Sonor AQ2 Bop Review – Excellent Kit for Jazz, But is it Versatile?

Updated on by Brett Clur | There may be affiliate links on this page.

In the world of compact kits, Sonor has led the charge with their wide selection that includes the Safari, Bop, and Martini. Out of the three of those, the Bop has the most universal shell sizes. The Bop kit is a fantastic jazz drumming tool, but is it versatile enough to take on other styles of music as well?

Overview

The Sonor AQ2 Series drum sets blow out most of the competition thanks to their high-quality construction. The Bop, in particular, has some fantastic-sounding shells.

It’s highly common for compact drum sets to lose a bit of sound and construction quality compared to bigger kits. The AQ2 Series completely counters that trend as this kit has beautiful maple shells with heavy-duty hardware that gets used on many high-quality Sonor kits.

The snare drum is the highlight of the kit. It has a tight cracking tone that you wouldn’t typically get from a compact snare. You’ll often see drummers replace the snares of compact kits very quickly. I haven’t seen that often with the AQ2 Series. The snare can even be used with a standard-sized kit and it will hold its own.

PROS

  • Very high-quality compact drum set
  • Fantastic snare drum
  • Versatile shell sizes
  • Heavy-duty hardware

CONS

  • Stock drumheads need to be replaced to get the best sound

Construction

There are two main hardware features to take note of with this kit. The first is the tom mount. The kit makes use of Sonor’sSmartMount which helps the rack tom keep all its sustain and resonance without being choked out. This gives you a beautiful singing tom.

The mount also allows you to connect a cymbal arm, saving you from having to use a cymbal stand. This further adds to the compact nature of the kit.

The second great hardware feature is the lugs on the kit. The kit has Sonor’s iconic lengthy lugs that make any Sonor kit recognizable from a mile away.

All the metal on the kit feels a lot sturdier than the previous iterations of the Bop before the AQ2 revamp. Overall, the kit is heavier and more durable. This further reinforces the feeling of high quality.

Sound

Not many kits match the AQ2 Bop in terms of sound. It’s not common to have a compact kit with maple shells, so the sound that comes from these shells is truly special. The kit has a warm and focused tone.

It’s primarily a jazz kit, so it’s no surprise that the drums thrive in higher tunings. The singing resonance of the toms is fantastic while the snare drum is highly responsive. However, the kit holds its own in lower tunings as well.

The 12-inch and 14-inch rack toms have the potential to sound very beefy with the right drumheads and tuning. The 18-inch bass drum as well. This means that the kit fares quite well in styles other than jazz, especially thanks to the snare drum.

The stock drumheads are okay, to begin with, but you’ll need to replace them if you want to get the best tones possible. I’d suggest some higher-quality single-ply heads for jazz or double-ply heads for heavier styles.

Value

The kit costs just south of $1000. That is fairly pricey compared to some other popular compact kits like the Pearl Midtown and Ludwig Breakbeats. However, it offers way more value than those cheaper kits.

With the heavy-duty hardware, maple shells, and top-quality snare drum, the kit is highly worth its price tag. The drums are versatile enough to be used in most musical settings, giving you an all-purpose kit that you can use for frequent gigging.

The AQ2 Bop is one of the highest-quality compact kits that you can get, so the value for it is very high.

Visuals

Before I get to the available finishes, the first thing that makes the Bop stand out visually is the chrome-plated hardware. As mentioned previously, the heavy-duty hardware is what makes the kit stand out. That’s true for how it looks as well.

The kit has five finishes to choose from. Each one looks gorgeous and will stand out very clearly under lights on a stage. The most popular finish for the Bop kit is the White Pearl. I’ve seen so many jazz drummers playing in clubs with this finish and it looks fantastic in that setting.

If you’re wanting the kit to look a bit quirkier, the Aqua Burst will suit your needs perfectly. There are enough finishes to choose from that will suit everyone’s tastes.

Competition

While the Sonor AQ2 is arguably at the top of the list when it comes to compact drum sets, there are two other kits that closely compete with it in terms of quality, practicality, and value.

These kits are the DW Frequent Flyer and the Yamaha Stage Custom Hip. Both of these kits have unique qualities that may lead someone to choose them over the Sonor AQ2 Bop.

The DW Frequent Flyer also has high-quality maple shells, but the bass drum is 20”. The larger bass drum makes the kit feel a bit more universal. It’s a compact kit with regular shell sizes. The shells are just shallower than standard shells.

The Yamaha Stage Custom Hip also has a 20-inch bass drum. However, the selling point is the floor tom that has snare wires, allowing it to produce a very thick and low snare sound. It’s a fantastic kit for modern drummers who need variety in the drum sounds.


Conclusion

The Sonor AQ2 Bop is definitely a versatile kit, especially if you equip it with appropriate drumheads and match it with some high-quality cymbals. It will work fantastically as a gigging kit as it tends to fit right in when playing in clubs, restaurants, and bars.

The small shells may not be powerful enough to handle larger stages, but you’d typically use a normal drum set in those situations anyway. If you’re looking for one of the highest-quality compact kits you can get your hands on, the AQ2 Bop is undoubtedly one to look out for.

About Brett Clur

Brett has been playing drums for 18+ years. He's a huge drumming gear enthusiast and also teaches drumming to his students. He's most active on Instagram (@brettclurdrums), where he regularly uploads drumming videos.

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