If you take the time to search through any drum-focussed forum, one topic that keeps cropping up on a regular basis is the aches and pains we drummers face from playing such a physically demanding instrument. Compounding this, lugging around cases full of heavyweight hardware, not to mention cases full of cymbals and drums themselves which can weigh a substantial amount, only adds to our woes, particularly for us of, ahem, ‘experience-laden’ age. This is where Yamaha’s new range of lightweight Cross Town hardware offers something of a relief. Weighing in at just under 8kg for two cymbal stands, a hi-hat stand and a snare drum stand, all of which are housed in their own protective sleeve within a lightweight carry bag, the HW3 Cross Town set gives you a basic hardware set-up minus kick pedal and stool.
Made from aluminium tubing with a brushed matte finish, the stands have a distinctive look and with a host of features taken from Yamaha’s more traditional hardware (large rubber feet, off-set cymbal tilters, pro-quality hi-hat clutch etc.), this series certainly appears to continue Yamaha’s tradition of highly-regarded, well-made hardware.
Setting the stands up, and the most obvious thing you notice is just how light each individual stand is: the cymbal stands can be picked up comfortably with just a single finger, while the hi-hat and snare stands are not much heavier. This does give you a slight worrying feeling as to how stable the various components might actually be, and while the hi-hat and snare stands are pretty much of traditional design, the two cymbal stands seem quite a lot shorter height-wise (133cm when fully extended) than most stands which means you have to almost fully extend them to place your cymbals at regular height (especially if you’re quite tall and like to sit fairly high on the kit). Once set-up and with your cymbals in place, all such feelings quickly dissipate. Sure, there is slight movement, especially under heavy onslaughts of crash-driven playing, but nothing so bad that the stands give anything but a sense of security. That said, the cymbal stands in particular might not be suitable for those who use the heaviest of cymbals and play at full tilt constantly, but for most ‘every-day’ gigging situations they should be more than capable of providing solidity for years to come. The snare stand certainly holds its own: we tested it with both a standard 14” x 5.5” maple snare, during which it never moved an inch, along with a 14” x 6.5” brass shelled behemoth weighing in at a hefty 9kg (heavier than the full hardware set combined), during which there was a hint of sway but nothing so bad it was off-putting or worrisome as to the stands strength. Finally, the hi-hat stand feels and operates in such a way as to make you completely forget how lightweight it actually is; smooth, fast and completely solid feeling, it feels as good – if not better – than many traditionally-constructed hi-hat stands we’ve tried.
Overall, the HW3 hardware set does exactly what it promises; offers lightweight-yet-solid stands which deliver sturdiness for most situations while saving you from backaches and the often-difficult task of dragging large hardware cases upstairs or down narrow corridors/through crowds of excited gig-goers. With a suggested retail price of £363.00 (although we’ve seen it advertised online for just under £300.00), it’s quite an investment for just four pieces, but if you factor in the money you could potentially save on chiropractor or osteopath bills, as well as the inclusion of the carry case, it could make sense for a great many players.