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Premier Deluxe Timpani For Sale (Job# 1540)

FOR SALE £2950 Reduced Price

Here is a pair of very old timpani that a customer wants to sell due to retirement. They have had two owners from new and these drums are rare. There are a few scratches in the bowls but no big dents, and there are a couple of T handles that need to be replaced, but I may well have some of these buried in a box of vintage spares. There is also a tie bar missing to one of the legs, but to be honest this is much easier to make than to find an original replacement. Neither of these issues poses a massive problem for me because the costs of correcting them would be a fraction of the instrument value.

As can be seen they have calf skin heads on for which the drums were designed to be used. In reality it will probably be problematical finding easily available plastic heads – any size can be made, but you will have to wait for at least three months and expect to pay at least three times the price of standard heads. But who wants plastic over calfskin anyway now?


As with all of the second hand instruments I sell, I handle all the negotiations because my customers are selling through me for precisely that reason. The drums are currently at the owners house in southern England, but I will collect the drums for viewing when there is a serious buyer.

By 1927 Premier Drums had introduced the De luxe Model Tympani. These were still “classical timpani” so had retractable legs on the basic pot, but these were the drums that saw the development of the bowl shape and the fittings. For instance by 1928 the drop handle was introduced on these drums and self aligning lugs.

Also in by 1298 Premier had developed the pedal mechanism. It is the obvious choice to put their best bowls onto their newest flagship product and called them the inspirational name, “Pedal Tympani”. It is interesting reading the catalogue description where it mentions the Premier guarantee; I have no idea what that was, but the fact that these drums are still working and sounding great nearly a hundred years later is a testament that British engineering was and will always be the best in the world.

Premier 1928 catalogue

The last time these drums were seen in the Premier catalogue was in 1951. They were almost a footnote on the same page as dampers, badges and drum keys! I think that this is more a reflection of post war austerity than anything else, but it was the end of the run because in 1966 West Ham United won the football world cup (I mean England) and Premier launched the Series One Timpani – out with tymps and in with timps!

8 comments on “Premier Deluxe Timpani For Sale (Job# 1540)

  1. Paul Mouradian

    great classic drums Paul!! Is it possible to put plastic rennaissance heads on these. What do think would cost to ship them to Toronto Canada?

    Reply
    • pauljefferies

      Hi Paul,
      Any plastic will work mechanically, however I am not certain that standard head sizes will fit – these drums may well use pre-international heads. The timpani are not in my workshop so I will have to ask the owner to measure the counter hoops so that I can make a best guess. I will ask my freight handler for a price and then cost up the making of crates. At this stage my gut feeling is that transport would be around £1500, but I may be way wrong.
      Paul

      Reply
      • pauljefferies

        STOP!!!
        Actually I think I am wrong on the heads. I have zoomed in on the photo and I now remember.

        You can see that the counter hoops are different to modern versions. The profile is T shaped as opposed to L. Therefore the hoops will sit very high when using plastic heads which will make the drums unplayable for most timpanists. Furthermore I am not certain that the tuning handles will be long enough.
        Paul

    • pauljefferies

      Hi Paul,
      Shipment to Canada will cost in the region of £800. I cannot give an exact quote because there are too many variables; the cost of sea freight is only one element in generating an overall price.
      Paul

      Reply
  2. Ignacio Molins

    Hi Paul,
    I live in London and I am very interested in the Premier timps. Can we arrange a meeting so I can try them? Many thanks,
    Ignacio

    Reply

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Boosey & Hawkes Elizabethan Vibraphone For Sale (Job#1599)

FOR SALE £750

Here is another vibraphone that I have for sale, but a different beast completely.  Whereas the Premier 751 is practically immaculate, this vibe needs some TLC.


As you will have seen from the video, there are a few issues to be resolved, the main one being the pedal mechanism. If it were my instrument I would just make a new frame with a whole new pedal system. “Just” says the man who does this for a living!

The note beds were rebuilt a few years ago.  The horrible paint was stripped off to reveal the lovely English Oak beneath which I then varnished.  Instruments just aren’t made with this timber anymore, probably due to its rarity and cost.  Basically we should blame the landed gentry for whom us plebeians have been working for in penury for centuries, they stripped our beautiful country of all its majestic trees and were too tight, lazy or ignorant to have the foresight to plant some replacements.  Nothing changes.  So from that perspective, this instrument is a valuable rarity.

It is a while ago now, so my memory of what I actually did is vague, but I think that I had to do some modifications to the high end to hold the motor more securely or make is removable, or something along those lines. Whilst mentioning the motor, I won’t do any work to that, it would be condemned, so I strongly advise that is not be used.

What I really like are the note cord tensioners. So easy to use and very effective.  Also the little plates to protect the wood from the cord are a really nice feature seen on a lot of these old instruments.  The bushes that the fan shafts rotate through are also nice, being made in two halves for ease of access and with an oiling hole that can be seen in the photo below.

At the time I rebuilt the note bed I also did some work to the damping mechanism, but really it requires new components made or replaced which was outside of my remit.  My feelings are that the mechanism is a bit too complicated and certainly the spring is too powerful.

Along with all of the above work the notes were also tuned to bring it up to current pitch.  The range is not standard which may or may not be is an issue, but the quality of the bars is great and tonality is great having that vintage sound.

I guess I made my feelings clear in the video about my dislike of these vintage frames. However they are really well made just not very practical for modern use and like all instruments from this era, they were built for dwarfs. But just look below to see how small everything packs up!

If you are interested in buying this instrument please send me an email and we can discuss the next stage.

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