Hi everyone, here's a pic of our heads on the Trojan music stand at the London drum show. It was really nice to meet so many of you for real and chat drums for a whole weekend. I managed to pick up some lovely Masshoff snare wires, which I've fitted on to my 14x8" Gretsch and some Read Audio moulded earplugs, which is a purchase I should've made about 20 years ago!
If ever there were any questions of durability, then this photo, taken on the Sunday evening after a weekend of battering surely answers them! If fact, we only tuned it up once in the morning on both days. This is on a very modest Premier XPK and sounded great! You can head on down to Drumshack and check this drum out.
As I said in my last blog, I've started working on my big Gretsch kit - I got this kit kind of by accident - I spotted it on ebay about 6/7 years ago and the seller didn't really know what he had, so I emailed him to let him know it was worth more than he was selling it... Proof that karma pays off, he offered me the kit for a silly price as he couldn't be bothered with all the anorak-ey questions he was getting.... So I then went on a bit of a quest to build a big Hal Blaine kind of kit, as I'm kind of drawn to the idea as concert toms seem deeply unfashionable! -The original kit is: 12, 13, 14 concert toms, 16 floor & 22" kick (with one metal hoop) they all have been a bit butchered with Premier mounts (urgh) - expecially the bass drum, which looked like it had been drilled with a hand drill, badly. I then added a 6, 8, 10 & 15" concert tom and my ultimate plan is to have a load of drums in the same finish that I can pick and choose, so I'm on the look out for similar era Gretsch drums (particularly 18 & 24"!). The original kit is covered in a horrible & scratched Chrome wrap, which made some of the drums difficult to fit heads on. I decided that I'd strip off the wrap and finish back to natural maple, plugging the holes with maple and refinishing in a Gretsch like Nitro-Cellulose laquer. See the photos:
The covering came off very easily, it was amazing how heavy it was, I think it was either chromed aluminium or steel sheet. It weighed a ton! In keeping with the usual Jasper/Gretsch quality control of the period on wrapped drums, the outside ply is made from two smaller pieces of veneer/ply (check the Rob Cook 'Gretsch Drums Book' for more info on this) , which is more visible on some than others. Anyway, it's all ongoing... I think it's going to look great when it's done, I've had too many years putting up with crappy old hardware so it'll be nice to not have that!
I'm gearing up for the holidays now, I'm still awaiting another order of calfskins to arrive, so it's unlikely I'll be able to do anymore (I do have every size bar 14" in stock tho....) before next year, please check before ordering. I'll keep everything updated! Thanks, James
So welcome drummers! As I said in my about page this has been a bit of a journey - here's a couple of photos along the way...
So here's the first head I made all the way back in the summer of 2013 for master drummer/producer Emre Ramazanoglu - I originally had the plan of reusing and repurposing the metal hoops from old unused mylar heads (if you're anything like I am you'll have tonnes of those)... However, unfortunately that didn't work as the calfskin would add a couple of mm on to the width of the hoop and that would make the heads VERY snug, so my upcycling plan fell by the wayside. I thought about various options and it wasn't until later on that summer that I was tasked with doing a whole kit that I decided to work out how to steam bend wood for the hoops. I had to do this as the 12" on this Ludwig is a little bit bigger than 12" (vintage drum fans will understand that!). The minute I tried woodhoops - I made a discovery, there's something about the weight of wood that makes it way simpler to tuck - making it neater and quicker and 50% less cursing! Here's the finished article in the studio (teatowels added for that Ringo vibe):
Moving on from this kit i'd decided that wood hoops were the way forward and lots of trial and error was involved in making these - I'd steambent a bit before but not like this - eventually I hit on a recipe, which I'm afraid I'm keeping to myself! Here's an action shot of me bending this around a forming drum:
It was at this point I took the decision to offer only 14" as a startup size for the company - the more heads I made I became more confident at both tucking and steam bending and I look forward to making you a drum head - I chose 14" as I believe every drummer (or producer) should have at least one Snare drum with a calfskin on it, it gives a sonic option which is impossible to get with other heads, in the same way that a double ply head doesn't sound like a coated head etc etc. so I thought I would offer that first and test the water! I can do custom sizes as well, email me and lets talk! Here's a finished head played by me in the studio last weekend:
Recording geeks: Stereo Sony C48's in Blumlein (5 feet back) into a UA 610 pre then into Pro Tools, no further processing.
Hi there, James here. In this blog I'm going to look at all the stuff I'm working on. Expect drums, diy and audio nerdiness.