360Drummer wrote:I have a question. How does the acrolite compare to the regular supraphonic soundwise? I know that the supraphonic costs more. Why is the acrolite so cheap anyways if its the best snare in the world?
This is a great question, and I'm glad you asked it!
A little history is needed here...
The Supraphonic 400 is a great snare drum, and it's probably the most recorded snare dum in all of rock and roll. It's also responsible for the extremely HIGH price of vintage wood snare drums from the 60's and 70's.... The REASON for that is because the 400 was SO POPULAR that most of the Ludwig kits came with a CHROME 400 snare drum, instead of a matching wood drum. This made the WOOD snare drums of the era EXTREMELY RARE.
BUT... the supra phonic 400 cost a fair amount to manufacture... chrome plating, 10 IMPERIAL lugs, etc. So Ludwig needed an entry level student drum. Their solution was to produce the exact same shell, but instead of Chrome Plating the "Ludalloy" shell, they did an anodized kind of finish... MUCH cheaper to make, and they put on 8 classic lugs instead of ten Imperial Lugs... cheaper to produce, MUCH cheaper to own. Ludwig sold hundreds of thousands of them, they are probably the most common snare drum ever made!
NOW, here's where the magic happens... with 8 lugs instead of ten, the shell is able to resonate more freely, but 8 is still enough to have stable tuning. With 2.0 MM hoops, instead of 2.3, the lowly Acrolite was more resonant and less choked sounding. Oddly, the Chrome Plating of the supraphonic DOES seem to "choke" the sound a bit, while the Acrolite doesn't suffer from that either. Ludwig didn't design the drum to be better, it just worked out that way... it was dumb luck! These are really amazing drums for the money.
So why is the acrolite so cheap in spite of how good it sounds? Supply and demand. These drums are absolutely everywhere, there is a nearly never-ending supply of them. I truly believe that if you drive down nearly any street in America, you'll drive past AT LEAST one house that has an Acrolite in the basement or attic. For nearly 3 decades, EVERY student drummer had one of these drums.
Even though this drum is nearly universal, it is NOT something that should be used when a specialty drum would be more appropriate. I really DO believe that every drummer SHOULD have an acrolite as a go-to universal drum... but this does NOT obviate the need for specialty, specific toned drums. I can make an acrolite work in nearly ANY situation, and if I could only have ONE snare drum, I would have the most universal drum I can find, thus the Acrolite... BUT, it will never reproduce the sound of a birch drum, a maple drum, or a Bubinga drum. It will never sound like a 10" popcorn snare, nor will it have the deep and throaty sound of an 8x14 maple drum. True, you can SUBSTITUTE the acrolite in those playing situations, but it will not sound like those drums. It will have a very passable tone of it's own.
So here's the deal... yes you should have an Acrolite in your arsenal of drum sounds, that should be self-evident by now... but you should ALSO have a Medicine Man 13", a 6 1/2 x 14 Solid Maple Shell (Like a Radio King, Noble & Cooley or Craviatto) and a wood "popcorn" or "soprano" snare drum. You'll notice every specialty drum I mentioned was wood... and for good reason... the Acrolite will be a suitable substitute for nearly ANY metal shelled snare drum in virtually any size... even brass and bronze ones.
Was this helpful in clearing up some of the hype?