In this Instructable, I am going to extrapolate (non)poetically regarding my adventure in converting my cheap ol' $20 drum kit into a Compact/Micro/Jungle Kit masterpiece... or maybe I'll just talk about how I took some garbage and made it into more/less/different garbage. ;)
Let's gets started!
Meet Bangy. I bought Bangy over 15 years ago from my friend Sean G. He purchased a nice kit and let go of this sweet set of puppies for only $20. I used this thing as a practice kit for my band and only changed the heads once (using hand-me-downs pulled off my drummer's kit when he upgraded his heads). I can't say these guys saw much TLC during their time with me. Just some magnificent banging. Through the years, these buckets gathered dust, rust, and other rhyming words...
I moved to Austin, Tejas for the tacos (but really for work... but the tacos y'all) in November of 2015 and went from owning a 4 bedroom home to renting a 1 bedroom house. Let's just say that space is not something I have much of in the new place. These dusty tubs were about to be downsized for Ludwig Breakbeats to take up less space... Until I had a dream. A dream of experimentation and potential drum ruin. A dream I call MURDER. Wait, no. Backwards. A dream I call RE-DRUM!
Step 1: Get Naked
Bangy was not pretty. His hardware was rusty and he was covered in decades of dust. At least a third of the lugs on the Kick had rattled enough to snap from the body.
I unscrewed the tension rods, pulled off the heads and rims, then proceeded to unscrew the lugs. All of the hardware went into a 5 gallon bucket to soak in "Metal Rescue Rust Remover Bath" that I had purchased at my local Home Despot.
The drum wrap was only bound at the seam and the adhesive was so old and brittle I was able to peel the wrap off with nothing but my my extreme masculinity and a delightful accompaniment of whistling (also provided by me). My frail form took mere moments to rid Bangy of his oppressive outer shell, revealing the cheap, crappy ply shells underneath.
Step 2: More Holes!
It was time to break things.
I guessed at all measurements and simply eyeballed a bunch of pictures of Jungle Kits on the interwebz. I even spent a good part of the afternoon admiring pictures of jungle cats after a simple miskey. Meow.
The Floor Tom would be the new Kick. I flipped it on its side and took the Kick spur hardware and moved it all around the shell. I eventually decided to place them so that they would cover the existing holes that would otherwise be left exposed from removing the Floor Tom legs. I modified the existing holes and bore out some new ones with my drill. I chose the same placement for the Tom Mount hardware for the top of the new Kick. Covered the existing holes with the mount, centered it best I could, and traced where the new holes would go. I did have to bend the metal bracket that conforms to the inside shell as it bends at a different angle on a 22" Kick then it does on my new 16" converted Kick.
I then took the 13" hanging tom and drilled holes for the Floor Tom leg hardware. The hanging mount was simply removed. I thought about filling this hole, but I thought it would look garbage and I was planning on doing a natural wood finish. Maybe I can cover it with some sort of homemade drum badge at some point?
Without reinstalling all the lugs and hardware, I quickly put everything in place to verify that I had completed all necessary modifications to the shells. To understand what it might look like, I draped the heads and rims loosely on the shells.
Enjoy the picture of my messy kitchen....
Step 3: He Has Risen!
The Floor Tom to Kick conversion can be challenging if you are like me and would love to simply use the Pearl Jungle Kit conversion thingy, but have already reused your Floor Tom leg mounting hardware for... I don't know, maybe your newly converted 13" floor tom! So, instead of it being easy where I could simply buy a reasonably priced kit, I had to look at buying much more expensive options (mostly having the same missing hardware issue) or building my own.
I took the mounting bracket from the 13" hanging tom (my new Floor Tom) and held it on the bottom of my new 16" Kick. I then purchased a 3/4" steel pipe (matching my Tom mounting hardware) and simply drilled a 3/4" hole part way through a scrap 2x4 and twisted that sucker in there tight. I screwed a metal L-bracket to the 2x4 to give the kick pedal something to clamp on. I attached the kick pedal and moved the contraption around to figure out the proper height of the pipe I needed (I purchased several lengths and took back the ones I didn't use) and mounted the Tom mount at a depth according to the placement of the pedal (making sure to account for clearance of the rim). I tried to make sure the mallet head was hitting as close to center of the new Kick as possible.
Step 4: Lazy Man's Finishing
I grew up as the son of a painter and learned at an early age that I not only lack the patience for really nice finish work, but that I absolutely hate it...
Please, for the love of all that is holy... If you have patience, your results could be 1 billion times better than mine. Though if you have a "Meh. Good enough." kinda approach to this project like I did, feel free to follow my lead.
I sanded the shells with 80, then 120, then 220 grit with a palm sander. The 80 was only used for the areas where there was splintering from the drilling and residue left from the drum wrap adhesive. You have to be careful when sanding ply. If you sand too intensely you will sand off layers and there is not much you can do to fix it. You also don't want to put too much pressure on the drums while doing this step or you could possible bend them up and make them go out of round. I have no clue if my fears are justified, but I was very careful with this step. Especially as it allowed me to do a quick few passes and say "That is all I can do for fear of ruining these shells". I will take any excuse to stop sanding.
Note: I did not fill any of the holes, cracks, or gaps in the ply. Once again, I have a combination of "I'm lazy" mixed with "I want a natural finish" plus a convincing helping of "It will give it character"...
After sanding, I dusted the drums off and applied a coat of Tung Oil with a rag, both inside and out. (Don't skip the inside. This is debatable drum sound magic. Some people believe it is completely bogus where others think it is the cat's pajamas. Meow again). I do not suggest using a rag. Despite the fact that I was using rags designed for applying stain, they left fuzz and cloth particles in the oil finish. It was a pain getting these off and you can see it in some of the pictures.
The first picture shows the new Kick getting the first coat. You can see the huge difference between the first coat and the un-oiled wood. Each drum shell came out different. The more variance in colors and grain, the more gorgeous I thought the shells looked once oiled.
After allowing 24 hours to dry, I applied a second coat liberally with a foam brush (much easier, go this route). The second coat made the wood much darker and much more sexy. The drums started looking like I carved them from tree stumps. This is when I started thinking that maybe the kit wouldn't look too bad despite my shortcuts...
After everything was dry, I had to sand off the Tung Oil that I got all over the bearing edges. Next time, I might just tape these to avoid the additional sanding step.
Step 5: Hardware Schmardware
A lot of this project was inspired by Micro/Jungle Kits I saw other people create. CompactDrums.com has a lot of great posts showing all sorts of fun steps from DIY Isolation Gaskets to DIY Bass Drum Risers.
I strongly encourage you to check out http://compactdrums.com/improve-your-drum-kit/ for some very inexpensive ways to upgrade the kit while you are performing your conversion.
Following their lead, I stuffed all the lugs with cotton balls and spent a couple hours tracing and cutting out isolation gaskets out of craft foam I got from Michael's. One 11x17 sheet of foam was more than enough for all the necessary gaskets.
I then reinstalled the hardware (with new gaskets) and added Lucas White Lithium Grease into the threads where the tension rods would be screwed.
Step 6: Getting a Head... or Six.
I purchased all new heads. On the mounted (12") and floor tom (13") I added classic Remo Pinstripes to the batter side. Reso heads are clear ambassadors.
For the 16" Kick, I purchased the Evans EMAD Clear Batter that is made for a Tom hoop (TT16EMAD). This is important as a Tom head won't really end up sounding like a Kick drum. If you order the 16" designed for a Kick drum, it will not mount to your floor tom conversion properly. Make sure you are getting the Tom hoop version!!!!
For the reso, I purchased an Evans EQ3 (non-ported) in white.
Btw, this head sounds unbelievable! I don't plan on adding any muffling internally. This video helped me pick out this kick batter and I am very pleased:
Step 7: Finally! Bangarang.
Completed conversion. Meet the newest member of my family: Bangy 2.0.
I used the money I saved by not buying a brand new set and put that cash towards upgrading my cymbals. Rather than continuing to feel inadequate with my Sabian B8s... I scoured Craigslist for weeks looking for well priced cymbals. After hours reading Missed Connections for my own amusement, I found a 20" Custom Dark Ride and some New Beat Hi Hats in excellent condition and jumped on them.
I am very excited about my "new" kit and love the way it turned out. If you have an old monster laying around, don't be afraid to give it a facelift. A lot of figuring things out on the go, but a fulfilling and fun project altogether.
Hope you enjoyed the journey! Feel free to suggest names for my new kit below.