When it comes to snare shell materials, us drummers are spoilt for choice. You've got maple, birch, bubinga, oak, steel, bronze, acrylic, concrete, all sorts. You name it, it's probably already been lovingly fashioned into a drum. Provenance Drums offer something genuinely a little bit different - snare drums made from parts of classic cars and fighter jets.
Here we have a 14"x31⁄4" piccolo made from a 1990 Bentley Mulsanne V8 cylinder head. The drum is sand cast aluminium with 2.3mm triple-flanged hoops and rounded bearing edges. It also features a lathed shell and eight chrome tube lugs.
Provenance has also made drums from a 1966 Jaguar MKII, a 1962 Bentley S2, a 1962 Rolls Royce, to name just a few examples. Owner Tim Broughton explains that he sources such materials from dealers, collectors and fellow enthusiasts. On the company's origins, he tells us:
"I have a fascination with history, historical artifacts and classic design, as well as a passion for music, drums and drumming. In particular I love British aviation, automobile and maritime objects. After visiting an aviation museum, I thought it would be a cool thing to make a snare from a Spitfire. The idea grew from that to what Provenance is today."
But is it all a gimmick? Style over substance, perhaps? The answer is a resounding 'no'. It doesn't take long for us to realise how special this drum really is.
The piccolo sounds absolutely gorgeous right out of the box. On placing the deliciously diminutive drum as a side snare we get to work and quickly find that even the slightest of hits results in a satisfying ping. Its placement as the side snare allows some interesting accents to be peppered in alongside the main snare sound.
Rim-shots are where this piccolo really shines, a measured whack of the drum's rim powers out an ear-piercing 'pow' - clear as a bell and twice as loud. It's also at a perfect pitch, any higher and only canines would be able to hear it and any lower and you'd lose a huge chunk of the drum's 'wow' appeal. The snare functions perfectly as a side snare for the rock set that this reviewer is playing, and would be just as at home as a main snare in a pop or funk gig.
One blemish on the drum's otherwise crystal clear copybook is the strainer - a not terribly impressive Gibraltar strainer. A mild disappointment, especially when you're paying north of £1,000 for a single drum.
While our drum is made of metal, there's not a single hint of clang to its sound, instead it's more than capable of a beautifully clear tone, and kicks out a hell of a racket when required.
Of course, it's eye-wateringly expensive. £1,000-plus for a snare drum is monumentally pricey, but then we must remember that something being expensive doesn't necessarily equate to poor value for money.