When Michael Outlaw first decided to try using building-reclaimed lumber from a centuries old building, he, by chance, chose the original estate remains of a former Confederate veteran. That soldier, Charles Edward Wilder, enlisted in the 17th GA Infantry, part of Benning’s Brigade in the Army of Northern Virginia. Upon returning from the War, Wilder built his home from the wood of the native pine trees that grew on his land.
At that time, those trees were over 200 years old, dating back to the 1600’s. Trees of this age and type provide extremely hard and dense wood with a very tight grain pattern. Taking up residence in a building for 150 or more years would also provide even-curing and drying to that old timber.
With all that in mind, it made perfect sense to me that those historical origins should not be forgotten, but rather, celebrated. I suggested to Michael that he should make a special set of drums celebrating those early roots by embedding Civil War Era bullets into the shells alongside all-else that makes Outlaw drums so special.
Putting our minds together, it was decided to make the first drums a matching set of snare drums. We took into consideration that many aspects of the drum design should there-fore be mathematically kindred in order to achieve balanced, complimentary instruments. That philosophy played out well. The Primary Snare measured 6” x 14” with ten tube lugs, the Secondary Snare at 6” x 10”, had six tube lugs. Construction of the shells was to be a stave design with reinforcing rings for added strength. Michael uses what I think is a very interesting bearing edge that seems like his own “hybrid” approach, falling somewhere between a rounded vintage edge and something more modern. Whatever he considers it, I have to feel that along with everything else he does, helps to creative that “Outlaw Sound.”
Both drums were made from the same board of reclaimed lumber. In doing so, we would absolutely know that they were of the same tree and survived under the same conditions. The idea was to timbre-match the drums as close as possible, making them a matched set.
Hardware for both drums was employed with the same strategy. The 2.3 mm counter hoops, retro tube-lugs and air vent, were all black nickel-plated. Matching Trick 3-position snare strainers and butts were mounted along with PureSound Snares. Outlaw Drums impressive maker’s badge that mimics the U. S. Forrest Services badges rounded out the metal parts.
For these first two drums of the series, I was able to find a set of Civil War Era bullets that matched as close to the specs that the drums were designed too. All four bullets were wood-struck: two hit dead-on, producing a mushroom shape, the other two hit at about a 45 degree angle. Two of them were Confederate and two were Union bullets. This would allow me to place one Confederate and one Union bullet to a drum, each with a different configuration.
To finish off the design, we went with a rough wood exterior and an aged white and blue plaint motif to give that weathered look that harkens back the history of an old building. Showing through the weathered paint is the bare, natural wood, again exemplifying the age of the wood and the building it must have come from. A dab of dark, blood red paint was applied around each bullet-strike, to high-light the projectiles. The blood-color was also added to help represent the terrible cost and history of the conflict. When all three a hues are taken into consideration, the drums fly the colors of both sides of our History: red, white, and blue.
How a drum looks is a very important quality in its desirability. But most importantly, it needs to be a great sounding drum as well. With Outlaw Drums I certainly have a winner here. The stave shell construction of hard, aged Heart-Pine wood, gives these drums a very reflective, lively sound. That “lively” quality is a very controlled openness, void of any unpleasant overtones or ringing.
While being incredibly sensitive, they are earthy and warm, loud and responsive, crisp and deep. These drums have a powerful presence to them so they won’t be lost in a mix, nor do they have any unpleasant, over-powering tendencies. Especially well suited for outdoor stages and loud environments, but versatile and sensitive enough for any application.
The secondary snare worked out especially great! Tuned properly, it’s a higher octave version of the primary snare. Very effective for accents, effects, or adding grace notes. When needing to maintain a subtle backbeat, it becomes a thinner, smaller sounding version of an awesome snare drum.
Outlaw Drums Heritage Series brings a lot to the table with these superior instruments. No detail was over-looked. For those who identify drums with history, this is something you’ve been waiting for. For those who just want a really bad-ass set of drums, well, Outlaw has something for you too. Outlawdrums.com.