Alan Van Kleef has slowly but surely built a reputation as a master of drum craftsmanship thanks to the stunning snares constructed in his Sheffield workshop.
Under the VK Drums moniker he has amassed a wealth of satisfied customers, with Chad Smith, Steve Gadd and Steve White among those to have taken delivery of his drums. So, we're in good company here.
The snare drum we have been sent is a 14"x5.5" cast B20 bronze and there is no way of getting around this, it is an absolute beast. The use of the B20 cymbal bronze helps this drum tip the scales at a staggering 9kg.
The drum features a 4mm shell, and 5mm cast bronze hoops.
Stainless steel and B20 hoops are also available, as are a range of shell sizes - 13" or 14" diameters and any depths between 41⁄2" and 8". Just going back to the weight, if you opt for a 14"x8" drum with stainless steel hoops you will be met with an 11kg snare.
Hardware for these drums is all created in-house by VK. That means everything from the stainless steel lugs and drum key to the claws and throw. The only pieces of outsourced materials are the Remo Ambassador head and the Puresound snare wire. Oh, there is also a padded Hardcase supplied, just as well with a drum of this heft.
The first challenge with this drum is finding a snare stand that is up to the task of holding its considerable frame in position. With that taken care of we are immediately impressed with the tone that barks out of this monster.
It is instantly at home for our rock set and at mid-tuning it delivers a real gunshot sound loud enough to shake any fillings right out of your mouth. What surprises us, however, is the versatility of the drum.
It is just as at home in a low tuning delivering a rich, rumbling thud as it is cranked high, adding a little ping underneath its rock steady sound.
The weight, of course, means that some will be put off. Yes, this isn't a drum that you would want to be carting around night after night, but as a studio snare this is a fantastic option.
The other sticking point is the price. £1,399 is simply an astronomical amount of cash to splurge on a single drum. But, you know what they say, you get what you pay for.