Hands-On Review:Ludwig's power entry kit hits on all cylinders
By Hal Davis
Ludwig's place in drumming history is secure. Most veteran drummers fondly remember the night that the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan show with Ringo joyfully bashing a 4-piece Ludwig set. In the '70s, players thrilled to John Bonham's heavyweight, very influential drumming on a transparent Ludwig Vistalite set with Led Zeppelin. Later, Alex Van Halen laid down slamming rhythms on a set of Ludwigs, and today Green Day's rhythm man Tre Cool is among the latest to carry the Ludwig torch.
In recent years the Accent Series has been holding down the entry-level slot in Ludwig's drum roster. The Accent Combo is the series' flagship kit, designed around the concept of providing a serious set of drums at a price that goes down easy for novice players or those on a tight budget. Entry-level kits across the board have made great strides in quality the last few years, so I was curious how the Accent Combo would measure up.
Big beat - small bucks
I received a five-piece Ludwig Accent Combo kit to try out. As I took the drums from their carefully packed boxes and put the set together, the large shell sizes of Ludwig's classic "Big Beat" configuration gave me the impression that this was a set that had the potential to rock hard. This was confirmed when I got the drums set up and gave them a quick tune-up. The Accent Combo's tom array included 12" x 10" and 13" x 11" mounted toms, plus a 16" x 16" floor tom. The mounted toms had a warm, full sound - bright but not excessively so - and responded well to a wide range of tunings. The floor tom delivered more beef than a Montana cattle drive with plenty of fat, satisfying low end.
The wood snare drum that comes with the set is a 6-1/2" x 14" model. The 6-1/2" depth is unusual to find in an entry-level set, and gives this snare lots of full body and undeniable impact when hit in the "sweet spot." With all its fat presence, the snare drum still had the sensitivity to pick up grace notes with ease, articulated press rolls flawlessly, and delivered skull-fracturing rimshots. Particularly for rock 'n' roll, funk, r&b, and other styles that call for a heavy backbeat, I felt confident this snare would be more than up to the task.
The 22" x 16" bass drum produced a fat, resonant thump that provided a worthy anchor for the rest of the set. The bass drumhead had a dampening ring to do away with excessive resonance, so it sounds fine right out of the box. The drum key-tunable tuning rods do away with the old T-rod-style tuners that tended to get bent with use.
The seven-ply shells are made of juniper and Philippine mahogany. Mahogany is known to add increased low frequencies to the sound of drum shells, while juniper is a durable and dense wood that enhances attack and projection. The bearing edges are cut precisely for accurate tuning. The attractive black wrapped finish on the set I tried out is extremely durable, and resists scratches and scuffs well. Blue and wine finishes are also available.
Hardware built to last
Following a trend that's on the rise in drum sets today, the hardware that comes with the Accent Combo is sturdy yet lightweight. The tom holders are gleaming chrome tubing with a gear-adjustable mounting mechanism that allows you to easily set the drums in the location and at the angle you prefer. The wing nuts and other fastening hardware are all well made with rounded, finger-friendly edges.
The hi-hat and chain-drive bass drum pedal are solidly built with heavyweight chain, fast response, and noise-free action. The lugs on the drum shells use an attractive, somewhat vintage-looking low-mass design that allows the shells to resonate with minimal interference. 2mm steel hoops provide solid seating for the tom and snare heads. The chrome used on rims and trim on the Accent Combo set is of high quality and adds to the flashy looks. The snare stand, hi-hat stand, and cymbal stand all use isolating plastic mounts to avoid any metal-on-metal contact that could produce unwanted noise or vibration. The bass drum spurs are extra-long and provide a stable base that prevents bass drum creep. A drum throne is included.
Accent on value
I would recommend the Accent Combo set to any beginning or intermediate drummer without reservations. In terms of quality and value, it holds up well to the competition and is popular with pro players looking for a second or rehearsal kit. Many drummers comment that, with upgraded heads, the Accent Combo holds its own with many top-of-the-line drum sets. If you're a serious beginning drum student, the Ludwig Accent Combo is a wallet-friendly investment that lets you join the legacy of great Ludwig drummers!
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