Premier Elite Timpani (Job No: 1215)

At the top of Premier’s timpani range are the Elite series.  I like the Premier design, there are a few issues like they don’t sound the best on the (mass produced) market of orchestral kettle drums, but they are in second place.  What I like about Premier drums is the old style pedal mechanism.  The other great feature on Premier Elites is the universal tuning adjustment, or crown wheel.  The only real issue with the Elites are the extended collars.  After discussion with leading timpanists, we think at 1.1/2″ it is a bit too big.  However, I have yet to prove the hypothesis, it’s just from observations. 

I will expand these points in a specific blog post at some point.

When I overhaul a set of timps, there is a lot of work involved over a period of days or even weeks. My approach is to fix everything properly; I am after all a professional and that is what I am being paid to do. However not everyone is as conscientious, and in the end, you get what you pay for. So when I work on timpani, I am fixing problems associated with wear and tear, and the dogs dinner that the previous person made of the job. The posts on timpani pick out examples of problems I encounter, rather than me writing, and you reading the same thing every time I do a set of timpani (which is why I have coloured this bit blue).

These drums have been sent in for overhaul before things have deteriorated too far.  The mechanism is very dirty, but not rusty.  What they do obviously need is a bit of work on the copper bowls.


One type of problem are big dents in the bowls.  This is no big deal, and is the sort of thing I just repair as I am going along.  They look bad, but in terms of time it doesn’t take too long for me to knock out (5 to 10 minutes)


The finished thing.  There is a happy medium with this work.  If there is a hard corner, then that will always be visible unless the bowl is completely refinished because the copper and the lacquer have been over stressed.  With the dent, I find it is a case of the more you do, the worse it gets, so I take my time and consider each blow with the hammer.

The second type of damage that happens to the Premier copper bowls, is when the bearing edge is dinted when they are struck with the handle of a timpani mallet.


As the handle strikes the edge it pushes material inwards in the centre, which raises the edges.  In the drawing this effect is exaggerated.


At the top there is a playing dent, lower down looks like a flight case has been dragged over the drum.  This is what happens to percussion instruments, no care and certainly no respect of the fact that they are musical instruments.

After taking off any sharp edges that are above the line of the profile (positive), the negative indentations can be filled.


The filler comes above the profile, so can then be cut away to the desired level.  It is then polished up.


After all repair work is done, I polish the whole of the bearing edge to a shiny finish.  What I am after is a smooth surface that the skin or plastic can slide over.  Any marks can create a scraping noise as the head passes over them, which due to the tension and resonant chamber, is then amplified.

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