Other drum throne makers build their seats on a thin, flat piece of plywood and covered with low density soft foam. They have hard molded synthetic covers that crack or split and make you sweat, with white metal mounting brackets that always strip out or break. As a result, all other seats "bottom out", leaving the user sitting on a hard, flat piece of plywood covered by materials that do not breathe. They are hot and uncomfortable. In contrast, the SoundSeat frame is molded under pressure from a 9 ply, 9/16" piece of plywood to fit the curvature of the human anatomy. Using SoundSeat's own specially designed foam mold, the highest quality energy absorbant foam is then injection molded to fit perfectly on this frame. The seat is covered, top and sides, with soft, high quality, top grain leather. The mounting bracket is all steel. The result is a truly comfortable hand-crafted seat that cradles your form, improves your posture and takes pressure off your lower spine by dispersing the weight evenly over the seat frame. The SoundSeat remains cool and comfortable to sit on for extended periods of time because the leather breathes and the foam does not "bottom out" on a flat piece of wood.
Below you can watch my review of the SoundSeat chairs, plus a 30-minute interview with SoundSeat, Inc. co-owner J.R. Baker, as well as read my original review of the SoundSeat BreakDown Gas Lift Drum Throne from back in 2002.
SoundSeat BreakDown Gas-Lift Drum Throne
PROS: High quality leather seat, comfortable, breaks down quickly, fully adjustable, heavy duty design, carrying bag and leather seat back are (optional). Custom embroidery available.
CONS: Expensive, bulky to transport, large footprint with drum setup. Range of height adjustment must be predetermined when purchasing the gas lift.
SoundSeat, Inc. has taken the latest ergonomic features available only in the highest quality office seating and adapted them to the "Wide Ass"™ seat. Although J.R. Baker originally designed the "Wide Ass" for drummers, SoundSeat has expanded the line to include seats for guitarists, keyboard players, sound techs, or any other application where a person must be seated to work.
When the huge box with the above SoundSeat arrived at my house for this review, I thought to myself, "why would I ever want such a enormous chair?" But after I opened the box, taking several moments to examine the parts, put it together, and take a seat, I thought "why wouldn't I want to own such a chair!" From the first moment I sat down on the SoundSeat, I knew it was going to be something special.
The chair that I reviewed is just like the one pictured above, with the two exceptions: the (optional) back rest is not shown, and I reviewed the "church" model ... which doesn't have the words "Wide Ass" embroidered on it.
What do you get?
The breakdown throne comes with three parts; a base, a seat, and the gas lift shaft. The chair base looks to be like that of a standard office chair; 5 contact points with the option of casters, standard or extra tall glider ends. This model came with the standard glider ends. There was never an issue of the chair creeping while playing, which was a very pleasant surprise ... but it was also easy to move along the carpet ... when you wanted it to move. In the break down model (which is the one being reviewed here), there is a threaded lever in the bottom of the base, which is used to release the gas lift from the base (see photo).
The gas lift is a really nice feature with the SoundSeat chairs. If you are like me, you're probably a little hesitant about purchasing a gas lift chair. So many other manufactures have tried using gas lift chairs for drummers ... and failed. It always seemed that the gas lifts would break or fail to function properly, so why bother? Well, SoundSeat's gas lift is different in that they leave the entire lift mechanism in it's heavy black casing. Not only does this seem to create strength in the chair, but it also keeps the lift in it's original state ... the way it was designed to be used. If you are still concerned out wearing out the lift, you'll be happy to know that you can purchase additional lifts for $15.00 (plus shipping).
Last but not least, is the seat itself. The SoundSeat seat frame is molded under pressure from a 5/8" piece of plywood to fit the curvature of the human anatomy. The highest quality energy absorbent foam is then injection molded to fit perfectly on this frame. The seat is covered, top and sides, with soft, high quality, top grain leather (with embroidery). The mounting bracket is all steel. The SoundSeat seat measures 19 inches wide and 16.5 inches deep (nose to tail). The undercarriage is designed in such a way that if you need to adjust the tilt, you can do so in a permanent fashion by adding or removing washers. The lever used to operate the gas lift is also attached to seat's undercarriage, so you don't have to worry about losing it.
Put it all together now!
Assembly took about a minute, once I finished with the brief, yet detailed, Assembly Instructions provided with my SoundSeat. All you do is make sure that the lever in the bottom of the base is loose (to allow for the lift to seat properly), insert the gas lift into the base, then place the seat on the tapered end of the gas lift. You need to sit on the seat with your full weight to insure that all the parts have locked together. You'll also want to tighten the seat screw which keeps the chair on the lift; just incase you decide to pickup and move the chair.
Sit on it, Potsie
I noticed very quickly that this was no ordinary drum seat. Within seconds I was able to set the height to exactly where I wanted it while sitting behind my drumkit. There's no having to get off the seat, spin it a few times, then check again to see if you've got the correct height. After about a minute of using the SoundSeat, I slid back over to my Roc-n-Soc throne ... and boy did I feel the difference. The thin, flat piece of plywood and low density soft foam found in my Roc-n-Soc was evident as I bottomed out. I had grown so accustomed to the chair than I never noticed just how uncomfortable it was after 10 years of hard use. The SoundSeat seemed to cradle my form, improved my posture by helping me sit up straight, and took the pressure off my lower back by dispersing my weight evenly over the enter frame of the SoundSeat. Now I know where the term 'drum throne" came from ... because with the SoundSeat ... you feel like royalty!
Speaking of the back
In addition to the natural back support that comes from the ergonomic design of the seat, there is an optional standard back rest which I also test drove. The plush leather back with high-density foam and horizontal kidney bar added even more comfort and support. You can adjust the seat back in a number of ways; all the way out so that it doesn't touch your back unless you lean backwards, to all the way forward giving you the additional back support as you play. I did find that the seat back didn't quite come forward as far as I might want it at times. SoundSeat's owner, J.R. Baker, informed me that all the future seat backs will come with an additional adjustment thread, making it possible to come forward approximately one more inch. I don't know if you would say this is actually a negative thing, but some drummers may like to play while sitting on the very front edge of the seat. If you are one of these individuals ... AND ... you want the back rest to push against while in this position, I'm not so certain that you'll be able to achieve this, even if the back rest comes forward another inch. Actually, this would only be the scenario of a thin individual, like myself, but the likelihood that this would pose a problem for the average drummer is doubtful. All in all, the seat back is a nice optional feature, and one that I would definitely recommend.
On the case
There is also an optional canvas bag (see photo at top of review) that came with my SoundSeat. For those that don't plan on transporting your chair anywhere, it's nice to not have to invest in something that you won't need, like the bag to carry it all in. Since I'm reviewing the break down version of the gas lift chairs, it only makes since to have a bag to carry it in. You're going to want this bag! The bag dimension is 24 inches wide and 24 inches high. When fully packed, including the seat back, the bag expands to be approximately 18 inches deep. This is no small package, and you're not going to be taking this on fly dates with you. But if you are touring drummer, or session drummer, spending long hours in the chair ... you know how important your throne is ... so you'll do whatever it takes.
The black canvas (embroidered) bag comes with everything you need to transport and protect your chair. There's a canvas-covered divider, which is used to separate the seat from the base, as well as individual little canvas bags (closed with Velcro) for the gas lift and the seat back arm. You don't want metal objects rubbing that soft leather do you? Besides the heavy-duty zipper to close up the bag, you'll find three pockets along the side of the bag, perfect for spare drum parts. The bag has what you'd expect for handles; standard canvas straps. What I would have liked to see is a shoulder strap. Even though the bag may be a bit big for shoulder carrying, it would be nice to have the option. If you plan on transporting this monster, you'll definitely want to spring for the bag.
All this stuff sounds kind of expensive doesn't it? Well ... it is! SoundSeat doesn't try to hide the fact that their seats are expensive. They have a clear understanding that quality costs money ... and they believe that they make the finest seating for musicians. If you check out their website, you'll find a side by side comparison with the Roc-n-Soc. And if the gas lift package is just too much for your budget, you can pickup the SoundSeat Retro-Fit seat which will fit on your existing throne stand, as long as it has a 7/8-inch shaft.
If you are looking for a new drum throne, you need to check into this chair. If you've got back problems ... you need to check this seat out. It only makes sense to make wise invests, and the SoundSeat is just that. I hate making a purchase, only later having to repair or replace it in a short amount of time. I am confident that you will NOT be replacing the SoundSeat any time within your lifetime. With proper care, this chair will last forever!
I have never felt so comfortable sitting at my drumkit. I was able to get around my 6-piece kit and not have to lean forward or reposition myself during the process. Even while checking out the chair for this review, the time passed by so quickly that I had no idea I had been sitting on the throne for over two hours! I got caught up in the moment and just had a blast!
The drum throne is the most important part of any drumkit; not only for comfort ... but for good health and posture ... so why abuse your body with lame drum throne? This is why I highly recommend the SoundSeat BreakDown Gas Lift Drum Throne for drummers. I'm buying one now, and plan to pick up another for my other kit, as well as one with casters, large seat back, and arms, just so I can use it while I'm at the computer ... it's that comfortable!
It is with a deep sadness that I announce the passing of Soundseat, Inc. owner, J.R. Baker, who passed away on Friday, August 16, 2013.