Vintage drum gear: Reno Pressure Ring Drum Kit

23rd May 2013 | 12:57

Vintage drum gear: Reno Pressure Ring Drum Kit
Reno Pressure Ring Drum Kit
Circa 1950s

Each month Rhythm Magazine tracks-down vintage gear in order to document important moments in drum-making history. This month we're looking at the Reno Pressure Ring kit from the 1950s.

Reno Drums are one of the great curiosities of the British drum scene. We dug at an old pic we'd taken of a single Reno tom a while back, but this is the first full kit we've seen. Jimmy Reno was a well-known character in post-WWII Manchester and owned a multi-storey music shop at number 64, Oxford Street.

Vintage drum gear: Reno Pressure Ring Drum Kit
Internal tensioning mechanism
Bass drum with head removed to show the complex internal tensioning mechanism and thin plywood shell

Jimmy Reno was also an inventive chap and had a factory in Altrincham which produced these unique drums in the late 1940s/early 1950s. Reno shells were extremely thin - made, according to Bob Henrit, from post-war RAF surplus plywood. But it is the internal tensioning mechanism which is remarkable and - again according to Bob - Reno applied for a patent as far back as 1939.

Historically, there have been several attempts to devise a single tuning mechanism, from Leedy and Ludwig’s Knob Tension to Arbiter’s AT, but ultimately they have all been spurned by drummers. Reno’s Pressure Ring design had the calf skins pushed upwards from inside, the reverse of normal drums where the skins are pulled downwards.

Vintage drum gear: Reno Pressure Ring Drum Kit
Rack system
Rack system, attached to the bass drum, supports the two over-sized toms which are 15"x12" and 15"x15"

The internal mechanism which accomplished this was operated via a single, large slot-head screw positioned centrally on the outer shell. The complex internal gubbins made the drums extra-heavy and what with the thin shells the enormous top toms could not be mounted on a bass drum holder, but instead were supported on a basic console-like rack.

The kit belongs to Preston drummer Eric Hammond, who has recently retired from full time drum teaching. Eric says, “I bought the kit from Terry Flannery in 1992 and I have had it ever since, although I have not gigged with it. Terry did play the kit - he was a respected dance band drummer in Preston and he bought it new around 1950.”

Vintage drum gear: Reno Pressure Ring Drum Kit
Centrally-mounted key socket with badge which says, 'Reno, Patent Applied For, Manchester, England.'

Sadly Terry suffered latterly from poor health and, Eric says, “I bought the kit, not to sell it on, but out of respect for Terry.” The kit’s restoration has been undertaken by Eric’s friend and pupil Paul Bryans.

“Paul has put his heart into it,” adds Eric. “When I got the kit from Eric,” Paul explains, “it was basically just dirty, but intact. It was taken apart quite easily and I cleaned the wrap but without going too far, so as to retain its originality.” Reno offered kits in 10 finishes and Paul says, “I cleaned a small area on a tom and I reckon it’s Blue Pearl.”

Paul had some of the metal parts re-chromed before he and Eric displayed the kit at last year’s UK National Drum Fair where these photos were taken. “I’ve since got the rest done. So now all the rack system and legs, etc, including all the wing nut fixings, are done. Everything else is totally original. The sizes are 15"x12", 15"x15", 18"x17" and 20"x20".”

Vintage Gear continues each month in Rhythm Magazine

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