Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Drum shops: immune from recession?

It was brought to my attention today by my good friend Paul Mason, a Canadian who makes Tempus Drums, that several new drum shops have recently opened across the globe. In this time of severe recession or depression or whatever it is the government is calling it these days.

One of those drum shops is Shane Kinney's Drum Centre Of Portsmouth and another is Cymbal Fusion in Houston, Texas. I recently bought some Drum Workshop stuff from Cymbal Fusion and couldn't be more pleased with the quality, low prices and fast and personalized service that the owner gave me. Although primarily an online business, Cymbal Fusion does offer in-person service at their store by appoinmtent.

I guess I'm just amazed that a niche business like a drum shop can open admidst this global economic chaos, but I'm happy they are opening. It give me hope for one day opening my Fishing Musician shop somewhere, selling fine and used high-end musical instruments and fishing gear.

Meanwhile, I just wish I had some more expendable income so that I could buy one of the drumsets as pictured above. Roberto Spizzachino is a custom cymbalmaker who lives in Italy whose hand-made and hand-hammered cymbals are very desired in drumming circles. Called Spizz cymbals by those who love then, they are quite expensive, being made by hand in the old country way that all cymbals used to be made. Whereas most other fine cymbals are sold by the diameter size (i.e. 20 or 22 inches for a ride cymbal), Spizz cymbals are sold by their weight by the gram.
Every now and then, Roberto makes a metal drum kit. The exact composition of the metals used in the drum shells is a trade secret, but it is speculated that some if not all of the alloys used in the making of the metal shells is similar to the alloy mix used in his cymbals. I don't know about the truth of that rumor but I do know that the one set of his that I heard and briefly played out in LA last year knocked my socks off. Volume. Tone. And resonance for days, all from a tiny be-bop jazzer sized drum kit.

I have other pics of Spizz drum kits and many of the parts appear crude upon first glance, especially when compared to modern drums. The deal is, that EVERY part on the drum is handmade and machined from raw metal by Roberto, down to the screws and lug bolts. Nothing is mass produced, and every component is made by hand.

And when I say every component, I mean everything. The legs on the floor tom. The spurs on the bass drum. The brackets. The lugs. The lug bolts. Everything. You just don't see that in musicial instruments and really, in almost no other product made today.

They sell for about $8k new but I've seen several on ebay this year in the $3k-$5k range.

My friend Paul Mason, the maker of Tempus drums, and one of his buddies, Ronn Dunnett, who makes the most excellent Dunnett Classic Drums , were in Germany for the annual Musik-Messe musical instrument show a few years ago and visited Roberto in Italy to see him making cymbals firsthand. Ronn not only makes wood drums but also is well known for his titanium and stainless steel snares and sets that he makes.

When Ludwig needed someone to make the shells for a commemorative John Bonham metal set a few years ago, they called upon Ronn. When DW drums needed someone to make the shells for a limited edition snare a few years ago, they also called Ronn. So Ronn knows metal and Ronn knows how to build a metal set. I myself had a set of Ronn's titanium shelled drums a few years ago, only to sell them because a drummer in Austin who heard me playing them offered me far more than I had paid for them, and I can attest to their quality constuction and great sound.

So when Ronn Dunnett tells me that the Spizz metal drum kit is among the finest sounding kits he's ever played or heard, I listen.

I'll keep dreaming about those while I keep playing my excellent Tempus drumkit and Dunnett snare.

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