Bjorn's Drum Site

Part 1

My son playing my drums

It's been a few years since I completed the vintage Premier project and although I've refurbed a few odd drums since then I always fancied doing another complete kit. I recently went to pick up an 80's Premier APK and other assorted drums and accessories with the intention of cleaning most of them up to sell on. My 4-year old son was keen to come with me to pick them up, and on the way home he came out with "Thank you daddy, for all my drums". I had to laugh, but I also felt a pang of guilt, and decided that yes, some of these would become his drums, and so the idea of a mini Premier kit was born.

The complete APK kit which was the basis for this project

The aim was to build a small kit for my son, but something of good quality, something that didn't look like a toy, but a 'proper' scaled down kit, that could even be used by an adult (moi!) as a small portable jazz-style kit. I would use some of the APK shells and hardware, and other odd bits I had, and sell those bits I didn't need to help fund the project, as there would inevitably be some parts I would have to spend a little money on. I also had the idea of being able to use the kit with normal heads, but also with mesh heads for silent practice, and with triggers and a module, as an electronic kit. More on that later.

The mini kit, set up roughly how I imagined it might look

Using the 16" floortom as a bass drum was an obvious idea, and I decided on 10" and 12" toms, a 10" snare, and then some small hi-hats and a small crash to complete the outfit. Two of the leg mounts on the floor tom were moved slightly and now serve as spur holders. For spurs I cut down two of the tom legs, and put a slight bend in them, so they hold the drum nice and stable and also fold inwards when the drums need packed up. Using the two tom leg holders for spurs meant that the third holder was now at the top of the 'bass' drum, and at first I was just going to clamp an L-arm in there and mount the tom off it. I decided against that as it lacked adjustabilty and looked too bodged to be honest. So the big chrome tom mount was cannibilised off the APK bass drum and fitted to the new 16" bass drum, and I bought a single tom post to mount the 10" tom on, the 12" would be mounted from the cymbal stand. Around this time I also bought a 10x5" Premier Cabria snare, the lugs are a little different to the rest of the kit it still fits in nicely.

With Premier mount & single tom post installed. And close-up of the spurs I made from floortom legs

Part 2

Having decided on the sizes of the kit, I moved on to other details. I spent a little money on maple hoops from Gerd at ST-drums in Germany. The wooden hoops looked great and really made the small bass drum look like a bass drum instead of just a floortom on its side. As the kit was for my son I had to finish it how he liked, and he's mad about Disney's 'Cars' movie and the main character, Lightning McQueen. So choice of wrap colour was easy, it had to be red, maybe a nice sparkle. I bought the wrap from Colin at Jobeky Drums. The wrap is great value and a bit of a cross between a metallic and sparkle finish, depending on how the light hits it. I also started looking for a 'Cars' related logo or graphic for the front head. A full set of white coated heads was bought from Arcade Music (Remo Coated Ambassadors, but cheaper due to the 'Arbiter' logos on them).

I stripped the old APK shells of all their hardware and their black wrap, and used a little wood filler in places where some small bits of wood came off with the wrap. The badge grommets were drilled out from inside the shell, so the badges could be removed undamaged and re-used. Luckily, these APK toms had 2 badges on them, I'll only used one badge per drum when re-wrapped, so I had a few spare, one to use on the snare to replace the 'winged' Cabria badge.

Shells stripped of old wrap, and snare interior painted black to match other shells

You'll notice the APK shells have black interiors, this was standard (an easy way to identify APKs) so I also painted the Cabria snare interior black to match. None of it will be visible with coated heads on the drums, but it will look better when mesh heads are on. I then polished all the lugs, hoops and fittings, sorted them, ready to go back on when the shells were re-wrapped. I kept the claws and T-rods from the original 22" bass to use on the 16", these fitted the hoops and lugs just fine, without too much 'splaying' (this can happen when you don't use larger or raised lugs on the bass, the tension rods can be angled slightly)

Shells filled and sanded. Hardware polished and ready for reassembly after re-wrap.

For my previous vintage Premier project I used glue to attach wrap to the drums, but have since had some better (easier!) results using tape, which is what many manufacturers use anyway. So tape it was for this project. I laid out my sheet of wrap, measured each drum, and then marked the back of the wrap. At this point I should say, measure twice, cut once!! Being the smallest drum, I did the snare first, then tackled the toms and bass. I stuck bands of the double-sided tape horizontally around the drum, and another strip of tape vertically where the wrap would start. I stuck the wrap down evenly around the drum, and then added another strip of tape under the end of the wrap, making sure this was under a pair of lugs, so-as the overlap was not obvious. I'd cut the wrap slightly wider than the drum on purpose, so then trimmed the excess wrap along the bearing edges of the drum with a sharp stanley blade, being extra careful not to nick into the wood, or my fingers!

The wrap being stuck down, and then carefully trimmed

I was happy with the result after wrapping, but wasn't sure whether to do the bass drum hoops aswell. At this point I started putting the Premier badges back on the drums. It IS after all, still a Premier kit, just not quite how it looked when it came out of the Leicester factory (or China, in the case of the Cabria snare)! I also bought a full set of batter heads for the kit, all Arbiter coated heads (same as Remo Ambassadors, but cheaper), the reso heads were the original Premier ones but still perfect. A set of Ddrum 'redshot' triggers and set of 'Z-ED' mesh heads was also purchased, and I managed to find a DD502 module with 2 cymbal pads.... although this module was sold when I found a TD3 module at a good price. At home, the kit will be played mostly as an electronic kit. 

Shells nearly done. Big red 'P' badge vast improvement over Cabria badge!

Part 3

Here is the finished kit, in its 'e-kit' mode (without cables as I quickly set it up for pics). I finished the wrap job by wrapping the hoops aswell, it was a shame to cover the nice maple finish but personally I think it looks more complete and professional with them wrapped. I also added the Disney 'Cars' stickers to the front head, these were from a pack of large stickers to decorate a kids room, but were the perfect size. The snare stand was adapted to fit the 10" snare by bending the arms of the cradle/basket double, using some molegrip pliers and brute force! Even with the arms bent double, the rubber covers fitted over the ends so it looks fine, and there was no need to purchase adaptors separately to accomodate the smaller snare. The TD3 module has a metal bracket fitted underneath, which is gripped by the multiclamp.

Finished! Kit complete but shown without cables, and now has Roland cymbals.

The kit is very compact with only 3 'parts'.... The 16" bass with 10" mounted tom, and pedal. The snare stand holding the 10" snare, with the hi-hat cymbal mounted from the stand. And the cymbal stand on which the cymbal is mounted, aswell as the 12" tom, and the Roland TD3 module. Since I took the pictures the single zone cymbals have been replaced with dual zones, a Roland CY5 for hi-hat and CY8 for the crash-/ride. It's not perfect yet, it took a bit of playing around with the triggers and head tensions to get a good response through the module, and as I omitted a hi-hat controller pedal (to keep things simple) the hi-hat only has an open sound for now... or can be played with a ride sound. All in all though, I'm very happy with the way the kit turned out, and my son was delighted to receive it for his birthday!

From the front, with Lightning Mcqueen on the bass head

Since building this kit around 6 months ago my son has only played it occasionally, and only really when I've 'pushed' a bit to do so. He says he loves the kit but just didn't seem that interested in playing it. A few weeks ago that changed, something just 'clicked' I guess, and he's been playing every day, even before going to school in the morning he's asking if we can play drums when he gets home!! Instead of playing through the headphones, we have the kit running through a Roland PM10 amp, so he can enjoy making some noise, albeit a lot less than an acoustic kit. And he's been playing along to some of his favourites including the Oasis, Foo Fighters and the Alvin & the Chipmunks soundtrack!