Late 70s Premier Resonators

Somewhere along the way I heard of Premier Resonators... actually it was from master instructor Matt Patella, who was endorsed by Premier and played Resonators back in the day. My research confirmed that these were indeed different... using full inner shells, thereby creating a resonance chamber in each drum. There seemed to be a certain mystique about Resonators, which captured my interest . . . not unlike the mystique surrounding the legendary Vincent motorcycles, also built in England, and also incorporating unique design features which inspired awe and fear in motorcyclists round the world for generations.

I regularly searched eBay for Resonators. They rarely ever appeared, and when they did - shells seriously worn or damaged, rusted lugs and claws, or worse yet, inner shells removed because someone decided the drums would sound better without them. About a year ago I came across a listing for a Resonator floor tom shell, no legs or heads, pitted hoops. But the finish looked nice, not scratched or damaged, and the lugs looked un-pitted and un-rusted. I bought it and then followed up with the seller, learning he owns a secondhand store in Denver (I'm in New Jersey), and among his sources for products were abandoned storage lockers; he buys the contents and gambles that he's going to get adequate sell-able items to cover his costs, and make a few dollars.

Lo and behold, he had the matching bass drum, and two tom-toms, no tom mount, and no tom hoops or tension rods. He told me he wasn't going to sell them on eBay, as shipping my drum was just too much hassle; he was hoping someone would buy them in his store. He ultimately agreed to sell me the shells.

When they arrived, much to my delight, their condition was nearly perfect . . . including the inner shells, completely intact, looking as though they had never been touched. I have no idea why these drums were sitting in a storage locker disassembled and abandoned. My first thought was restoration - but the condition was so nice that "restoration" really wasn't needed. I still don't get it.

There was really very little work to do on these drums. One of the bearing edges of the bass drum had a small dent/crack (looked like someone dropped the bass drum on the edge without the head); needed a little bit of filler, and a lot of patient hand-sanding to get the edge perfectly flat and smooth. The drum finishes needed cleaning and a very little bit of scratch repair. The chrome needed cleaning - some of the finest quality castings and chrome I've encountered (I am a motorcycle store owner, and I get to see a lot of chrome - Premier's is outstanding).

Wanting to stay true to the original design, I acquired new cast hoops for all the toms. Found the proper tom mount on eBay. Considering the design of the Resonators I used clear batters and resonators everywhere so the inner shells are visible. My real concern with the set was whether the drums were round, true, and straight—cast hoops are completely unforgiving, and unlike modern triple-flanged will not conform to a warped drum. To my delight, everything went together perfectly, and the drums tuned with no problem at all.

I really couldn't be happier with my 35-ish year old set (the set is 1979-1981). A comparable modern set would cost much more than I would be willing to spend; for roughly a third of that I wound up with one of the great sets of the 20th century, a set that far exceeds my meager musical skills. And besides that, I had a blast acquiring the set, tracking down and sourcing the parts, repairing, cleaning, assembling, tuning, and bringing the set back to life.

- Stu Segal