A new carbon-fibre snare drum that promises a “louder, richer sound” and is 20 per cent lighter than other pipe band snare drums on the market made its public debut at the Toronto Indoor Games on April 4th when the Grade 3 400 Squadron mini-band competed with the new instruments manufactured by Cleland Instruments of Beeton, Ontario.
The new drum is actually designed by the Pipe-Major of the band, Terry Cleland, whose career as an inventor with Magna International led to the carbon-fibre concept.
The high-tech drums will come at a price, with a suggested retail of $2,995 each – “approximately the cost of a reasonable set of bagpipes,” according to Cleland.
The drums biggest value in addition to sound quality is durability, with the strength of the carbon-fibre construction preventing the drum from breaking down over time. Carbon-fibre, he says, is “the strongest, stiffest material per unit weight, with the highest sonic response characteristics.”
Because of the instruments responsiveness, Cleland suggests that the player can concentrate better on music, undistracted by a heavy instrument. Increased musical dynamics are promised because of the drum’s louder volume, so softer playing will be rewarded.
“The cost drivers are the materials and the technology,’ Cleland said. ‘It won’t be the drum for everyone; it is a professional musical instrument that is a worthwhile long-term investment for the serious player. The drums are manufactured in Canada at our facility just north of Toronto with all proprietary components sourced within North America.’
Cleland added that he has been able to identify carbon-fibre suppliers and craftsmen because of his work with Magna International. Each shell is molded with a monocoque process.
Another differentiator with the new drums are the snare mechanisms. The custom designed upper-snare supports slide on bearing material over the mechanism support tube, promising more accurate tensioning, promoting contact of all snare strands and reducing rattle. The lower snare mechanism acts in a similar fashion inside the drum. Other drums’ lower-snares are typically external, with a bed carved to accommodate the mechanism.
Cleland said, “Over time our product line will encompass both tenor and bass drums. We have prototypes of both that we are currently testing. Our initial focus has been on the snare drum as it represents the highest level of technical content with the high specific tension loads and the addition of the snare mechanism. We also know that the lessons learned in the manufacturing of the snare shell would be directly applicable to the other sizes of drum shells. We may have bass and tenors available as early as the middle of this summer.”
He said that he is currently in discussion with potential authorized dealers, and that some drums are on loan to gain feedback, which, Cleland said, has been “exceptionally positive.” The drums will be sold only through dealers.