When I was given the task of finding an alternative product to interest our valued readers, one that would take them outside the norm, that would ease the RSI, and offer some fun and exercise at the same time… I must admit that I was stumped. It is a foregone conclusion that a lot of the population surf the net, and when they are not surfing they are watching TV. On top of this, for maybe eight hours of the day they are staring at a computer screen.
Then I stumbled upon a website by Traps Drums, offering a portable drum kit, with a full-size sound. I am not sure why, but it caught my attention, probably because I had always wanted a drum kit as a kid, but never got one. So, a few phone calls later and the kind guys at Alchemy Engineering (the manufacturers) sent me an A400 kit to play with.
The whole kit was delivered in one compact box, and my initial reaction was that there was no way this was going to deliver on its promises. The A400 kit consists of tubular frames, that fit together with plastic sleeve clamps. Everything looks a bit confusing, as there are so many parts, and the instructions are a bit hard to see, due to having black and white illustrations. This is something that Traps are working on, so new kits should come with clearer instructions from mid-July.
That said, putting the kit together is pretty straightforward, if you take things one step at a time, there is only a certain way that the parts can fit together.
Once the frame is up and the kick bass drum in place, the remaining toms and cymbals all clamp firmly in place. As standard the kit comes with a 12-inch snare drum, 10, 12 & 14-inch Toms, a 20-inch kick (bass) drum, 13-inch hi hat cymbals, 14-inch crash cymbal, 18-inch crash ride cymbal, two pedals, a stool and drum sticks. It is pretty conclusive that you do not need anything else to get started.
Before I move onto the performance, I must emphasize that the A400 kit is of a very high build quality. Everything fits together perfectly and oozes a perfect finish. The stool is a little flimsy, with the mount nut needing to be tightened every now and again, but apart from that you couldn't ask for much more. You also get Remo heads on this kit, with the traditional multi screw tuning system, just like on full size kits. This is superb, as it allows you to individually tune each drum for that perfect sound. It also allows for new heads should you need to replace them in the future.
Now, I have played around on a Yamaha HipGig kit (around £700) before and I thought that there was no way that the A400 Traps would sound anything like them, after all, they take up half the space and cost almost half the price. To say I was astounded is really an understatement, the sound was full, accurate, and the responsiveness of the heads was great. Close your eyes and listen to the Traps and you really could not tell the difference… well maybe a little, but it is certainly not a worse or better sound in comparison to a full size kit.
Traps also supply bags for the A400, allowing you to easily transport the A400 to a gig, which is really useful. No need for a small transit with this kit ! You can also customise and add to the A400 with an extra 8-inch Tom, and move things around on the rack to get everything perfectly positioned for your individual style.
My suggestion to you all… get away from that screen for a while and use your creativity to learn to play the drums, you will love it. To all you budding musicians, the A400 kit is very compact and sounds great, so put it at the top of your list. Finally, to any readers who currently play the drums… if you need something compact, that still sounds great, either for gigging or for practicing at home, then the A400 will deliver all you could want, plus much more. The attention to detail, the build quality and sound, not to mention to superb aftersales support, all adds up to a stunningly good package.