UK Custom Drum News – January 2012
UK Custom Drum News – January 2012
Welcome to the first edition of UK Custom News; a quarterly report on the latest developments in the UK’s professional drum making world. The custom drum industry in Britain is lively, innovative and growing. The craftsmanship of the makers and the high quality of their products represents superb value for money in these cash strapped times. Aficionados of UK custom drums will already know about the supportive community of craftsmen, endorsers and dedicated clients involved in the business. The aim of this newsletter is to provide a place for producers to offer updates on their work and to promote UK custom drums to a wider audience.
It has been a hectic first year for RTCustoms, run by Richard Lewis. They have recently moved to new premises in South Wales and are becoming better known in the UK custom drum scene. They specialise in hand painted custom graphics, drawing from a range of techniques perfected by their in house artist. The originality of their designs has helped them to be noticed by drummers internationally and they have bands such as Sigiriya and We Start Partys helping to promote the brand across Europe.
RT also specialises in LED technology and they are looking to bring out something very special in early 2012 that will catch the eyes of drummers, not just those interested in LED systems. Check their Facebook page for imminent announcements.
Their custom badge department has also been busy. RT can engrave badges on acrylic, aluminium and brass with virtually any design cut into them.
RTCustoms are looking to make their first appearances at the custom drum shows in 2012.
At the end of November, Tiki Drums hosted another drum building course at their HQ in Brighton. During the weekend, five fledgling drum builders built new snare drums that sounded as good as they looked. Their February course sold out quickly, but they still have places on their April course so check their website for booking details.
Bonners Music Superstore is now stocking Tiki Custom drums. Bonners are a fantastic drum shop in Eastbourne and they are really helping the drum community in Sussex, so it’s something they''re very pleased to be part of.
AD Drums’ Carl Haffield has been experimenting with different materials and he has made a few demo shells with plastic plys within the shell. “Why?” you may ask. To Carl, it’s all about playing around with new ideas and seeing if they work. The first demo snares were just 4” in depth and he was surprised how deep it made them sound. The modification fattened out the sound and he is currently testing it out on larger shells.
As well as a cool looking array of kits, AD actually have a few snare drums that go beyond the standard wrapped finishes. Pictured is a huge 13 x 8" snare which is has a satin oil finish in green to gold fade. Photos show the natural stain and after the gold had been applied.
Over the next few months, Carl will be getting back to some of the early building days of AD. He has dusted off his airbrush rig and has upgraded a few parts so look out for some artwork snares
Animal Custom Drums celebrated their 6th Birthday in September and, given the current financial climate, they are really pleased that so many drummers are still willing to spend their hard earned money buying great products from the British drum building community.
Animal’s artist roster is steadily growing with great British drummers choosing to play Animal, the latest being Daisy Palmer, session musician and recording and live drummer for Goldfrapp. The last few months have also seen ASH complete another great tour and Anti-Nowhere League supported the mighty Motorhead on their UK tour playing Animal drums
They have some great new products planned for launch in 2012 which are currently being tested, so keep a look out for those in the coming months.
Carrera Drums, the Uxbridge-based boutique drum maker, was quietly making a name for itself when a recent press release not only announced that there had been a company photo shoot in London (directed via Skype video from Canada), but suggested the company was going global. “Yes, after two years of doing our homework while designing and handcrafting what people are claiming to be some of the best drums they’ve ever played, Carrera is stepping up in the world,” said owner Dave Carrera. “Though the firm has several snare and kit designs, the one we’re kicking off with is the Terrier. It’s a 13”x3.85” all-birch snare fitted with innovative S-Hoops that direct sound to the centre of the head, so the response is surprisingly big, clean and punchy. The Terrier is that bit smaller, but it’s got a lot of bark and bite…everyone loves it. Next up will be the Bulldog,” added Dave.
Session ace Geoff Dugmore, who now has a Terrier in his arsenal, said “It’s a wonderful snare…The versatility in live and recording sessions is unbelievable.” The legendary Small Faces/Who drummer Kenney Jones is also very keen on the Terrier. Sam Kelly is all-Carrera, working with former Mott the Hoople and Bad Company guitarist Mick Ralphs.
Finally, Dave said, “Because Carrera drums are available direct online, we’ve just developed some super-safe packaging for the snare drums that ensures they will arrive intact anywhere in the world. Just like mikedolbear.com’s ‘Best of British’ drumming event, Carrera Drums like to think our drums will remind the world that the best really is British.”
Back on November 8th, Pimpco’s bomber command snare drum was auctioned and raised £1600 for the memorial fund (see http://www.mikedolbear.com/story.asp?StoryID=2892). They were recently asked by another charity called Soldiering On if they would like to make something similar, and they were more than happy to say “Yes”. The snare is currently being designed and it will be auctioned in March.
Pimpco have recently launched their Nutz© cymbal nuts, which have gone down well with drummers. They are a nut and a washer combo and they come in very handy when stacking cymbals too.
They have also introduced several lovely looking drum wrap veneers that are can be cut to size on request, as well as new digital wrap designs which range from elegant to “totally crazy”.
In addition, Pimpco have also introduced a unique black hardware lacquer, which can be used to recoat existing hardware
Inventor and drum maker Marcus de Mowbray has just completed another batch of his Adders, comprising a set of short snare wires mounted on a wooden frame, which have an improved design of strap with which to affix them to a snare drum batter head. The new design incorporates a hook at each end to make set-up and removal very quick and easy.
He is also endurance testing prototypes of a new brush design which give a distinctive, clear and fast tone and response. Assuming they pass muster, Marcus plans to approach major brush manufacturers with his idea.
Marcus is also making two more of his distinctive “Gub Gub” snare drums: a purple 13”x4" drum, which will be for sale, and a 13”x7" hybrid drum to test with his Busker Cajon Lounge kit.
It’s been a busy few months for Humm Drums, following their introduction to the public at the NDF in September. People both new and experienced with electronic drums have been switching over to their triggering system for both full custom kits and conversions.
They have also been busy designing new products and demo kits. Dean Fradley’s Rhythm Foundry music school in Stoke-on-Trent have taken delivery of a custom 6 piece kit for teaching use.
Alongside other exiting endorsements to be announced in the New Year, top teacher Jon Broberg has moved to Humm Drums. He will be using his custom kit for teaching, recording and integrating electric elements into his Guru acoustic kit for live use.
Their new hd3 heads have received a good response during testing and will be included on all new kits. They will be available separately from February. Due to the popularity of their compact “All 10” custom kits Humm Drums will also be unveiling a range of space saving kits; perfect for smaller studios and home use.
After a year of development work, Guru Drumworks released their prototype kit to public scrutiny at October’s London Drum Show. Developed jointly between Andy Crosby and Dean Price, the chassis based construction is completely free floating and crafted with 3mm thick mahogany stave shells. "We believe these to be the thinnest stave shells ever applied to a drum kit, and was only possible by using the free floating chassis design & radial ring tensioning system" says Andy. Their aim was to test the limits of solid shell construction, whilst designing a kit specifically for recording & near field sound capture. What they ended up creating was exceptionally pure shell tone resonance, but with surprising levels of projection that wasn''t expected with ultra-thin shells.
Guru are now working on their new production drums, to be released later in the year. "They will look very different to the prototype kit, although they will employ many of the prototype innovations found to be of real benefit" says Andy. "The new drums will have an aesthetic close to a standard drum configuration. They''re ultra-lightweight and will be available in both steam bent & stave shell constructions. They''ll be offered in a wide range of timber species & sizes. They''ll also be able to accommodate triple flange, S hoop, & cast hoops, in addition to Guru''s own segmented solid timber hoop designs". The new series of drums will be offered alongside Guru''s existing solid stave, segmented, and steam bent drums, hand crafted in house by Dean Price. "We''re proud to be the only drum builder in the world to make our own solid shells in all sizes and all three construction methods", says Andy. "Each drum is designed to celebrate the character of the timber species".
Prototype kit video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-CMAEiJ_os
UK custom cymbalsmith, Matt Nolan had a busy 2011. He made custom instruments for everyone from Björk to the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He also found time to service some regular, down-to-earth drummers too. Matt added B15 to his range of bronze alloys, introducing a line made from this at Frankfurt Musikmesse in April. Later in the year he showed his first B20 Bronze alloy cymbals at PASIC in Indianapolis. He remarked "B20 is quite a bit harder to hammer than the other bronzes, but it lathes like a dream. Much easier than the other alloys in this respect."
Matt is becoming widely known for producing world class cymbals. "I still enjoy making the more way-out sculptural creations, but it''s nice not to be just ''that guy that makes the crazy stuff'' now." Besides cymbals, Matt also hand-hammers gongs, tuned plate chimes and symphonic triangles. The latter sold out before the 2nd day of the PASIC expo was up. Reportedly, they were the talk of the show. Other instruments in development include a different take on Tubular Bells and their lower octave cousins the Bell Plates.
Matt has even gone digital. He teamed up with Yamaha Music Europe GmbH, via session drummer, producer and Yamaha DTX endorser Emre Ramazanoglu, to create a series of sample packs for the Yamaha DTX series of electronic drums. The first of these free, downloadable add-on sample packs became available on December 24th. Subsequent packs will be released for the January NAMM show and for the March Frankfurt Musikmesse show. They include Nolan''s cymbals and gongs and also some special effect metal percussion instruments.
Matt will be exhibiting again at the NAMM show, on the Pork Pie Drums booth. He will have his own booths at Frankfurt Musikmesse and PASIC (this year in Austin, Texas) and, no doubt, some of the smaller drum shows such as Chicago and the UK NDF too.
From mid-January, Supernova Custom Drums will be introducing a new and unique drum shell to their well-received list of shell combinations.
Pictured is a new snare from Supernova, and it''s a bit of a special one; a 13"x 6" Trojan (brand new prototype) Birch Snare with an outer Movingui Veneer and a Gloss Oil Finish. More news about the new range will be in the next newsletter. Check out their website, where they will also be starting an important promotion to spread the word about their products.
2011 was a very busy year for Highwood Drums and Percussion, who offer not only their own products, but a restoration and repairs service too. Their recent restoration work has included re-wraps of monster double bass Ludwig kits, modifications such as shortening deep bass drums and converting concert toms into double headed toms.
Highwood’s own in-house drum wraps have been in production for around 10 months and they are proving very successful. They have been experimenting for the last three or four years to perfect new ways of achieving industry standard finishes, reducing the use of expensive imported laminates. They now have a laminate finish, made in house, that has a flexible backing. With their newly developed processes they have been making their own sparkle finishes and they are now experimenting with solid colours, sparkle fades and Highwood’s own take on pearls and ripples. They will be available from mid-2012 as exclusive in-house drum finishes which will not be for sale as raw sheets.
Highwood have also been spending time designing their own hardware components and a new wooden badge. A few drums have already been released with early versions fitted. They also have various other part designs that have not been previewed yet, so watch this space. In addition, Highwood have been expanding as a shell & parts supplier and construct shells for other makers. They have been increasing their production capacity to cope with the demand.
In early 2012 they will be re-launching their cast acrylic drums. Acrylics have always been popular and they were very proud of their last model. High production costs forced them to cease production, but they have been able to find ways of cutting costs to bring them back at a much reduced price, and in an expanded range of shell sizes.
Jobeky Drums have recently launched a brand new website, which is packed with the latest updates on their electro-acoustic designs. Owners Colin and Jane Ackroyd are now offering their drums in a wider range of finishes than ever before and they have an ever growing list of endorsers, including Johnny Jenkins, Travis Marc and Andy Edwards.
They are currently hard at work preparing for the next Jobeky UK Custom Drum Festival, which will be held in Stafford on 6th May at Stafford Showground. Full details of the country’s only dedicated custom drum show will be included in the next newsletter.
Just before Christmas, it was announced that Premier Drums had acquired Stockport based custom makers KD Drums. The takeover will see the formation of The Premier Drum Company Limited which will be the research, development and UK manufacturing operation for Premier Music International Limited. The move sees a return to UK manufacture for Premier, with the first of the new British built products due to be released at NAMM this month. The company will operate from new premises in Lancashire with production starting in February 2012.
KD’s Keith Keough commented that, “We are delighted with the move and are very excited about producing ‘UK, hand built’ Premier drums in the new workshop. We couldn’t have moved to a better company and I’m very honoured to be a part of this wonderful team.” He added, “Please note that all existing KD orders will be honoured and dispatched promptly but we can no longer take any KD orders”.
Though it is sad to see an indigenous custom firm lose its independence, it is testament to the high quality of KD’s distinctive work that Britain’s most famous drum maker has chosen to invest in it. There is already a lot of excitement among drummers about the products that will result from the takeover and mikedolbear.com will be reporting on them as soon as they appear.
That’s it for the first edition of UK Custom News. The Spring issue will be live at the start of April, so please look out for it and keep supporting UK drum manufacturers.
The information here has been offered for publication by the makers. More information is always welcome from UK custom drum producers. Please drop me a line to email@example.com for details
Please log in below if you wish to add your comments on this item. If you are commenting for the first time, you will need to register for security reasons.
|SHARE||PRINT THIS PAGE|