REVIEWED: SAKAE ALMIGHTY MAPLE DRUM KIT

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By now, everyone will probably know the Sakae story. The drum makers from Osaka, Japan are famous for being the backbone behind Yamaha shells for over 50 years and in the last few years have moved out on their own. These new kits under the name Sakae have a familiar sound and vibe. I wonder why?

The Almighty Maple sits next to its Birch brother in the Sakae range, between the Celestial line and the vintage style Trilogy. It’s intended to be a professional kit for gigging musicians needing a reliable, strong and serious drum kit. I got to try a smaller configuration shell pack with an 18” Bass drum, 12” rack tom and 14” floor tom but who says good things don’t come in small packages?

 

The Almighty features triple flanged hoops on toms, wood hoops on the bass drum, super heavy duty hardware lugs and legs including dual function feet on floor toms and bass drum so you can use a rubber stopper or a spike – these things aren’t going anywhere, even if you try. The excellent cradle system for mounting toms attaches to the bottom lugs of the drum rather than the top and feature 360-degree adjustment. This is very cool and is less intrusive in many ways. You also have the same system for the legs of the floor tom to avoid drilling the shell for leg mounts. The mounts attach to the lugs and this is no bad thing. The bass drum comes with a drilled mount for the double tom holder but can be spec’d with nothing if you prefer to mount your toms off cymbal stands

 

The shells themselves are 6ply North American Maple all round. The bass drum plies are slightly thicker at 7.8mm than the toms at 5.4mm. The shells also have a standard, sharp 45-degree bearing edge and a minimal seam/join and loads of air vents. Sakae have a swag of options for finishes for these tubs – too many to mention but there’s something for everyone with the quality and look you’d expect from a high-end kit. An interesting thing to note is the weight of the drums – heavy is reliable right? Most manufactures go for a lightweight lug on toms, but the Transmit lugs on the Almighty are deliberately big and heavy because Sakae believe they increase low-end frequencies, resonance and transmit vibration better. Rebadged Remo heads come as standard and the bass drum had Powerstroke 3 heads front and back. So far so good.

 

Remember I mentioned the heavier lugs for increased resonance and low end? Well, something worked, because this is true and the bass drum especially, was actually surprising with how much thump it had. For a small drum, it was extremely impressive and felt/sounded more like a 20” to be honest. I would have liked to spend more time with the toms but with minimal tuning and messing about in the low to mid tuning ranges with no dampening, there was plenty of volume and projection with the clarity and punch you’d expect of maple drums. I could focus the note but found the standard clear heads would fluff a bit under lower tuning. There’s an increased resonance due to those tom mounts not being physically drilled in the shell. Again, with the short time I had with the kit, I was able to get a good sound and started to imagine the broad range of abilities it could potentially have across a number of situations. The volume is welcoming and the toms speak with little effort.

 

As you’d expect from a kit in this price range the recipe is a good one. There’s simply a sense of quality that oozes from these drums from the shells to the hardware. These drums would stand up to whatever you threw at them. I’d probably mess around with heads a little more to get my sound but I’d leave the bass drum as is. Super cool. The only potential downside of the super reliable nature and feel of these drums is the weight. It won’t bother some players but others would prefer something lighter. Good thing the kit backs itself with good tone and enough punch/volume to take out those pesky distortion pedals.

Hits and Misses

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Killer punch from smaller 18” kick

Warmth and clarity of maple

Quality build, finish/make

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Little heavy to lug around

Factory heads don’t tell the full story

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