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Mike Portnoy is a legend in the drumming industry. His most notable role as a drummer was when he played for Dream Theater, but he has continued to thrive within other projects since leaving the band.
An interesting thing about Mike Portnoy is that he’s been one of Tama’s biggest artists since he signed on with them in 1996. He’s a main player in the Tama lineup, and with that comes a few signature products that have been made for him.
The Mike Portnoy Signature snare has been around for a few years now, and it even has three different shell options.
Tama Mike Portnoy Signature Snare
- Three shell options
- Chrome die-cast hoops
- 3-way adjustable snare strainer
- Artistic Mike Portnoy name print
- Top-tier Tama build quality
Tama Mike Portnoy Signature Snare Gallery
All of Mike Portnoy’s signature snare drums are referred to as the Melody Masters, which is a fairly appropriate name when considering Mike Portnoy’s drumming style. He’s a progressive metal drummer, and these snares are intended for that kind of music.
You get three different options when choosing a Mike Portnoy snare drum from Tama. Two of them have steel shells, and the third one has a Bubinga shell. They all have the same build features, but the shell sizes and types affect how each one sounds.
In this review, we’ll look at each Melody Master snare drum, and I’ll rate them according to their tone, build quality, and versatility.
All the Mike Portnoy snare drums have strong popping tones. They’re created to sound very lively in a mix, and they give you the exact sounds that were so popular in all the Dream Theater albums.
The two steel options have dimensions of 14” x 5.5” and 12” x 5”. The smaller steel version has the brightest pop, sounding incredibly bright and energetic when struck. The larger steel one has a bit more body and depth to it, yet it still has the aggressive tone that you can expect from a steel snare drum.
The Bubinga option has a size of 14” x 5.5”. The 9-ply Bubinga drum shell gives the snare a lot more focus on the low-end. This snare sounds amazing when tuned low, but you still get the lively tone from the die-cast hoops.
All three snare drums sound amazing. The Bubinga option has tones that are a bit richer, but the steel versions sound very good for steel snare drums. You should go for the Bubinga version if you want a wooden snare, and then your choice of which steel snare will be determined by what size you’d prefer.
Each Mike Portnoy snare has the same build features apart from the shell, so you’re guaranteed to get these amazing qualities no matter which option you choose.
The chrome die-cast hoops are the strongest noticeable feature when looking at the snares. They’re bright and shiny, and they do a fantastic job of making each snare feel premium. They add a bit of weight as well, making the snare drums feel quite sturdy and durable.
The other selling point of the Mike Portnoy snare drums is their 3-way strainer. You essentially get two snare drum throw-offs. When you turn them both off, you get a snares-off sound. When you just pull one up, you get a loose snare drum sound. When both are pulled up, you get a tight snare sound.
The option of having three different snare wire tones is very useful. You could play with loose snares on a slow rock tune and then move to tight snares on a more energetic tune.
These two build features make the Mike Portnoy snares feel high-quality, and they contribute to the idea of these being professional snare drums.
Each version of the Mike Portnoy signature snare drum has a slightly different price tag. The smaller steel option is the most affordable, while the Bubinga version costs the most.
They all fit around the same price range that most pro signature snare drums do, though. So, the value is fairly standard for what they cost.
The real value comes in how many options there are. With most other signature snare drums, you only get one option for shell type and size. If you’re not a big fan of the steel shell, you may love the Bubinga shell, and that means that these Portnoy snare drums cater to a wider range of drummers than many other signature snares do.
You’ll still be spending a fair bit on one of these snares. They cost about the same as what a good intermediate drum kit would so be prepared for that price tag if you decide to get one.
Versatility wasn’t a big factor that Tama considered when these snare drums were designed. They’re made for heavy music, as they have bright and aggressive tones that cut through mixes easily.
However, you get natural versatility when thinking of how there are different shell options. If you want a bright snare that seriously pops in high tunings, the 12-inch steel version will suit you well. If you want a snare that covers a broader range of tones, the Bubinga snare is a better pick.
So, I’d say the Mike Portnoy snare drums are relatively versatile, especially the Bubinga version that would work in a wider array of musical settings than the steel snare drums would.
These aren’t the types of snare drums that can be used for anything, though. If you’re looking for a snare drum that perfectly suits every style of music, I’d suggest getting something else.
Each Mike Portnoy snare drum has a strong black finish that looks incredible in contrast to the chrome die-cast hoops. If that was all there was on the snare, I’d say that they have one of the best aesthetic looks of any snare on Tama’s product line.
However, the downfall of these snares is the large text placed on each shell. They have Mike Portnoy’s name written on them in bold purple text, and it just doesn’t look too good. For some reason, the snares have his name written twice on the same insignia. One is in white text, and the other is in that purple text.
His name is written even more times on the Bubinga version, and it’s placed all around the shell.
If you’re a big Mike Portnoy fan, you may love the design. If you’re not, the fact that his name is written so much may just stop you from buying this snare.
These Mike Portnoy snare drums aren’t incredibly popular, but they’re well worth looking into. The selling point of these snare drums compared to other signature snare drums is that you get multiple shell options.
They’re all fantastic snare drums for rock and metal, as they have bright and lively tones that suit those styles very well. You could get away with using the Bubinga version for other styles, but there are better snare options if you’re looking for versatility.
Overall, I’d suggest these snare drums for any drummer that plays heavy music, as well as all the big Mike Portnoy fans out there.
Tama Mike Portnoy Signature Snare At A Glance
- Powerful attack is excellent for backbeats and rimshots
- Bright and lively tones
- The chrome die-cast hoops are fantastic
- Good snare drums for heavy music
- The finish on each snare is great, but the large text with purple lettering isn’t very appealing