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Welcome to the Mapex Design Lab - a Brand-New Approach to Drum Design

Mapex Drum Lab Black Panther Drum Kits Drummer Shells
Mapex Drum Lab Drums

The Mapex Design Lab introduces a brand-new "sound first" approach to drum design, created by a collaborative team of artists, designers and engineers.

Mapex has just unveiled the Design Lab - a collaboration of artists, drum designers and engineers. The result of this collective think-tank is a brand-new approach to drum design that marks one of the most significant developments for Mapex in the last 30 years.

Mapex Drum Lab

Following the premise of reverse-engineered design and penned the "Concept Hybrid" formula, the Mapex Design Lab series of drums is a flagship range of new shells using the most cutting-edge, highly-considered design techniques.

Gear4music has a range of pre-configured Design Lab drum kits in stock. If you'd prefer your own bespoke setup, get in touch here.

What is the Design Lab?

The Mapex Design Lab is a collection of artists, designers and engineers. With design input from every link in this chain, the result is a collaboratively-designed range of drum shells with every single aspect chosen for specific technical benefits and artistic preferences.

Mapex Drum Lab

The Concept Hybrid

The traditional way of designing drums, as Mapex says, involves a 'best guess', company-led approach. Once the initial specification is decided upon by the company, the collaborative drummer would be consulted with a prototype to see what worked best before going to market.

The "Concept Hybrid" is a reversal of this 'best guess' approach. By consulting with the very people who play the drums in the first place, a specialised product can be created with a specific end-goal in mind. This "Sound First" approach puts traditional drum design on its head and results in a range of instruments that blend the best of artistic and scientific approaches.

Mapex Drum Lab

The Concept Hybrid approach uses specific combinations of woods, bearing edge profiles, hoop styles, reinforcement rings, lug casings, snare wires, drumheads, and even shell finishes to craft the perfect performance and sound. Using a specific sound profile as a starting point, each design choice is intended to contribute to the outcome.

SONIclear™ Attenuation System

The SONIclear™ Attenuation System (SAS) is a new concept for the Mapex Design Lab. Using the scientific principles of acoustic and material properties, individual pieces of hardware have been designed for their measured impact on the sound of the drum.

SONIclear Bearing Edge

Mapex Drum Lab

The new SONIclear bearing edge allows the drum skin to sit flush to the drum, enabling ease of tuning, increased shell resonance, and optimal tonal clarity. This bearing edge gives a stronger and deeper fundamental pitch. Increased shell vibration helps bring out more sonic nuances in your tone. The result? More expressive playing.

Master Tune Lug

Mapex Drum Lab

The Master Tune Lug is the first true "Locking Tube Nut". A small body gives minimal metal-to-wood contact, resulting in maximum shell resonance. A Design-Lab exclusive locking mechanism helps keep the drum in tune, show after show.

Sonic Pedestal Foot

Mapex Drum Lab

While it may seem a small part of a whole, the new Sonic Pedestal Foot prevents the steel leg from contacting the ground by an internal cotter pin. The tom "floats" on an elevated "spring" of rubber, eliminating vibration transfer to the ground and maximising drum resonance.

Chamber-Specific Design

Independent shell specifications give the optimal sound for every drum. With shell depths graduating by 1/2", the bearing edge also independently adapts for each drum, as does the SAS ring system.

Air Flow Venting

Mapex Drum Lab

The venting of the Drum Lab series is key to the "feel" of the kit and the overall resonance. Through painstaking testing, Mapex has developed the perfect formula for the ideal multiple of vent holes per drum. Each vent is positioned at the Nodal line with the lugs, so as not to adversely affect resonance.

Isolation Gasket (Floor Tom)

A new "lift" bracket gives the floor toms of the Design Lab series an enhanced tone with maximum resonance. The metal components are mounted entirely on the outside of the shell, separated by a rubber gasket. This reduces the external pressure on the shell and allows it to vibrate to its full potential.

SAS Attenuating Floor Tom Leg

Mapex Drum Lab

A variable leg design has been used to control the amount of attenuation the drum receives. As Mapex state, a straight drum leg gives maximum vibration transfer to the floor and maximum attenuation. As the angle of the drum leg increases, the attenuation is reduced.

The Attenuating Floor Tom Leg allows the drummer to set the precise angle of the drum leg, and therefore control the level of attenuation needed for a truly personalised sound.

Magnetic Air Adjustment Tom Suspension

The Magnetic Air Adjustment Tom Suspension (MAATS-A) is a revolutionary design for acoustic drums. Invented by Randall May International Inc, this patented system uses a magnetic field to 'float' the drum in place. This has the result of accentuating and attenuating the purity of the drum shell's response.

Players can customise the amount of pressure the magnets apply on the drum. A you apply greater force, the magnets support more of the drum's weight which opens up the sound. Players can also adjust the sustain length of the drum in real time using the "Acoustic Resonance Gate".

SAS Ring System

Mapex Drum Lab

The SAS ring system is a unique solution to changing the character of a drum. Rather than using the ring to simply support the shape of the shell, Mapex has experimented with the shape and placement of each ring to alter the sonic character of the drum. This was first applied in the Mapex Black Panther Versatus snare drum, where a batter-side-only ring was used to create a more vintage tone, and applying more wood at the top created a thicker, "fatter" rim-shot sound.

This ground-breaking concept has been applied to the Drum Lab Series drums. Each size of shell has a unique reinforcement pattern, designed to optimise the sound of every drum.

Sonic Effect Scale

Mapex Drum Lab

With the newly developed Sonic Effect Scale, Mapex has calculated how drum hoops, hardware and even the finishes affect the resulting sound of the drum. Each choice has been plotted on a measurable scale and means users can exactly how their chosen hardware and finish will affect the sound.

Never before has so much detailed thought been put into the design process of individual drums; drum kits can now be specified in minute detail, with predictable outcomes on the sound of the kit. SAS 0 represents minimal impact on the drum tone, while SAS 2 represents a significant effect on the sound of the instrument.

The Drum Lab Series

Mapex Drum Lab

Mapex Drum Lab incorporates two main ranges of drums, the Versatus System and the Cherry Bomb.


Mapex Drum Lab

The Versatus System is a Design Lab drum series focused on classic tone, versatile usability and advanced design. With all the advancements of the Design Lab, this range is perfect for modern drummers seeking the most cutting-edge tech and versatile sounds.

The Versatus series includes hybrid maple and mahogany shells with chamber specific designs. The drum plies get progressively thicker around the kit with depths graduating by 1/2", along with adjustments to the bearing edges and SAS ring system. These independent designs result in a finely tuned kit, optimised across the range.

Cherry Bomb

Mapex Drum Lab

The Cherry Bomb range is a modernised approach to vintage design. With all-cherrywood shells (1mm ply), the focus of this kit is unmatched. The high toms graduate in 1/2" depths to retain incredible punch and clarity around the kit. The cherrywood shells deliver classic tones, enhanced by the stability and technical advancements of the modern Drum Lab hardware and construction.

Join a Plethora of Pro Players

The Mapex Black Panther Drum Lab has been adopted by Kirk Covington (Tribal Tech), Jeff Hamilton, Clauss Hessler (Flux), Greg Hutchinson (Joshua Redman), Russ Miller (American Idol Bocelli), Rashid Williams (John Legend) and many more.

The diversity of professional players using the Mapex Drum Lab drums is a testament to their versatility. If you're looking for a premium sound and cutting-edge design technology, check out the Mapex Black Panther Drum Lab at Gear4music!

Shop Now

Mapex Drum Lab

Shop Now | Mapex Drum Lab at Gear4music

Professional Artist Testimonials

"These new drums have literally made playing more comfortable and a lot more enjoyable. Now you are getting the actual pitch that you need, but you still get the warmth." - Rashid Williams (John Legend)

"It's cool to play one drum set and be able to play five to ten different styles of music on it. The response of the drums are so easy that I can play soft and still get a beautiful sound, but I can also dig into the drum without choking the drum." - Lee Pearson (Chris Botti)

"This thing just sounds perfect: pre-EQ'd, I would call it, or pre-processed even, It's a little deeper than just EQ'ing the high end and low end: it's the processing of the drums that you might do in a mix, but it does it all naturally on the instrument." - Russ Miller (27X's Platinum Recording Artist, American Idol, Andrea Bocelli)

"This finally gives me the possibility to play the bass drum completely open, and still have the focussed sound that I need." -Alex Landenburg (Cyhra)

"The drums can be wide open, these drums wil allow you to get that sound. I've never heard that much sound from a floor tom." - Greg Hutchinson (Joshua Redman)

"I don't think I've ever played a set of drums which offered more of what I was looking for." - Claus Hessler (Flux)

"You just play a drum and it lets you get a big sound. The response is so immediate, and there was that warm sound on each one of the drums." - Jeff Hamilton (Legendary touring & recording musician)

"From a drummer's stand point, nothing has been left out, nothing has been overlooked. So if there is such a thing as perfect; these are it." Kirk Covington (Tribal Tech)

"This new drumset is going to give me all the resonance and control I'll ever need. Regarding my perfect, EQ'd sound: out of the box, it's there." Craig Blundell (Steve Wilson)

"You don't need to add anything. It's all there and has a lot more of what you want. It's quick, it sings, it's awesome!" - Chris Adler (Lamb of God)

By Matt Wilkinson

Posted on 29 Sep 2018 11:00 to category : Instruments News

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