Hello... and one question...

5 Style

DFO Master
Joined
Aug 6, 2005
Messages
6,488
Reaction score
101
Location
SE Portland, Oregon
Hey there... It's been a while. I was a member posting just about every day for a decade or more but I dropped out somewhere around '14 and haven't posted since. I guess that I just got into other stuff...

Anyway, lately I've been trying to track down one piece of drum gear and in calling several shops in my town have come up short. I have an old mongrel set which seems to be made up of all various old Pearl drums (but which all match in sharp red sparkle wrap!) and maybe some other Japanese brand drums (though I know that at least one of the three pieces is Pearl and they all have the same Slingerland looking lugs). The floor tom though has these non-standard rods on it with tops that are smaller than a standard drum key. I've tuned this thing before with a vice grips, griping each key and turning it a 1/4 or so at a time (because you can't swing the wrench the full 360 degrees), but lately I've been using this particular kit more and decided that I'd like to be able to quickly tune it with a key, just like I'm able to do with every other drum that I have. I know that there must be some standard for smaller size rods, particularly ones that are 60s era Japanese and of course there had to be drum keys made for this other size tension rod. Everyplace that I've called, including a really great shop which specializes in vintage gear, which I would have expected to have a pile of these keys doesn't have anything like that... So, where might I be able to order such a key? What is something like that even called so that I can search for it?

I realize that I could just change all of the rods to the standard size, but I understand that in order to do that, I'd also need to swap out all of the inserts inside of the lugs. All of that is way more money and effort than I want to put into this cheap old drum (the kit is really only something that I use for rehearsal and nothing else). I don't mind having to carry an extra key in my stick bag just for this one drum.


Thanks in advance and hello to any of you who might have been on here and remember me from years ago when I was on the forum a lot...
 

ConvertedLudwigPlayer

DFO Veteran
Joined
Oct 13, 2010
Messages
2,478
Reaction score
162
Location
Virginia
I would look for the planest, skinniest drum key you can find. I have found that some of the newer drum keys like Pearl are difficult to get onto the top of some tension rod heads because the key itself hits the lip of the drum hoop.
 

cplueard

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 12, 2015
Messages
456
Reaction score
92
Location
AZ
The easiest solution might be to use modeling clay (or a more permanent type of moulding). Half fill a regular key, pressure it onto the lug, then pull it off and let it dry.
 

kdgrissom

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 27, 2013
Messages
115
Reaction score
65
Location
Florida
From what you are describing, it sounds like the issue is the head of the tension rod not fitting into a standard drum key. Have you tried other tension rods from the rest of the kit to see if they will thread into the inserts?
Other than that, I would suggest seeing if a small socket nut (metric?) would fit snugly and then just weld a "T" atop it.
 

5 Style

DFO Master
Joined
Aug 6, 2005
Messages
6,488
Reaction score
101
Location
SE Portland, Oregon
From what you are describing, it sounds like the issue is the head of the tension rod not fitting into a standard drum key. Have you tried other tension rods from the rest of the kit to see if they will thread into the inserts?
Other than that, I would suggest seeing if a small socket nut (metric?) would fit snugly and then just weld a "T" atop it.
Yes, that's exactly it, but I guess that I didn't do a very good job of explaining it as other responses indicate that they didn't quite understand me on that. I asked about it at a vintage drum shop in my town (a great one called "Revival") and they said that they're sure that the diameter and/or threads are different so I'd need rods and new inserts, which is more than I want to put into this very cheap old drum. A key that fits would really be the perfect solution and as I said I can't quite believe how difficult it is to track one of these down...
 
Last edited:

frankmott

Humble (drum) shop-keeper
Joined
Aug 6, 2005
Messages
2,598
Reaction score
423
Location
N.E. Ohio
Gosh, when I had my drum shop, I had a room full of old parts, including lots of strange metric rods and inserts. I never saw a key (or rod) that was so undersized. I could have swapped out the rods and inserts for well under $30.

Fixing problems like yours was one of the joys of having all those parts (and having the shop).

I literally couldn't give all those parts away at the end, and most of them ended up getting scrapped.
 

frakas

New Member
Joined
Feb 4, 2018
Messages
1
Reaction score
2
Location
jersey
try an old fashioned radiator air bleed key only a buck or two at the hardware store. or maybe an old clock winding or skate key, ive seen them both in square drive over the years
 

KevinD

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 7, 2006
Messages
180
Reaction score
68
Location
New York City
try an old fashioned radiator air bleed key only a buck or two at the hardware store. or maybe an old clock winding or skate key, ive seen them both in square drive over the years
EXACTLY!!.. I used to live in an old house with cast iron radiators... needed those keys to bleed them once in a while. Also found that the radiator key fit the tension rods on 90s era boutique kit I had which were too small for a standard drum key.
 

Geardaddy

Very well Known Member
Joined
Jan 17, 2014
Messages
780
Reaction score
81
Location
Minneapolis
I understand your dilemma. In theory, all square head tension rods have the same size heads so any drum key from any manufacturer should fit any tension rod perfectly. However, that is far from true. Tension rod square heads vary in size as do the drum keys we use to tune them. Especially when you are talking about 60's Japanese import drums. In fact, I've seen drum keys from large modern drum companies not fit their own drums. So finding an undersized (or oversized) drum key can be a hit or miss proposition. Find a drum shop with a bucket of random drum keys and try them on your tension rod until you find one that fits. Good luck.
 

Soulfinger

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 25, 2017
Messages
178
Reaction score
77
Location
Vienna, Austria
Try cutting off a piece of aluminum from a soda can to insert into the key. You may need more than one layer. Glue in permanently when you find the right fit.
 

5 Style

DFO Master
Joined
Aug 6, 2005
Messages
6,488
Reaction score
101
Location
SE Portland, Oregon
I understand your dilemma. In theory, all square head tension rods have the same size heads so any drum key from any manufacturer should fit any tension rod perfectly. However, that is far from true. Tension rod square heads vary in size as do the drum keys we use to tune them. Especially when you are talking about 60's Japanese import drums. In fact, I've seen drum keys from large modern drum companies not fit their own drums. So finding an undersized (or oversized) drum key can be a hit or miss proposition. Find a drum shop with a bucket of random drum keys and try them on your tension rod until you find one that fits. Good luck.
I think that what you're talking about is different... what you're talking about is more of a matter of sample variation (though it's hard to believe that the QC with these companies is so poor that there's that much of a difference). What I was told at my local drum shop was that there actually was an entirely different standard of rods used with some old Japanese drums. Both the threads and the head sizes are totally different than the standard...
 


Top