Posts tagged ‘drum repair’

November 15, 2012

Drum Bonanza

TJ and Beck did a little sprucing up yesterday and this picture shows how it ended up. There’re other sets not shown here as well as more coming in all the time. We’ve got a bunch of new/used/vintage kits in, and the new Gretsch Brooklyn kits have been flying out the door!  We’ve sold a bunch off the floor and special ordered some too – they’re doing really well.  Keep in mind that Gretsch has a deep Brooklyn heritage and being in the shadow of the original Gretsch factory is big for us. At least once a week I’ll take a tourist outside and point south on Wythe to just past the bridge where you can see one of the original factory buildings. But you locals know this already…….

We’ve also got new DW, PDP, Ludwig, and some gorgeous Canopus kits kicking around all looking for new homes. And judging by the piles of gear that we’ve seen come in for repair after our friend Sandy’s visit, some of you may need help getting into replacement drums. We’re sympathetic to your plight and we’ll try to help you out on replacing your drums or hardware if it was destroyed. Mention this blog post and we’ll cut you some sort of break.

I hope all is well with you, blog readers, and as always, come on down and say hello.


October 14, 2012


Main Drag is currently rolling in drum sets, I mean, they’re coming out of our ears, falling off the shelves, jamming up the refrigerator, getting under foot……if you’ve ever wanted one of the sets in here or any of the ones coming in soon it’s a good time to come in and make a deal!  If you can find a better price on ANYTHING, let us know!  We need to make some room, even the mice are starting to complain.

May 9, 2012

Something’s happening at Main Drag……

Can you see the look of imminent change in these fine Main Draggers’ eyes? Ricky might even have vodka or gin in that glass in celebration, who knows? Adam’s looking joyous, and the New Guy (who’s fitting right in) is looking like he knows a secret.  Hint: They’re  psyched because it’s going to be a lot quieter in the store. And a firm no to the idea that less noise will actually be made at the store, it’ll just be contained a lot better.





And here’s another hint in the form of a photo.  What could Main Drag Founder Karl Myers possibly be doing in that gray room?  Is he working on his staining skills? Faux finishing a wall to look rustic?  He’s got crazy finishing skills already, and the barn look really doesn’t really mesh with our aesthetic………hmmmmmm. Give up yet?



Since you’ve read this far, you might as well know that we’re building a drum and cymbal testing room located back in drumland. The room will have tuned walls, new carpet, mood lighting, blacklight posters of Spanish galleons, busty dragon slayers bearing broad swords……actually no decor to speak of, but more importantly, most if not all of our cymbal stock will be arranged neatly and provocatively in there. And there’ll be a drumset of fairly neutral size so that jazzers, rockers, beats players, and all else will be able to try out cymbals, snare drums, bass drum pedals, thrones, etc. with a set in a nice sounding, comfortable room. It’ll be awesome, and look for it to be done in about a week.

Also awesome is the fact that we’ve got lots of new drumsets in with more on their way from Ludwig, DW, Gretsch, and more cymbals from Sabian, Zildjian, Istanbul, and newcomer Paiste (finally). And if you don’t see it, we can order it at prices matching the Center of Six-Stringed Instruments. And all of this in addition to our always cool selection of used and vintage gear. Look for more updates as the date gets closer.




May 8, 2012


Here’s something to check out that you’re not likely to see anytime soon — a set of Smoke Gray Tivoli Vistalites!  Click on the image to see them in all their glory. Almost all Tivoli’s are a color combination called Tequila Sunrise and these babies are rare as hell in this finish.  Yes, there are lights inside!  Very Studio 54!  The sizes are the classic Big Beat configuration which is 8×12, 9×13, 16×16, 14×22, and 5×14.

Norman and I got into the task of rewiring them and replacing a transformer and they look unbelievably cool in the dark.  There’s a switch on top of the bass drum that lights everything off, and I can’t imagine that there’s anyone in any size audience wouldn’t notice just how badass this set is when the drummer hits the switch.

They’re priced at a very reasonable $3200 as they’re both unbelievably cool and also very collectible.  We’ve seen the more common Tequila Sunrise kits selling for lots more.


March 23, 2012

A Facelift for the Drum Department

We recently added a new counter for the drum department in order to have someone on hand to answer questions and show people gear.  And expect to see some new faces working there.

And we moved the snare rack so that’s it’ll hold more snares, be easier to check out, and just to move things around a little for the spring. Come by and check out some of the awesome snares, drumsets, and cymbals we’ve been adding daily.  We’ve currently got over 60 snares and 30 or more sets!

March 3, 2012

Almost 50 Killer New/Used/Vintage Drum Sets….

…..are all out on the floor here. We’ve got some killer sets here right now and it changes fast, so come on down and check one out. We’ve been trying to get in a bunch of less expensive players’ kits that are long on sound but a little easier on the wallet. Of course we’ll continue to offer high end new/used/vintage drumsets, but kits that sound good and have lots of mojo and vibe are great to take on tour or to clubs even if they don’t win any beauty contests. But as with any drum set we sell they’ve been gone over carefully, the edges have been checked, hardware lubed and threads checked, had heads replaced, and finally, set up and tuned so you don’t have to worry about them.  Presently there are a couple of Slingy’s and Ludwigs, and a big shelled Tama kit soon to hit that fit this bill and should hit the floor at well under $1000.  A great drummer on a set of beaters that sound amazing is way cooler than a mediocre drummer on the latest, high-tech shells and hardware.

And if you’ve got an older set that needs this sort of work, Norman and I are devoting more days a week to repair in order to get your job turned around quickly. Most repairs that come in early in the week are out within a few business days. Also, we’ve been doing more wrap-jobs, so if the old beater kit that sounds good needs a facelift, bring it by.  And don’t forget our Snare Drum Special.

All the best from 32,000 feet, somewhere in the skies between New York and New Orleans. This internet-in-the-sky thing is cool. John

March 7, 2011

The Restification of a Radio King Snare

What you see here is a beautiful example of a snare that has been resurrected from a near death experience.  The drum is a Slingerland Radio King circa 1936.  It came in to Main Drag from a customer who had salvaged it off the street. It was a mess.  Glenn Maryansky is the lucky owner and here’s his part of the story:

I’m guessing it was fall of 1995 or so and I was working at Angelica Kitchen on East 11th Street in the East Village [NYC] and after our shift my friend Scott and I were walking home in the rain, I believe it had been raining for a few days, when across the street we saw a pile of furniture and boxes piled outside of a senior citizens home so as we would do in those days we went to have a look. As we walked up I immediately saw what was unmistakably a snare drum and almost as unmistakable a Radio King… Upon picking up the soaking wet drum i saw the Slingerland cloud badge and nearly jumped out of my skin, luckily Scott was a bass player or a brawl may have ensued. Granted it was in pretty rough shape (broken lug, half missing strainer/throw off) and waterlogged but i took it home and tried to clean it up as best I could and made a meager attempt at putting weight on one side of it while it was still wet to try to get the warp out of it. These were the early days of ebay and I had no luck finding any replacement parts so it went into storage about a year later and stayed there until about 4 moths ago when I decided to bring it by Main Drag to see if it was even worth salvaging. Upon showing it to one of the drum department employees and John Fell, they both had the same wide-eyed response… “You know what that is, right?” Indeed I did, but little did I know just how much life that old drum had left in it until John got his hands on it. The rest of the story is all his…

Basically the snare that came in was a basket case.  The hoops were bent beyond usability. The strainer was missing parts.  Oh, and did Glenn mention that the drum was in the rain?  The shell was pretty warped, though he probably saved it by “putting weight on one side of it.”

For the unenlightened few of you who don’t know the power and the glory of the Radio King, it’s one of the most revered snare drums in history.  There’s an ongoing debate about what actually constitutes a Radio King but this one is indisputably the deal. And therein lies one of the inherent problems.  Almost all RK’s are built with a single, steam-bent maple plank that has been formed into the cylindrical shell known rightly as a drum.  This is a blessing and a curse. The single ply has a resonance that creates a very pleasing sound but often goes out of round. Which is a big drag.  Glenn’s drum was out of round but for a different reason than usual. Inside the drum are glue rings that attach to shell at the bearing edge on both the batter and resonant side. They’re also made from a single ply, and I’m going to break off the description here because if you’re still reading, you probably know about glue rings already.  So anyway, what happened to this drum was that the less massive glue rings shrunk more than the shell and pulled the shell out of whack.

*   *   *

And so begins the repair.  Borrowing a little technique and technology from the guys in the guitar repair shop, I hooked up with their steam injector which is a primitive, medieval torture device looking thing consisting of a steam maker with a long rubber hose that terminates with a hollow needle.  In guitar repair this tool is often used to separate the glued neck and body joint through drilled holes that are later filled.  Fortunately, the gap between the glue rings and the shell had opened up just enough that I could get the steam in under the ring and sloooooowly release the glue. It took over an hour to get both rings out and it was an hour of burned fingers, lots of gentle prying and even more swearing.

With both rings out, I allowed the shell and rings to relax from the steamy end to their 75-year marriage. After a week or so they were ready to be reunited and so out came the Titebond (yes purists, aliphatic resin, not hide glue…they would have used it if they had it….), about 40 teeny c-clamps, and some very careful gluing up and positioning. It was easy to determine where the rings were placed by marks I’d made prior to their removal and also from the residual glue that sort of left a fingerprint. The shell was actually very close to perfectly round.

The first step was to wrap the glue rings in wet towels an let them soak for a while to help soften them up a bit as they’re very brittle, especially at the razor thin end of the scarf joint.  Next, I dampened the gluing surface on the inside of the drum to help the glue penetrate the pores of the wood and applied a thin, even coat to both surfaces. Then, using the guidelines for placement the rings are worked into the shell. Lastly, the clamps are applied starting from the bottom lay of the scarf joint and chasing the gaps around almost 360 degrees until the two ends join again at the scarf. This part is the second biggest pain in the ass after getting them out. You’re working against time with glue oozing out all over the place and fighting the bad habits and whims of some very set in their ways, very, very hard pieces of wood. It twists and it bends, it shimmies and and it shakes, and every one of the clamps goes on with relief as you work your way around the clock a few degrees at a time.  When it’s done, you get something like this.

Glued and clamped.

Then the next day when (hopefully) all of the glue has set up you take off the clamps and have at the other side.  We got lucky.  When the clamps came off I’d had enough for a while so I handed the cleaning up of the joinery to a man with ten times the patience of my own, Mr. Norman Westberg.  Norman as you may know is something of an anomaly in that he’s a remarkable and storied musician, but his instrument is the guitar. How many guitarist drum techs do you know?  Anyway, Norman meticulously filed, sanded and cleaned up the scarf joints and most importantly the bearing edge.  Between the careful gluing/positioning/clamping and the fastidious cleanup, the only thing that the ever-important edges required was little dressing with 400 grit sandpaper – a huge accomplishment and we were psyched. In spite of the warpage and subsequent repair the edges were PERFECT when placed on the always honest granite machinist’s table. Perfect!  This was welcome but very unexpected.

Next, hardware was sourced to replace the grenaded zinc alloy (pot metal, to you) lugs.  These lugs are famous for crumbling like a cookie in a child’s hand when under normal tension.  What fit the bill perfectly were some reproduction Streamline Lugs as they were called, sourced from Precision Drum. While the lugs lacked the mojo of the original they are perfectly cast reproductions and made of much a more stable alloy, guaranteed not to explode while being played.  Easy decision – bought 8.  Hoops were a trickier problem.  I was being teased by the availability of reproduction stick chopper hoops, reproduction stick saver hoops, as well as some clean early ‘60’s chrome on brass Slingerland hoops I had sitting around.  My decision was to put on some die cast hoops in homage to a very similar Radio King that I had 25 years ago that had Gretsch hoops on it. It sounded absolutely incredible and I sold it to buy a 12-bit sampler, my only excuse being that it was the 80’s and at least I never had a mullet.  My RK was a sonically perfect snare and I rue the day I parted with it. So piss-off, purists; I did what I could to make this drum sound like what I heard.

The strainer was a pretty easy choice. There’s a Gibraltar strainer, made of course by the same folks that make the very similar Pearl – hopefully not in some apartment building sweatshop in East Asia.  Functionally it works better than anything vintage with a generous throw and aesthetically the shape of the main casting and throw off lever mimic some later Slingy forms. The original strainer was the so called “3 Point Strainer” due to the three screws that mounted it to the shell.  Here was the first moral dilemma:  To drill or not to drill.  Drilling requires, well, drilling one new hole, the alternative being making an adapter plate that attaches the new strainer to the old one’s holes. For the first and last time in my life I took Sarah Palin’s advice muttering “Drill, baby, drill” as I knocked the first new hole in this shell since it’s birth three quarter’s of a century ago.  Satisfied that I’d done the right thing, the old holes were plugged appropriately with polished out cymbal rivets, sort of as an inside joke.  While nothing looks factory about a pair of cymbal rivets flanking a snare strainer, it somehow looks better than a vain attempt at doweling and, what, painting out the end of the dowel?  Or worse, that old trick of using a little circular plug cut from a similar wrap?  It just looks desperate somehow….like a kid trying to hide that prom night zit with a way too pink dollop of Clearasil.

The snare butt required only the machining of a new clamp bar as the original, stamped butt was missing this part. If there was a new shiny chrome part that would have complimented the strainer and lugs I might have gone for it so long as it required no drilling, but I couldn’t find anything. The piece was milled down from bar stock and then tapped and threaded.  No sweat. Now it was time to throw some heads and snares on and see if all the work was worth it.

Ready for hoops and heads.










Drum Roll Please……..

Awesome. Amazing. Powerful and sensitive. It tracks ppp ghost notes all the way up to a fff walloping and has that distinctive, woody sonority. It turned out better than I could have hoped for. This is an excellent drum. Aesthetically it looks really nice as well. Glenn, you’re a lucky guy!

John Fell


November 25, 2009

Crafty and Cool Drum Repairs

We’ve been getting a lot more repairs through the store, and we’re starting to get pretty crafty. Pictured here is Norman Westberg, God-Like Guitarist and Drum Repair Tech (go figure) laying up an extra ply on a seriously shattered bass drum hoop. The repaired spot was stiffer than the rest of the hoop, and the original integrity of the set was maintained.
Another cool trick we pulled off was on a major shell ding on a beautiful old Round Badge, Gretsch Silver Sparkle bass drum. After the fracture was fixed, we were left with some some collateral damage in the form of a drilled hole. Doweling with a maple dowel took care of the hole, but we left it just below the finish of the wrap and built it up with epoxy mixed with some Silver Sparkle shavings. This was brought up close to the surface plane, and then finished with a very thin layer of epoxy in the hole to build it up to the surface. It’s really hard to tell that there was a hole!
Repairs like these aren’t ridiculously expensive because we enjoy doing them. Got a weird drum or hardware repair? Challenge us with it!

Old World Craftsman Norman Westberg