Silverstone Drum Thrones
Silverstone began life in 2010 when founder Shaun Dunk and colleagues starting making their first prototypes. After a year of intensive R&D the company began producing thrones on a commercial basis in August 2011.
Like all Silverstone staff members, Shaun's background is in the high end of the motor industry, so skills that were honed hand-trimming upholstery for Aston Martins and Jaguars are now being applied to Silverstone drum thrones.
Virtually all conventional drum thrones are vinyl-covered; Silverstone has chosen to break with this tradition by offering leather-clad thrones.
Silverstone's expertise with leather is obvious, but the advantages of using leather go beyond the aesthetic. Vinyl, being synthetic, deteriorates with use, eventually cracking and fraying. Leather, meanwhile, is a natural durable material that enhances with age.
It is also breathable, stain and tear resistant and biodegradable. Silverstone sources leather from Andrew Muirhead and Bridge Of Weir, long-established brands with histories as great as their reputations (Bridge Of Weir supplied the leather used on Ford Model Ts, for instance).
The leather for each throne is sized and cut by hand. Hand-operated sewing machines are used for the stitching process, with all of the thread being spun in the UK.
Rather than simply adopting existing throne designs and offering them with a leather covering, Silverstone has delved deeper into the construction. Beneath the leather outer covering, instead of the usual circle of generic foam is a layer of memory foam.
Developed by NASA, memory foam is high density but at the same time possesses 'give' that allows it to mould around the shape of the body pressed into it. After use the foam slowly resumes its normal shape.
Silverstone guarantees the foam from 'bottoming out' - ie: sinking so low that you touch the wooden base - testing drummers up to and including a 22 stone specimen.
While some other manufacturers employ memory foam in their thrones, none use the orthopaedic grade found here. Again, the foam is hand-cut for each individual throne.
Flipping the thrones over reveals more beautiful finishing. There is not a staple in sight; instead dozens of shiny nickel upholstery pins encircle the base.
The 12mm slab of birch plywood that they are tapped into (by hand, naturally) has been treated with fire retardant. This is not so much to prevent the throne's occupant from spontaneously combusting, Spinal Tap-style, but clears international flight regulations, allowing the throne to be stowed in an airliner's overhead locker. Details like this show the amount of thought that has gone into the design.
Silverstone was adamant that no vinyl would feature on any of its thrones and the final touch is a layer of suede-like hybrid material that covers the wooden base.
Silverstone offers thrones in two basic variants, Round (self-explanatory) and Moto (triangular), both of which are 6-inches deep. On top of this there are five different types of finish available - Flat (plain leather), Perforated (with added breathing holes), Fluted (ridged), Diamond (patterned stitching) and Alcantara (Italian suede substitute), as well as a myriad of colour choices to mix and match.
All thrones can be fitted with a matching backrest, are supplied with a lined soft case and can be ordered with or without a Gibraltar tripod base. The four thrones sent for review include examples of all the available options.
Space prohibits us from describing each throne individually, but each of them is nothing less than outstanding. Examining them reveals a level of craftsmanship that is captivating in both its intricacy and perfect execution. Then there's the smell of the leather...
Progressing to actually sitting on the thrones only intensifies the appreciation of their utter quality. The level of comfort is like nothing we've experienced before - it's akin to sinking into a favourite armchair.
The usual lower-back numbness that creeps up after an hour of playing doesn't arrive and we don't end up sliding around in a pool of sweat either. In the words of one of Silverstone's many satisfied customers: you'll hardly know it's there.
Hand-made construction. Leather covering. Memory foam moulds. Value for money.
None at all.
Silverstone thrones are the product of diligent research, time-honoured skills and quality materials. Handmade in the UK and excellent value for money, they are an exciting and bar-raising addition to the market.
Leather-covered drum thrones with memory foam padding. Pricing: Moto red square quilted with perforated leather, £245 (throne only, £190); matching back rest, £95; Moto tan leather with bronze stitching, £215 (throne only, £165); Round black Alcantara top with white leather sides, £200 (throne only, £150); White fluted top with blue leather sides, £215 (throne only, £170)