The following review originally appeared in the February 2015 issue of Modern Drummer, which can be purchased here.
Premier Modern Classic Club Drumset
The subtle vintage/retro vibe of this kit makes it look as timeless as it sounds.
Inside Premier’s small factory, which is located in Lancashire in the northwest part of England, you’ll find a team of artisans, led by veteran drum craftsman Keith Keough, meticulously crafting shells formed in the company’s own molds. Each bearing edge is sanded to perfection by hand, and almost all of the materials used to build Premier drums are sourced locally.
“What we’re trying to do is to take a step back and go back to the roots of what Premier was about ninety-two years ago,” marketing manager Colin Tennant says. “We want everything to be innovative but to have purpose. It’s all about the sound. We want everything designed with the sound in mind.” The result of this vision is a new series dubbed Modern Classic Club. We received the Bebop 20 shell pack for review, which includes an 8×12 rack tom, a 14×14 floor tom, a 14×20 bass drum, and a 5.5×14 snare.
Modern Classic Drums
Boasting an elegant yet retro look, all Modern Classic drums have ultra-thin shells that consist of a birch core with an inner ply of mahogany. According to Premier, the birch offers a “high, powerful, clean tone,” while the mahogany provides a “darker, deeper, softer low end.” Tennant says, “We wanted to create one of the thinnest and strongest shells possible, without the need for a support ring to hold the shell together.” The final products are incredibly thin 4.5 mm, 8-ply shells for toms, a 6 mm, 11-ply shell for the bass drum, and a 7.5 mm, 14-ply shell for the snare.
All of the Modern Classic Club shells sport a waxed, 30-degree roundover bearing edge, which is specifically designed to help soften the tone and provide a more controlled response. Each drum also comes equipped with low-mass, solid brass tube lugs and steel rolled hoops with solid bronze clips. The choice of hoops and hardware was made to provide for the maximum amount of resonance. Each set is offered with a mahogany or bird’s-eye maple finish, and the bass drums come with contrasting wood hoops.
Modern Classic Tones
Sound is a matter of preference. Some people prefer more resonance, and others like a more focused, controlled tone. One of the greatest strengths we found with the Modern Classic Club was a significant amount of control over the sound. The thin, non-reinforced shells allowed for a big, warm, open tone with a nice long sustain with both heads at a medium pitch. But we were able to shorten the decay to achieve a really focused sound with a nice punch by experimenting with the tuning.
We were also pleasantly surprised by how much depth and volume we could get out of the 14×20 bass drum. It came equipped with a Remo Powerstroke 3 batter, which helped to provide a focused, low-end punch with controlled sustain. Not only did this kick drum record well, but it was also perfect for live situations requiring a big bass drum sound without taking up a lot of physical space.
The 5.5×14 snare we received had a bird’s-eye maple finish and was stunning to the eyes and to the ears. Its sound right out of the box was dry, with a medium amount of sustain. It wasn’t too bright or too dark-sounding either; it was just right. The single-ply batter head reacted sensitively, and the Dunnett R7 quick-release strainer gave effortless control of the position of the throw-off (the lever swivels 180 degrees) and snare wire tension.
We found the simplicity and elegance of this Modern Classic Club set to be captivating. Tennant wraps up our discussion of this new series by saying, “Sometimes it’s nice to get back to the simple things. It’s nice to remember the concept of a drum and how it needs to resonate and still offer the control you need without being over-engineered.” Amen!