By Mike Fitch, Musician’s Friend Staff Writer
Selecting an instrument for the aspiring drummer in your life more than likely means balancing affordability with quality. If the drummer in question is you, you’re probably even more keenly aware of the importance of getting the maximum mileage out of your music dollars.
The Sound Percussion Kicker Pro 5-Piece Drum Set is a big-sounding junior drum set that looks great, is impressively solid, and has a price tag so low that it almost defies belief. I put it to the test to see if a set so affordable could deliver the sonic goods.
Basswood, or tilia, is popular among today’s top drum manufacturers for both its acoustic and aesthetic properties, and it’s the wood of choice for SP drum shells. Basswood provides balanced tone with good resonance, sustain, and strong mid and high frequencies. Its striking grain patterns and easy workability also make it a favored wood for making guitars, basses, and drums.
The bearing edges (the shell edge that meets the drumhead) of the Kicker Pro drum shells are precision cut to a 45° angle, giving them a clear, focused sound.
Smaller shell sizes are ideal for the beginning drummer of smaller stature. Though smaller than those in standard kits the Pro Kicker’s shells provide a surprising amount of volume and punch.
Most drummers will probably want to cut a porthole into the front of the bass drum (usually standard procedure when getting a new drum set) and insert a pillow or some kind of muffling—the out-of-the-box sound is very loud and resonant. The mounted toms tuned up quickly and had a warm punch to them that perfectly complemented the larger, lower-pitched drums.
The black powder-coated hardware that comes with the set is thoughtfully designed and precision manufactured. Plastic washers are supplied with the bass drum tension rods to eliminate potentially noisy metal-to-metal contact.
A chain-drive bass drum pedal provides lightweight, fast response. The tom holders are large and sturdy with geared tilters that allow easy adjustment to the height and angle of the toms. Large wing-screws with easy-on-the-fingers rounded edges hold the tom holders securely. Set-it-and-forget-it memory locks on the tom holders let you quickly and easily set the toms to the same height and angle every time.
The cast lugs on the toms and bass provide accurate tuning capability. The tom and bass drumheads are single-ply clear heads with quick attack and good resonance. Newly upgraded die-cast claw hooks and foldable bass drum spurs round out the included hardware.
The matching wood snare that comes with the set has eight lugs for accurate, precise tuning. The wood snare tone blends well with the sound of other drums. This is a very live snare drum with cutting, intense attack and lots of overtones. The snare batter head is a classic white-coated model, which tends to mellow out the sound a little, but if I were buying the kit I would probably purchase inexpensive sound-dampening rings for the snare head and the other drums. This gives you instant control over the amount of natural ringing of the drumheads, which many drummers find excessive without any muffling. Of course, some drummers prefer a more resonant, unmuffled sound. These kinds of sound decisions are personal and subjective.
The silver metalflake-like finish looked great with the black powder-coated hardware hardware. Covered finishes of this type provide a tough, durable exterior surface that resists scuffs and marks better than lacquered finishes—another advantage for players who plan on putting their drum set to heavy use.
The lightweight metal bass drum hoops are coated with a matte black finish that lends the bass drum a cool, dark vibe and adds a nice contrast to the shell’s finish.
Hit me with your best shot
Drums are made to be hit, but not all are up to the task. In choosing a drum set for a beginner, it’s important to find an instrument that sounds good, is comfortable to play, and holds up under use. I found the SPL Kicker 5-Piece Set fulfilled all three requirements. The hardware, often the Achilles heel of inexpensive beginner drum sets, feels solid and well made.
The all-wood construction and large shells give the set warm, full tone and avoid the usual, tinny sound quality that characterizes sets priced this low.
Players who start out with a good-quality musical instrument are more likely to stick with it, while those attempting to learn on an instrument that’s difficult to play and get a good sound from are more apt to give up in frustration. In the SPL 5-Piece Kicker Pro, Sound Percussion Labs has produced a junior-sized drum set that fills the needs of the beginning player.
Features & Specs
- 18" x 14" bass drum
- 8" x 8" and 10" x 5" toms
- 12" x 10" floor tom
- 5" x 12" matching snare
- Hi-hat stand
- Snare stand
- Bass drum pedal
- Straight cymbal stand
- 12” crash/ride cymbal
- 10” hi-hat cymbals