We get a LOT of kits through the door at Dave’s Drums but some are just a bit different.
And this was definitely one of those kits!
Where do I start?
Well, pretty much the first thing that came to mind when the kit arrived was just the sheer size of it - the number of drums was more than a little daunting for anyone.
So, first off, a quick run down of what I was looking at:
- two 24” x 14” bass drums with tom mounts
- 8”, 10”, 13”, 14”, 15” and 16” single headed concert toms
- an 18” double headed floor tom plus mounting hardware.
My first task is always to determine the overall condition of a kit - trying to see through the dirt and assess what is good and salvageable and what is going to need more extensive restoration or even replacement.
On this kit, the larger drums were in fairly good condition - the typical scuffs, scrapes and war-wounds from a life of playing, but nothing too scary.
A couple of the smaller toms had the wrong mounting brackets, and a few drums were missing lug screws and washers. The only other missing parts were some of the internal dampers on some of the toms.
My next job was a quick check to see what heads were needed. I’d had a sound profile outlined by the owner, who had sensibly opted for single ply clear Evans G1s on the single headed toms, a G2 batter over G1 resonant for the 18” floor and EMAD clear bass drum batters with smooth white ported EQ3 resonants. All of these were in stock with the supplier, but here we hit the first hurdle.
With this age of kit, I’m always a bit paranoid about sizes - are they going to fit standard heads? So I whipped the old (very battered) heads off and checked for fit using spare heads I had lying around the workshop. All good apart from the 10” tom. A quick measurement brought it up as 9.5” rather than 10” - it was a (very uncommon) Pre-International 10” tom and Evans don’t make a head for it!!!
I could get a Remo Ambassador (Pre-International) clear head new, but these are only available by special order, with a very long lead time from the States. Discussing the problem with the owner, it was decided to press on with the restoration, even on the 10” tom, and wait for the head.
For the next few days it was mainly leg work, stripping each drum down to it’s component parts and cleaning or replacing parts as I went. Luckily I have a fairly good stock of old Premier bits, so I was able to replace with good condition vintage parts where the originals were too badly corroded or broken.
Some before and after photos
Most bits were small and easy to replace - bolts, washers, wingnuts and the like. The only big parts to need replacing were the tom mount on one bass drum (which had a casting crack) and three of the tom brackets (which weren’t original). The bass drum bracket I happened to have in stock (I even surprised myself!), but I only had one spare tom bracket.
Out of the blue I got a phone call from the owner. He’d located and purchased a pair of concert toms on eBay (10” and 12”) - in a slightly “dubious” brown wrap, but they looked like perfect matches for the kit shell-wise. They just need to be re-wrapped and restored.
This is one job I definitely don’t do. As anyone who has visited my workshop can vouch for, I’ve got loads of spares, bits and Boxes of Drummy Delights, but what I don’t have is a lot of room, and re-wrapping just needs space. So I stripped off the parts and the shells were made ready for a trip to deepest darkest Wales and Leigh at Cariad Drums.
Looking over the drums, there was a crack in the ply of the 10” tom, but the 12” looked good. It seemed that it should be an easy fix on the 10” tom, but before I got started, I did my usual paranoid check on sizes. Lo and behold, the 10” drum was a 9.5” (despite the seller on eBay being asked specifically to check!). So the plan was now keep going on the original 10” black drum, order some Remo Pre-International heads and just get the 12” re-wrapped.
On the up-side, the two brown concert toms had correct tom mounts so I could use the mount from the cracked 10” on another drum, leaving me just one short (easily found on eBay as it happens). I was also able to replace a few less-than-perfect lugs on other drums using this one as a source for parts.
Multiple hours of cleaning later, I now had this magnificent beast back on its feet.
I am still waiting on the custom order Pre-Int Remo heads to arrive, but I’m sure you’ll agree it’s now looking rather lovely. All of the drums are back to their original spec, with correct tom mounting brackets and all of their lugs looking great. The only things missing are three of the internal dampers on the 8”, 10” and 12” drums (moved onto the larger drums where they are more useful), and the kit is back and ready for many years playing…
“I can feel it coming in the air tonight…duh-duh, duh-duh, duh-duh, duh-duh! Bam! Bam!”
2 snow days this week meant that we were effectively snowed in (in terms of driving), the kids were all at home as their school and college were shut and most pupils couldn't make it to us (apart from 2 hardy souls with 4 x 4s).
So...what to do...?
Well, what we didn't do was let it stop us from getting parcels out!
With the help of JackJack, a sledge and a trusty little Jack Russell (Lexie), we trudged through the snow to take parcels to the local courier drop-off point...
It was also a great opportunity to get some serious work done on the Premier concert tom kit that's in the workshop at the moment. Headphones on, grinder in full swing.
Just 2 bass drums left to service...(and new heads to put on).
I also spent some time finishing off this gorgeous Pearl Session kit (which is currently available to buy from our web store).
It really was a pleasure to work on such a glorious kit...
Then, of course, were the obligatory snowball fights - with 5 kids in our family, you could run, but you couldn't hide!
How did you spend your snow days?
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DNA clear heads are suited to both batter and resonant use. They are constructed of a single, clear 10mils PET, giving great attack and depth and a wide, open tone with long decay. The heads also have a wide tuning range, increasing their versatility - great all-rounders.
DNA clear heads are available in 8"-18".
DNA COATED SINGLE PLY (Batter)
A great all-round head for any genre from light jazz through to rock. DNA coated heads can be used on toms or snare. The construction is 10mils single ply with a textured coating. The coating helps reduce overtones and gives a warm, big, fat sound. Strong attack and medium decay.
DNA coated heads are available in 6"-18".
Law Single Ply with Surface Donut Dot (Batter)
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Single 10mils clear ply with a 5mils PET donut dot. The PET dot gives extra durability and brings out more of the mid-tones for a classic retro sound. They can also be used as resonant heads. Also great for use on snare drums to give a unique and timeless sound.
Law heads are available in 8"-18".
We do also have limited stocks of the old design Law heads with a solid centre dot, although these have been discontinued.
Generator Twin Ply Clear (Batter)
Generator heads suit the heavier hitter who wants a punchy and controlled sound. The 18” can also be used on kick drum. Constructed from 2 x 7mils plies with bonded ring around the outside edge, which focuses and controls the sound and overtones and also gives the skins fast attack and decay. For a more open sound, use with DNA clear as the resonant heads, or for a more deadened sound, use with Reso Ring (RR).
We currently only stock the clear Generator heads, but can order the coated variety for you.
Generator heads are available in 8"-18".
Reso Ring (RR) (Resonant)
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Clear single 7mils ply with a narrow dampening ring around the outside edge. Developed to prevent drummers from having to use tape or taping tissue etc to the bottom of their toms to reduce the ring! The dampening ring helps to reduce unwanted overtones. Gives a punchy and controlled sound with reduced overtones and short decay. The heads make it much easier for sound engineers to control the sound of the toms when the drums are mic'd.
RR heads are available in 8"-18".
All of our prices in our web store include shipping to the mainland UK - if preferred you can collect your heads in person (at slightly lower costs due to lack of fees etc - please ask for a quote).
If you'd like any advice on selecting the best type of heads for your kit, drop me an e-mail, I'll be happy to help!
Most of the kit is a Yamaha Maple Custom Absolute Nouveau, in blue-purple fade. All of the shells have single point quick release Nouveau lugs, and have the upgraded maple hoops.
The maple shells give a great warmth to the drum sound with a rounded attack that is enhanced with the addition of the wood hoops. They end up sounding larger than they are which is a big bonus - all the tone, but less volume and easier to carry.
The third rack tom is a 12” x 8” and is mounted to the left of the hi hat.
The two floor toms are 13” x 14” and 14” x 14”, the 13” being a very unusual drum deeper than its diameter, only done on this series and only for a brief time.
All toms have Evans G2 clear batter heads and G1 clear resonant heads, with e-rings on the 10”, 12”, 13” and 14”.
I have been asked why I use e-rings rather than moon gel, damped heads or just tuning them open. Well, firstly the band I am in is playing mostly 80’s songs so that wet, slappy sound is what I’m after - if I was doing more modern stuff then they’d probably come off.
Secondly I am really pushing the floor toms to be a bit lower pitched than they would comfortably be so the rings help them sound less flabby. I’ve always loved small drums for the ease of transport, but they need help to sound rocky!
Lastly they do help quieten down the kit a bit - I play a lot of pub venues and always carry mics for bigger gigs, so generally speaking quieter is better.
The main kick is a 20” x 18” (considered extra deep when I bought it!) It is fitted with an Evans EMAD clear batter with a Remo double Falam Slam patch (which I need to replace!), Sonitus kicker and resonant black front head with a custom graphic from the awesome Glenn Grey (pictured below).
Having pre-damped heads AND a kicker is more to reduce onstage volume than tone control, as I always mic the kick.
My second kick is only used for big gigs as a special effect, and I’ll blog about that in a separate geek blog!
My next blog will be the snares...
Drummer, drum geek, reluctant blogger and eater of cheese!
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