Yamaha RC/RA restoration.

After a tip from my friend Dave Egan, I bought this kit from The Drum and Percussion Co-Op in Sydney. They were ex-hire drums from Sydney’s famous Sound Level rehearsal studios. There were actually two kits, one in a Steve Gadd type layup – 10/12/14/16/22 (but in deep shell sizes) and the other which was 12/13/16/22 in standard depths. These were very early 9000 series shells. Two drums had RA badges and two had RC’s. The RC’s became known as the Recording Custom (or 9000) series. The RA series had rounded bearing edges, while the RC’s had the familiar double 45 degree edges. The serial number information which I got from this site put them at 1982 and 1984. I later discovered they would have been made by Sakae Rhythm in Japan; from Japanese birch – for Yamaha.

Cleaning them up was a marathon job. They were filthy and all the heads were wrecked. However the Yamaha hardware did not disappoint and there wasn’t a single issue that wasn’t solved with polish and lubrication. I completely disassembled this kit and it really was amazing – apart from a worn out tom arm; not a stripped thread or broken casing, even after they were rented out for 30 plus years. The bass drum hoops were another story. They had valleys in them from all the kick pedals over the years. I filled the rear hoop 5 or 6 times before it could be sprayed.


What really helped the preservation of this kit was that someone had written a stern warning on the bottom heads of the toms “Remove this head and you will die”. This kept the edges in shape. Obviously a drum lover!

RA rounded edge.

I was very pleased with this kit. It was fun to play and the toms were loud and punchy. However, for a few reasons, I did decide to sell them. Firstly, I was not enthusiastic about the bass drum – something about the birch sound didn’t gel for me in a bass drum. Secondly, the sound of the toms across the kit was not really even. I had Dave edge them all to Yamaha specifications (Dave is an expert Drumsmith and plays Yamaha) but I felt there were some inconsistencies; completely understandable, given the age, history and mixed lineage of the drums; it was but noticeable nonetheless. Thirdly, I already had a black gloss drum kit – in much better shape than this one – and I didn’t really want another one. It was a reluctant sale as there was a lot to love about this kit. But I had done a good restoration and I let them go to a very enthusiastic buyer. Back to the search – armed with a few more ideas. Birch toms were great. I needed to keep looking.

Here’s a video of the finished kit in action, with a Tama BE345 maple snare.