Looking for a kit that will survive the test of time? This one could last you 100,000 years
Words: Tom Voce Images: Richard Ecclestone
Let’s face it, drums take a pounding.
When we’re not hammering them with chunks of tree, we’re throwing them around in cases and baking them in hot cars before putting them to sleep in a frozen garage. We demand a lot of our drums and sometimes they let us down. If you’ve ever put a soft-cased drum in the hold of a plane, you’ll know what I mean. If you’re looking for something a little more robust – or perhaps you need to store some nuclear waste in a floor tom – you’ll want to have a serious look at the VK Titanium drum kit.
Titanium is generally associated with high-end aviation – rockets, fighter jets, spy planes, and other serious engineering where you need super strength and low density. In fact, titanium has the highest strength-to-density ratio of any metallic element and is highly resistant to corrosion, even from most organic acids, chlorine and salt water. Lightweight, strong, resistant even to our own blood, sweat and tears: titanium sounds like a wonder material for drum manufacture.
What it would actually sound like was a mystery, though. I was half expecting the liveliness and chime of a metal like steel, but what I heard was completely different. I had a full set to play with: four rack toms (6”x7”, 8”x7”, 10”x7” and 12”x8”) and two floor toms (14”x14” and 16”x16”) plus a 22”x14” kick drum, all with spectacularly thin 1.5mm shells.
The drums have a dry sound with huge attack, with the larger drums possessing a very satisfying low end. The high toms don’t really ring like I expected, but instead have a punchy middle to go with the strong attack. Even the tiny 6”x7” tom gives off more of a ‘crack’ where you’d expect it to ‘ping’. Dry, strong attack, punchy; all this sounds like a studio and live engineer’s dream. No huge booming decay or ringing to mix away, all you get are short, clear and very percussive sounds. Perfect for large, loud gigs and most certainly ideal for the heavier player, given its tone and durability.
It turns out titanium has extremely characteristic sounds. It also turns heads. It is stunning. It has a silken finish prettier than the mirror finishes of some stainless steel kits. It has laser etched VK badges, hand finished solid stainless steel lugs and satin single-flanged stainless steel hoops that ooze class. It’s a good job the shells are most likely resistant to corrosion from oozing class, too. The kick has aluminium hoops rather than steel for weight saving. Like a precision racecar, this kit definitely benefits from all the weight saving. A kit in these sizes made of steel would weigh such a huge amount, while this titanium kit seems no heavier than lightweight wood ply drums.
It’s worth noting the 14”x6.5” VK copper snare that I paired with the kit. It really did chime, and probably ranks as the loudest snare I have ever played. While titanium provides focus and attack, this copper bad boy felt unleashed. You could calm its monster tonal bark with a studio ring, but you’d have to try hard to make it sound tame. If you want your snare to be heard above, well, everything else, this might be the one for you. Throw in the snazzy titanium strainer, quick release hoop and hidden drum key, and you have one eye and ear-catching drum.
All of these great things in one kit will inevitably lead to one prohibitive downside. Yes, super skilled artisanal crafts people, high-energy metal-working and top flight engineering all come at a price: a fairly hefty one. But you get what you pay for with this kit, and surely by the time you’ve passed it down to three thousand generations over 100,000 years it will have paid for itself, right?