Gear & Tech Tips / 1 July 2020

The Swee Lee Staff Picks: Drums & Percussion

At Swee Lee, our world revolves around music everyday. So it’s not surprising that many of our staff on this side of South East Asian are incredibly talented musicians themselves. As the people who buy, play and sell some the best gear the world has to offer, our people really know their stuff. And nestled within the minds of these musical merchants are the best kept gear secrets and value-centric deals that anyone can get – the same guys we see and eat lunch with everyday.

Well today, we decided to take the time to talk to the people “in-the-know” and get them to spill the beans on some of their favourite drum gear in Swee Lee.

Ee Yang (Business Development Manager Malaysia)

Hailing from the Malaysian Institute of Art (MIA), Ee Yang has been a drummer for more than 25 years. A discerning listener of City Pop music, he frequently jams out to funky grooves from Toto and Tower of Power. Having been in the music industry for over 15 years, he has seen many products come and go through the doors of Swee Lee and consequently has ample experience with a large array of drum gear. Ee Yang is also a big fan of buffets, which we had to take him to in order for us to pick his brain on gear.

TAMA ML52HZBNS-FBK Superstar Hyper-Drive Maple 5-Piece Drum Shell Kit Only, Flat Black

I’m a really simple guy – if it looks cool, you’ve already won half the battle with me. The matte-black finish on this kit is really suave and sleek, kind of like a wrapped supercar.

In terms of sound and construction, it’s a 100% 5-ply maple shell. If you’re new to drums, having maple shells usually means that the kit will have a full, powerful character and rich resonance. For the type of music I play (funk/fusion/rock), having this sound character in addition to the shallower shells gives me the crisp, focused sound that really sits well in the mix or with a band.

The nice thing about the Japanese brands are the consistency of their quality. Brands like TAMA and Pearl have really gotten their production methods down to a science that allows them to make their kits to be so close to each other sonically – It’s amazing really!

Pearl DMP925SPC-234 Decade Maple 5-Pcs Shell Pack, Black Ice

A bit of a sentimental pick for me! I bought and still own an old Pearl kit. It’s actually the predecessor model of this very Pearl kit. A bit of a fun fact is that I bought the kit from Samuel (Swee Lee’s Category manager for drums) a long time ago. I’m probably biased though, as I am admittedly a Pearl fanboy! It’s another black kit but black is such a cool colour!

I like the configuration of this kit and the fact that it is easy to tune. If you’re performing in a smaller venue, these toms are a little more shallow than conventional ones – this makes it easier to control the volume on stage. Pearl also has some of the best tom suspension in the game: R40 Air Suspension Floor Tom feet and the OptiLoc Suspension System. A great suspension system allows you to get better sustain if needed for your playing style.

As I mentioned I mainly play a mix of rock, fusion and funk, so having maple shells are ideal for that rich snappy character. The great thing about this kit is its versatility – drums aren’t something you can have a lot of if you have space constraints so having a really flexible one is always great.

TAMA LBR144 4x14inch SLP Black Brass Limited Edition Snare Drum

This is something I’d like to use as an auxiliary snare. Having a metal snare is a good alternative to the default wood ones, especially if you need another timbre for a different flavour.

This one just sounds good – its shallow brass shell provides a fat, crisp and powerful sound with extremely quick response. With 10 lugs, this type of snare would also allow me to play around with tunings too. If you tune it high, it explodes with a clear penetrating crack while tuning it lower allows darker frequencies to emerge for a thick wet sound. The TAMA Mighty Hoops on this snare are also great if you want a clear and cutting rimshot or cross sticks for funk!

TAMA HPDS1TW Dyna-Sync Series Double Bass Drum Pedal

The TAMA HPDS1TW is a direct drive double bass pedal, this one is great if you like tight control and feel for your kicks. While bass drum pedal feel are matters of personal preference, if you prefer zero latency between your foot and pedal; direct drive is the way to go. For those who are unfamiliar, a direct drive pedal basically means that the beater and the pedal are directly linked rather than being connected by a chain or a strap. The Dyna-Sync has a small footprint that is always great for a quick live setup. In terms of looks, it has a sleek and minimalist design that looks like something out of the Terminator.”

For me personally, the main selling point of this pedal would be the slidable cam that allows the user to change the cam-turning radius from anything between a linear motion (resulting in a high-degree of sensitivity for a nuanced play-style) or a non-linear action (resulting in a smaller turning radius for more dynamic kicks). This slidable cam really helps you personalise the settings on your pedals which is always a great feature. It’s nice to see innovation on these kinds of things especially since slidable cams were usually exclusive to chain/strap drive pedals. The Dyna-Sync has a whole load of features but explaining everything will take up the whole day so I’ll leave it here for now!

Samuel (Category Manager for Drums and Percussion)

A veteran of the music industry, Samuel has been with Swee Lee for as long it has existed in Malaysia. A regular resident in the Galaxy Chamber Orchestra, Samuel often performs Classical and New Age compositions as well as an assortment of movie soundtracks. In the office, Samuel heads the ordering and procurement of our percussion instruments as the Category Manager for Drums. A little known fact outside the office is that Samuel is an avid foodie who always knows where to find the best deals for the yummiest meals.

Ludwig Evolution Maple (Finish: Mahogany Burst) – LCEM622XMB 7pcs Drum Kit (22 Bass / 14 Snare / 10 Tom / 12 Tom / 14 FTom / 16 FTom)

My choice is going to be a little more unconventional than most. As I usually play in a group or an orchestra, I need access to a larger variety of sound. So my favourite configuration for a drum kit is a 7-piece with 3 Toms + 2 Floor Toms.

I don’t think I’m breaking any new ground by selecting a maple kit, but it is the drummer’s wood of choice for a reason. Maple has a warm tone with good lows but a bit more in the top end attack than a wood like birch for example. An added bonus would be that this kit is made out of Northern American Maple – it’s usually a wood that you find on kits in the higher price bracket.

At the end of the day, however, the wood can only take you so far and the sound of the drum would be most impacted by the quality of the construction of the shells themselves; this is where Ludwig shines the most for me. Across their entire range, Ludwigs have solid construction and they always deliver tremendous value for the drums you are getting!

Ludwig LB552KT 6.5x14inch Bronze Suprahonic Snare Drum

This metal snare is generally good for when I play New Age music with my Orchestra. Granted, metal snares may have a higher frequency range but since this snare is made out of bronze, it’s a little more warmer than you would expect. With 10 lugs tuning is also easier and it’s something you’d definitely want to take advantage of by tuning it to a variety of pitches for a variety of timbres. In an ensemble or orchestra setting it has a little bit more cut and presence in comparison to the wooden concert snare I have also selected below.

Pearl SYP1455-138 14×5.5inch Symphonic Series Concert Snare Drum, Antique Sunburst

This Pearl Polyphonic is also something I’d use in an orchestra setting. As I mentioned before, if you play in an orchestra, it’s important to have access to different drum sounds to suit the type of music you are playing. In a general sense, this snare has a warm sound quality due to its maple construction but the thing that sets this snare apart is its SR-300 Multi-Timbre Strainer. It has 3 levers that allow the user to control 3 distinct snare assemblies. With this you can choose the snare wires you’d want to activate or combine them to get up to 7 different snare timbres.

It also has die-cast hoops that help with getting an accurate tuning. An additional perk with die-cast hoops is that they don’t wear your sticks down as much as the other types of hoops – a gentler hoop for your sticks you might say

Gibraltar SC-SH Stick Holder

A stick holder is a generally under-appreciated gear acquisition for most drummers. If you’re playing live you got to have sticks on the ready if mishaps happen or when drumsticks go flying. Even if you’re playing at home, having a drum stick holder is very useful! Sometimes you might feel too lazy to practice on the kits so having sticks accessible at a moment’s notice is a really good way to eliminate that perceived practice barrier.

Gibraltar SC-4402 Bass Drum Anchor

Another accessory that usually gets overlooked while other items get the spotlight. Imagine getting an expensive kit and every time you do a kick, the kit inches forward. Well this here is an inexpensive tool that will make life easier for you! Just fasten one of these on and get on with your playing. Once you’ve played with one, you’ll definitely wonder why you didn’t have them on your kit sooner. Carpet or concrete flooring makes no difference with this gizmo. It makes recording and live shows easier as your kit isn’t moving when the mic placements are already done.

Zulfadli Noor (Branch Manager)

Our resident drum specialist in Singapore, Zulfadli really knows about all things drums and percussion. Having studied music in Lasalle-SIA back in 2005, he has a solid foundation in the technical side of music as a whole. Once an acoustic drums purist, Zulfadli has gone down the rabbit hole of electronic music for 16 years and has been there ever since.

A fun fact about Zulfadli is that he has been banned from the kitchen for repetitively drumming on his family’s kitchen appliances. As the legend goes, one time he got too carried away and caused food to be burnt, dents to form on pots and pans, and spatulas to be broken (much to the chagrin of his wife and cats). We reached out to his missus and cats for comment but received no answer, so the mystery goes on.

Pearl MDT764PC-704 Midtown 4-Piece Shell Pack (1614B/1007T/1312T/1355S), Black Cherry Glitter

It is tough to choose a drum kit out of the many that I’ve gotten my hands on. There is, however, one highly notable drum kit I must talk about – the Pearl Midtown.

It has perfect combination of portability, great sound and good value. It comes with the Optiloc Suspension System and 1.6mm steel hoops. Though the shells are made of Poplar, the compact 16 x 14 inch bass drum has plenty of low end, the toms are full and responsive and the snare is crisp.

It’s very convenient for busking, small gigs and probably for your home if you can accommodate it. Personally, I do a lot of ‘intimate’ electronica sessions in small spaces and this kit is simply perfect. Easy to move, easy to tune and definitely an enjoyable kit to play. Out of the two colours available, Cherry Glitter is my choice because I’m a changed man and black reminds me of all the food I’ve burnt.

Roland TM-6 Pro Drum Trigger Module

The Roland TM6 Pro is a highly customisable and crucial device that accompanies my Pearl Midtown. It turns my setup into a Hybrid Acoustic kit which fulfils my requirements for the sessions that utilises electronic layered sounds. There are six trigger inputs where you can connect up to twelve triggers (if you are using Y-cables).

With all my Roland RT-30H/HR, KT-30, BT-1 hooked up and thanks to the TM6, it delivered massive sounds together with the punch from my Pearl Midtown. What had me sold was the superbly recorded acoustic drum samples from TAMA, Ludwig etc. With just a touch of a button and some knobs, my Midtown transforms into something else altogether – something pretty incredible. If you’re into experimental stuff, this trigger module is worth your attention.

Whether you are a budding drummer looking to start on the sticks or a seasoned vet looking to add to your kit, we’re sure we’ve got the gear for you. Head to for all your drumming needs!

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