Hands-On Review:Factory Metal Percussion Effects
Factory Metal Percussion Effects
New tools for creative drummers
By Fernando Cruz
They've only been around for a couple of years, but the percussion products from Factory Metal are winning the interest and support of drummers and percussionists worldwide. Innovative, interesting, and versatile, these instruments provide new sounds and colors for creative drumming.
The Factory Metal instruments are effects, not primary instruments, but they are ones that drummers and percussionists can use often. This usefulness and their sonic versatility has won over a crowd of heavy-hitters who now use and endorse Factory Metal products, guys like Gregg Bissonette, Kenny Arnoff, Tom Brechtlein, Luis Conte, Thomas Lang, Tommy Lee, and Keith Carlock. Our drum specialists at Musician's Friend were intrigued when they first saw the Factory Metal instruments, were amazed when they heard them, and now Musician's Friend has become the exclusive catalog and web source for Factory Metal products.
Factory Metal specializes, of course, in metallic effects. They've not only created unique new instrument designs, but have also developed a special alloy and a fabrication process that give their instruments musical depth. The designs of the FMP products serve both sound and functionality, and are also visually arresting. "What the heck is that thing?" is a frequently heard query. So here's the lowdown.
Celtic Bells come in four sizes: 6", 8", 10" and 12", and each bell comes with four bolts with lock nuts to use as sizzlers, and four jingles. With sizzlers or jingles, Celtic Bells produce a bell sound with a metallic bite.
Sizzlers and jingles can be attached to the bell to shape the sound. Sizzlers create a light, resonant rivet-type wash that extends the decay of the bell. Adding jingles transforms the bell into a variety of usable effect sounds. The more jingles used, the bigger the attack "bite" will be. Sizzlers and jingles can be wet and bright or short and trashy depending on how they are tensioned. The 6" and 8" Celtic Bells can be mounted to the hi-hat clutch above the top cymbal to double as a hi-hat tambourine effect that can also be struck with a stick.
Whether played as singles or used as a stacked set, Celtic Bells offer a wide range of sounds that are readily customized—from bright and resonant to dry and trashy. The ratio of bell or chime-like tone to industrial bite varies with size, so the set offers an endless number of sonic possibilities with a very affordable price.
The Gothic Radius
This is perhaps the most surprising Factory Metal creation. The 20", 22", 23", and 26" effect disks come perfectly flat. Their modern machined appearance gives no hint as to the name, but when you hear them, you immediately understand the "gothic" part. The tip sounds are extremely dark, the simmer is low, and you get lots of edge wobble that creates an incredible undercurrent of raw energy. Nylon sticks get more of a cutting metallic click (not ping sound). Ride sounds are tight in the center and open up a touch toward the edge. The overall sound is semi-dry and not too washy—very playable and expressive.
The undertones simmer and turn into a roar as the sound swells. Crashing the edge produces more of a roar than a crash. The edges and body of the disks can be hand bent to achieve crashing sounds and to produce sound zones. Played with mallets they get eerie film score effects, and drilling holes in a Gothic Radius for rivets and/or sizzles is very effective (FMP recommends a cluster of three holes about 2" off the edge).
This edgy, trashy effect is visually as well as sonically impressive, especially with two or three sizes mounted together. They have the same form as the Celtic Bells but are larger—18", 20", and 23"—and the metal is thinner so as to be pliable. Unbent they have a raw medium China edge, but bending them expands the possibilities. Bending the four cross arms in different ways achieves four distinct tones. Sharp, tight bends create an explosive rock cowbell-type effect and downward bends create a dirty pang with a trashy wash. In a mildly bent form, they have a quick, splashy attack with a series of secondary reverberations that slowly decay.
Vertical Chinas are alloy slats available in 22", 33" and 44" lengths. They create pang-type sounds that are easily modulated by bending with one hand while playing with the other. Vertical Chinas can be grouped in different lengths, either hung vertically or stacked horizontally. The metallic pang is also a great sonic addition to any percussionist's setup and sets of two or three can function multitonally like ago-go bells.
If you are interested in bringing new colors and sound possibilities into your playing, the Factory Metal effects should appeal to you. They definitely are different, and can open new creative paths for expressive drumming and percussion. Order today and put Factory Metal to work in your sound.