Flint Reggae snare drum
Flint Percussion, based in Newton-Le- Willows near Manchester, is primarily known for its exceptionally lightweight aluminium marching drums. But the company also produces drums with wider stylistic applications. We reviewed a similarly constructed Flint snare drum last year, but this 14″x31⁄2″ ‘pure reggae’ version is super shallow. Other shell depths of 51⁄2″ and 7″ are available with this same construction and are even more versatile. Flint is also supplying a carrying bag with every drum, while stocks last.
What’s special about the Flint design is the truly floating shell construction with the hoops and mounting hardware entirely separate from the shell itself. The rigid cast aluminium ‘cage’ consists of top and bottom hoops linked by cast tube lugs. The 12 tension bolts pass through the top hoop and screw into the tube lugs which are fixed to the bottom hoop.
Also fixed to the bottom hoop are the strainer/throw-off and butt plate. These are also Flint’s own designs and the throw-off is a solid pull-away radial bracket which incorporates the tension knob.
The smooth aluminium shell, with its rounded bearing edges, is produced by EcHo Custom Drums in nearby Stalybridge. Finished in a smart two-tone powder coating you can pair a white shell with black hardware (like the review drum) or black shell with white hardware.
Despite the all-aluminium construction the solid castings mean the drum does not feel unduly lightweight. Those super hoops expand the overall diameter to 151⁄2″ too, so you will need a wide-opening snare basket. Both snare tensioner and throw-off are nothing fancy to look at, but they work smoothly enough and Flint supplies top quality PureSound brass wires.
Because of the floating shell design, the bottom head is tensioned along with the top. This actually makes life easier: get the batter tuned evenly and the resonant follows suit. The sound is a seriously sharp, penetrating crack and rim shots require ear defence. With its shallow shell the sustain, even of those clanging rim shots, is quite abrupt. The drum came with an unbranded smooth white head that produced a table-top pipe band biscuit-tin spank.
Swapping that for a Coated Ambassador, the tone and warmth improved straight away. As well as going for the obvious high tuning with its ferocious crack, the drum responded well to middle and lower tunings with a fatter and deeper slap.
Although nominally a speciality drum, I think the reggae title infers limitations which could restrict sales. UB40’s Jimmy Brown is a big fan, but reggae drummers are as varied a bunch as any other. So although it certainly has a mega side-stick response, ideal for classic reggae, it is also an all-round piccolo-style drum which should appeal to those playing funk or drum’n’bass/electro dance styles. Or it would make a cool secondary, contrasting snare.