UPDATE: video demo - Big news: Latos Drums!

AaronLatos

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UPDATE: 6.5x14" at 5 tunings from super low to cranked. Coated Ambassador batter, no muffling: wanted to show what happens when you pull it out of the box and grab a drum key. :)







Hi, folks!

I’ve been on here a little less lately for a couple reasons: for one, we had baby #2 in April and been wonderfully busy with her (including getting stuck in another country for 7 months, but that’s another story!), and for a second, almost all of my work and free time has been with a new drum-related venture. So let’s talk about that!

I’m getting ready to officially launch very soon, but since DFO (all the way back to the Harry Cangany days) has been home and school for me... it only feels right to give my DFO family a first peek and a first crack.

So here we go. You heard it here first:




Latos Drums


Standard 6.5.jpg




I feel like the world has enough drums that are “perfect.” There's lots of robots in Asia making some really amazing instruments with NASA-grade precision. But personally, for an instrument, I find beautiful more interesting than perfect. And I’m not sure how those "perfect" drums are all going to hold up over time. Especially metal drums. In a hundred years, are they going to wear out, strip out, have lacquer crack off, have pitted plating and rust? Mostly, yeah. Are they going to be as beautiful and inspiring, be something that we'll want to pass down to our kids, our grandkids, our closest drummer friends or hardest-working students?

The most useful and favorite drums for me, as a full-time professional player, restorer, and collector, have been instruments that have aged gracefully. Things that were crafted to sound and feel good, and crafted by human hands. And they’ve often been drums that have lasted nearly 100 years so far, with many more miles to go.

So that’s what I set out to build. Drums that will inspire, sound amazing, look even better with age and use, and be just as musically useful for their 2nd and 3rd owners, a century from now.

Inspired by the great brass drums of the 1920s, of course, but with a slightly more modern, minimalist aesthetic. And with fresh designs, for the music of today and the future.


jacobs chuck.jpg

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Hoops, lugs, and shell are all hand-made, traditionally and manually machined in Newburgh, NY, with old-school equipment. I might be bringing on a shop assistant or two soon, depending on how busy the launch keeps me, but for now, it’s all me.

They’re handmade, with a meticulous focus only possible by someone with adult ADHD fixated very literally, obsessively on getting things JUST right.

setting Hardinge toolpost.jpg


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SHELLS


The shells are Nickel Silver. It’s an old trade name for a special brass alloy that has an unusually high nickel content in the mix, and it's also known as German Silver or Nickel Brass. So they’re not NOB, nickel over brass… they’re nickel IN brass. Today, it’s an unusual alloy, and it was really hard to source it in sheet big enough to build drums. As best I can tell, only one mill in the world, in Eastern Europe, is producing it.

Today, it's used in high-end resonator guitars and French horns.

As far as I can tell, these are the first drums built from it. I think no one has tried it on a drum before because, well to be honest, apart from the lovely sound, it features all of the most annoying and frustrating fabrication characteristics of brass and stainless steel combined! It’s about as tough as stainless to cut and work, and fights like hell if you try to bend it… and then expands and moves even more than regular brass when heated and welded/braised. It’s not easy. But, I think it’s worth it.

It’s both slightly lighter and stiffer than the yellow brass alloys traditionally used in drum building, which lets me achieve some real “holy grail” things in the design. In short, I can build a shell that’s thin enough but stiff enough to project and be structurally sound, or thin but still moves and sings at all dynamics. After much prototyping, I’ve settled on an initial shell offering that is a “straight shell” (no flanges), with a very specific “full contact” bearing edge profile. When most people think of a "straight shell" on a metal drum, they might think bright and harsh, but these are the polar opposite. They also have a special snare bed that adds just a hint of chunky, vintage heft to an otherwise modern, wide and shallow design.
Nickel Silver.jpg

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HARDWARE

LUGS are hand-machined from solid brass.

There’s no big air cavity in these. They’re heavy. I firmly believe that the recent trend towards “low-mass” hardware overlooks some fundamental truths about how drums operate as a system. These heavy lugs and hoops add a bit of focus to an otherwise very lively drum, while still resonating WITH it.

Know the classic thing drum co’s do, where they strip a shell naked and whack it with a mallet to show you how “resonant” it is? Great idea… IF you tend to take all the hardware off of your shells and play them like a vibraphone. And I’ve played some WEIRD free jazz gigs, but I can’t say I’ve ever done that. ;)

Much of “low mass” hardware design ignores the fact that drums operate as a holistic, integrated resonant system. The other day, I was in the middle of putting a drum together and bumped a shell with most of its lugs ON, and you know what? It rang like a church bell. That’s what I’m going for. These lugs could be wind chimes. There’s no air pocket, and they’re an alloy that resonates not dissimilarly from the shell itself. If your leg is resting up against the lug, you very much feel it vibrating on 2 and 4.


HOOPS are painstakingly handmade, as well, out of 3.1mm thick brass. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of playing heavy brass hoops on the select vintage drums that have them, you know what a joy this type of hoop is to play. The “brass-ness” and straight profile of them, balanced with the super thick construction, gives them a great balance of control and openness, with a rimshot/cross stick heft and feel that still gives me a smile every time I crack that first rimshot. They're not exactly "halfway between flanged and diecast": they really exist on their own continuum.

FASTENERS, including both lug fasteners and tension rods, are stainless steel. No rust, no sticking, now or ever.

STRAINERS are currently INDe strainers, with a custom finish. I’m working on a few of my own designs, which I’m taking time to totally perfect, but for now, I honestly think that Josh’s design is great.

tubes and hoops.jpg

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SOUND

I’m a session and touring player, and I built these drums for people like me.

I love my 20s-30s heavy brass shells. But I wanted something a little more modern, a little more tailored for the realities of both extremes of the dynamic spectrum and close micing, and designed from the get-go for modern heads and wires (not calf and gut)… while also very intentionally trying to capture the depth and warmth of those old drums, and push that even further extreme.

Tuned low, they’re warm, tight, chunky, and controlled: no muffling required to get a great fat backbeat. Tuned up, they don’t loose their round character, and will go HIGH without choking out. They sound great slammed, and stay nice and full and centered when played with sensitivity. Wires tight, wires loose, everything works without complaint, so that the player is equipped with a full palate of very different, character-ful sounds with one drum.

Videos will come soon (I’m currently really busy knocking out a small batch of these, and the only hands involved are mine!). In the meantime, a songwriter I work with called me a couple weeks ago and asked if I could do a quick remote track for him, so of course I used my favorite new snare drum: https://stephenclair.bandcamp.com/track/when-this-is-all-over

The drum on that track is the art-nouveau 6.5x14 that’s in some of these photos, with a Coated Ambassador batter, and a 1/2” square piece of gaffer’s tape for muffling.


tuning.jpg
 
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AaronLatos

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SIZES/AVAILABILITY

The drums pictured are 6.5x14 snares. Because I’m making EVERYTHING, you name it and I can do it, though I’m initially going to do a couple batches to get a bunch of drums going and out in the wild

This includes full kits: the nickel silver shells sound stunning as toms and bass drums, too. Bass spurs, floor tom brackets, claws- all of that is my own design, made in-house.

I'm more interested in perfecting a recipe that's extremely carefully thought-out and tested, but there are some nice little aesthetic options, like this lovely little Art Nouveau etched pattern. Again, it's applied by hand, not by machine.


Art Nouveau 6.5 1.jpg

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PRICING
No, they’re not going to be inexpensive: they’re individually hand-made, in the USA, on equipment with an average mfg date of 1940. If you take issue, I’m sure Rolex and Rolls-Royce are happy to receive your complaints, too. ;)

If there's something specific you'd like, send me an email (latosdrums at gmail.com) with your favorite size, and we can talk specifics.

Art Nouveau 6.5 3.jpg







There’s more I’m bursting at the seams to share. Four big things, actually. But lawyers and patents and partnerships… all in good time. :)

Website is latosdrums.com, instagram is @latosdrums, facebook is latosdrums. Nothing on any of those yet, as, like I said, you heard it here first, but if you go ahead and follow, I'd be much obliged.


I love this community, and I love these drums, and I'm real excited to share them them with you all!


South Bend 1.jpg
 
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fenrir

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These look awesome Aaron! Congratulations on the conception and execution. Excited to hear and see more.
All the best
 

2000dan2000

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...they look like they sound great!! in all honesty, they really do have a nice aesthetic and you've obviously done your homework. Good luck with the new venture, I'll follow along at your FB and Instagram links.
 

Cauldronics

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Congrats on your new venture and good luck! It’ll be cool hearing and seeing the first drums roll out here on DFO.
 

komodobob

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Congrats, the drum looks beautiful. And from what I'm reading and seeing, it sounds like a lot of love went into the whole construction process. Good luck.
 

Tigerdrummer

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Beautiful. In your first picture the shell looks smooth. In other pictures it seems there is a faint design around the middle of the shell in thin band. Are they 2 different drums? And if there is a band what is it? Thanks
 

m_anderson

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After more than 40 years, someone has convinced me I may want to try a metal snare drum again. Looks fantastic.
 

AaronLatos

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Thanks, all, for all the encouragement!

Video is coming soon.

Beautiful. In your first picture the shell looks smooth. In other pictures it seems there is a faint design around the middle of the shell in thin band. Are they 2 different drums? And if there is a band what is it? Thanks
Yep! There are two different drums pictured: a Standard (no design), and an Art Nouveau Deluxe, with a subtle etched design. It's a new pattern, not a historical recreation, and it's an alternating two panel design.
 

purity

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I'm really looking forward to seeing/hearing more about your drums. I love the design and it's cool seeing that you are doing this all solo. I'd be happy to support an upstate NY business (but how upstate is Newburgh really?...just kidding).
 

Fat Drummer

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What a great vibe, congrats on the new project and wishing nothing but success! Looking forward to post, pics and vids!!
 

Mcjnic

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Wow! Handmade. That right there get my attention. What an endeavor. Great looking drums. Really interesting choices. And they all sound like you’re looking in the right direction.
I wish you success and great moves in the market.
Looking forward to putting a stick to one.
 


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