January 30, 2021

New Stone Custom Drum kit in Black Pearl wrap

Another Stone Custom Drum beauty built with Bernie Stone's American Classic 3-ply shell formula and a durable Black Pearl wrap.


Readers of this blog know that I am a big fan of Bernie Stone.  Bernie founded Stone Custom Drum to continue building drums using the classic American formula, essentially building "new Slingerland" drums using equipment from the old Slingerland factory that he salvaged and refurbished.  You can read more about Bernie in my previous post, New Stone Custom Drum kit with American Classic 3-ply shells.

Vintage drums in black pearl wrap
(images may be subject to copyright)
Early last year, I started gigging a bit more, and while I love my Stone Custom Drum walnut-to-deep brown burst kit, I hate the idea of damaging its beautiful finish while lugging it around.  Without question, this is a first-world problem :)  I gave Bernie a call, and the good news is that he had time in his production schedule to build a kit with wrapped shells for me.

I have always liked the vintage American drum sets wrapped in Black Pearl, also known as Black Diamond Pearl or Black Marine Pearl.  Slingerland, Rogers, Ludwig, Premier, Gretsch, and other drum makers built drums with a version of this wrap as early as the 1950s.  After watching this video of a Stone Custom Drum kit in this wrap, I decided to check the box for Black Pearl.

Shells at SCD prepped for hardware, then packed for shipment
I ordered my new kit in my usual two-up, two-down tom configuration with a single bass drum.  I prefer Stone Custom Drum's American Classic maple-poplar-maple 3-ply shells with re-rings.  With Bernie cooking these drums up in the original Slingerland molds, I get shells in the classic American formula with modern hardware and Bernie's attention to detail.  It's like placing a custom order with the old Niles factory, but better.  Bernie sent me a few pics as the kit came together, which always makes the wait for the carefully packed shipping boxes much more difficult.

Because Bernie is a custom drum builder, I had a number of decisions to make to configure my new kit the way I wanted it.  I already knew that I wanted to go with the classic Slingerland-style stick-saver hoops and lugs, both in chrome.  Bernie recommended beavertail-style floor tom brackets and black bass drum hoops with Black Pearl inlays, and I decided to go with these vintage touches as well.

Evans G2 coated over G2 clear heads on the 12x14 floor tom
Next decision:  Drum heads.  I decided to go with Evans all-around--G1 coated over G1 clear on the rack toms, and G2 coated over G2 clear to tame the floor toms a bit.  I had Bernie outfit the bass drum with EMAD2 clear over EQ3 black (with port hole), and he added a Stone Custom Drum logo to the EQ3 reso head for me as I'm happy to spread the word!

Once the build was complete, Bernie asked if he could use my new kit in a photo shoot he had scheduled with Bill Ray.  I thought it would be fun to have my kit in the shoot, so I agreed.  Bernie shared a quick video as they were setting up my kit for the shoot, and it was an honor to have Bill test drive my new kit!
SCD American Classic shell pack in Black Pearl

When the drums arrived, I was struck by the timeless appeal of the Black Pearl wrap, and thankful that they were already fitted with modern hardware (e.g., suspension mounts).  I had been watching several vintage kits on eBay and Reverb, and for my situation, these "new vintage" drums are a much better choice.

I already have plenty of snare drums, so this order was for a shell pack rather than a complete kit.  Drum sizes are 7x10 and 8x12 rack toms with TIMS isolation/ suspension mounts, 12x14 and 14x16 floor toms with standard legs, and a "virgin" (not drilled for rack tom mount) 18x22 bass drum.  I prefer shallower rack toms to minimize their height over the bass drum, and I always mount them on a rack or separate stand to keep their weight off of the bass drum shell.  I also add Pearl R-40/3 rubber tips to the floor tom legs, which function as inexpensive mini-isolation mounts for floor toms.

Precision-cut vintage roundover edges
I specified vintage roundover edges on all of the shells.  I prefer the warmer tone roundover edges provide due to the increased contact between the head and the shell.  The quality of the finished edges is excellent on all of the shells.

Each drum includes SCD's black and brass badge, and Bernie finishes the interior of each shell with a signed decal identifying the drum and an amber lacquer that gives it a classic, finished look.

The drums look and sound great, and the durable Black Pearl wrap is a great choice for a gigging kit.  I'm looking forward to getting these American Classics on the road!

--Darin

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