Bangers & Mash Custom Kit review

A hand-crafted, custom-built kit with fanatical attention to detail

  • £2600
Treated to five coats of natural wax inside and out. The pale tint will mellow and darken slightly as the drums age

MusicRadar Verdict

Bangers and Mash Custom kit shows that Simon James is a fastidious craftsman who can build a kit of real quality with unsurpassed attention to detail. Only the best parts obtainable are used and it shows.


  • +

    Hand crafted in the UK with near fanatical care and attention to detail.


  • -

    Shame about the powder coating on the bass drum claws and spurs.

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This Custom Kit comes from Hampshire (UK) based drummer Simon James, a bespoke builder who will build you any set of drums you like - at a price. On that basis the review kit comes in at a pretty realistic £2,500.

Rock maple

The tom and bass drum shells are six-ply Canadian hard rock maple bought from Keller, the leading independent American shell company. These particular shells are exceptionally thin - just 3.5 mm - and there are no reinforcing rings. The sizes are 20"x21" bass drum, 12"x8", 13"x9" and 15"x13" hanging toms, with a matching 14"x6" snare drum.

The maple has a sparse, curving grain and is a pale blond colour. Both the inside and outside of the shells are given five coats of a special blend of beeswax and carnuba wax. The insides are painstakingly finished, exactly the same as the outsides, while the bearing edges get a couple more coats of wax to make them extra hard.

Although wax sounds like a soft material, Simon explains: "If you put enough coats on, it goes really hard. To clean the drums, you just wipe them over. If you wanted to bring them back up to new after a while, you could use a really fine grade of steel wool."


All the toms, even the 12", the smallest in the range, have eight lugs top and bottom. These solid, machined, pipe lugs are neat and stylish yet smaller and lighter than the previous ones. They each have a single fixing post and are isolated from the shell by a white nylon washer. "I looked into getting my own lugs made," says Simon, "but it's not worth it. I'd have to order thousands at a time. I've replaced all the screws that come with the lugs and used stainless steel fittings throughout. I polish all the washers and nuts by hand."

All the drums are fitted with clever Zogs nylon shoulder washers that replace the normal steel washers and eliminate metal-to-metal contact between the rims and the tension rods. Each tension rod has a drop of liquid Thread Lock to prevent detuning. The toms are fitted with black chrome rims. "Black chrome is just a metallic finish," Simon points out. "I chose not to use a powder coat because it chips too easily. The toms are fitted with Gauger Rims mounts and Gibraltar clamps. No other hardware is provided so you need to buy stands and multi clamps."

The toms come fitted with Evans Genera G1 coated batters and black Evans Resonant bottoms. With their tiny, minimum contact lugs, thin shells, sharp bearing edges and isolation mounts the toms all give an open, attacking sound. They are resonant, fat and deep.

Massive kick

Because of the thin shells and small lugs, all the drums - including the big bass drum - are surprisingly light. The bass drum is actually 21" long - longer than its 20" diameter. Simon explains, "A lot of drummers are asking for 20"x20" bass drums so I thought I'd make a 21" to be a little different. It also has 13/4" deep hoops, so it's even longer than standard."

The drum is fitted with generic fold-out spurs that are reassuringly solid with enormous rubber feet. Both the spurs and the tension claws are finished in a black powder coat rather than the black chrome of the tom hoops. Although this matches the rest of the kit, it's a shame they could not be in black chrome. This is the only area where Simon has had to compromise.

The batter head is a clear, single-ply Evans EMAD with perimeter ring enclosing an external strip of dense black foam. The front head is a black Evans Resonant with two white-surround port holes and the Bangers & Mash logo, which looks stylish and contemporary.

As for the sound, with the EMAD damping ring, a felt strip under the front head and two port holes, the result is a rather hard, edgy and dark 'blat'. The fashionably over-deep shell sacrifices warmth and tone, but that's the trend and many will like it. The sound is just right for the brutal, driller-killer, double pedal barrage of Donington Park´s UK Download Festival for instance.

In any case, the point is that Bangers is a custom company. If this is the sound you're after then this is the drum for you. If not, you can order one in any depth or diameter that you fancy.

Wooden hoops

The 14"x6" snare drum differs from the other drums in that it has a 10-ply Keller maple shell with 10-ply maple hoops. Despite the thicker shell and hefty hoops, the drum is still relatively lightweight. It's finished in matching natural wax, inside and out but it has 10 double-ended pipe lugs with single central fixings, rather than the single lugs of the other drums.

It´s also fitted with the brilliant Trick GS007 snare strainer in satin aluminium. This is a classy piece of kit, just about the best strainer you can buy. It´s a similar smoothness to that found on the Pearl Reference Series. The snare wires are 24-strand Puresound. And just to give you an idea of the attention to detail, the green snare tie cords are finished off with tiny end beads which Simon has glued on.

The batter is a white coated Evans Genera Dry with pin prick vent holes. The resonant head is an Aquarian Hi-Performance which has two white strengthening pads where the snare end-plates are attached to prevent the head getting damaged. And while the thin-shell kit is open sounding, the snare has more of a crispy, concise sound, making a pleasing contrast.

The wooden top hoop affords a bigger range of cross stick sounds than a metal rim. Depending on how much stick overhang you use, the sound varies from a thin 'click' through a normal 'clack' to a fat 'clock'.

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