Progress on the new “modular” drum kit.
This has been badly delayed due to several much-needed components being on back-order, some finally arrived over the last fortnight but others have been on order for 2 weeks already and it is still 10 days before I can expect them. The kit was originally due to be finished about now (5th May 2013) but thanks to these vital parts being out of stock at the suppliers, and other delays, it could still be over a month before it is finally completed.
The kit is now set up on a sheet of old cheap plywood using a mix of some of the final hardware, and some old hardware which will have to do until the parts arrive to complete the new set. The plywood is being used for setting up and testing the kit, then taking exact 3D measurements of where everything is, then it will be used as the template to make the actual Rostrum/Trolley. All of the stands will be “Mono-pods” which will plug into special brackets and clamps bolted to the kit’s rostrum, and this rostrum will also be the trolley for the drums. By dispensing with the usual tripods weight and bulk is minimised and there will be an “uncluttered” look to the kit. It is critical that I establish exactly the right places for the brackets because once their fitting holes have been drilled the brackets will HAVE to be there as I do not want changes and empty holes in the final rostrum, hence the cheap plywood temporary rostrum to try it all out BEFORE drilling the final one!
There will be at least two spare brackets on the rostrum which are to allow at least 2 different main kit configurations …
1) Sometimes I intend to use it as a standard 4 drum kit comprising 16″ bass drum, 12″ snare drum, and 10″ rack tom and 13″ floor tom. There will be up to 4 cymbal stand brackets to allow a choice of how many cymbals are wanted, and where they are located within the kit. There will also be a hi-hat and a Pedal Carousel.
2) Sometimes I will want to add bongos and percussion, and these will fit either to the left of the hi-hat, or alternatively they will be put in the 10″ rack tom position, then the rack tom placed to left of hi-hat. Extra cymbals, drums and percussion will also be able to be added if wanted.
I will not use a normal stool but instead will use my Cajon/Bass Drum/Stool/Trolley, which will have added struts to connect it to the kit’s Rostrum/Trolley so that no part will ever go “walkies”. At small quiet gigs I will leave the 16 x 10″ bass drum at home and just use the bass drum built into my Cajon, played with its “remote” pedal. At bigger gigs I will use the 16″ Bass drum and normal bass drum pedal. Most of the drums, cymbals and percussion are part of my existing collection, but there are three brand new additions.
Three NEW additions.
1) The new 16 x 10″ bass drum is now up and running. A very old and tired 16 x 16″ floor tom shell was cut down 3″ at each end to remove the rotten wood, as it had lain neglected on a flat roof for 10 years! It was restored, covered with an outer layer of thin ply and fitted with 6 solid brass double-ended tuning lugs. I ordered Carrera wood hoops for it, specifying “snare drum style” hoops without the usual bass drum hoop claws.BD Claws add significant weight and cost. This drum looks superb, much neater without the usual claws, and this will really make sense when it will sometimes be used as a tom. It has a Remo Vintage Ambassador batter head and Remo Skyntone front head. It attaches to the rostrum with three small feet whose bracket is not bolted to the shell but suspended from 4 tension rods and this has ensured that an exceptionally rich and warm tone is produced, and the sustain is superb. This tiny bass drum really does surprise people with its wonderful sound, and I normally use it without any muffling/damping. However, the sustain does sometimes need reducing for some tastes or styles of music, and this recently led me to invent an exiting new damper system for bass drums, which is already being tested by myself and one of my best customers. This damper system permits a very wide range of tonal adjustment in literally seconds and is now on sale.
2) Pedal Carousels are now a regular feature of all my kits and I felt I really needed to have one on this kit, but to fit on the rostrum/trolley it had to be very narrow. Its bottom half bolts to the rostrum and BD pedal and its top half rotates to provide a choice of two sounds, Clave and Wood Block. It looks very elegant, almost like a small and desirable item of bespoke Hi-Fi equipment!
3) I have made a special new hi-hat stand, without legs and it is very light and compact. I cannot test this properly yet as the bracket clamps are on long-term back-order, but quick tests suggest it will have a super light and fast action very much like my lovely vintage Olympic hi-hat stand. I originally considered cannibalising the Olympic hihat for this kit, but then realised I WOULD regret it at a later time, so I decided to design a brand new one with similar feel and weight. If any customers want a similar rostrum kit I will be able to offer a hi-hat stand specially designed for use on this rostrum system. I do still make my old-style “Busker” hi-hat stands, but I feel this one is a big improvement and much easier and quicker for me to make.
The plan, if it all works out correctly, is that the drums will pack into soft bags then be stacked and attached on to the Rostrum/Trolley for transporting, and the hardware, cymbals and sticks etc. will fit into the Cajon/Bass Drum/Stool/Trolley, so the whole kit, in whatever chosen configuration, will hopefully fit into two boxes, which are both also trolleys.
It has been very tricky indeed figuring out all the positions and heights for all the different instruments and the different possible kit configurations, but it’s getting close. I want this “Modular” system kit to be able to fit a wide variety of uses depending on what I am using it for, and having been playing it a bit I think it will be amazingly versatile and serve me well. The range of sounds and their quality is VERY inspiring and I am desperately keen on completing it as soon as possible.
Luckily this Bank Holiday weekend most people at the Studios are away, so I have had plenty of time to give it a really good play, even though one of the incomplete stands has to be held upright by strings attached to stands either side of it! I have played on my own, and also to several CDs with headphones on and turned down all the way to deafening. It sounds great and is such good fun to play despite some wobbling caused by the jury-rigged temporary hardware, and it fits very well in a wide range of musical styles. I LONG for the day the back-ordered parts FINALLY arrive, allowing me to start final measuring, testing and then building the final rostrum/trolley!
Up till now the finished wood on all my “Busker” and “Gub Gub” drums, percussion, rostrum/trolleys and Cajons has all been Birch Ply with an oiled and waxed finish. The sheet of old temporary plywood I am using to test and measure this kit on is medium reddish brown in colour and contrasts nicely with all the pale Birch plywood of the drums, cajon and percussion, so I am seriously considering making the final rostrum/trolley out of similarly coloured Marine Ply.
There are still lots of things to figure out, make and test, but already this kit is giving me so much pleasure. I have used it for many jams with two friends and they are impressed as much as I am. Even when played very softly it still sounds beautifully warm, but when driven it does still have a satisfying punch, and this was exactly what I wanted to achieve. The shells, hoops, bearing edges and heads were all specifically made, modified or selected to keep volume controllable whilst giving the richest possible tone.