absolutely exquisite and sounds amazing. Mapex is one of those manufacturers that no only builds great stuff, (one of the few companies offering ‘lifetime warranty’ on their shells to the original purchaser) they’re also continually pushing the envelope in drum and hardware development.
This year Mapex introduced their new Mapex SONICLear Bearing Edge as one of their new advancements in shell design. You can read more specifics at their site and/or the video below, but essentially they’ve modified their bearing edges to incorporate a slightly different profile allowing the drum head to sit nice and flat, preventing that annoying head wobble. Mapex put a lot of thought and research in to this obviously, not only solving the head wobble issue, but also creating a bearing edge that allows for more head-to-shell contact which results in cleaner tone, less overtones and a wider range of tuning capability. This a a huge win for every drummer looking to get a great drum sound simply and quickly. My hats off to Mapex, they constantly lead the way.
This all sounds great, right ? And it is… so what’s the ‘conversation everyone is avoiding’ ?? Well, here’s the thing, and again this is just my opinion and observation, take it with a grain of salt and it should in no way take away from the excellent work Mapex has done.
There is only ONE drum head manufacturer whose heads have that wobble when seating their products. Yes, there, I went ahead and said it. Flame me all you want, but it’s the truth. Let’s look at the head manufacturers that do ~not~ have this issue and just focus on the wobble.
Since their inception decades ago Aquarian Drumheads by design have always seated perfectly flat and evenly on any shell or bearing edge. They pioneered that fit with their ‘Sound Curve’ collar design and wobble has never been an issue with Aquarian heads. They manufacturer top quality, great sounding heads.
Recently (past 2 years) Evans Drumheads introduced their new ‘Level 360‘ head design – what’s that about you may ask ? They redesigned their collar allowing the drum head to sit evenly on the bearing edge, thus eliminating the wobble – no issue with Evans any more. (In fact I love their new heads so much I have a review up on their new Evans Heavyweight Snare Drum Head).
So, no problem with Aquarian; No problem with Evans; that leaves only one of the major three drum head manufacturers, you can figure that out on your own. They are the only head manufacturer with this wobble issue when seating a drum head. That being said, they also produce amazing quality heads, no denying that – I personally just wish they’d advance their design a bit.
Now, there’s all sorts of rebuttal of why they still use a collar design that causes the ‘wobble’ – it allows the head to conform to the shell, sitting perfectly even and flat isn’t the only factor in tone, marketing hype, etc. – in the end it comes down to results. I can take an Evans or Aquarian head, seat it & have it perfectly tuned quickly, easily with a wider range of tuning capability and a lot less tuning-drop after initial use. That’s the working drummer brass tac’s.
Should this take away from the improvement Mapex has done with their SONIClear Bearing Edge ? Absolutely not ! Regardless of what heads you use or my personal opinion of head manufacturers, the Mapex SONIClear is going to give drummers a much better drum sound, achieved a lot easier !
Mapex SONIClear Bearing Edges: