Provenance 4×14 VW Snare
From the scraps of a funky old work van to one of the funkiest-sounding snares around.
by Michael Dawson
The U.K.-based Provenance Drums specializes in repurposing materials from specialty vehicles like Jaguar sports cars, racing yachts, and military airplanes. Back in May 2012 we reviewed a 5.5×14 F4 Phantom cast-aluminum snare that the company made from a fighter jet, and we were knocked out by its versatile, high-end tones and flawless craftsmanship.
This month we have another unique drum with some historic mojo: a 4×14 steel snare built from the side panel of a 1962 Volkswagen van. The shell is largely untouched, so it has the original paintwork on the outside and a black under-seal rust-prevention treatment on the inside. The 45-degree edges, which were rolled, are the only parts that have been lacquered, to prevent further corrosion.
Visually, the VW drum has a ton of retro-cool vibe. Sonically, this snare was no kitschy gimmick—it was a true dynamo. Tuned medium (batter head at 85 on a DrumDial), it had a super-fast response, supreme sensitivity, a bright but not abrasive attack, very clean overtones (i.e., no muffling required), and a surprising amount of depth. It was reminiscent of the popping snare Matt Chamberlain used on the Wallflowers’ hit single “One Headlight.” Tight tunings had an ultra-bright snap along with full-bodied tones, while lower tunings had more smack and punch without losing brightness or the quick snare response. Medium to medium-tight was the range that brought the old, rusty VW materials back to life, but the drum’s versatility across all tunings was quite exceptional.
Shell: repurposed steel from a 1962 VW Type 2 panel van
Bearing edges: rolled to 45 degrees
Lugs: chromed brass tube
Hoops: 2.3 mm triple-flange steel
Throw-off: Gibraltar Deluxe Classic- Style Piccolo
Wires: 16-strand PureSound Custom
Heads: Aquarian Texture Coated batter and Classic Clear bottom