These drums are a real fixer-upper opportunity
This should get a 5-star rating, but due to the way the factory treated the shell pack that was shipped to me, it's getting a 1-star rating. If you plan to purchase some PDP Concept drums (maple or birch), then this review is your fair warning. You will be taking a chance when you buy these drums. You might be unlucky like me, or you might be shipped some extremely good drums in perfect condition.
Let's get started:
First, mine had damaged bearing edges on the bass drum and both floor toms. On the bass drum, both bearing edges had 1 spot each that was clearly hit by something at some point at the factory. The box was perfect, so it wasn't damaged during shipping. On the 14" x 12" floor tom, the resonant side (the unprotected side in the box) had a round-shaped dent of maybe 2-4mm deep, and maybe 4-5mm wide. On the 16" x 14" floor tom, the unprotected edge was damaged as well. The damage looked like it was hit hard by the edge of one of the metal hoops, probably from placing either the 10" or 12" tom inside the shell. It had a cut of a few millimeters deep and it was about 2mm wide. THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE.
Sure, I could've had the local drum shop repair my bearing edges, but I don't have that kind of money. Not only that, but I've been there, done that, AND I'M TIRED OF IT. I'm tired of trying to make drums be at their best after buying them when they should be at their best out of the box. I just want drums that I can unbox and play. I don't want to spend even more money and time (and gas and wear and tear on my car) just to get brand new drums to be their best.
Here are some other problems that mine had:
What you need to know first is, all 3 mounted toms have the heads pre-installed. Ok, so, the way they installed the heads on the shell pack that I received was absolutely horrible (and all unboxing videos I saw had perfectly-tuned toms right out of the box, so I don't get this at all and it ****** me off). They put an extreme amount of tension on each head. Worse than that, they only tightened down 2 opposite tension rods on each side, with a ridiculous 5 or 6 full 360-degree turns of the tension rods if I remember correctly. I think the other 4 tension rods on each side (yeah, a total of 6 lugs on each drum) were probably turned maybe once or twice - just enough to make sure they don't come loose during shipping. My shell pack was made on June 3rd and I received it at the beginning of this month (October). So yeah, the heads sat like that for nearly 4 months and were thus permanently ruined. Thanks a lot, PDP. I was planning to use those heads!
The 16" heads were ruined too because the box that contains all the other heads was taped too tightly. They squished the edges of the 16" heads and it created permanent damage. So, those heads were completely useless too. Thanks again, PDP. I officially feel that you suck. I was planning to use all of the heads. Maybe I should ask PDP for a reimbursement. hahahaha! heh. Other than this damage, I could tell that these are otherwise very high-quality heads, which is what I read about from other customers. I mean, seriously, they may say "Remo Made in China", but I could've easily been convinced they were genuine store-bought U.S.A-made Remo heads. The head material was the same as what I'm used to from REAL Remo heads (super high-quality), the hoops were high in quality (albeit heavier than I'm used to - I think they were steel instead of aluminum), everything was excellent and top-notch. It's just that the people who put my drums together ruined the heads. Sigh.
The only GOOD heads were the snare drum heads (they tuned both snare heads loosely as though they were tuning a low-pitched rock tom LOL sigh), the bass drum heads, and the 14" tom heads. I ordered my preferred bass drum heads with the shell pack, so the only heads I would have even used would be the snare heads and the 14" floor tom heads. Great! heh I didn't want those drums to be the only drums with stock heads, so I went and ordered a full set of heads, costing me over $140. Thanks again, PDP.
That's not the end of it. Each lug is supposed to be attached to the shell with 2 mounting screws. Well, one of the lugs on the 16" x 14" floor tom was missing one of those screws. Even worse, the one they put in for that lug was located in the hole closest to the bearing edge. So, I had to move it to the hole that's furthest away from the bearing edge. I didn't want the lug pulling out away from the shell under tension. Sigh. I wanted the tension from the tension rod to act like the 2nd screw, holding the lug in place. Duh! Come on, PDP. Get your act together. If you're going to put just one mounting screw in, then at least put it in the spot that makes the most sense: furthest away from the bearing edge.
On the 8" x 7", both mounting holes for one of the lugs weren't drilled all the way through. FACEPALM. YEP! Someone doesn't know how to use a drill! So I had to go and finish the drilling! It was easy, but extremely stupid. Before I finished that drilling job, the lug was sticking out from the shell a bit, and this destroyed the threads on the tension rod. PDP includes 6 extra tension rods for the toms and snare and 6 for the bass drum (and a LOT of extra washers, like "what am I going to do with all these?"), plus a total of 6 extra swivel nuts (those are the "tension rod receivers", as some people call them). After inspecting all 7 drums, I ended up using 2 more tension rods because I found 2 more tension rods that were in extremely bad shape for some reason. Turning them felt like I had sand or some other hard grit inside the swivel nut. Good lord. The replacement rods were butter-smooth.
Then there's the mounting hardware for the toms. I'm talking about the double tom mount that goes in the bass drum and the one that attaches to a cymbal stand. That hardware is very low in quality. At first, I thought it felt like typical DW quality and I was impressed. After spending some time trying to get my drums set up just the way I like them (I've never used L-rods before, just Yamaha mounts, so it took me a while), the hardware felt like it was super old and heavily weathered by the time I finished. The wingnuts were squeaking and felt really worn like they would break on the next tightening or loosening, and the resin balls had deep permanent dents making it nearly impossible to make super small adjustments. I never really tightened the clamps down on the resin balls all that much because I was in the middle of configuring my positions. I wasn't ready to finalize anything yet. So, that's some cheap crap!
Even worse about the hardware, the wingnuts hurt my hands from trying to tighten them. They don't have a good comfortable shape at all. I hate them. I ended up wearing heavy-duty leather work gloves (you know, those yellow ones that are really thick). I replaced these with DW's best hardware, and WOW. What a huge difference. It was a real joy to no longer have bad tom mounting hardware.
Then we have the super low-quality hoops. lol Wow. They are just as cheap as can be. The edges of the hoops feel kinda rough, and they just SOUND cheap when they clang against each other or when installing them onto the drum, etc. The only saving grace with them is, they do have a bit of a bell-like tone when I let one rest on an extended finger and I "played" the hoop with a drum stick. You know, treat it like a Triangle and play it. They have a musical quality and they did have a nice sustaining bell-like quality. So, I guess that's good. Still, they just felt like super-cheap hoops. They were very light and just didn't feel like a quality hoop at all.
Then there are the badges. lol Oh man. Most of them were just SLIGHTLY crooked. I only noticed while I was staring at my drums, admiring their look. Eventually I was like, "hey wait a minute... that badge looks a tiny bit crooked. Omg, they're all kinda crooked! What?!?!" Are the holes drilled by hand or something? Good grief. At least they are the kind that are bolted on, and they look fantastic!!! There's only one badge on each drum though. That's a real shame. That shiny round bolted-on badge really shows the DW spirit in these drums.
Since I seem to be moving on to some of the good things about the drums I received, here are some more good things:
Let's start with the bass drum claw hooks. These are good *and* bad, actually. They're good because they're very high-quality die-cast claw hooks, and they do have SOME felt on the inside to protect the hoop, but these are bad claw hooks because it's just a little square of felt that can only protect the wide part of the hoop, but not the edge. With the real DW claw hooks, they have a felt lining that protects the *entire* hoop, so there's absolutely no metal touching any part of the hoop whatsoever. So, if you want to protect your PDP Concept bass drum hoops COMPLETELY and PERFECTLY, then I recommend you prepare to either replace these with better claw hooks, or line them with felt yourself. You can get real DW claw hooks from some drum parts stores and even directly from DW. That would look pretty neat, actually.
Speaking of protecting the hoops, one of the two hoops does have a pre-attached rectangular-shaped high-quality rubber protector for attaching the bass drum pedal. However, it's only on the "inside" of the hoop. So you will still probably want another protector for the outer side.
The sound that I was able to get from the mounted toms with those permanently-ruined heads was surprisingly amazing. I mean, I couldn't stop playing them! Yeah, I couldn't resist; I just had to hear my toms before my new heads arrived. lol The sound was very musical, very warm, the note they produced was very clear, they were very expressive, they had an excellent crisp attack, and just generally sounded like DW drums. What more can I say? They had that great DW sound, even with heads that the factory ruined. I never did get around to putting my new heads on though. Even so, the feeling they gave me while playing them though was pure joy. I could've played just the mounted toms all day. Of course, the bearing edges on the mounted toms were protected by the heads and hoops, and so they were flawless (they even felt noticeably smoother as well, but I don't know why - maybe it depends on who sands them at the factory, I don't know).
So, even with bad heads, they still had the ability to produce a very professional maple sound! I didn't have to hit them very hard in order to get them to produce a great sound. They "spoke" very easily. What a great feeling. Finally: cheap drums that can truly be PLAYED without having to HIT them. Y'know? With low-quality crap drums, you have to pound them in order to get them to speak, and by then they're too loud and you sound like you don't know how to play music. With these, you just play them easily and they give you a great sound with plenty of volume and projection. They really are fine musical instruments. It's a real shame what the factory did to mine. Sigh.
When I tried the floor toms, the 16" floor tom was kind of useless thanks to those heads being in far worse condition (ARGH!), but WOW, that 14"x12" floor tom. WOW. ARE YOU SERIOUS? I could feel that sucker in my body when I hit it! Just a very loud, very warm, and very long "booooom" sound. The first time I hit it, I let out a very loud and very satisfied "YEAH!!!!" This is even with that damaged bearing edge! The 16" x 14" floor tom still wasn't all that bad though. It was kind of weak thanks to those heads, but it still had a clear indication that it would do the same thing as the 14" x 12" with some good heads. KA-BOOM! :) Thunderous. I think these drums are a real force to be reckoned with, provided they're in perfect condition. Sigh. I guess that's why Macro Minnemann used them to record The Aristocrats' first album. Macro loves these drums. Well, so does everyone who gets their hands on properly-made PDP Concept drums. I can see why.
I never did get around to tuning or playing the snare or the bass drum. I decided to return this shell pack instead of spending more money on repearing the bearing edges and replacing the hoops with high-quality ones. heh Just, forget it. I'm done with the PDP Concept Maples.
Anyway, continuing on here, the floor tom clamps for the legs are EXCELLENT. It couldn't have been any easier to tighten and loosen - especially tighten. I barely had to put much effort into tightening. I loved it. Just tighten until it stops, and you're done. You don't have to use much of your strength at all. Adjusting the height and angle of my floor toms was a real pleasure.
The floor tom legs themselves are fantastic too. They truly allow the floor toms to sound their absolute BEST. Just WOW! Have you ever heard of the product called Booty Shakers that you stick to the feet of your floor tom legs to allow the drum to have the best sound it can possibly produce? Well, I bought them just out of curiosity (I bought them specifically for these drums and they arrived just a day or 2 ahead of time), but they didn't make any difference. That's how good these floor tom legs are. I was blown away. I mean, my floor toms weren't choked at ALL, but I still had to put my new Booty Shakers on just to see if they made any difference. I had to know. With and without the Booty Shakers, they had a wonderful long "booooooom" that lasted for at least 6-8 seconds and it was extremely full-sounding. I was IMPRESSED. When I hit the floor toms, especially the 14" due to the perfect heads, I was just like, "YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!" Normally, a floor tom is dead due to being on legs instead of a nice suspension system, but not these. I don't know what DW/PDP did, but it's absolutely amazing.
The lugs look fantastic. Even holding one in my hand makes them feel like very high-quality little lugs. I know some people don't like them, but I do. Don't think of these as trying to be DW drums. These are PDP drums, and they have very nice-looking lugs. They have a little bit of the DW spirit in them too. You can see it, but they are they're own thing. I'm very happy that they got rid of those ugly oval lugs. These make the drums look more expensive and more DW-like. :)
The STM mounts really do seem to be the same as what you'd find on any DW drum, except of course they're custom-shaped for these lugs and the clamp part is made for the skinnier 10.5mm L rods (the DW rods are thicker at half an inch in diameter). Surprisingly though, they do fit just fine on a half-inch L rod!
The Natural Lacquer finish is stunning. Photos don't do it justice. Nothing can do it justice. You have to see it in person. If you're lucky enough to receive a shell pack with outer plies that have a nice deep 3D-like look to them that reflect light in all sorts of interesting ways, then you will never want to stop looking at your drums. Ever. I had that a little bit, especially on my bass drum. My 16" x 14" floor tom also had an outer ply of true Curly Maple. It was unbelievably beautiful and easy to get lost in. The bass drum hoops had some Curly Maple on them too. The outer ply of the bass drum shell just had a gorgeous 3D-like depth to it. I think that outer ply was a part of the Curly Maple veneer, but just didn't have the ridges. I think I got extremely lucky. Drums like these should really just have a plain boring flat look under the lacquer. Most of the toms did, but that 16" floor tom, bass drum and the hoops were looking like DW Collector's Series or something.
The bass drum legs were surprisingly high in quality. I was impressed by them so much that I had wondered if they're the same ones as are on the Collector's Series.
The MAG throw-off really is the same as the one on Collector's Series snares. Amazing. The butt-plate though is just a standard butt-plate. Nothing to write home about.
The snare wires are just your standard, run-of-the-mill snare wires. They're not anything special. I'd replace them with really nice ones and keep them as an emergency back-up.
My snare had brass swivel nuts. It was beautiful. I'm talking about the tension rod receivers. They weren't silver-colored, they were brass.
Still, I returned the entire shell pack because I wasn't about to deal with fixing these drums up. I decided instead to just do what I should've done in the first place: I am going to get DW Performance Series. There's a great 0% interest financing promotion right now that has put these drums within my reach, and so I'm going to grab them while I can! I really don't want to deal with anything like this ever again. If the PDP factory had treated my drums right though, then this would easily be a glowing 5-star review and I'd be one extremely happy drummer. Oh well. I guess it's all for the better because now I'm going to have some DW Performance Series drums!