From his adopted hometown of Sheffield, VK Drums' Alan van Kleef hand builds drums, constructing from scratch just about every component required. Currently the only parts he buys in are heads and snare wires... and he has plans to manufacture wires.
Here we have a 14"x61⁄2" Aluminium shell snare. Formed from a 2mm single sheet of high grade 1050 aluminium, it is laser-cut, rolled and then TIG welded; the weld is polished out so finely that the only evidence of it is just visible on the inside of the shell.
Along with all VK metal-shelled drums, the bearing edges are cut directly into the edge of the shell (as opposed to being folded over) and are rounded with a 1mm radius. The completed shell sports an elegantly simple brushed finish which is sealed with a coat of protective clear lacquer.
Twenty solid stainless steel turret lugs - individually made by hand - are fitted to the shell, each one so perfectly finished that you can't help but admire the level of skill.
Equally impressive is the stainless steel VK007 throw-off which is again designed and built in entirety by Alan. Tucked away within the snare release is a VKey drum key (silent, ratcheted and a near perfect marriage of form and function); 4mm-thick single-flanged 'stickchopper' hoops top and tail the drum, adding a retro touch which suits the look of the aluminium.
Putting stick to head, the drum responds with a full, throaty crack; fairly dry but not lacking in volume or depth. Hit dead-centre it produces a backbeat big enough to power a foundry.
Moving away from the middle, the note spreads and the decay lengthens. Here, at more relaxed tunings, the drum really comes alive, allowing fuzzy-edged buzz roll figures to be incorporated into stickings - perfect for New Orleans-style funk.
Rimshots are an absolute joy; those straight-edged hoops serve up old-school blasts of ripe, pealing energy. The hoops also make it possible to flick in semi-rimshots, not quite the real thing, more snappy metallic accents that don't sound like miss-hits.
Higher tunings find some of the drum's natural power reined in - it just doesn't sound quite as comfortable pitched up - but back in its optimal zone it manages to be both commanding and expressive.