Only twice in my years with Drumhead Magazine have I asked to review a product. I’m lucky in the fact that my relationship with the mag allows me the familiarity to approach them in this manner. I’m not a fan of social media marketing, but in this case, when I saw Yamaha’s Crosstown Hardware Pack come up in my Facebook feed, I uttered a four lettered word out loud and immediately texted Mover: You’ve gotta let me review this!
I’m fortunate that I have a trio of amazing techs (shout out to Justin, Jono and Frankie!), who help me out on my gigs these days. Even on this past summer’s tour playing venues like Red Rocks, The Beacon in NYC, and The Greek in L.A., I prefer single-braced hardware. I spent decades playing the club scene using impressive looking double-braced stands that never moved…and a couple of years ago my back started paying the price. That’s part of being human, but being smart about choices makes a difference. I still play in clubs when I’m in L.A. and most of the time I’m hauling my own gear. The Crosstown Hardware seemed to be ideal to me.
I returned home to L.A. from the summer U.S. tour on a Saturday and picked up the Crosstown Pack on Tuesday for a Summer Concert Series show with a (really excellent) cover band that I play with from time to time. The Crosstown 4-piece hardware pack comes in its own carrying case which is about the size of a Cajon. Immediately upon lifting it, I couldn’t believe how light it was. I did my usual bend at the knees/squat to lift properly and it felt like there was next to nothing in the bag. I can’t stress this point enough to those of you who are used to bracing yourself for that heavy hardware bag. The bag with all of the hardware feels like it weighs about the same as my 14-inch tom, maybe less. It’s a combined total of 17.5 pounds. It bears mentioning that Yamaha has supplied a bag which allows for more hardware, should you choose to expand the pack and/or add your throne, pedal and other items. That’s good planning.
The Crosstown 4-pack consists of two cymbal stands (CS3), a hi-hat stand (HHS3) and a snare stand (SS3)–all made of aluminum. The base is an extending tripod (as opposed to flat-base stands) that have channel track bracing–essentially, this means the support bracing collapses inside the stand when folded for transport. The feet have rubber tips to prevent sliding. The cymbal stands are straight stands (my preferred type of cymbal stand) so boom-stand lovers may find this aspect a deal breaker. I personally stopped using boom stands more than a decade ago so this was not a factor at all for me. Yamaha has stated that boom stands for Crosstown may appear in the future depending on popularity of this first generation. I bet they do.
Even though I was excited to try the hardware out, I was not without trepidation. This was mainly due to the hi-hat. My left foot is pretty much in constant motion and I had doubts that the HHS3 would hold up. If I felt it was shifting around or creeping forward, I’d have to pass. Thankfully this was not the case at all, and I’m not delicate with my left foot. The coverband gig includes a lot of classic rock songs by Rush, Boston, Journey, etc. I’d just come home from playing 7,000 – 10,000 seat venues and was admittedly not quite acclimated to playing to a crowd of a little under 1,000…in other words, I was hitting pretty aggressively. The Crosstown Hardware took everything I was dishing out. In full transparency, the snare stand did skip a bit but this is a problem I experience sometimes on tour with a snare stand made of a much heavier metal…meaning that the aluminum or design of the Crosstown Hardware is not the cause of this.
The appearance of this hardware is not to be overlooked. I’m not the most interested in the aesthetics of a kit but (as you can see in the photos) these stands actually do look really cool. More importantly to me, the brushed aluminum means they don’t show all of the fingerprints one typically sees on high polished chrome hardware. The micro wingnut design adds to a minimalist look that adds to an overall “clean” presentation. In regards to appearance and functionality, the cymbal stands allow for the nylon insert to be exchanged, creating a shorter two-piece stand. I did this for the iPad I keep on my left side (used as a metronome and for the setlist). This ability of the cymbal stand also allows for other Yamaha hardware to be inserted into the base for a boom or tom mount.
Final judgement: Crosstown Hardware is likely the best new hardware design I’ve ever seen. As proof, I asked Yamaha to let me purchase the pack, which I’ve only done once before in my nearly ten years of reviewing for Drumhead. You should check it out for yourself (that’s what I did), but I cannot recommend it highly enough. It is now my go-to, “in town” hardware setup. It’s a great feeling to not have that nearly 100-pound hardware case to load into my car for gigs around L.A. That would apply equally to you and whatever town you live and perform in. Thank you Yamaha, you’ve just made my gigging experience much more enjoyable.