Snare 14x5.5 made in Japan 60s MIJ

Patrice B

Active member
This was the title of the ad. Got it for 30 Canadian bucks. 8 lugs, cheap shell (bottom is a little out of round, bearing edges are rough).
Anyway, before looking at it in details, I've bought a set of nylon snare cords and two heads (Ambassador Coated X and Ambassador Clear reso). Also got an used muffler for it (was missing).

Details: no badge, Pearl lugs (could be a replacement still), StarClassic (Tama) snare wires and mixed bolts...

So, yesterday, replaced the heads and put the muffler. There was also a broken piece in one of the lug but fortunately, I had an old lug with a similar piece (the thing that goes on top of the spring where the bolt goes in). Then, snare cord but the throw off was crap so there was almost no tension on the snares. Tuned it grossly and the sound was bad, lot of nasty overtones and boingy as hell! The only way to make it sound decent was to put an e-ring and engage the muffler.

This morning, I've decided that it needed a new throw off so I bought a Gibraltar SC-STO. So 30 bucks, then 65 yesterday and 45 this afternoon. Yes, 140 CAD but... sounded bad still!

A bit of tuning later (whole evening), 250 Hz on batter and 350 on reso (gives F3) and now there's only a good ring to it and it sounds good finally. Was it worth the expense? Yes for me as I learnt how to repair a beaten to death snare...

As for the out-of-round shell, not a big deal as it looks it can stay correctly tuned. BTW, I didn't had to fill the old strainer holes as the new one hides it! The important thing, it was fun and rewarding... but sure I could had bought a 150$ snare and got the same result. Does it sounds as good as my Ludwig Heirloom Brass or DrumCraft Maple? No for sure but it has its own sound and I like it.

Attached is the original ad pic, looks a lot better now!
 

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Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
Good for you !!

For many years I have thought about buying a complete 1960's MIJ made In Japan drum set. (One of the really cheap ones) Then tune it up and use it for gigs. I think it would be cool to play on a set like that and make it sound good. But I've always worried that it might not sound good. I have a MIJ snare drum on my home practice drum set. It's stuffed with laundry to keep it from bothering the neighbors. When I tune it up with good drum heads, it sounds like a cardboard box.

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Acrolitefan77

Junior Member
Awesome. I like little projects like that as long as you drop too much coin, which it sounds like you didn't. Sounds like you gave an old drum some new life.
 

Patrice B

Active member
Well, this one is a money hole: I had to replace a broken lug nut and so I had to buy a pack. Then, it was a mix of all kind of tension rods so here goes another two packs of tension rod.

Managed to almost reform the bottom hoop with my foot (looked at some Bob Gatzen videos).

But... this one is a b?$&@ to tune: once I tune the top head, it interacts with the bottom so I loosen it... but it also detunes the top and so it goes on. After a lot of back and forth between top and bottom, I got it. Anyway, tuned fairly high, 325 top, 370 bottom and it sounds really good. I don't think I could go higher without breaking something :).

In conclusion, a 30 bucks snare is now at 170!!! End of story, it would probably need new lugs but it's enough money for a cheap snare!!!

However, I can't control myself: I've bought another generic MIJ for 50 bucks but asked first it it was in good state: good news, it's playable as is...
 

trickg

Silver Member
I know that some people would scoff at what you are doing in an effort to resurrect this thing and make it something you'd use, but that's the kind of thing that makes some people happy. It does sound like it's beginning to be much more time, money, and effort than it's worth though.

I bought a cheap snare once. I got a really dirty drum and the "broken" stand it was sitting on for $30. The stand simply needed to be put back together correctly with a larger roller/barrel pin to tighten things up, and that was a 2 minute fix. The snare....

It was a really dirty Ludwig Acrolite. It looked like it hadn't ever had any new heads or wires put on it (at any rate, the ones on it were decades old) and it looked like it had gotten beer, food, and sweat all over it for a number of years. The snare wires were rusted and a few were broken, and the heads were played out and absolutely filthy. In addition to that, a number of the lugs had nipples that were broken off, and were heavily pitted. The hoops had surface rust all over them.

But the shell itself was in wonderful shape.

I cleaned up the hoops with steel wool and brasso, I pained the shell hammered black metalic, I replaced the lugs with tube lugs, eventually I put another P85 throw on it, I replaced the heads, and put a set of Puresound Blasters on it. It is now a workhorse that I will never get rid of.
 

Rattlin' Bones

Gold Member
My first kit was a late 60's/ early 70's MIJ kit. I was 15 or 16 and bought it used in LA. It was orange sparkle with tiger stripes. If I found another kit like it I'd buy it in a heartbeat.
 

Acrolitefan77

Junior Member
MIJ drums are really hit or miss. I bought a US Mercury snare a few years ago off Ebay that sounded incredible and had a great tuning range. I bought another US Mercury a couple years later that was a total dog. The red sparkle finish was gorgeous but that was the only saving grace.
 

Patrice B

Active member
I would like to stumble on an old kit form the era (MIJ). In fact there's an Hoshino shell on the classifieds right now and also an Tama or Pearl from the 70's... but I need another drum like another hole in the b...t. Already own a Catalina Jazz and it's enough, no place for another one.
 
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Patrice B

Active member
MIJ drums are really hit or miss. I bought a US Mercury snare a few years ago off Ebay that sounded incredible and had a great tuning range. I bought another US Mercury a couple years later that was a total dog. The red sparkle finish was gorgeous but that was the only saving grace.
This one has not a great tuning range for sure, but I managed to make it sound good, fortunately after having spent so much money on it. The muffler is also a plus, no Moongel needed.

The second one I bought last week-end has a new wrap around (not so good looking, grey aluminium) and has a particular sound: batter head is higher (335) than reso (295). I didn't touched the tuning as I like the sound as is. The top head is an Evan (used) with a reverse dot (dot is long gone) and the reso, a cheap Remo Made in Taiwan. In much better shape than the other one, hoops are straights, bearing edges looks good, tension rods clean and old strainer working correctly this time.
 

trickg

Silver Member
Yes, you're right, interesting experience but it'll end right there! No way I can recoup my investment if I ever want to sell it :)
That's ok though - I know that for me, most of the time when I buy a snare drum, it's with the intention of keeping it for the long haul. I think at this point I've sold three snare drums:

1.) Pearl Steve Ferrone signature snare - I WISH I still had it, but it was too much drum for the church I was playing at, so I sold it for what I had in it.
2.) Pearl Sensitone Elite Phosphor Bronze - no real regrets on this one - it was always too dark for me and I never used it because of that.
3.) The snare that came with my PDP FS birch kit - when I sold the kit, the snare went with it. I liked that kit, but the snare was kinda eh.

Everything else - projects I've made or other drums I've purchased, I still have. I like drum build/refurb projects because in the end I feel like I learned something about what makes drums tick and sound good, and I feel like I ended up with something useful.
 
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