Always looking for a new challenge – I recently began studying snare drum rudiments with a practice pad and a copy each of Gene Krupa’s “Drum Method”, and Buddy Rich’s “Modern Rudiments”. (Which is better?… Buddy Rich?… Gene Krupa?… There’s only one way to find out… DRUM BATTLE!!)

Of course – one thing inevitably leads to another, and soon the practice pad needs “upgrading” to a real snare… and then very soon after that, I’m reminded why it was simply impossible to get into drumming in the first place, when I was younger. The noise was one thing – the space required, another – but setting yourself up with a half decent kit was the most important consideration for any wannabe drummer. Of course – personal circumstances change and, now approaching 60, I find my enthusiasm for all things rhythmical, and turning back once again towards the basics of learning to drum. Along the way, I’ve managed to develop a keen interest in the technical aspects of putting together and customising my own kit… Well, it just seems an entirely logical approach to do something similar with drums.

So – the plan is – renovate and restore a kit, so I can learn the basics on it. Keeping the prices down, and learning how the drums were constructed and finished at the same time. Learn how to play them, and also how to maintain and modify them too – it’s always a good grounding. I started off with an old, second-hand Premier 1026 snare, but soon got the chance to grab a mixed set of vintage 1970’s Premier shells also. I’m now following the familiar process of “doing up” my own kit, alongside learning how to find my way around each of the component drums as I go – a bit of research here, tracking down parts there. Cleaning, restoring, fixing and, finally, putting the individual drums into service on the kit, as my playing development requires. Let’s see where that leads me…

1970’s Premier “Elite” Drum Kit

Restoring a set of “natural” finished “Elite” shells from the late 1970’s. The available shells formed an unusual, double bass drum configuration, and also featured two 14″ rack toms, instead of a perhaps more usual 13″ and 14″ combination. This might end up a straight restoration, but by bringing in a few other options, I may actually be able to produce two individual refinished kits, built around each of the bass drums. This may involve re-finishing or “re-skinning” at least some of the shells.

The Premier “Elite” series, was Premier’s flagship, workhorse drum model during the 70’s and 80’s. UK made, at the time of the “New Wave” of UK music in the late 70’s – well known Premier players included Paul Cook, Rat Scabies, Clem Burke, John Maher, and Rick Buckler. Further back, in the 50’s and 60’s, Keith Moon and Ringo Starr also took advantage of the quality of Premier drums, which are sometimes (wrongly) overlooked by some classic drum enthusiasts.

The Premier “1026” snare drum has an 8-lug, beaded, chrome on steel shell – 14″ diameter, and 6.5″ deep. With triple-flange hoops top and bottom – the 1026 is a cut-price, “solid and un-flashy”, version of similar looking steel-shelled snares, such as Ludwig’s highly regarded “Supraphonic” – but at a considerably more attractive price point. That said – Premier’s production was entirely UK-based, and quite well regarded in the early 1980’s. The “1026” was standard on Premier’s flagship “APK” and “XPK” kits of the period. It’s generally regarded as a greatly under-rated performer when compared with other, often much pricier, chrome on steel snares.

Premier “1026” COS Snare Drum

A restoration and clean-up of an early 1980’s-looking, Premier “1026”, chrome on steel (COS), snare drum. The drum will be stripped down to it’s basic components, cleaned and restored – with all original parts re-used wherever possible. The drum heads and snare wires will, however, be replaced and upgraded. The restored drum will be my first snare whilst I study up on the rudiments, and begin to put them into practice on a full kit, as it too is restored and assembled.

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