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Diary of a Drum Tech Pt. 5

Hello you lot,

Another month has passed by and what has happened recently you ask?

Slingerland 14x7 Radio KingNo touring this month so it’s down to the DrumYard,, for general studio sessions, sales and repair. The first delight through my door was a DVD of FM’s show at Nottingham Rock City last year as part of Firefest. I was Production Manager for FM over a 5 year period ‘91-‘95 besides other duties. They were great people, great players and the band and crew were one.

If anyone is beginning in this business on the crew side, you could not get a better start than a band as FM. We had band and crew 5-a-side matches after soundcheck and were in general, good mates, all working towards the same aims.

Watching the DVD brought back superb memories of all of our good times together, you will never beat mutual respect. If you get a chance, give their DVD a look.

Back to the shop.

Hayman BassFirst off the production line is our 1950’s Slingerland Radio King set in 26″/13″/16″ with 14×7″ snare finished in Light Blue Marine Pearl. The kit had to be re-covered as the old glitter finish had “liver spots” all over it. This is caused when the elements in the wrap react against each other after many years. I quite liked the effect but, it can scare some. A nice feature is the nickel hardware from that period in preference to chrome. Due to my touring commitments and also my desperation to see it finished sympathetically, I entrusted the help of my old mate Eddie Ryan to take the work on as I knew that it would be a top notch job. Please be aware that there are no shortcuts to a fine job.

For those not aware of Eddie, he has been a master drum builder his entire working life and insists on producing quality work. We first met over 30 years ago when he was in Archer St, Soho. Eddie started at the Boosey & Hawkes factory as an apprentice making Edgware drums and finishing up in the Soho repair shop with others carrying out emergency drum repairs and tuning for theatre land pit orchestras and club artists. The Eddie Ryan range of drums are now sought after collectors pieces.

Next on the list is a 13 x 7″ Maple snare for Girls Aloud drummer Jerry Brown. A word of warning here for all Dolbearians… Jerry bought all the components for this snare but when it arrived had not put itself together!

Hayman TomI trained as a carpenter & joiner and have my own wood shop, having run a building company since my early 20’s. If you do not have the skills necessary to carry out these works do NOT attempt it. Setting out for the lugs and strainer is crucial as in any building skill. It is cheaper to buy a ready made snare unless you are very able! The snare turned out fine with a finish wrap to Jerry’s spec.

My favourite girl drummer, Cherisse Osei from Mika, had taken a fancy to my ‘70’s Ludwig Black Beauty and, despite my rock hard exterior, I reluctantly agreed that she could be the new owner as she has been patient whilst waiting to get her hands on it… along with Gadd’s favourite, the Ludwig 400 model. I saw Cherisse perform Led Zeppelin’s “Good Times, Bad Times” at Drummerlive and despite me being the closest that you can get to Bonham (some chance), she did a fantastic job!

We cater for a lot of session work in various high end studios but due to our verbal agreement with respective management companies, their artistes would prefer for it not to be mentioned in our blog which we respect. One that we can mention though is, Mark Ronson producing the Kaiser Chiefs at RAK Studios using our Ludwig Champagne Sparkle 22″/13″/16″ ‘70’s kit.

We have more session work with Steve Gadd coming up in the UK. His Yamaha kit which is kept with us will be prepped, delivered, set up and ready to go. It will be great to see him.

Hayman PartsA few weeks ago I did a clandestine trip to the Vintage Drum Fair at Cocks Moors Woods Leisure Centre in Birmingham (bit of a mouthful eh?) to spy on the opposition, not being sure of what I was in for. Will they all have beards, bumbags and drink real ale? Will they wear long socks and lederhosen?

After my gruelling 3.5hr drive from sunny Clackers, I entered the hall and to my surprise I bumped into Geoff Nicholls who was lurking by the entrance .This lead to a domino effect as Rob Cook’s stall was there so I finally met him at last. Top marks to Rob as an American, in that he knew where Clacton is, as he attended the Weeley Pop Festival in 1971. Rod Stewart and Status Quo on the bill amongst others… check out YouTube and listen to the Faces “I Know I’m Losing You” with Kenney Jones solo on the tubs. It is an old Temptations track, superbly done.A great Rod track from “Every Picture Tells A Story”.

Craig Fenney from Music Shipping agreed to meet me for a cuppa and a lump of fruit cake, which he duly did along with Andy Dwyer from ADC in Liverpool. If only there were more people like Craig in this business…I wish! Andy is always funny with the ole Scouse humour… no match for sarky Essex boys but you can’t have it all.

There was some great stuff at the Fair but I was only on a recce mission to see what it is all about. I met some good people there although I had to duck and dive in case I was hounded out by locals.

Next up was Peace One Day with Annie Lennox at the Royal Albert Hall with Peter Gabriel, Bryan Adams, John Legend and Jude Law. Bryan guested with Bonnie Raitt in Vancouver 10 years ago during an EC Tour and he looks exactly the same now… how’s that?

Cleaned TweakedA fairly easy day for me as it is just Annie on piano whereas the previous year Annie’s band were the house band for all acts including James Morrison (nice geezer) and Corinne Bailey Rae so it was all go, all day.

There is another Steve Gadd who works at the Albert Hall on occasions, so I know three of them now. This SG was singer in a band called ‘Stray’ back in the ‘70’s who were from St. Clement Danes School near Wormwood Scrubs. This is where the superb bass player Andy Fraser from ‘Free’ went to school too, over in my neighbourhood of Notting Hill/North Kensington. Their drummer, Richie Cole, used the French made ASBA kits. The other, other, Steve Gadd was drummer with “Charley” and was Nicko McBrain’s drum tech for many years before moving up the ladder as all drum techs do as God’s own people (non religious)… he is still with Maiden!

The third one you may know of…?

Whilst I was away for a couple of days, a start was made on a 2x 24″ black Hayman kit which legend has it belonged to Jon Hiseman. Even if it wasn’t, I am going along with it for kudos!

Not many people use a double kit these days so we will turn the Hayman into two kits which will be of more use. I am after a Brushed Gold Ingot Hayman kit if anyone sees one for a tenner or 8 sheets of Gold wrap for the same price?

The rack tom will go in a snare cradle (do not over tighten these as it chokes the sound) as the Hayman tom holders were designed by a mad professor by the looks of them. Today’s hardware is far superior for stability. Once the shells were stripped we put them to one side until the new wrap arrives from the US.

We have 2 sets of Rototoms knocking about so I decide to re-head and renovate them just in case we have a further ‘80’s revival that catches me unaware. This is a fairly straightforward job taking approx 4 hrs to disassemble, clean, re-head and tune.

I had the pleasure of a visit from Mr Dolbear and Mr Henrit to check my stock. The day was spent exchanging funny stories with my best still being that a guy turns up at Eric Clapton rehearsals with a heavy coat and hat on with a scarf around his face.

“Can I help you” he was asked.

“Van for Eric” came the reply.

“Has anyone ordered a van for Eric that I don’t know about”?

“No, it’s Van for Eric” replied Van Morrison!

Classic stuff, love it…

My next big project whilst awaiting the wrap to arrive from the US, is to sort through Bob Henrit’s drum collection and decide what to do with it, as there is rather a lot! We shall have plenty of Pearl equipment from his days with The Kinks up and coming in the next few weeks so keep an ear and eye out!

We have a new restoration feature coming soon for Mike Dolbear himself. We are restoring his ‘70’s Gretsch kit and will log a step-by-step process of the restoration including re-wrapping, undoing alterations made over the years and returning the kit to its former original condition. If it fails… unlucky Mike!

We shall be taking care of the needs of Ginger Baker,Keith Carlock,Simon Phillips,Steve White,Jack Bruce and guests at The Shepherds Bush Empire on Sunday 7th December for the Zildjian Lifetime Achievement Awards.

Watch this space!!

See ya,


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