I love it when companies specialise in one thing, do it well and continue to innovate. Personally my drum set is a collection of specialty items such as the Vector bass drum pedal, Reunion Blues cymbal bag, Bopworks Mel Lewis sticks, Tackle Waxed Canvas Compact Drumstick Bag, and most importantly Craig Lauritsen hand-made cymbals. I'll be reviewing these and other items in coming posts.
Not that buying all your bits from one manufacturer isn't a good idea. I'm sure they have their own internal R&D departments and look for new and better products to bring to market. But, I respect the entrepreneurial spirit which drives someone to do one thing better than anyone else.
This time I'd like to talk about the Sweet Spot Lo Rider Clutch. Sweet Spot has been around for a while, specialising in, as the name implies, the hi-hat clutch. This is the bit of kit which holds the top hi-hat cymbal and secures it to the hi-hat centre rod to allow the foot to raise and lower the top hi-hat cymbal. it's been around in some form or another since the low-boy cymbal of the 1920's. Various improvements and changes have occurred over the years.
I was glad to see Sweet Spot enter the market with a high-quality clutch with clever features such as aluminium lock washers and plastic inner-thread protectors. I've wrestled a small PVC tube in my clutches for 25 years to protect my cymbals, and this seemingly obvious feature had eluded clutch-makers until now.
However aesthetically, the SS clutches really weren't my thing. They were 'flamboyant', clearly intended for the metal crowd. Fair enough, but just not my cup of tea. I've been using an old Ludwig hi-hat clutch from the 40's, and what I like about it is the small form factor and weight distribution, which gives the clutch speed and balance. What I don’t like about it is the rod-hole diameter of 5mm. I've had to have my DW hi-hat rods shaved down to accomodate it. The Sweet Spot clutches were clearly well-designed, but seemed tall, which would distribute the weight along more broadly, the and make them feel top-heavy.
Then, mid 2017, Sweet Spot introduced their Lo Rider clutch. it was small, similar form-factor to my trusty old Ludwig, and looked to be machined to a high standard. I placed my order.
When the clutch arrived I was not disappointed. it is made of solid stainless steel, with anodised aluminium bottom locking nuts. I chose the wing-screw as opposed to their 'signature' hex-nut, both for personal aesthetic and functional reasons, as I didn't want to be reliant upon a hex-wrench to tighten my hi-hat, and I admit to being a bit of a traditionalist, and an 'if it ain't broke...' kind of guy.
The balance on the clutch is perfectly centre-weighted, making it feel light, barely noticeable in fact. It accommodates my DW Ultra-light rod as well. I love the 'wear-sleeve' as SS calls it, the plastic inner-sleeve which protects the cymbals from wear against the centre threads.
I did make a couple of alterations:
- I replaced the standard felt washers with vintage white felt washers. Not for aesthetic reasons, but because the felt of old seems to be softer, which allows the cymbal tome to come trough nearer. it could of course be due to wear and old-age!
- I replaced the wing-screw with a smaller one from a DW clutch. This reduced the weight by 10g (the SS wing screw weighs 31g, the DW weighs 21g) small potatoes, but every bit counts.
This brings the total weight of the SS clutch to 104g, compared to 69g for my trusty old Ludwig. Still not as light as I would have liked, but lighter than the DW. The overall length of the SS clutch is 6.5cm, compared to 6cm for the Luddy.
Overall I'm impressed with the SS clutch, it is light, extremely well made and has just enough of a uniqueness to it to feel 'custom'. Well done Sweet Spot.
Personally the only improvement would be perhaps a further reduction in height and a lighter core to get the weight down even further. But it's a masterfully made piece of kit which will serve me well for years to come.
You can order your own Sweet Spot clutch here.