Updated: Apr 23
DownBeat Magazine's own Matt Kern recently had the opportunity to experience the WTS Artistry Series drums, and his review in the February 2020 issue says it all!
"...an approach to tuning your drums that offers so many advantages over traditional tuning, you'll wonder how you ever got by before without it."
WTS Artistry Series Drum Sets: Effortless Tuning, Resonant Tone
"Welch Tuning Systems has introduced an approach to tuning your drums that offers so many advantages over traditional tuning, you’ll wonder how you ever got by before without it.
The Welch Tuning System is basically a cabled pulley system where the top and bottom heads are pulled against each other and are anchored by a big tuning peg on the drum (you don’t need to use a drum key). When turning the peg (to tighten or loosen), both heads are affected at the same rate, meaning they both have equal tuning throughout the entire process. While the two heads are not at exactly the same pitch, they are pretty close, and each head changes pitch evenly with each turn.
Tuning your kit through wide ranges, quickly, is now possible without ever getting off your drum throne. And by “quickly,” I mean you can go up or down an entire octave in about 10 turns of the tuner. So, tuning your kit for individual songs on the fly now is possible.
Once you have a chance to play WTS drums, a few benefits become clear. The first is initial tuning. Since the heads stay in tune with each other, and there is 90 percent less hardware bolted on to a WTS drum compared to a normal drum, the shells resonate easily and over a wide range. With this system, I found I could go way beyond any range I had tuned before (in either direction) and find multiple sweet, resonant spots. And all of this is possible in real-time. There is no criss-cross tuning of the drum, then turning it upside down to repeat. You literally play the drum, turn the tuning peg and decide what you want your sound to be.
Being able to tune between songs to match the style of the upcoming song is another obvious benefit. You can crank the heads up for some funk, then bring them back down for some thicker backbeats on the next tune. In fact, tuning is so easy you can tune during a song if you have a free hand. This concept can add an entirely new layer to drum soloing.
A few different configurations of WTS drum sets are available, all with six-ply maple shells (made in the United States). I play-tested the bop-style kit from the company’s Artistry Series, and while I usually like a 20-inch kick, the wide range of tuning options on the 18-inch kick made this a non-issue. For the 14-inch floor tom, I tuned it as low as it could go and it sounded like a cannon. This tuning system provides a wider range of sound than you currently have access to with traditional lugged tuning. And it’s far easier to deal with, which will lead to new avenues of creativity.
One snare size is currently available, a 14- by 8-inch. It’s a somewhat unusual size for a single snare offering, but I loved it. According to CEO Samuel Welch, “We felt the 8-inch shell really showed off the full range and versatility of WTS. It’s amazing how many drums it can be: from high, tight and funky to low, fat and swampy. I’ve seen players from every genre find a sound they like out of that drum.”
The Welch Tuning Systems concept is something you’ll want to keep on your radar when considering your next drum purchase." —Matt Kern, DownBeat Magazine, February 2020