"The Bellmaker". I have always wanted a bell brass snare drum; the clarity of their tone, the poignant attack they offer, something about them is truly unique. The problem was, I didn't want to spend upwards of $2000 on a snare drum to achieve this!
I've always been a fan of the underdog. The small business owner whom, armed with a dream and experience, does something so good, unique and cool that envelops passion and love into the final product... a lot of the large companies seem to have lost that part of the equation and I'm always happy to find someone who delivers. Vukan Karadzic is such a guy, and he lives in Serbia.
I first became aware of Vukan's work through the internet, photos of his drums began to show up on social media groups and I was intrigued with what he does, as the first video I watched was this 1:00 long reel about creating "spun" snare drums. One minute was all it took to convince me "this guy can build a badass drum!" and so I began to manifest one of his drums in my mind.
One day I was walking along in Central Park in NYC and it hit me, "Hey, I can actually make that drum happen!" and I put in for a 5.5x14 Bell Brass. I figured it would take 6 months to get and was in no hurry so I dropped the $200 deposit with Vukan. A little while later I thought about the size and decided I'd like a 5" deep shell instead of a 5.5" deep, and Vukan said he had that same drum in stock so I paid the difference and the drum was suddenly on it's way to me!
A week later or so I had the drum in my possession and the first thoughts out of the box were "It's absolutely gorgeous!" and right now, a week into our love affair I can say this drum is an absolute joy to play. It's not as heavy as I thought it would be, weighing in at about 15lbs. I used to have a Dangerous Ocheltree drum that clocked in at about 28lbs, so I'm thankful a heavier duty snare stand wasn't required.
The drum came with the usual stock heads and I swapped them for my choice (Aquarian Classic Clear snare side and a Reverse Dot Coated on top) and also I swapped the snares (16 strand premium brass wires) for a set of Puresound 24 strand brass wires. I just can't do anything stock, LOL! I'm certain this drum would have sounded FINE out of the box with what it came with, I'm just that much of a gear snob! The hoops are die-cast aluminum and the throwoff is currently a mass-production type that will certainly be replaced with one that is more befitting a drum of this nature.
The first thing I did with the drum was a short rehearsal at low volume and the drum was more than clear in its report. Clean notes that sound full and bright as one would expect. The next evening I did a casino gig with the drum in a loud rock environment, playing the music of Jimi Hendrix. Oh man, this drum brought it big time. I felt like a Samurai warrior with an oversized sword that could handle the largest stand of bamboo (that WAS the common enemy back then I am convinced; bamboo MUST be tamed!) and man, I was choppin' bamboo that night! It seemed that the drum just got bigger and bigger the harder I hit it. And granted, a drum is only gonna get so loud before it chokes out, but this drum didn't even choke. Every note was well-formed and filled with sonic pleasure. Like biting into an overly-juicy peach on a hot summer day and getting hit with that level of satisfaction. You can almost TASTE this drum!
I'm not gonna tell you how to spend your money, but I will tell you this- I got a bell brass drum for a fraction of the cost of a Tama, and I'm gonna get another one of Vukan's drums real soon, maybe more than one. You cannot go wrong here. This will be money well spent!