Budget custom drums: is it even possible?

Gunnellett

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Where I live there are a few custom drum builders, some who make their own shells - stave and other wise - and the one I chose last year makes their own shells and has some unique wood hoop/lug connections and clip-on tom legs and bass drum spurs etc that they obviously get made just for them. My 3 piece Mahogany/Walnut ply custom kit with Maple hoops was around US$850 depending upon which rate of exchange you use. Their prices have recently gone up as shipping materials around the world for their items made elsewhere has gone crazy in price terms..
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That seems quite reasonable for a custom set.
 

noreastbob

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As with all things in life, you are unlikely to get something for nothing... or score an awesome custom built instrument for student to hobbyist prices. If saving $$ is the absolute decider then you'll need to buy used. Maybe something beat up as you've mentioned and fix it up. A free lunch is the exception.
 

ajtungeef

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saluda cymbals sell drum shells. not sure who makes them. they also sell kits. i use their earthwork cymbals and i'm very satisfied with them. and they're located in south carolina, usa
 

TorchmanRG

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Have you considered building your own? Building kicks and toms is dead simple, especially if you choose to do an oil finish (snares are a bit trickier because you have to cut snare beds). In terms of tools, all you need is a drill, a square, a screwdriver and a router with router table and some router bits. I grabbed a router/table combo on sale at Sears for about $100 US. When building your own, you can take your time and make sure everything's perfect. Follow the old "measure twice, cut once" rule and it's pretty hard to screw things up. And there's tons of great info available on the builders forums to help you be sure you're doing things right.

I've built two kits with Keller shells and hardware from either Worldmax or Gibraltar. Both look and sound great. And FWIW, my other kits are top of the line kits from Yamaha and Canopus, so in saying my home built drums sound great, I'm comparing them to some pretty good drums. Keep in mind that they still won't have much in terms of resale value, but if your end goal is just to have a really good kit for yourself without breaking the bank, building is a great and very do-able option.
 

Bri6366

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One thing I often seen on drummers forums is drummers are often very set on exactly what they want and who they want to build it. At that point, you could be paying a lot more than if you shop around . At work, my purchasing department requires we get three quotes for a project as expensive as a drum kit. When you get three quotes, there is often a big disparity in the price.
 

Elvis

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Thinking about some of the "boutique" guitar pedal companies. They start up and make really decent stuff for a bit more than the cheap mass produced stuff. Then eventually they become a thing and overcharge. But if you catch em on the way up u can get some great value. Not unlike stock market gambling I suppose.

Then I'm thinking about drums. Is there any US garage startups where i could call and talk it through, order a 4 piece shell pack, and not pay through my eyes?

Quick google search suggests no. And it makes sense.

It seems like materials, tools, etc would make this impossible. Without the benefit of mass production in a (probably overseas) factory, the only way for a new builder to make money is to cater to the boutique, unobtanium market. Pay 4x what you would for similar drums off the shelf. I'm not knocking it. It's cool to get gear from a private custom builder. This whole post is because i think it would be neat someday to get a one of a kind custom kit from a human whose name I know.

Just wondering if anyone knows of any small builders who try to focus on regular budget customers? Is it even possible? Especially if anyone here has built drums. Discuss...
I don't know of anyone currently, but back in the late 90's / early '00's, there was a company, I think called "Herreshoff"? Something like that.
They made Keller shelled drums just as the boutique drum market was taking off, but was able to sell them for stupidly low price, comparatively.
They claimed they were getting excellent deals from Keller by ordering "B" shells (whatever that means).
Did ok for a while, then the doubters (likely the competition in disguise) started talking them down.
Unfortunately, everyone listened, the business went away and they shut their doors.
They were only around for a few years, however, it does show that it can be done.
FWIW, they seemed to put out a good product and I never heard anyone complain about anything they received from them.

Elvis
 

JonnyFranchi$e

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Have you considered building your own? Building kicks and toms is dead simple, especially if you choose to do an oil finish (snares are a bit trickier because you have to cut snare beds). In terms of tools, all you need is a drill, a square, a screwdriver and a router with router table and some router bits. I grabbed a router/table combo on sale at Sears for about $100 US. When building your own, you can take your time and make sure everything's perfect. Follow the old "measure twice, cut once" rule and it's pretty hard to screw things up. And there's tons of great info available on the builders forums to help you be sure you're doing things right.

I've built two kits with Keller shells and hardware from either Worldmax or Gibraltar. Both look and sound great. And FWIW, my other kits are top of the line kits from Yamaha and Canopus, so in saying my home built drums sound great, I'm comparing them to some pretty good drums. Keep in mind that they still won't have much in terms of resale value, but if your end goal is just to have a really good kit for yourself without breaking the bank, building is a great and very do-able option.

I love this idea in theory. I know myself too well, though. My schedule is always overcooked so it would be a huge burden, and I am terrible at woodworking type stuff. Just hanging a towel rack is hard for me to get level. I know I would tank it.

If I had the skill and the time, this would be really interesting to do.

I really might eventually get a cheap kit and try to sand it down and re-paint it with racing stripes. Make my kids do the work though and call it "shop class" for home school!
 

5 Style

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I'm not so knolegable about the market, but it seems to me that logic would dictate that it wound't be possible to make drums on a small, one at a time, custom basis that could compete with the prices of cheaper (or even mid priced) mass produced drums that have lower material costs and automated manufacturing. Personally, even if it was possible to find this "budget custom" kit, I wouldn't bother with it. It seems to me that custom makes more sense if you're going with something that's more of a really unique, money is no object type of affair. Something that's custom and cheap would have to be made with more ordinary parts and finishes which means that it probably wouldn't be too much different than a mass produced kit and likely you would be able to find a mass produced kit with higher quality shells and hardware for the same price. A mass produced kit would also be easier to find hardware replacements for and to find matching extra peices , should you ever want them. Custom shops are often fly by night so by the time you want that matching tom they could be out of business.
 


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