Review: Yamaha Stage Custom Hip Kit

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Review: Yamaha Stage Custom Hip Kit

Words By Sam McNiece

Yamaha Music Australia | Expect to pay: A$1,799

Let’s set the stage for this scenario. You’ve finished playing a gig at a small bar, on a cramped stage, with the bass guitar basically shoved in your mouth, and the absolute last thing you want to think about is moving your full drum kit through the crowd, down the narrow stairwell, and squishing it into your dad’s sedan. 

Sound familiar? For most band goers, this is just an accepted fact about gigging, you’re not The Rolling Stones, so you’re gonna have to move your own gear. If only there was a smaller kit that appealed to the small audience environment that still had enough punch to come through potentially without even miking it up. 

Well here comes the Hip Kit, a part of the Stage Custom range that has been a staple in Yamaha’s product line over the past 20 years. This addition adds a portability factor to their stunning line of affordable kits boasting long lifespan and a variety of uses.

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Compact drum kits have a large variety of implementations, from home practice to un-amplified performances, and they don’t get the amount of coverage they should. Yamaha’s Stage Custom Hip Kit features a 20”/8” bass drum, 10”/5” rack tom, 13”/8” floor tom and 13”/5” snare drum, this kit is both compact and robust, with ample depth and presence for such a small kit.

Gorgeous 6-ply birch shells create a lively attack with warm and clear overtones, and they’re extremely rewarding when paired with dynamic brush strokes. There’s a balanced mid range sound achieved here that resonates in an expressive manner. The Hip Kit comes standard with Reno UT coated heads, chosen to amplify the sweet, woody tones of the birch shells.

Out of all the things in this review, the one thing I bet you want to know is how this shallow bass drum performs. Typically, when one thinks of a shallow drum, the last thing that’d be on their mind would be a booming kick – in fact, it’d be much more akin to a battered tambourine, which makes this example all the more fascinating.

The answer? Against all expectations, the kick is punchy and tight. It’s kind of wild that a drum only eight inches deep can generate a tone like this, which is likely due to it maintaining a 20 inch diameter for a lower resonance. The die-cast claw hooks on this drum piece have rubber inserts to make sure you stay locked in even on smooth surfaces, minimising the need to lug around dirty carpet or flooring to place beneath your drums at each gig.

The sound that emanates from the snare drum is both controlled and articulate, providing plenty of gusto to whatever you throw at it. It’s worth noting that this kit comes with a snare drum but no stand, but most drummers will have a few lying around and in any case you’d want to purchase a hardware pack to add hi-hats and crash cymbals to the mix.

Rack toms on the Stage Custom Hip Kit come with Yamaha ball clamps which allow you to move the drum to whatever angle you desire, holding tightly and with ease. This feature is another inclusion that decreases the amount of floor space required for setting these up.

The floor tom on this kit is more like a deep snare drum as it is fitted with a 20 strand snare strain which can be engaged and disengaged at will. Popularised by modern neo-soul and hip-hop drummers, this sound is interesting to say the least, but after a while you’ll be wondering why all your friends’ floor toms are missing that sizzle and crack of your set at home.

All pieces on this kit are easy to tune and come in three different finishes. There’s a classic Raven Black, Natural Wood and my personal favourite the Matte Surf Green which actually errs on the side of a light blue finish. All kick drums have a Natural Wood finish in rings around the edges which is a nice touch.

This compact kit has wide usage ranges and is perfect for gigging at small venues where stage sizes can make you feel squished in a box. It’s also incredible for un-amplified performances, within a small jazz quartet for instance. It’ll help you get in and out quicker too as the whole kit can fit in a 20” bass drum case and 14” floor tom case which can easily fit on your two shoulders.

Even better yet, because of its small form factor, it makes a perfect home practise kit. Add some mesh heads, low volume cymbals and pair with Yamaha’s EAD10 electronic acoustic drum module to create a pleasant environment for your seven housemates to sleep while you play through your favourite Megadeth album at two in the morning.

Music education studios will benefit from the Stage Custom Hip Kit’s design allowing you to fit a couple drum kits in a small space. Now both you and your student can jam out concurrently in close proximity so you can view their technique more easily.

With this in mind, you’d have to be insane to not find a use for this drum set. From the portability, range of utility and high quality production due to Yamaha’s large brand name, the Yamaha Stage Custom Hip Kit is guaranteed to get you moving.

For more information check out Yamaha Australia.