Technology has taken over the world, and the drum real is not left behind. It features all sorts of new innovations aimed at serving the ever-increasing demands for modern drummers.
However, there is also a parallel movement aimed at resurrecting some great aspects of vintage designs. Some say that what has happened before will happen again, and we can see that clearly with what is happening with drums.
Gretsch and Ludwig took the lead. And now, Sonor has joined their Sonor Vintage series.
In this guide, I will be reviewing Sonor’s Vintage line drums. Basically, these are some of the best drum kits you can find at this price range and with some great vintage features.
About Sonor Drums
When buying a drum set, one of the most important factors you should consider is the brand. There are so many brands today that it might seem a bit overwhelming to pick the right one. Sonor has gained a great reputation as one of the top players.
They have known consistency in the quality of the drums and other percussion instruments. Their hardware is also rated among the top in the world. And I am not just saying this because I love the brand, but because they represent everything you can call great with drums.
Sonor has a solution for drummers of all levels. Whether you want something for the entry-level player or a more advanced user, Sonor has it all.
The Vintage series as the company celebrated its 140th anniversary. It considered its legacy and brought out a drum line that would perhaps remind it of where it all started. Hence, the Sonor Vintage series a bridge between the past and present, and you can be sure to get the best of both worlds.
Johannes Link was a German woodworker and leather turner, who started the Sonor company in 1875. In the beginning, the company manufactured military drums, heads, glockenspiels, bass drum pedals, and accessories.
Over the years, Sonor has faced great adversity than any other drum company in history. It has survived the fire, relocations, and wars, every time coming out stronger.
Sonor is linked to many innovations we see in the world today, some of which have taken for granted. For instance, the company created the Duplex bass drum pedal, which laid the foundation for modern bass drum pedals.
The company started producing shells with sharper 45-degree bearing edges in the mid-1970s. They offered a longer sustained and were more sensitive. This feature is found on their SQ2, Prolite, and Force line drums. Today, any company marketing their new drums will often talk about the 45-degree bearing edges. This means it has become a defining feature on many top-end drums.
Sonor is, therefore, older than Gretsch, and Ludwig, which are both from German. Trixon was more visible than Sonor on the UK market. But Sonor continued to make top-end ‘teardrop’ lug drum kits quietly.
The lugs were so elongated that they were offset on the shallower snares and toms. This was the beginning of a chic image that Sonor has kept until today, and the same recreated in the new Vintage Series.
For those who understand drum sets’ quality, we often seek something more than just normal. And Sonor has been making that extra thing.
Drumming is one industry that keeps improving. As one of the oldest drum companies in the world, Sonor has managed to build a reputation that cannot be broken. Through innovation and experience, they know what every generation ends.
Sonor Vintage Series Review
As stated above, the Vintage series is Sonor’s recreating their original styles. Even though we are looking at modern features in drums today, there are many of us who still consider the vintage features better.
Sonor has tried to recreate their roots here, bringing back the past into the present. As a result, you get some of the most unique and original sounds no other drum set can offer.
The first thing that will capture your attention with the Sonor Vintage Series is the vibe of the 1950s, which marked Sonor’s first steps into the modern realm. They represented a period up to the 70s when the more popular Sonor heavy-duty drums were seen.
The 1950s came as a period of massive changes in the world of drums, and Sonor was among the fastest-evolving brands, as was the UK and US drums. Important features included beech shells and imaginative hardware.
And that is where I want to start from – the shells. They come from hand-picked and thoroughly sorted German beech wood, which is layered with 9-ply, 6-mm thickness. They are built using Sonor’s Cross-laminated tension-free (CLTF) system.
Modern drums come with 45-degree bearing edges. The Vintage series drops that to go back to the increasingly popular rounded edges. They offer a lovely and smooth, which is all you may need to enjoy an incredible classic performance. The internals shells are made with a warm reddish tint of beech and Sonor’s vertical inner ply.
Three20 and Three22 are the two setups that Sonor has been marketing in this line. But you can still buy the drums separately, as you have a wide range of 12 vintage sizes.
In my review, I am focusing on a configuration of 22 by 14-inches, 13 by 8-inches, 14-by 12-inches, 16 by 14-inches, with a 14 by 5 ¼ -inch snare.
There are three finish options, Vintage Pearl Wrap, Vintage Onyx, and Vintage Natural. If you want the slightly cheaper stains, the option is available too.
Sonor has been making great finishes since the 60s to the 70s, a few of which are carried to the future this kit. Those who played Sonor drums in the 50 can recall the brand stylish script logo badge between 1951 and 1961. The only difference here is the small banner saying ‘Sonor Vintage Series.’
Other things have been updated, though. For instance, the screwdriver-friendly slot-headed tension screws of the other European drums have been eliminated.
Now the Vintage series comes with the modern tech feature of key-tightened TuneSafe tension bolts. They also feature fine-pitch threads, which are better than the traditional setup.
The bass drum is also not drilled, although it still bears the classic chunky cast ‘T’ rods for tensioning. Also, it comes with fold-out nicely curved spurs.
These features add up to the refined look. Besides, the smaller toms feature a small bracket for the hexagonal mounting rod. It does not obstruct, and is firmer, compared to the ones on the old drums.
Two matching wood-shelled snare drums, one 14-inch by 6 ½ -inch and another uniquely proportioned 14 by 5 ¾- inch are available. There is also the new snare throw-off, which is another interesting feature. It comes with the ‘Super 50’ design, a rare approach from the 50s Sonor.
The strainer lever features a reminiscence of a vintage ‘baseball bat’ style muffler lever. There is also an unusually minimal mechanism on the lever set within the shells. They feel tight and secure. The small tension knob found on the Sonor 24-strand German-made stainless-steel wires is set on the butt side.
These kits can be found in just two basic-three-piece configurations, as stated above. However, they come in 12 sizes, which means they will cover most of what you may need in a modern drum set.
Discussed above was a Three22 Shell kit. I received a shallower model, which does not perform any less good.
Sonor has been a top brand for a reason. And with such experience as they have, you can be sure to expect nothing but the best features.
The different sizes are made to meet different user needs. If therefore, you are looking for a jazz kit, you can be sure to get one from this line.
Sonor delivers this kit with a full set of 600 series hardware and the Jojo Mayer Perfect Balance Pedal. Even though this review is about drums, it’s still important to consider the hardware since they form a large aspect of a great drum set.
I did not see anything to complain about this hardware concerning ruggedness, engineering, and strength. They come with two features that should mention.
One is that each of the tripods on the stands has one leg that moves independently. This feature can come in handy when trying to position several tripod bases next to each other. The leg will help you create more room and have more space for performance.
The other clever feature is that the cymbal tilters feature both wing screws and a large round nut on top of the two felts. This helps the user adjust the degree of cymbal motion they want, and then tighten the wing screw and the nut simultaneously.
With this, you will easily tear the setup down after the show. It will also help you control the cymbal wobble while keeping the wing screw in place as you play those intense songs.
In terms of the finishes, these drums come with beautiful looks. And it is perhaps the visual aspect on the teardrop lugs that stand out the most.
Instead of just duplicating the lug from the past Sonors, they have re-designed it to include their TuneSafe technology, which keeps the drums in tune throughout the performance. Each lug has a plastic insert inside that to hold the drum at the desired tension. You will only notice slight resistance when tuning the drums.
Shallower drums like the rack toms and the snare have lugs that are slightly offset. On the other hand, deeper drums have inline lugs. My kit featured 16 lugs on the bass, the floor tom and the snare, and 12 on the rack tom.
The designer applied a more common and modern square tension rod system, as opposed to the flat-bladed screwdriver heads. This is a great feature that makes it easy to set the drums in place.
Without the suspension mount, I was not sure how the rack toms’ sustain would be. The toms are attached with a ball-and-socket style holder. But then in Sonor’s case, the tom arms pass through the ball, and hence, you can extend or retract the arm for better positioning. The closer the bend in, the shorter the drum becomes on the decay. When the arm is extended, it gives more sustain.
I found this to a clever feature for controlling the drums’ decay and sustain without the need for other dampening options. It is a great way to make drumming easier and more fun.
The sound of the Sonor Vintage Series Snare has a full-bodied character, cut well, articulate, and can reach great volume. It can be a bit ringy, but it did not get overly loud. The rim-clicks are loud and clear.
The other drums, the kick, and the floor toms do not disappoint either. They are rich, with great volume.
The warmth and beauty of a vintage drum set are well represented in Sonor’s Vintage series. The drums deliver a lot of vibe, classic sound, as well as different modern features that improve reliability. You can rely on this kit.