BY NICOLAS GRIZZLE | FROM THE FALL 2018 ISSUE OF DRUM
British Drum Co. has been around since 2015, launched by drum builder Keith Keough four years after he sold his own company, KD Drums, to Premier. Last year the company signed a distribution deal with EMD for the US, Canada, and several European countries. We were sent the Legend kit in Buckingham Scarlett satin oil finish.
Our review kit included a 22″ x 16″ bass drum, 12″ x 8″ mounted tom, 16″ x 16″ floor tom, and the optional 14″ x 5.5″ matching snare. It also came with mounting legs for the floor tom and a stand-mounted tom holder.
These 10-ply Scandinavian birch shells are cold-press molded into a 6mm-thick shell with 45-degree bearing edges and 2-ply reinforcement rings. The birdseye maple veneer is built into the shell during manufacture, and not wrapped after the fact. The reinforcement rings match the outer veneer for a cool inside-outside coordination look.
The lugs, memory locks, mounting brackets, bass drum claws and spurs, and even the two drum keys we received have an art deco look inspired by architecture and automotive design. British Drum calls this their “Palladium” look. The familiar look with innovative twists evokes a classic feel that at the same time feels totally new. All hardware affixed to the drums also had rubber mounting gaskets.
The snare came with branded 20-strand snare wires and strap. Even the wooden gasket on the interior of the vent hole and the acrylic hoop saver patch on the bass drum hoop were both laser-etched with the British Drum Co. name. Subtle details like this made the kit feel more personal.
I really enjoyed playing this kit both on my own and with a band. The drums sounded great by themselves at loud and soft volumes, and their sonic versatility was evident from the get-go. The attack cut through even on heavily distorted hard rock tunes, though it felt like they’d be most at home in a studio session for a pop artist, indie, or contemporary rock band. The snare was poppy, crisp, and present without being overpowering; the toms were deep without getting too boomy. Together, the kit was punchy, yet proper. They have a dry-ish sound that I’d say sounded uniquely British, though I couldn’t quite put my finger on why.
Keough says the cold-press molding is key to its sound. The absence of heat means the wood doesn’t get stressed by temperature changes, and the glue between plies is absorbed differently into the wood. This process takes at least four hours, where methods using heat can take only four minutes.
Downsides? Well, I couldn’t see myself playing these drums in a punk band — even a Sex Pistols tribute act — or on any stage where they might take too much physical abuse. Though they feel solid enough, they’re so presentable that I feel any visible damage would be amplified under bright stage lights. But that’s certainly a concern with any drum set, so it isn’t a dealbreaker here.
12″ x 8″, 16″ x 16″, 22″ x 16″ Shell Pack MSRP: $4,199
14″ x 5.5″ Snare MSRP: $979
Out Of The Box is a “first look” review based on initial setup and testing, without putting products through the longer, more rigorous testing procedure applied for our Soundlab reviews.