Based up in the hotbed of drum building activity that is the north of England, VK Drums is the work of Alan van Kleef. From his Sheffield workshop van Kleef crafts just about every last piece of his drums from scratch: shells, lugs, tension rods, the lot.
"VK has built up a reputation for its work with stainless steel, but this drum is made from carbon fibre"
VK has built up a reputation for its work with Sheffield-sourced stainless steel, but the drum that we have here is made from carbon fibre. It's a 14"x7" with a Carbon Inox outer ply and 12mm laser-cut stainless steel hoops.
We're pleased to see that VK has gone the extra mile when it comes to heads, shipping with Evans Level 360s. We're also impressed to see that the hand-made tension rods show no visible sign of thread, with these housed inside the rod rather than on the main shaft. Just one example of VK's painstaking attention to detail.
The drum's strainer is also a VK original, made from stainless steel and featuring laser-etched logo and an aluminium body. Lugs are, you've guessed it, stainless steel.
Setting the snare down on our stand, and without adjusting the tuning, we are immediately hit with the full impact that this drum is capable of. A whack to its centre spot produces an thunderous racket, like a monstrous rumble of thunder.
A few more thwacks show us that this drum is every bit as powerful as a Mike Tyson haymaker. It's able to produce a wet tone rich with character, a rock drummer's dream.
Volume is certainly no problem, as it's ear-splittingly loud, but - and this isn't something we were necessarily expecting from such a beefy drum - also able to handle subtle playing and ghost notes.
When the tuning is cranked it's possible to ￼get a pleasing amount of high end, while still keeping plenty of sustain. There are a few elements that won't be to all tastes. The shallow decagonal hoop isn't ideal for cross sticking and the elongated lugs take a little getting used to aesthetically, but there's no denying they are an example of superb precision engineering. This is a beautiful-looking drum and one that delivers a power punch of a snare sound.