Skins or Heads?

On seeing the crowds, he felt pity for them, because they were skinned and thrown about like sheep without a shepherd.

Well, that’s me done with full time employment for the time being. What a relief! Even thinking about the money I’ve had to give up doesn’t bother me (much). On that note, it struck me just how much one can become a slave to money. It’s not until you make a choice that’s in favour of less money that you realise just how  much one has become addicted to it, and spend up to it. Also, all that striving over the years to “get to the top” – such as it is – certainly got more money; but the price of money is a huge amount of stress, ill health and unhappiness.

It’ll be interesting to see how things pan out over the coming months. Will I get my enthusiasm for flying back now that I’m going to be doing a lot less of it? One of the things that got me so intensely angry – and I mean incandescently livid – was how the Ground People demanded so much of us that the stress overcame the enjoyment and one began to hate the job and everything around it. Maybe it’s not “hate” as such but fear and apprehension. Fear of getting it wrong because one is soooo tired. Fear of getting it catastrophically wrong. Apprehension because you know you made a lot of silly errors last time out, and this time out you feel even worse, so what on Earth is going to go wrong today? Are we not the last line of defence whilst being the first to be blamed?

Will all those negative feelings become positive once more? Can one confound the Ground People and their unwitting, relentless drive to disaster? 

Almost as unutterably wonderful as being able to fly – just think about that – is to be able to play drums. I’ve been able to get on the kit when I can. There’s only a small opportunity each day. This kit is loud. One must have absolute respect for the neighbours, so I’m only playing during the week, around early afternoon and for less than half an hour at a time. We did a test one day with all the windows and doors shut. I hit it as hard as I could whilst Mrs Linn walked about outside listening. She could hear it ten houses away! When I played it in bands I played it loud almost all the time. Now I’m having good fun exploring playing it as quietly as I can. But, I’m learning all over again. I haven’t played for so long that my muscle memory has all but gone. My brain knows what to do and how to do it, but my arms and legs have packed their bags and gone home to mother. It’s coming along though, slowly but surely…

Whether one calls them skins or heads – lets stick to heads; that’s what the manufacturer calls them – they are the business end of any drum. I was not surprised that the technology has moved on in the last 30 years. I know of two brands – Remo and Evans – although I’m sure there are others. I bought Evans heads because their website was better than Remo’s and they had more choice. 

Snare drum

I bought a Hazy 300 Snare Side – S14H30… 


for the bottom head and a Heavyweight Snare Batter – B14HW… 


for the top. Here’s the snare drum complete… 

   
The tuning rods had their tips dipped in grease… 

 
 …before attaching… 


In the picture above you can see the flats machined in the rods. This engages in the wire in the nut and limits unwinding due to vibration. Cheap drums don’t have this. I cut down the effort by using a hand drill for the coarse tightening…

  

Toms

For these I bought G1 Coated – B14(16)G1 for the bottom head…

  
…and G2 Coated – B16(14)G2 for the batter head…

  
The two toms  complete…

  
Bass Drum

On the original kit, I used a “ported” head on the front of the Bass Drum because I didn’t like the bounce from a closed head, but you sacrifice a lot of tone with this. This time, I intended to learn to harness the bounce and get the full tone, so I bought a set of closed heads. For the front, I bought an EQ3 Reso Coated White – No Port, BG24RGCW-NP…

  
…and for the batter head, an EQ2 Batter Clear, BD24GB2…

 

At last it was time to set the drums together to see how they looked, and to give them a basic tune up. Here’s just the drums…

   
     

Cymbals

The cymbals hadn’t been cleaned at all since I last played and so were dirty and had plenty of stick marks. Apparently, I used red sticks at that time…

  
This is the above China Type cleaned…

  

Almost ready to hit!

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Where’s Britain?

…was the question I asked the waitress in Les Loups des Mers (Sea Bass), a very nice little cafe on the Avenue de la Plage in Bourgenay. Strange question? Look at this…


See what I mean? Brittany’s missed off too. The owner explained that when they were redecorating, they wanted an old looking world map for the wall. They found this on the internet, had a huge poster made and put it up. Only later did customers start to comment. Apparently, the map dates from a time when the French and English were constantly fighting each other (surely not), and whoever made the map simply left off the countries he didn’t like.

If the English made a map of the world using those criteria, ie, leave out all those with whom you’ve ever picked a fight, the world map would only have England on it.

Finally; Drum Assembly

The turntable worked very well. In this picture…


…you can see that I can stand upright, so no back strain. Also, the drum has to be turned incrementally as the hardware is put back on. The swivel means that the rims are not being scraped and, of course, the whole operation is a lot less effort.

I began with the Bass Drum…

  

Then both toms…

  

 

…and finally, the snare drum. This took a whole afternoon just for that. Assembling the Lugs was easy. First, a couple of finger turns on each screw…

 

Once all the lugs were loosely attached, I used a small hand drill to take up the bulk of the slack…

 

…then finished with a screwdriver…

 

You can imagine how the turntable made this operation very quick. I reckon half an hour for each drum. Assembling the snare mechanism took a good couple of hours. This was where I discovered that, although I thought I was being diligent with my photography during dismantling, there were still key areas where I didn’t have enough images to help me. Quite a bit of time had to be spent comparing different images, just to get a sense of where a tiny part goes. Maybe I have to rethink my process a bit; it’s obviously slightly deficient. Here’s a picture of the snare drum completed…


…and a couple of before and afters…



Each lug had to have a new piece of foam inserted in it before it could be attached. The foam stops the rods and springs rattling, a common fault with cheaper drums. I destroyed the original foam on removal of all the lugs, but it had deteriorated anyway. I made new foam blocks from kitchen cleaning pads…


First, I marked them up. The green line is the centre cut line. The black line is a “this way up” line…


Dividing….


Peeling off the scourer…


Cutting… 

  

…and fitted in a group of lugs…


I bought new skins for all the drums. 30 years ago, I obviously preferred Remo, but now Evans has the best website and the most choice, so I went with them…


Nearly done.