Review from James Densley – Director of Bands at Fremont High School (Utah)

I promised a post-marching season follow up review on my new System Blue drum line purchased this summer, for any curious directors out there. So here it is.. (happy reading if interested!) keep scrolling if you don’t care

First of all, just so you know where I’m coming from, I am a percussionist, and have been teaching marching percussion even longer than I’ve been a head band director, and as a performer I’ve experienced many different levels of marching performance. I’ve ALWAYS been a Yamaha guy, so this is a big deal for me!

Guys….these drums are great.

Pros: professional level instruments, but not as heavy as comparable professional instruments. They sound great, less hardware components, so less repair on small annoying parts like lug casings. Easy, EASY ON2 wrap installation. They look super cool

Cons: Not *really* a con, BUT they do have their own idiosyncrasies, and you cannot approach the tuning scheme the same way you do traditional Yamaha, Pearl, Mapex, Dynasty, etc. drums. I tried it at first and couldn’t get a great sound out of them.

To fix the tuning issues, I contacted Scott Johnson at Blue Devils since he’s had a few years to work out the kinks, to ask about how he gets them to sound their best, and he was SOOO.. open with me. I followed ALL of his advice (suggested heads, bass muffling, tuning the individual snare guts, scoops, tuning pitches/intervals, etc.), and when I did they sounded INCREDIBLE! HUUUUGE step up.

SB’s customer service: A-MAZ-ING. That’s it.

ON2 compatibility: SOOOO easy, and fast to install! If you wanted to, you could change snare wraps part way through a show (like BD did with these drums in ‘17)

My students LOVED them. Partially for the weight, partially because they are just super cool looking haha and the students loving them is worth it. Because they felt great about it, AND they took SUCH good care of them.

Weight: snares and basses are SO light! The snares are seriously about 9-ish pounds. The tenors only come in the large option with a 14” 13” 12” 10” 8” 6” sextet. So they ARE pretty heavy in their own right, BUT they are lighter than the same type of sextet set-up from other brands. If you buy the tenors, you WILL want the Randall May carriers with the ABS back support. I made the mistake of ordering basic tubular J-bar carriers for the tenors, and the weight was just a little too much, but once we replaced them with the ABS carriers, they had absolutely NO weight problems.

BOTTOM LINE: these are game changers. I know a LOT of people have been skeptical of them, but most cynics are people who have never personally experienced them. Most of them watched a video or something of BD’s battery, or took secondhand info from someone who heard from someone who worked with a group who used them. I’m telling you, as a Yamaha EVERYTHING guy (and we all know how percussionists are with their loyalties) I love these drums. If for no other reason (although there are TONS of other reasons)than the fact that my students loved them, and felt awesome-physically and mentally-using them.

If you are skeptical, please feel free to DM me with questions. Please don’t base your opinions on “well I heard _______” also, System Blue gives me nothing for doing this haha this is a 100% honest review.

Let me know if you have questions!

Posted on Categories News