Natal — Maple Series Drum Set Review
By Dendy Jarrett |
MAPLE SERIES DRUMSET
By Dendy Jarrett
UK-based Natal drums was founded in the late 1950s in the UK by a distinguished British percussionist Alan Sharp, who couldn’t find percussion items that suited him. Alan produced an Afro-Cuban bongo that was of such high quality and sound, that orders started pouring in. In 1965, he developed the first fiberglass conga ever and officially started Natal Percussion Company.
Through the years, Natal became a fairly well-known European percussion supplier/manufacturer that focused strictly on percussion. According to the company, “Based in Swinging London, Natal enjoyed huge success, especially with its revolutionary fiberglass congas, which found favor with the likes of Santana, T. Rex, Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac, Deep Purple, and the Rolling Stones.”
Enter Marshall Amplification.
Most people don’t realize that the “Father of Loud,” Jim Marshall, was originally a drummer. Turns out he had a knack for “tweaking” guitar amps and one of those “tweaked” amps fell into the hands of Jimi Hendrix. Thus was born Marshall Amps.
True to his British drumming roots, Jim Marshall decided in 2010 that he wanted to add a drum company to the mix. Natal was ripe for expanding from percussion into drums and followed a similar heritage to that of Marshall. The company was purchased and Natal drums were built all new from the ground up.
Brian Tichy endorses Natal
MARSHALL & NATAL
If any company was going to take on drums, Marshall seemed like an ideal “fit.” There are few other names than Marshall that are synonymous with rock and roll. And quality is paramount with them, so I was glad to discover the stave snare drums are being built in the UK and the drum kits are being made in Taiwan (the quality standards in Taiwan are generally higher than those for MI products produced in China). Furthermore, Natal has an onsite UK presence in Taiwan to maintain quality control.
Natal Maple Series Drum Sets on Display at Winter NAMM
MAPLE SERIES DRUM SET
The very first attribute that will stand out with Natal's drum sets is quality. The painted finish is flawless — I was so impressed with the finish, I now own a kit. Natal has 17 high-gloss lacquer finishes and sparkle (painted) finishes. The kit I reviewed is a Black Metallic, which is a rich tuxedo black with a fine silver flake in it. While I love this finish, as well as all the finishes I have seen at the trade shows, one of my favorites is the copper sparkle. It's darker than most copper sparkles from other companies … sort of like a root beer copper.
In fact their sparkle finishes are so flawless, I have overheard observers at the NAMM show argue that it must be a wrapped finish. Famed UK drummer/percussionist, Charlie Morgan, after endorsing a different drum company for 30 years, now endorses Natal and owns a red sparkle set of the maple series drums. The quality of the product is what sold him.
Natal Artist Charlie Morgan
The chrome work is impeccable. Other than the 2.3mm hoops on the toms, no other components are “off the shelf” from Taiwan. Everything is proprietary and well designed. The lugs sport the Natal distinctive “sun crest” and are round on the outer portion but oblong where they connect to the shell. The badges are die-cast and have a wood type identifier on the bass drum.
The all-maple, 7-ply shell has a 45-degree bearing edge on the drum’s edge. This specific bearing edge is one reason I really liked the sound. It reminds me of drums from a more classic era (50s or 60s) with a great attack but also a warm, meaty tone.
None of the maple series bass drums from Natal sports a bass drum mount on the shell; Natal has an ingenious single tom arm that mounts to any existing hardware. The tom arm is like an old-school ball mount from the 60s or 70s; however, instead of the balls being made from neoprene, they're made from bead-blasted aluminium. Brilliant! (Why didn’t someone do this before?)
Natal Single Tom Mount
The tom arm mounts to the tom via the Natal Resonance Mount (NRM). This design, exclusive to Natal, is a well-engineered system that can also be removed easily it you prefer to mount a tom in a snare basket. This resonance mounting system lets the toms really sing.
The kit I reviewed had a 20X18 inch bass drum and was a cannon. It also had their fusion sizes, including a 10X8” mounted tom, a 14X12, and a 16X14 floor toms. I really liked the sizes for my playing style and for the genre of music I primarily play.
The kit also featured a 14X5.5 snare drum that was "cracka-lackin" good. It incorporates Natal’s unique 3-way throw-off which is yet another well-executed item propriety to Natal.
Natal 3-way throw off
I have also had a chance to play one of their “Rock” series kits, which offers unbelievable sounding 22X18, 12X10, 13X11 mounted toms and a 16X16 floor tom. That was the copper sparkle kit I mentioned previously.
You've probably seen this very popular video on Facebook. It uses a Natal Maple Series to show different sounds in different environments.
Video with Julian Audigier, via the wikidrummer:
The tone of these drums is just plain full and rich. On both these kits, I could not find a flaw in the quality or sound.
It's difficult sometimes when a “new” company (even if Natal is a half century old) shows up on the scene. You feel like you are taking a risk buying something that you haven’t heard much about, but in this case, you can lean on the parent company’s name and reputation —just mention "Marshall" to any guitar player.
This kit exceeded all of my expectations. I think you’ll be hearing a lot more about Natal's drums in the future.
Harmony Central Covers Natal at NAMM 2014:
Part 1: Natal Resonance Mount (N.R.M.):
Part 2: Natal Tri-Throw Snare & Pro Series Snare Stand Overview:
Part 3: Natal Pro Series Pedals:
Part 4: Natal Pro Series Hardware Overview:
Natal Drums - Artist Swiss Chris
To Purchase Natal Maple Series DrumSets:
To Discuss Natal Maple Series and other drum related items:
Dendy Jarrett is the Publisher and Director of Harmony Central. He has been heavily involved at the executive level in many aspects of the drum and percussion industry for over 25 years and has been a professional player since he was 16. His articles and product reviews have been featured in InTune Monthly, Gig Magazine, DRUM! and Modern Drummer Magazines.