1930’s Brass snare drum restoration

Last week we completed the restoration of a 1930’s Brass beaded shell snare drum that came in with lots of pre WWII drums last year, and had been sat on a shelf in the back of the workshop ever since. The shell had a reddish-white dullness to it, but the edges were visibly brass, so I thought it was due time to investigate.

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As soon as the calf heads were removed, the drum became even more interesting as I was faced with wooden re-rings top and bottom, presenting a bearing edge for the head to sit on. The edges of the brass shell are straight and thin, so the re-rings look original with small screws spaced around the shell to hold it securely. I removed all the hardware and set about cleaning and polishing the shell; after much rubbing, the shell shone beautifully. I wonder if the shell was originally chrome or nickel over brass as there are fine score marks all over the shell. Either way, it looks much nicer now than it did when it arrived.


The original lugs, rods and hoops on this drum are die cast, but unchromed, and match Carlton drums from the mid 1930’s. The snare throw remains a mystery however, with a bar going through the drum connecting the throw to the butt end so that the lever takes the wires up and down. I cant find this mechanism in any Carlton catalogues and it doesn’t match other Carlton drums I’ve had from this period. Neither does it match anything Beverley or Premier that I’ve come across. The snare throw appears original, and purposeful, as there are no extra holes in the shell to suggest another snare mechanism has ever been present. The original wires were present on the drum too, which would suggest that the drum hasn’t been messed with over time. There is also a lovely internal tone control damper present, which is still in full working order.

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After rebuilding the drum, I fitted new Evans drum heads to see how the drum sounded as a mixture of old and new, and it sounded really great. I’ve left these heads on for the time being, but the original calf heads come with the drum. There’s more photos of it here on my website. If you’ve seen one of these drums before or have more information on its identity, I’d love to hear from you.

What’s going on at Nick Hopkin Drums?

OK, so its been ages since I wrote a blog post, over a month sorry! We’ve had a crazy busy 3 months in the shop, so much busier than this time last year. So I’ll start with a thanks to you all for being so interested in all things vintage and continuing to buy from me.

We’ve had some lovely kits come and go this year already and I have more stock incoming weekly. A couple of lovely late 60’s Premier sets and a few choice snares left the premises before they even made it onto the site! We had a super rare Premier bop kit in blue shimmer 18,12,14 that made its way to a new home in Spain, and I’m getting good feedback from its new owner. In time-warp condition with African mahogany shells, I’d expect nothing less!


If you’re looking for something specific, do contact me and I’ll put it on a list, as we get offered great vintage gear daily and can’t buy it all. This week alone we’ve taken delivery of two console kits from the 1930’s, complete with all the traps accessories & cymbals. Some Ludwig and WFL snares turned up, three Premier Royal Aces and a full set of early 70’s Zildjians…. and its only Thursday.

Today I’ve been working on a 1930’s Ajax console set as well as what I assume to be a  1930’s Carlton snare drum – like many drums from this era it has no badge, and the hoops carry no engravings.  It has  a beaded brass shell 6.5″ shell, with wooden reinforcement hoops; I’ve never seen anything like it, maybe you know what it is? The shell was in poor condition but is cleaning up nicely, the brass starting to really shine. With an original parallel throw and set of snare wires, I’m looking forward to rebuilding this drum and trying it out (both with the original calf heads as well as a set of modern heads).

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I’m seeing a big resurgence of interest in the drums and accessories of the late 1920’s / 1930’s with lots of enquiries for heads, odd drums etc. So ive got a new section on the website with lots of Traps gear, if you’re that way inclined.


Next week we’ve got a super rare kit arriving at Nick Hopkin Drums, but I’ll save info on that for another post. I’m up in the Midlands on Wednesday to see Mark Richardson in Cannock and catch up with the guys from Sakae, lovely drums with a vintage twist, we have some of their snare drums in stock here.

The shop is really buzzing at the moment, with kits and snares going out regularly for studio hires too, I’m really enjoying getting my hands on some kits and snares after a crazy few weeks of packing orders and catching up on admin.

We’re now exporting to 40 countries and its still just me doing everything, so please bear with me if it takes a week for me to reply to an email. Your enquiry has been noted, I just receive a huge volume of enquiries daily. I’m still blown away that 3 years ago I was in a single room unit with no toilet or running water, restoring drums and working from a mobile phone and a laptop; and now we have a busy shop as well as the website shipping vintage drum goodies all over the world. We reached over 1000 followers on Twitter this week and are close to 700 on Instagram – link in with us on there if you use those channels. Really exciting times; Thank you for your continued interest and support.  Join our mailing list formonthly updates if you haven’t already- click here