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Van Kleef Custom Drums Thomas Lang Snare Drum

Van Kleef (or VK) Custom Drums are something you may have heard of if you live in the UK. You may also have started to hear of them in the US too. Van Kleef Custom Drums is a small company based in the north of England which makes metal and wood drums. Pretty much all of the parts that go into the drums are hand made in-house. I’m not sure I can name many small drum companies that can actually say that.

Anyway, the drum we were given to review was a titanium-shelled Thomas Lang signature snare drum. Specs for the drum are as follows:

Grade one titanium for the shell.

Sheffield stainless steel hoops.

Solid Sheffield stainless steel single point lugs.

Stainless steel lugs which are brush finished on the sides and mirror polished on the front faces.

Sheffield stainless steel strainer and butt, with laser etched design.

Sheffield stainless steel "VKey", silent ratchet drum key, which is designed to live inside the VK-007 strainer.

Puresound wires.

Remo Ambassador heads.

In relation to the above, for those not in the UK, ‘Sheffield steel’ means the highest quality. Having had a reasonable look at the individual parts on this drum, I can definitely attest to them being quality.

This drum is packed with features. ‘Features’, in this case means both visual and practical.

The hardware is all designed and made by Alan Van Kleef, and this includes one of the high points of this drum; the snare mechanism.

It may not be the flashiest in terms of practical designs, in that the actual base design is already well used, but the undertaking of the construction of it is both physically and visually very well done. This includes the VKey which is a drum key designed to slide inside the snare mechanism. If you watch the video, you’ll see the key both inside and outside of its little home. I’m assuming the VKey won’t easily fall out of its resting place, but pushing it in and pulling it out required some force, so I doubt it would.

The badges cut into the shell were cleanly done. The individual parts like the snare mechanism, butt plate and hoops are all wonderfully ‘squared’ in their appearance giving nice clean lines across the drum. If there’s a word I would use to describe this drum, and I would guess at all VK drums, it’s precise.

This drum looks like it has been precisely designed, manufactured and built. I think that’s cool. Not to say that all drums (ok – most drums, I’ve seen some pretty bad ones over the years) aren’t done this way, but this one stands out as looking like it’s been meticulously built out.

Visual appeal is normally one of the main things that gets us interested and excited about drums. It normally takes quite a lot for me these days to give a drum a second glance but this one did. It’s the clean overall appearance that works for me.

While I didn’t gig the drum, I did have a play with it in the studio and found it to be versatile and have a wide tuning range. It was easy to tune too.

Sound-wise, the drum is drier because of the cut outs, which may not appeal to those used to, or wanting, a more ringy tone. That said, I found at a lower tension, the drum still had plenty of ring to it and that was easily tamed by a tighter tensioning.

Over, I’m going to give this a ‘very cool’.

More at

David Bateman

December 2015

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