Welcome to Tiki Drums.
Tiki Drums are a UK based bespoke drum company specialising in custom built drums inspired by the drums of yesteryear.
Established in 2008 by New Zealand born drummer and restorer Preston Prince, Tiki Drums have been making a name for themselves in the UK building high-end custom drums combining traditional techniques with a contemporary feel. Preston's eye for style is influenced by his love of Vintage drums and Jazz styling, this is reflected in the attention to detail and his loyalty to the attributes that made those incredible sounds back in the day.
Tiki Drums recent customers include: Allan Cox, Matt Skelton, Ben Thompson, James Drohan, Jim Fleeman, Ollie Boorman, Woody (BSP) and Fern Ford.
Tiki Drums YouTube drum course building video
"I think I've played just about every make of drum at some point in my career and TIKI drums are the first drums I think of now for any situation.
My standard TIKI set (18x14" Bass Drum,12x8",14x14" Toms and a 14x5.5" Snare Drum) has been amazing with all sizes of ensemble - recorded and in concert - from a jazz trio setting to a 70 piece orchestra and everything in between... Tension them low and funky or high for jazz, change the heads up - whatever you do, the sound is right there...
I recently used a set of TIKI's on the Monty Python Live concerts at London's O2 arena and again the drums were astonishing. At all volume levels they were contemporary sounding, sensitive and beautiful with power to spare when needed.
My TIKI drums represent the best elements of the classic era of American drums... They are like a wonderful sonic mix of 50's era Ludwig, Leedy, Gretsch and Slingerland, yet have all the best features of contemporary drums ie. they are round, they tune easily and they hold on to that tuning. And, to top if all, you can customise your TIKI's any way you want! The choices are truly awesome!
On top of all this, Preston's craftsmanship is second to none. His knowledge and advice regarding wood species, bearing edges, snare strainers and everything else pertaining to building you exactly the drum set you want is invaluable. He loves his drums as much as you will!
TIKI drums are here to stay...."
- Allan Cox - West End legend, Educator. www.allancox.co.uk
"My experience of Tiki has been pretty well rounded. I first discovered them after a long search for spares for an old kit I wanted to restore. From there I learnt of their snare building courses and, since I needed a new snare and thought the idea of building my own was too great an opportunity to miss, I signed up.
Last year, I purchased my first Tiki drum kit (Mahogany w/ Rio Rosewood veneer) and I couldn’t be happier. Not only does it have the lovely rich, warm tones that I’d been looking for, it’s also custom built to suit my wants and needs. Drum kits aren’t cheap, but if you’re going to spend the money and make the investment you need to be sure that it’ll last you. That’s why I went for a Tiki."
- Fern Ford - Nadine Shah, Kate Nash.
"TIKI drums are, without doubt, the finest drums I have ever played. They look beautiful and they sound great. I see them as having the lovely warm vintage sounds of an old Ludwig or Gretch but with the punch and volume of a Yahama Stage Custom. The most common comment made to me by sound engineers is "What is that kick drum? It sounds amazing". You also can't separate TIKI drums from their creator Preston who's passion and attention to details is what makes them and the whole company so special."
- James Drohan - The Common Tongues, Matthew and the Atlas. www.jamesdrohan.com
"Preston at Tiki Drums has taken care of some fabulous restoration and rebuilding work for me and I'm always more than absolutely delighted with the results. His attenton to detail is very impressive, but because he also builds his own drums he knows and understands exactly how to approach each job and what course of action is required for the best result all round."
- Martin France www.martinfrance.co.uk
"I can't recommend Tiki Drums highly enough. The drums I have are comparable in quality to any high-end product, but made with a care, attention to detail and finish that is not possible from mass produced drums. They are beautifully constructed and beautiful sounding drums and a real pleasure to play."
- Jim Fleeman - Matilda the Musical.
"I had heard of tiki drums through word and mouth initially and with some further research i I found that they seemed to be doing exactly what I wanted.
Making high quality bespoke drums from the best ingredients out there, crafted by someone who really knows what he's doing.
Preston was completely open to any ideas I had for what I thought would suit me and has made me a fantastic sounding set of drums.
The sound I had in my head is what I hear when I play them. Also it sounds great in any venue. I think this is the first time I've had this in any kit I've used. The whole process was as easy as it could be and I felt valued as a customer the whole time with a string understanding of my needs musically the entire time. Oh yes I forgot. They are also the best looking drums I've ever owned."
- Ollie Boorman www.ollieboorman.com
"I've had a great year playing Tiki Drums with British Sea Power. From fully amplified rock shows to playing with brass orchestras, my Tikis have sounded powerful and musical. They have proven to be durable on the road and versatile while having a voice all of their own. My Tikis are my sound."
- Woody www.www.britishseapower.co.uk
Prestons Top Tip No.1
The Drum Shell- choosing the right sound for you
The foundation of any drum building project is largely determined by what shell you choose. The shape, diameter, and depth of the shell will all influence the sound, therefore the sound you want for your drum will be defined by the shell you choose.
Things to consider are:
- The smaller the diameter of the shell, the higher the pitch, fewer overtones, and less sustain.
- The deeper the shell the lower fundamental pitch, more lower frequencies, more volume and increased projection.
- A thicker shell has less sustain, and less volume.
- The thinner the shell the more sustain, more volume and more overtones. Hence many thinner shelled drums require dampening for controlling some of those over tones,
Tiki Drums is a Keller drum shell supplier, we stock 6,8 and 10 ply shells which we can cut down to your specific requirements to create the sound you want.
For advice on achieving a specific sound please email us or click here to see the range of shells we stock. And if you can't find what you are looking for please contact us, we will do our best to get it in for you.
Top Tip No.2
Achieving an even wax coat on your shell
Sometimes when you are staining your shell with a wax stain you will find that it can go on blotchy and uneven on application.
To even out this blotchiness try applying a small amount of white spirit to a cloth and drag it gently over your drum shell with even strokes, you will find that the colour will even out beautifully across the shell and create a uniform finish.
Preston's Top tip No.3
Drilling holes in a veneered shell
When drilling new holes in a veneered shell, start off by drilling a pilot hole with a 1.5mm drill bit, once this is done use a correct size wooden drill bit (i.e a standard tube lug will require a 7mm diameter bit) for your lug and drill in an anti clock wise direction, this will make an initial cut without ripping the veneer. You will find that veneer will tend to tear if you go straight in with a clockwise cut due to its thin structure.
It is advised to make your holes with an initial depth cut of 1.5mm then finish drilling from the inside of the shell. This will minimise any risk of breakout.
Top Tip No. 4
Resolving snare buzz
If you are experiencing severe snare buzz your snare wires might be to wide for the width and depth of your snare bed. Its not a drum issue, its often the incorrect snare wires, using a narrower set of snare wires for a narrow snare bed should resolve this problem, but do not use 42 strand wires on a snare bed that is 4" wide as this will produce loose and rattly snare wires. instead try using a 20 strand or less.
Top Tip No. 5
Squeaky Tube Lugs!!
Most suppled shells these days are undersized, allowing greater flexibility to apply thicker veneers or drum wraps. The common problem for drum builders is the alignment of the lug with the tension rod. If you are using a self aligning lug ........... ah what do you mean by self aligning........ Well self aligning is the insert of the lug which is supported generally by a spring or plastic/rubber sleeve and allows the tension rod to have more flexibility in its vertical position to the lug. A tube lug for example does not have this as an option, the tension ideally should be aligned vertically with the tube lug.
Have you ever attached tube lugs and when you tighten the head they squeak?
This is due to the fact that there isn't enough packing out form the shell to the base of the lug, thats why the black grommets are useful, i however think they look naff and we like to use a nice steel washer which is are 0.75mm thick x 12mm diameter with a 6.5mm diameter hole. I've found that adding these to the lugs really helps align the lug and does not affect the aesthetic. If ever you need any of these let us know as we generally have them in stock, this could solve your squeaky tube lug problems.
Top Tip No. 6
BIG baggy snare sound!
I'm not sure if many of you know that I also teach drums. In fact I've been teaching for over a decade now at one of the fastest growing music colleges in the UK - BIMM. As well as being the owner of Tiki Drums, I'm also the deputy head of drums at BIMM. Last week I was asked to do a session on JR Robinson, one of my favourite drummers. The Track was "Rock with You" by Michael Jackson... well, reading between the lines more like Quincy Jones, anyway... I wanted to use and demonstrate to the guys how to get a low fat baggy sounding snare back beat. Now if you know anything about JR you'll know he likes really filthy sounding snare drums. So this leads me to my tip. The Baggy Snare sounding snare drum.
WARNING! This goes against all the stuff you have read in the magazines, read on if you want a fat baggy filthy sounding snare, Shuummmmmphhhfffffffff.
Step 1 Tune the snare up fairly snappy and bright, think David Garabaldi.
Step 2 The tuning lug closest to you, detune all the way until its completely loose.
Step 3 The tuning lugs either side of the real loose one that you have just de tuned, detune those as well, until you get a big old ugly wrinkle on the drum head. Can you see it?
Step 4 On the opposing side crank up the tension rod a good few turns and the tension rods either side of it. So the idea is that you are tipping the hoops and head on the snare. I told you it was against the norm.
Step 5 One of the most important steps. Tap the middle of your snare and tension the snare wires so that when you tap the snare in the middle the snare, the wires engage with a little bite. Now all you are doing is taping so make sure you tap not hit the drum. Use a stick or your finger. End of steps...
I know some of you guys will be going eh??????? But this tuning method was used by Kenny Clare, Dave Mattacks, Ash Soan, and Neil Wilkinson. In this Youtube clip you can see Kenny's snare and the ripples in the head. Notice that Kenny moves up the snare in order to get more rebound, and to get a fatter sound he moves more in the middle of the drum. Its just an idea guys. Its not a rule, it works for some things and when I used it on a DW 14" x 5" DW maple Jazz series snare that sounded acceptable, transformed it into a big Fat Thick sounding beast. I loved it! Try it out and remember its only sounds we are dealing with. At the end of the day it's the player that will make it sound great.