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.

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