The Case of the Phantom Reinforcement Rings
04 April 2023
04 April 2023
In early April 2023, following a suggestion from Tosh Mihalev on the facebook Group, I started making a new section on the site to feature Black Panther Kits. (Great idea Tosh - cheers!)
To help with the initial build, Tosh offered to take shots of his Velvetone kit which he duly delivered. And very nice shots they were too. (At the time of writing the section isn't finished - I'll add a link to the listing once it's finalised)
Along with the photos, Tosh mentioned that his kit, being one of the early ones, didn't come with the reinforcement rings that were on later models; you can clearly see in the photos that the shells are unadorned inside.
But this got me thinking. Reinforcement rings? On a Velvetone? Really? Ok - need to check this out.
About 15 minutes of Googling later and it turns out that actually several websites state that there are 3.4mm walnut reinforcing rings; this is just one example. But here's the issue...I couldn't find a single photo of any Velvetone shell with them!
Most listings that mention the reinforcement rings don't have any photos that show the inside of the shell, and the few that have photos clearly show shells without them. One classic example is here. Moreover, like that listing, many mention that the bearing edge is 5:5, but it's not - it's 1:9; it's a specific feature of the model. I checked through my archive of Mapex's catalogues and Mapex's website from 2011-2017. Reinforcement rings are never mentioned once for the Velvetone.
My money was on someone at one point mixing up the spec for The Blaster, which does have reinforcement rings (and is right next to the Velvetone in most catalogues), and other people just copied it. I thought that was a fair assumption and updated the Velvetone listing with the usual "I'm more than happy to be proved wrong". And that was going to be that...
But then I thought I'd have another check on the early entries for the Velvetone on Mapex's website via the Wayback Machine...and I found the cause of the confusion.
It was Mapex themselves!
On Mapex's website, from the release of the Velvetone in 2011 up until 2014, the link to Black Panther Kits took you to a separate website - www.blackpantherdrumset.com (the site is now defunct hence the Wayback Machine link). If you looked at the Velvetone and clicked on the features/configuration link at the bottom left it clearly showed the wrong shell! It doesn't take Sherlock Holmes to work out that's the Blaster shell - Maple rather than a Maple-Walnut-Maple sandwich...and showing reinforcement rings. The description is correct, but someone has got a bit copy/paste happy with the graphics. After 2014, all the information about the Black Panther kits was moved to the main Mapex website and the graphics thereafter show the correct shell construction with no mention of reinforcement rings anywhere.
Not the first time Mapex themselves have cause this kind of confusion - see my news item "Chasing a Blonde Ghost". They make phenomenal drums but occasionally they need to stop the work experience kid updating their catalogues!
Love you really Mapex! 😽
So there you go. Another case closed.
Unless you know different...
(insert suitably dramatic music)