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Diary of a Drum Tech Pt. 12


SnaresNo touring this month as I have retreated (for tax purposes) into my shop instead of going to Dublin for 6 months (wishful thinking I believe you call it?).

There’s plenty to catch up on as, for instance, we have added to our Hire range of snares this month, a Drum Paradise ‘Hitmaker Stealth’ 14 x 6.5 which Lee Smith had made as his own brand. Lee bought Drum Paradise from Jeff Chronis who is widely regarded as he has been Ringo Starr’s tech for many years. Drum Paradise is based in North Hollywood and services most of the LA based drummers along with Drum Doctors.

We have also added a Yamaha Custom Maple 14 x 5 and Rogers Dynasonic 14 x 5 and 14 x 6.5 to our armoury.

It is time to roll up my sleeves and get on with it. We have a 70’s Sonor 20/12/14, 80’s Premier Club 22/13/14/16 and a Ludwig 70’s 24/14/16/18 to strip, clean and re-head.

My mini rant is that so many profess to have mint condition equipment but it is very rare that that is the case. Most kits upon arrival in our workshop take 2-3 days to strip hardware, clean years of muck and hoop rust, polish, replace odd length tension bolts, re-head and tune to tip top condition with logo front heads added to our standards. Snare side heads should be changed at least once a year or at least brush the potato build up out of the hoop! We have even found clear tom heads on snare side… sort it out!

Jerry Brown's Snare Being BuiltDrums are similar to life in that you only get out what you put in – if you cannot take the time clean, maintain and tune your kit then you may as well forget it. The very best players are very particular about their cherished possessions as they adore them. Please if you are guilty as charged, take their lead.

This month we have a selection of 70’s snares with a Premier 5 piece kit with die-cast hoops going into Abbey Road to record drum sounds. It seems strange to see people being photographed on the famous zebra crossing outside in the dark. What’s all that about, it needs to be done in daylight, I would have thought, to get the album shot?

Jerry Brown's Snare FinishedThere is a special feeling for me at some of the major studios – Abbey Rd Studio 2 due to The Beatles, Sarm West (formerly Island Studios) due to the complete ‘FREE’ catalogue and where the Live Aid ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’ single was recorded and Olympic Studios in Barnes which sadly closed in January of this year for other reasons.

Olympic was where EC spent recording from the mid 60’s on until its closure. Sitting in the control room looking into the studio watching a plethora of the worlds best in session – Steve Gadd, Billy Preston, Jim Keltner, Pino Palladino, Nathan East – a list of endless talent and happy times with very competent and humble musicians. The late Billy Preston made it look as though he wasn’t even trying, an absolute genius.

Mark Knopfler has a studio ‘British Grove’ based in Chiswick that is built to the same very high spec as Olympic but Mark never stops working in it! On the subject of MK, he has a beautiful collection of vintage snares and drums that I am sure he will gift to me to lose some of the guilt of being a guitar player with a drum collection!

One of the former recording machines from the Abbey Road ‘golden period’ is in his control room too. If you are interested in The Beatles recording equipment and techniques, there is a great book out written by Brian Kehew my former colleague and keyboard tech for The Who which is full of info and pictures for gear heads.

FM KitAnother studio with very fond memories for me was Trident 2 in Strutton Ground, Victoria. It was the home of early Queen and Genesis recordings amongst others. My brother-in-law Andy Barnett from FM/Corey Hart, recorded there as a member of Visage with Steve Strange and Rusty Egan in those early glam Boy George/Marilyn/Spandau Ballet days. Last time I was in there, Jean Michel Jarre was recording ‘Oxygene.’

In ’88 Adrian Smith from Iron Maiden recorded his solo album A.S.A.P with Andy on guitar, Zak Starkey on drums and Bad Co guitarist Dave ‘Bucket’ Colwell at Trident.

Andy Taylor from Duran Duran bought the studio in ’89 after some building alterations by my goodself. Sanctuary Music managers of Iron Maiden took it over in the early 90s so I was back in there with rock band ‘Skin’ but not Skunk Anansie’s Skin.

Skunks’ great bass player, Cass Lewis was playing with Zak in those days and also with Andy Taylor on his solo album… small world eh? Cass was also with Terence Trent D’arby during his “Sign Your Name Days.”

A great find for us this month are some of Tony Williams cymbals for our Hire Department. These will only be available to jazz players known and trusted by us to take special care of them. Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins will get nowhere near them!

Hayman ResorationWell, back to polishing, wrapping and tuning!

On the horizon we have Christmas coming up… a gig with EC on New Years Eve followed by Charlie Watts in Europe… EC and Jeff Beck in February… bring it on, I need the dough!

Happy Xmas & A Great New Year To All!

See ya,


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