I have been looking at the Mapex Black Panther Snare, and I must admit the company has really done it this time around.
I am one person who is very specific when it comes to snare drums. And it is easy for anyone to understand why I do this because the snare is one of the most important components of a drum set.
I have close to 20 snares accessories in my possession. That is how crazy I am about them, and I always tell myself they are useful in perfecting my job and my needs.
But it is hard to use all these components. Sometimes I carry more than five same kinds to a session. The others just stay at home. As long as I have my three metal shells and two wood-shell drums, I have all I need to set my gear in the right spot.
And after playing for many years, these are enough drums for any professional to achieve their goals.
I have been reviewing snares for a very long time, and every new one comes up; it always keeps me thinking about whether it is the best. The first thing is to check whether it can take the burden of many snares from my collection.
Honestly, these two new snare drums in Mapex’s Black Panther Snare series are the real deal. One is wood, and the other is metal.
Because of them, I have started to rethink my all-star lineup. Perhaps all I need are only these two simple, yet very function snares.
One side, you get the 14-inch by 5.5-inch SS Solid Steel snare drum with the best construction. And on the other hand, is the 14-inch by 6-inch Thick Framed Maple snare drums.
In my opinion, these two are destined to become high-end showpieces in the Mapex collection. The first thing that hits you at first is defining design.
They are well-conceived and well-executed in terms of build. Besides, each delivers a unique signature sound.
The first impression
I don’t really mind a lot about appearances when choosing any drum component. It is the sound that drives me where I want to be.
However, I have to admit this one got me very much interested.
The SS comes with the black-chrome finish on the outside, and it is contained in a sleek, crosshatched pattern that is smoothened on the top and bottom, ensuring the bottom sits properly.
On the inside, you will meet fine grooves left from the routing process. Such an amazing finish is quite rare in many cases.
The packages come with all the necessary hardware for you to start playing. All of them, including lugs, tension rods, throw-off, butt, and heavy die-cast hoops, are done with the same glossy black finish.
Overall, this drum means business right from the start. It seems the company has invested hi-tech ideas into the looks of this product.
And if you thought that was all, consider the 14-inch by 6-inch Mapex Black Panther Snare Thick Framed Maple snare drum. At first glance, it is quite warm and inviting.
From its name, you may already have that the 15-ply shell is covered in a veneer framed black. This appearance makes it appear iridescent in various stage lights.
The shell is quite warm. It is created using a ‘Honey Maple Burst,’ a warm signature by Mapex.
The hardware is finished with shiny chrome. They include die-cast hoops and adjustable throw-off and butt end stand in easy, yet stunning. It has the figuring of the maple, which gives it a timeless appearance.
When it comes to great sound from snare, I know that the construction has a crucial part to play. And I must appreciate what Mapex has done here.
The SS Solid Steel drum bears a unique build, which, unlike other brands, it not just rolled sheet metal. It must have taken a lot of time and investment to come up with something as unique as this without losing the touch of excellence.
The drum is fashioned from a 14-inch 5m thick pipe, which is cut to a length of 5.5-inch. This tube construction ensures the shells come with structural integrity and consistency of sound. You can never get such quality even in a seamless rolled sheet.
After cutting the pipe to the desired length, a three-band, the route a 3-inch band around the center to 3mm thick. This leaves steel equal to 1-inch glue, or a sound ring on the bottom edges.
The sound that comes from drums is based on its construction. And in this case, the in dual thickness comes with lots of effects on the voice of these drums. It creates good tonal benefits of thin-walled shells, allowing you a wide tuning ranged with rich sounds. The feature also offers another benefit of more substantial width and weight on the bearing in edges and beds of the snare. You get a more controlled attack, volume, and dynamics.
Mapex stands as one of the biggest technology companies in creating innovative drums. In this case, they have cleverly chosen to cut a deep and fairly quick snare bed. This makes the SS one of the most sensitive loud drums out there.
I played the drums for a long time, but I was never able to get the drums to choke up. It also seems to lose sensitivity under a very hard and loud playing environment.
Playing different styles is among the best ways to know what my snares can do. After playing a hip-hop gig on the SS and backing up rappers, I learned the secrets of getting the best sound from it.
It responded pretty well to multi-rods and brushes. This is more than what I could ever say for many other snares I have reviewed.
The drum also played well in different tunings. Every time I changed the tune, it gave the same impression of a high-end snare drum.
Unlike many low-end drums, I never saw it get those honky and dead sounds that come from loose tensioning. It was not brittle either when I tensioned it harder.
In general, Mapex has gone an extra step in ensuring that the Black Panther returns to the investor. I listened carefully to every tuning, and it seemed as though the drum was meant to play there.
Playing loud with snares is not really my thing. I am more of a jazz drummer, which requires a more subtle approach. The Black Panther can be tuned properly to sound loud or soft, depending on one’s playing styles.
How does it perform in Studio?
I wanted to know how the Mapex Black Panther snare drum performed in a studio setting. Hence, set on the stand with one of my best drummer friends as he recorded a new project. It was a great opportunity since every song required a different approach.
Some of the songs required crisper, defined snare work, and different dynamic changes in volume. If you have been in Studio for long, you should already know that close-miking does not convey volume. It is something left for room mics. For this reason, a purely loud drum without any real character can give a very flat sound in the Studio.
This is an issue I never saw in the Black Panther SS drum. It is capable of radical volume, but it brings out better musicality, which is more popular with brass snare drums.
The drum was a perfect choice for different songs I was working on. With more focus on the attack, it made a great instrument for every song.
Most snares call for a little bit dampening to do away with overtones. But I left the SS wide open, which turned out to work just as good as I had expected.
The drum is very powerful, yet does not bring out those cover-your-ears harsh or ringy tones. And after putting the adjustment knob into good use on strained and butt ends, the snare response was professional.
I would recommend you tighten down your snare stand if you wish to play on the drums. It is quite heavy, and you don’t want serious damages should it fall on your foot.
Something about the Flame
The first impression of the Thick Flamed Maple is easy, which is the same feature that comes from its sound. Mapex has cleverly used a 12mm thick maple, giving the drum more flesh. Simultaneously, the slightly rounded bearing edges are evidence of modern trends towards sharp, narrow edges, giving out warmer and thicker sound dominance.
The drum performed better when I turned to a midrange note. But the higher and lower tunings are just as goods.
Another thing I loved about the drum is the tone of rim shots and side-sticks. It’s not overly bright, just quick, and responsive. It is an impressive drum for a wide range of applications.
Mapex has clearly earned the right to be among the market leaders. The Mapex Black Panther snare drums represent the best they can offer in the modern market and their dedication to quality.
The two drums are perfect for a professional player seeking an upgrade. They have the sounds and the looks.