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Traps A400 Drum Set

traps a400

PROs

  • Light weight
  • Folds up neatly into a compact unit
  • Exceptional, friendly customer service
  • Visually striking, draws attention

CONs

  • Tuning options are very limited
  • Mounting options are limited
  • Rattle (toms)
  • 12" snare is not convincing
  • Short lugs
  • Logo printed on heads




Light weight

As you would expect, this kit is light. If you have back issues and you also do your own carting, then the A400 might be worth a look.


Folds up neatly into a compact unit

When the gig is done, I just fold the drums up for tranportation.  I carry the 5 drums along with a mounted cowbell and the entire chrome plated steel rack system in one hand much like a suitcase.  This means I make fewer trips to the car for load-ins and load-outs on gigs where I do my own carting.

2012-1-29 southern at woodhaven 2 resized

Exceptional and friendly customer service

When my Traps A400 arrived, one of the lugs on my 10" tom was not seated properly.  When I started tuning the drum, the lug snapped off.  I called the 1-800 number and reached one of the friendly folks at http://www.trapsdrumsusa.com/   I explained the situation and a replacement hoop for the 10" tom reached my door 2 or 3 days later.  A+ for great customer service.


Visually striking, draws attention

At the time of this writing, I've only gigged with the Traps A400 on 2 shows so far.  But, an interesting pattern seems to be emerging.  During breaks between sets, audience members tend to approach the stage and ask questions or make comments about the Traps A400.  Common questions/comments include, "is that an electronic kit?", "sounds awesome!", "it must be really easy to pack up", and "I can't believe that thing doesn't have any shells!"  Drummers and non-drummers alike show interest.

 

Tuning options are very limited

Traditional drums have shells typically made of maple or birch or sometimes even poplar (typical of "starter" kits).  When tuning, I usually start by finding the sweet spot where the drum yields its maximum resonance.  From there, I typical tune up or down by half a turn as desired for pitch.  It's been my experience that higher quality drums have wider spectrums for tuning options.

On the Traps A400 however, we roughly have one tuning option.  Maximum resonance.  I've experimented with tuning the drums higher and lower than the sweet spot on A400.  Invariably, any tuning aside from the sweet spot yielded undesireable results on the A400.  Methods like "funky tuning" where one lug is dropped down by a quarter-turn produce too much rattling.

So, maximum resonance is that way to go on the A400.


Mounting options are limited

When I first assembled the A400, I kept saying to myself "why didn't they make the rack wider?  I can barely get the 10" tom and 12" tom to fit on the rack".  Later, when I placed the A400 in the back of my Subaru Outback, the answer was evident.  The frame is designed to fit in the back of most cars.

With traditional drum sets, I position each drum exactly where it works best for me ergonomically.  With the A400 however, I've found only one mounting position where I can get acceptable results. 

Over time, I'm sure I'll adjust to the A400 setup, but it would have been nicer if there were more mounting options.  For example,. each tom takes up an extra inch in a bit of cosmetic plastic where the "TRAPS" logo is stamped.  An improvement would be to remove that inch and place the logo elsewhere.  Doing so on the 10" and 12" toms would result in two more inches of space to help position the toms as desired.


Rattle (toms)

When I first got the A400, I attempted to use a Drum Dial to tune the drums.  Unexpectedly, the drum dial gave inconsistent readings.  For example, the drum dial would sometimes indicate tension was going down near the lug that I was actually tuning up.  That's the exact oppposite of what would normally be observed on traditional drums.  So, I set the drum dial aside and started tuning by ear instead.

One thing I discovered is that if the tension is the slightest bit non-uniform across the lugs, then the toms start to rattle when played.

Bottom line: get all the lugs at uniform tension and then adjust the head up or down until maximum resonance is achieved.


12" snare is not convincing

On a recent live show, the house engineer had a hard time getting a satisfactory sound out of the 12" snare to go to FOH.

In my studio however, I miked up the 12" snare and experiemented with EQ, compression, and reverb until a passable snare drum sound was achieved.  As you would expect from a 12" picolo, it sounded a bit thin.

Bottom line: without miking and FX processing, the 12" snare is not very convincing for live performances..


Short lugs

The lugs on the A400 are all short, perhaps half the length of normal lugs.  The short lugs are easy to fumble when changing heads.  They have a different feel from standard-sized lugs.  I'm not a fan of short lugs, but I understand it was probably a necessary choice for the A400 with its narrow plastic shells.


 

Logo printed on heads

The A400 comes with pinstripe heads - which is a good choice for shelless drums.  Unfortunately, a big "TRAPS" logo is printed on each of the heads... .way too big relative to the size of the drums.  I would have preferred not having the logo of the drums at all so that I'd have the option of putting these heads on another kit.



RATING: 3 STARS

The A400 gets 3 stars out of 5.

If you're a gigging drummer and you're tired of back pain from lugging a standard size kit around, you might be interested in checking out the Traps A400.  With the A400, you sacrifice a bit of sound quality and projection for ease of tranportation and a bit of visual WOW factor.

With a few minor design changes, I think the A400 would get 3.5 stars out of 5.

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