Vintage Snare of the week…

Gretsch 4160 COB

Every Wednesday we are going to start a feature ‘snare of the week’.

The drum featured this week is a late 60’s Gretsch 4160 with the knurled centre markings. This drum has a 14 x 5” Seamless spun brass shell, chrome plated and highly polished. Fitted with a Round Badge but the lightening throw off dates it somewhere between 67 and 71. The drum features 8 single lugs and solid die cast counter hoops with a tone control dampener fitted.

All parts on this drum are original and in excellent condition, no dents to the shell just a few surface scratches; there is no paper badge in this drum. A nice design feature is the drum key holder, which secures the original key in the badge.


The Gretsch catalogue described it as this:

“The Gretsch metal snare drum sounds better than any you’ve ever heard. Its got the clean crisp modern sound that really stands out. An eye catching beauty with highly polished chrome plating, it has Wide 42 power snares to give your drumming that extra power professionals demand. No wonder you look better, feel better, sound better with Gretsch.”

More information & photos of the drum on the website

Great friends & vintage snares

Last Friday it was great to have a visit from my good friend Julien from Bristol.

When I first opened Nick Hopkin Drums, I joined Facebook, Twitter etc and started talking with people on drum forums about the new venture; a bricks & mortar UK vintage drum shop! One day I received a message from Julien, who basically had a garage full of vintage drum spares he’d been selling at shows for a few years. He was really into what I was doing and wondered if I wanted all of it! So I drove over the Severn bridge and we met at a service station and loaded my car with boxes and boxes of vintage spares.

Some of these were my essential stock initially, and Julien has been a massive support since the day I opened. You know, one of those people you can call when the chips are down. One of those people who encourages you to keep going, even when it seems like an uphill battle. One of those people who tells every drummer he knows to come and visit the shop.

So it was great to have Jules visit last friday for a hang and a catch up. Just last week, I’d found a random box of drum bits that had been under a workbench since the day I opened, a box from Jules’ garage! I finally sorted through this, and found some treasures among the random drum spares crammed in there. Those bits are finally on the website.

We had a great time catching up and playing snares. He brought a few with him, which are now for sale in the shop, and couldn’t resist leaving with a new vintage snare to play!

So I just wanted to publicly appreciate Jules and all the support he gives to Nick Hopkin Drums, although we rarely see each other. I’m so blessed to have great people like Jules in my life.

Replica Vintage Spares

We’re continuing our quest to provide customers with replica vintage spare parts, essential to the repair and maintenance of their snare drums. This week I visited my engineer Neil, who’s been working on countless projects for me! Poor guy can’t keep up with my ever-whirring brain!


We’re nearly done with making the inserts for Premier 2000 butt ends. These will come complete with height adjustment screws and the adjustment knob for tension. We hope to have some available for sale in the next 2 weeks.

We have, however, succesfully made some levers that fit American snare throws – Ludwig Classic, Gretsch Micro-sensitive etc. We have a couple design options available. These will be going on the website this weekend. We are also working towards finalising levers for Slingerland Radio King snare drums –  for both the three point strainer and the clamshell.

Finally, we are still working towards manufacturing snare wires for Premier Royal Ace and 2000 snare drums. These are taking a long time to finalise, but we want to get them right! Stay tuned…..

Pre Serial Ludwig Super Sensitive

Today we took delivery of a stunning pre serial Ludwig Super Sensitive snare drum. Wow….. and breathe! This drum is an example of one of the very first super sensitive snare drums produced, circa 1961/62. The drum features a chrome over brass shell, with brass hoops; the earlier tone control dampener with the round tension knob; keystone badge with no serial number. The original wires are present, although several are missing, but the drum still sounds incredible. These drums are super rare, especially here in the UK.

Bob Henrit claims that only a dozen or so of these were made….“in 1970 I took it with me on Argent’s first American tour and took it to Ludwig in Chicago to see if they could resuscitate it. In those days there really was a trouble-shooting guy and one of his jobs was to tune the drums before they left the factory (which is why they always sounded fabulous when you took them out of the box). He took my drum away to fettle it and replaced the pressed-steel snare guard along with most of the important knurled-nuts for its parallel action.  He told me there had been around a dozen brass-shelled Super-Sensitives produced in 1962 when even though they were in the catalogue and designated brass, were very rare..”

What a stunner to have in the shop, it’s brightened up my day!

12 Feb 2016

Just sat listening to Bjork, reflecting on a busy week over a cup of tea. Is it just me, or is it freezing cold in the UK right now? I’d quite like to curl up somewhere warm and take a nap…. today, so far, I’ve been photographing small spares to list on the website later today. I’m down to hundereds of small parts that people are looking for, but whether they’ll find them on the website is another matter. Slingerland dampener knobs, Premier pedal spares, snare drum claws, old drum keys…

Next up a video of a late 60’s Gretsch 4160 COB snare drum to go on Instagram. Don’t see many of these drums here in the UK, this one is mint with original key in the drum; it also sounds really great.

Loads of great bands paying the 6music festival this weekend, just over the bridge in Bristol… not sure I’m going to make it though. If you’re playing and fancy a visit, pop over tomorrow for a tea and a warm by the oil heater!



11 Feb 2016

Been having a great week sorting gear out in the shop, listing more snares and kits. A nice late 70’s / early 80’s Ludwig 6 ply maple in red glitter – 22,12,13,16 – has just gone online. Its pretty worn to be honest, unsurprising as it sounds awesome. He shipped this in at Christmas from the States with a Gold glitter Classic in 22,12,13,16 but that sold over the weekend after popping a photo on Instagram!


We’ve just listed a pretty flakey, but awesome sounding Ludwig Supraphonic 400 snare drum on the website. This is the only one we currently have in stock, with the Super Sensitive model we had in the shop leaving yesterday with Owain of StudioOwz.



Always good to see Owain, a loyal customer of ours since the day he drove to the shop in the snow for some advice on a gretsch kit he was having problems with about 3 years ago. He runs a great little studio in West Wales stacked with vintage gear (lots of great drums as well as mics, amps and outboard gear). He’s soon taking over a nice residential studio with a great big drum room, we’ll probably run a little feature on that when he’s settled in.


Feb 10 2016

It’s interesting running this shop, people kind of float on and off my radar. Back on my scene this week is Chris Ellul from UK band The Heavy, who’s been holed up in studios for the past year writing, recording and mixing their new album which comes out in April.

Chris turned up at the shop a few years ago, unannounced, as the band were recording at nearby Rockfield studios. He needed some parts urgently for one of his favourite studio snares, from what I remember. The shop looked very different to now, as I’d recently moved units so there would have been stuff everywhere. There still is, but it’s a little more organised these days. Anyhow, we fixed the snare and had a drum chatter over a cuppa, and since then we’ve seen a fair bit of Chris. He’s really into his vintage drums and so is a massive supporter of what we do here at Nick Hopkin Drums. He’s no badge freak – he plays what sounds good for the song.

Chris tells me that he used his 70’s Gretsch & 70’s Olympic sets on the new album which is released 1st April 2016. He also used a modest selection of vintage Rogers, Slingerland, Premier & Ludwig snare drums.

Check out the new single here – the drums really do sound great. I’m not sure which kit he’s touring, but he’ll have his tatty old Ludwig Supraphonic 400 on stage, with half the chrome hanging off it that sounds awesome – there’s a great story behind that snare drum. Ask him when you see him. Tour dates here