Ludwig Questlove Breakbeats Drum Kit
The Breakbeats kit has actually been around for a little while now. Ludwig says about the kit that,
"Breakbeats was designed with the city in mind. Positioned on a riser for optimum reach, its compact 14x16" bass drum, 7x10" tom, and 13x13" floor tom creates a set-up for sculpting grooves in tight spaces."
And that it does. The footprint of the kit is indeed small and compact.
What you get in the box are the above drums, as well as a small bass drum riser so you can play the centre of the kick more easily, and a tom holder which also has scope to mount a cymbal or cowbell arm on the other side. I have to say I wasn’t actually expecting that when I was unboxing the kit, so that was a nice touch I thought. The drums also come with their own carry bags which can be used as mufflers for quieter practice. This I’ll come to later. The heads with the kit are all Chinese made Remos.
The drums themselves are made from 7-ply hardwood shells with 45’ degree bearing edges and come in a few different finishes.
I found the playing experience with the kit was generally good. I did find that you need to be observant of where you place the kick drum pedal on the riser as if you put it too near if affects playability, but other than that I had no issues. I was able to tune the drums with no problems and got them up and running quickly.
Kick drum – despite being a tiny 16x14 (back to UK sizing now…) this plays and feels like a ‘normal’ bass drum. Now, that may sound a bit strange, but if you’ve ever played a 16” kick, you’ll know that they don’t all play the same.
To be honest about it, my own 16” kick drum has metal hoops on it and plays like a cardboard box and that’s something I’ve never liked about it. This bass drum however has proper hoops on it (instead of normal metals hoops which you sometimes get) and I found that helped how the drum felt a lot. Having played a few smaller kick drums with wood or plastic hoops on recently, I’m now convinced it’s not all in my head on that point and ‘proper’ kick hoops do make a difference.
Sound-wise, it really only does one thing, but that is something relative to all bass drums of this size. For the video, I did put a small Evans muffling pillow against both heads.
Toms – For me, these were my favourite part of the kit. They have pinstripes on them so they had a thicker, more deadened sound, but they were loud, rounded and full-bodied. And that sound came very easily too. In fact, I don’t think I really did anything to the 10” tom out of the box.
Snare drum – I have to say I found the snare a little lacking in terms of body against the toms when tuned to anything other than fairly high. It works just fine though and if you check out the link at the bottom of Questlove playing the kit, I think his snare sounds quite cool, albeit tuned much higher than I tuned it.
Overall, as a kit, it works.
The kit isn’t expensive and so the performance and build-out is going to correspond with this. That said though, I found no issues with the shells or hardware taking that fact into consideration.
The kit has a small footprint but also a big sound. I can genuinely say that I could easily take this kit out to a gig and play it with only a couple of adjustments – those being to change the batter head on the snare and both heads on the kick. I think both drums would greatly benefit from that in that situation. But, that would be to gig. Using the kit for practice or rehearsals, the stock heads would be fine.
In terms of using the kit as a practice tool with the carry bags on them, well, it was an interesting experience playing drums like that, and something I’d never done before. The bags are big enough to slip them over the drums whilst set up with a minimal amount of fuss. The concept does seem to work, but you would need to mute your cymbals separately.
All in all, I think given what the brief was for the Breakbeats kit, Ludwig seem to have done a good job with it.
For more info, go to - http://www.ludwig-drums.com/breakbeats/
And here’s a video of the man himself talking and playing the drums - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44GYiw1VsKc
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