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 musical remains, and I’m 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 modify and restore a vintage kit… or two.

So – the plan is – renovate and restore a kit, so I can learn the basics on it. Keeping the initial outlay 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

Renovating 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 renovation, but by incorporating a few other “orphan” shells from the same period, I may actually be able to produce two individual refinished kits. Each kit built around the two bass drums. This may involve re-finishing or “re-skinning” at least some of the shells, but should provide me with a basic “beater” kit to learn on (#1), and a second, (#2), to “dress up” – perhaps with new wraps.

The Premier “Elite” series, was Premier’s flagship, workhorse drum line during the 1970’s, and on into the early 1980’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 (Sex Pistols), Rat Scabies (The Damned), Clem Burke (Blondie), John Maher (Buzzcocks), and Rick Buckler (The Jam). Further back, in the 50’s and 60’s, Keith Moon and Ringo Starr had also taken advantage of the quality of Premier drums, which are still, (and may I say quite wrongly, in my humble opinion), often overlooked by 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, Premier “1026”, chrome on steel (COS), snare drum. The drum was stripped down to it’s basic components, cleaned and renovated – with all original parts re-used wherever possible. The original drum heads and snare wires were, however, replaced and upgraded with NOS heads and hand-tied, gut line snares. The restored drum will become my practice snare whilst I study up on the rudiments, and will initially be paired with my renovated “#1” 1970’s “natural” Premier Elite Kit.

Various, Vintage Premier “2000” Snare Drum Restorations

The distinctive-looking, Premier “2000”, chrome on aluminium (COA), snare drum is an unsung classic and an example, (with a brass shell) was, upon it’s release in 1968, favoured by a certain Mr. Keith Moon. Starting with one, badly corroded shell, I’ve gradually assembled enough parts for three different restoration builds of my own.

Snare #1 is the “sympathetic restoration” of a dated 1974 example. This requires nothing more than a few missing pieces and a little TLC.

Snare #2 starts as a bare shell which is in “average” condition. I’ll rebuild an early 1970’s drum from spare parts, and will wrap the damaged shell in a plastic drum “wrap” – to see if it affects the sonic characteristics.

Snare #3 starts with my original, badly corroded shell. The shell will be stripped and re-finished, (most likely in a powdercoat finish),, and then re-built using the rest of the components I’ve assembled

The Premier “2000” snare, became quite a “classic” for Premier, and during the 70’s and 80’s, it became popular for both students and artists alike. The design of the 2000 was slick and streamlined, and the signature “FloBeam” throw-off lever mechanism is (arguably) a thing of beauty, as well as of purpose. Still sought after today by players – it’s a solid, and quite under-rated, English-built alternative to some of its’ perhaps more famous rivals – such as Ludwig’s “Super-Sensitive” or “Acrolite” series snares.

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