Home » Hands-on Review: Yamaha Live Custom (Oak) Drum Kit

Hands-on Review: Yamaha Live Custom (Oak) Drum Kit

Recently, I picked up a new Yamaha Live Custom drum kit. After spending some time with this kit at home and on the road, I wanted to share my thoughts with those of you who may be interested in trying one out for yourselves:

Here is a brief overview of the kit’s specs, per Yamaha:

  • All oak shells
  • Dark silver finished hardware
  • Y.E.S.S. Mount System
  • 1.2mm oak plies (10% thicker than those used on Oak Custom drums)
  • Absolute lugs
  • Die-cast bass drum hooks
  • Open-type floor tom brackets
  • 2.3mm Dyna triple-flanged hoops

My kit specs:

  • Bass drum: 16″ x 20″ (8 ply)
  • Snare: 5.5″ x 14″ (6 ply)
  • Rack tom: 8″ x 12″ (6 ply)
  • Floor tom: 13″ x 14″ (6 ply)

Finish: Emerald Shadow Sunburst

All drums feature 45 degree bearing edges.

First Impressions: 

There’s no question that the overall build quality of the Live Customs are head and shoulders above my previous kit – a Yamaha Stage Custom birch. The Live Customs just feel like professional drums. The hardware is top-quality, and gorgeous – with the dark silver finish. The Dyna triple-flanged hoops suit the toms nicely. I also really enjoy the triple-flanged hoop on the snare drum, which is surprising, since I typically prefer die cast hoops on my snares. What a difference a well-made hoop can make in the tone of your drums!

As usual, the Y.E.S.S. mount system is as solid as a rock. My only complaint is that I wish the hexagonal mounting arms were longer, as the previous versions of the mounts were. This comes in handy when you’re using a rack system, which I sometimes do. Also, the open-type floor tom brackets are small but secure. They make setting up and positioning your floor tom incredibly easy.

The bass drum spurs are very robust, and can be quickly and easily positioned in a variety of angles.

The addition of the Absolute lugs give each drum precision tuning, and they stay in tune. I typically play 3-4 hour shows, and these drums rarely detune much, if at all.

The kit ships with Remo heads (Clear Emperors for the toms, coated Ambassador for the snare, and a PowerStroke 3 for the kick). While there is nothing wrong with these heads, I I swapped them out with my heads of choice (although I may come back to the stock heads later).

Playing the kit:

“The Live Custom delivers a sound with greater strength and depth, provides rich expressive power that exceeds your imagination, and features hardware designed with some new, innovative ideas that delivers incredible stability and reliability even in the demanding environment of the stage.” – Yamaha Drums

Immediately, I noticed that these drums pack much more low end than my Stage Custom kit. This was actually a welcome addition, especially on the kick. Birch drums typically have great attack, but I always felt like I was missing the low end – actually “feeling” the drums. Not so with the Live Custom.

The snare drum is very, very nice. You never really know what you’re going to kit with a shell pack that includes a snare, so I was pleasantly surprised. I love the snare strainer – it’s smooth and subtle, and the included snare wires are quality. I tuned this drum down fairly low, and to my surprise, it sounded awesome. I found it easy to get a fat, snappy tone, with enough body and subtle overtones to really round out the sound nicely.

I’m in love with the toms. Similar to my Stage Customs, they pack a nice attack (more focused and less round, due to the sharper bearing edges). They’re incredibly easy to tune, and while they offer more low end than birch, it’s not overwhelming. In fact, again, I welcomed this – especially in a live situation.


This is one of the few kits I’ve played where I felt like they sounded gig-ready without even being mic’ed. They feel great on stage – almost as if they’re pre-EQ’ed.

While my previous Yamaha Stage Custom birch kit was originally purchased as a “practice” kit for home and studio, the Live Custom has quickly become my go-to live kit on the road.

*While this post is in no way endorsed or sponsored by Yamaha drums, I feel the need to express how great their customer service team is. While I had some unfortunate warranty issues with my previous kit (through no fault of my own, nor Yamaha’s for that matter), their team was nothing short of awesome in taking care of me and making the situation right – which is how I ended up with the Live Custom kit.