Sonor drums have gone to a lot of trouble to work out what they wanted with their new SQ1 kit. In consultation with some of their biggest endorsees such as Chris Coleman combined with blindfold sound tests, the designers made the conscious decision to make a new line of drums featuring an all European Birch shell. Sonor don’t currently have a birch option in their line up, so the SQ1 offers a unique alternative to the ever-popular maple. Enter the new ‘Made in Germany’ SQ1.
Features on the SQ1 include 10mm bass drum shells with their own unique bass drum hoops (more on this later) and 7ply/7mm toms/snare drums. All drums feature a low-contact 45-degree bearing edge and Sonor’s Cross Lamination Tension Free (CLTF) construction for increased strength and longevity, as well as a slightly narrower outer edge (Optimum Shell Measurement) enabling the drumhead to ‘float’ a little more with easier tuning. You get the same bass drum legs and lugs from the SQ2, too. A brand new Sound Sustainer mounting system eliminates any metal-to-wood contact on the toms and floor toms through the use of rubber lining and bushings. This idea is actually adopted from the auto industry by stabilising motors through mounts in the engine bay. The new mounts do away with a full rim-style system and as such, provide a much cleaner look and lighter shells.
Sonor’s Safe Tune lugs and bass drum claws come as standard along with Remo heads, but it’s the finishes – inspired by hot rods of the ‘60s – that really catch the eye. I got to try a 20x16, 12x8 and 14x13 configuration with a 14x5.5 snare. The drums look fantastic with clean lines and stunning hardware that really allow your eye to follow the details around the kit. There are four matte only finishes available and each feature unique bass drum hoops. GT Black and Hot Rod Red have natural beech hoops, Roadster Green and Cruiser Blue get natural Walnut hoops. All stand out against the primary colour and create a very striking effect. The kit I tried was the Cruiser Blue – a cool aqua/blue colour and probably my pick of the four.
Configurations only come as standard three-piece sets (bass drum, rack tom and floor tom). There’s the smaller set up that I tried; a more standard 22/12/16; or a larger 24/13/16 if your tastes so desire. The birch shell is a great starting point, but simplicity in design and choice accompany this. The SQ2 might allow you to alter every single detail but sometimes too much choice is simply too much. Pick a basic three-piece set and Sonor allow you to then add drums as you need – snare being a good start.
How do the drums sound? Really good, people. Sonor claims that Birch was the clear choice for a better bass response and more balanced mids/highs. I can see what they meant because the drums behave themselves very well. With absolutely no dampening and combined with clever construction, the drums were a breeze to tune; the resulting tone slightly dry and very focused. There’s some attack and definite sustain but there aren’t the crazy overtones you might expect that immediately make you hunt for dampening. Instead, you get a pleasing tone at any tuning range with an openness that makes you want to use a lighter head, because that slight dryness controls the sound. In the mix with the band, the toms sound a little EQ’d even. I think the natural properties of Birch is the reason some drummers have used drums like this for studio work over the years.
The bass drum had the same qualities as the toms too – increased low end and nice punch. I loved the response at lower volumes – balanced and musical. The 14x5.5” snare I tried (available separately) was just killer too. Heaps of volume and crack, but with that ever present low range frequency the rest of the kit features. I’ve been using metal snares for years now but the warmth and grunt that this snare has just rocks. All drums - whether tuned up or down - sounded great, and it is here that Sonor have smashed it. Clean, simple drums made to a high standard with easy configurations that tune awesomely and sound killer. What more do you want?
Hits and Misses
Focused and punchy sound with increased low-end
Simple, clean and quality construction
Wide tuning range
Tune safe lugs, while effective, make fast head changes difficult
No bass drum tom mount option