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

1970’s Gretsch Bop kit

I took a call at the end of November from a local customer.
He had an old kit that he’d thrashed for 30 years and wanted it restoring to its former glory. Bring it in I said.
I was expecting him to turn up with an old Premier or Olympic kit, or possibly an Ajax or Rogers. I was stunned later that afternoon when he arrived with a Gretsch Stop Sign 70’s kit, with an 18″bass drum, 12″ tom and 14″fllor.
The accompanying snare was a lovely chrome over brass. Lovely; and no, he didnt want to sell it!
All 3 drums had picked up there fair share of grime from years of abuse – he’d played this kit in everything from piano trios to heavy metal bands. The 12 had lost its cast hoop at some point and was currently fitted with a bottom snare hoop (?!).
The bass drum inlays were trashed and arm on the tom rail no longer tensioned enough to function. The floor tom had no real issues. The snare hoops were trashed, the wires hanging by one cord, heads long gone…. As he said, the whole kit needed some TLC.
All lugs, legs and fixtures were stripped, cleaned and polished. The shells had faded dramatically in comparison to the hidden shell under the lugs. The shells were cleaned and polished, before re-assembling lugs. All cast hoops were polished and a replacement fitted on the 12.
The bass drum hoops were cleaned and polished, new inlays cut and fitted. The rail mount was repaired with a new bolt and wingnut, so it is functional again. I fitted the bass drum with some customised extended legs and a riser, as requested by the owner.
New Evans heads were fitted to the whole kit – G2 coated on tom tops, G1 coated on tom bottoms. EQ3 clear to the bass drum.

As for the snare, lugs and all fittings were stripped and cleaned. The shell was polished inside and out. The damper needed a new spring and washer to make it function al again. The mechanism needed a little tweaking.
The drum was re-assembled and the bottom hoop was replaced. Fitted with an Evans Hazy 300, Puresound 20 strand Custom series snare wires and an Evans power centre reverse dot. Done.

The kit was easy to tune and a pleasure to play, it just sang.
The customer collected the kit and was happy. After setting it up that night, he sent me this email:
“I have just played my ‘little’ Gretsch which now sounds awesome, if not a little alarming for the power and attack of it shells – especially the toms. The snare has a wonderfully smooth sound on sustained rolls but cracks like a whip on rim shot. The 18 bass sound fulsome and with some power (again Evans heads) but mostly for the rise and taking it off the ground and hitting the batter in the centre of the head.
The set up with 20” dark K ride, 18 and 14 dark Crashes and hi hats, looks beautiful. It’s power and fullness of sound is truly surprising; and the kit looks amazing”.