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.
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!”
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