Vintage Drum Show Report – May 2016

I’m sat at Amsterdam airport, as I write this, downing espresso’s to beat the jet lag before I arrive home and sleep for a day. But what an amazing 10 days of vintage drums I’ve experienced; first Chicago Custom & Vintage drum show followed by the Dutch Vintage drum meeting near Amsterdam.

I always love arriving at Chicago O’Hare; it always strikes me as being very clean and courteous, in comparison to Heathrow! It was hotter than usual upon arrival, and my good friend John collected me pretty soon after clearing customs. I’d already shipped a pallet of English vintage drum goodies ahead of me for the show, so until Friday (set up day) I could relax and find my feet. We went straight out to eat, and to be honest I can’t remember much else as I followed last year’s protocol to beat the jet lag – stay up until late night / early morning Chicago time (6 hours behind the UK). After an early start to Heathrow, by the time I collapsed at 1 AM I’d been on the go for about 27 hours. I was up at 6.30 USA time, wide awake and headed to the local diner for a breakfast to set me up for a busy day ahead (Eggs, Hash browns, English Muffin and plenty of OJ & Coffee).

This year’s show was at a new venue, the Odeum Expo centre, much larger than the previous venue and this year partnered with the vintage guitar show. The venue had many positives before I even got there; closer to the airport, closer to the city and my hotel was walking distance to the show (not that Americans walk anywhere, but the previous venue was a good 20 mins car ride away).

Friday was set up day and VIP access to collectors who want to get first refusal on drums as they’re being unloaded. This year I took three kits – an early George Hayman ‘Big Beat’ in Gold Ignot (24,13,16); A Hayman ‘Showman’ in Natural Pine  (22,13,16); A Hayman ‘Showman’ in Black (22,12,13,16). Accompanying the sets was a small selection of Hayman & Premier snare drums and a choice selection of English spares.


I wandered around a little and got a feel for the new venue, which seemed better – The layout seemed a lot friendlier with all the exhibitors in one large hall. The master classes were to be held upstairs which made sense, as in previous years the second hall contained exhibitors and a stage for performance. The upstairs also had a room of mostly electronic exhibitors and a communal area where some workshops and interviews were planned over the course of the weekend. Vintage gear just kept coming in through the doors, it was going to be a great show!

Show kicked off for the public on Saturday, and to my eyes was much busier than last year; it’s great that this show continues to grow, now in its 26th year. Rob Cook does so much for the vintage drum scene and it’s always exciting to be involved in this show – vintage dealers and custom drum builders travelling around the globe to display their goodies, and enthusiasts, players and collectors travelling the globe to seek out their next ‘must have’!

I saw several friends and customers that I’ve met at the show over my three years there, as well as chatting to lots of new faces; I had great chats with people whose ancestors were Welsh, and answered all the usual questions of ‘do you know anyone with the surname Jones’ etc. I even met a guy who used to work with Tom Jones! As usual, I missed all the clinics and masterclasses due to being on my booth. I did however catch up with John Blackwell for a chat, I hear his clinic and masterclass was awesome. Our one and only Jeff Davenport was there representing Remo, sharing his tuning wisdom not only on the Remo booth but also in some workshops across the weekend. Between us, we answered so many enquiries over the weekend for Pre International heads that we’re going to be doing a lot more heads in non-standard sizes at Nick Hopkin Drums, with Remo, over the coming months. Watch this space…

The café served good food at reasonable prices all weekend, there was no reason to leave the venue all weekend (unless you smoked).

So what about the gear, you ask? Well, with some 300 exhibitors, as you can imagine there was just about everything you can think of. Lots of Slingerland from all eras, especially Radio king sets and snares; Loads of 60’s and 70’s Ludwig with some choice Vistalites on offer; A great selection of Camco kits this year, as well as some rarer Gretsch and Rogers sets. Snares drums? Take your pick; just about every model by the major brands from mid 1950’s through to the 1980’s in most colours. Lots of metal shells – Acrolites, Sound Kings, Supraphonic 400’s, Jazz Festivals. Stand outs for me were a ‘78 Ludwig Black Beauty in immaculate condition; some early Leedy snares; a Slingerland set in fiesta pearl (20, 12, 14), a Ludwig Jazzette in red glitter (18, 12, 14) and a stunning Slingerland set in Copper. There were some really rare snares on display, too many to list here.

I didn’t see that many vintage cymbals this year, and much less spares available than previous years, but maybe I didn’t hunt hard enough. To make up for it there were vintage pedals, hardware, sets and snares in abundance.

As soon as it had started, it seemed, the show was over and I was bidding farewell to some great friends made again. There’s never enough time to catch up with everyone, but that’s how it goes I guess. Thankfully we didn’t have much gear to load out as we sold 2 of the 3 Hayman sets we took and all our snare drums. Of course, I bought quite a lot of drums to bring back to the shop, but that’s another story. This year the Hayman sets received a lot of attention as they are seldom seen in the USA especially in good, unmolested condition. It’s great being able to introduce some of the great English brands to guys who’ve spent their lives playing Ludwig.

I spent most of Monday catching up with a few contacts before everyone dispersed back to their homes and shops. Tuesday I did a little sightseeing including the museum of Science & Technology. Wednesday I indulged a large lunch in preparation for an overnight flight back to the UK.

Friday I checked into Nick Hopkin Drums and spent all day packing website orders from when I was away. I also unloaded a pallet of a dozen snares from the USA, and even managed to photograph a couple to put online.

Saturday Morning I was off to Bristol airport, headed to the Netherlands for their annual vintage drum meeting. I almost missed my flight due to a tailback on the M5, but thankfully the pilot was 20 minutes behind me so I managed to check my bags and make the departure gate just in time. Breathless and overheating, a little worse for the run, but in time!

The Dutch Vintage Drum meeting is in its 5th year, held in the small town of Nieuwegein (near Utrecht) about 30 miles from Amsterdam. On arrival it was a simple train/bus to my hotel which took about 40 mins. I stayed in Hotel …. Which was really clean and friendly, with a great restaurant and a pool. It was also only 5 mins away from the venue.

This show is much smaller than Chicago but really well attended by both exhibitors and punters. Dealers from Germany, Switzerland and all across the Netherlands were there as well as myself with a great selection of vintage drum goodies. Full kits (Ludwig, Sonor, Gretsch, Rogers, Hayman), snares drums, loads of cymbals (including a great section of vintage K’s courtesy of Martin Grimsell of Germany) and tables full of vintage spares worthy of a really good rummage.

The venue itself is a large centre, consisting two rooms – one vintage, one everything else. There is a large foyer with a corridor, also full of traders with a variety of goods on offer – everything from discounted sticks and cases to a stunning Rogers kit with matching dynasonic in Black Onyx Pearl. The venue has a bar that serves great food and drinks at good prices. What else do you need? Overall, a great experience for me, again making new friends in the vintage drum community.

A great, affordable show to attend if you fancy a weekend in Amsterdam and maybe coming home with a new snare drum, a new ride or a case full of spares!

I’ll be doing both shows again next year, if you want more details on the shows with flight/lodging prices then drop me a line.


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