It’s often overlooked how important a really good snare sound is in a song. It is therefore no mystery why so many artists and producers have often laboured over finding that perfect snare sound. It can often be a making or breaking point in the production of a song. I’m not a drummer by any description but I do have a small handful of my favourite snare sounds. In fact, I’ll go so far as recommend The Dead Weather, ‘Treat me like your mother’ from the album Horehound. Go check it out, lift the volume, and pay attention to how Jack is really digging into that snare.
It’s time I showed some love to the drummers with those amazing snare sounds that are so good, they immediately make you want to write to your loved ones about it.
Recently I discovered Diamond Drum Company online, which is owned by gifted drum builder Dean Diamond based in Longmont Colorado and specialises in making the most beautiful handmade snare drums. The idea struck me to use this opportunity to hold the first interview I’ve ever done on this new page, so I got in contact with Dean and he was super into the idea.
I know this is more of a drum specific article but Dean’s burning passion for quality drums is incredibly sincere and inspiring and there is definitely something from that that every musician can take from.
About the Drums
For the sake of a bit of background, Diamond drum company specialises in making stave design custom snares which is uncommon compared to the traditional ply drum shells.
Ply shells are made using a mould the size of the outer diameter of the drum and thin sheets of wood (plies) are glued to fit the inside of the mould. The process is repeated using many plies and a lot of glue until the drum shell is the desired thickness.
Stave shells like those made by Dean however are made in a similar way to how a barrel is made. The shell consists of smaller blocks of wood with bevelled edges glued together to form a circular shell; thus resulting in a drum with more wood and a lot less glue.
And the sound 100% pays off.
By way of the Drum…
What inspired you to start making snare drums and when did this project start?
I was at a friend’s house a few years back who was a drummer. What I didn’t realize was he also built drums. He showed me this beautiful snare and told me he built it. I was blown away. It was one of those moments where you know it was going to help shape your future in some way. Shortly after seeing that drum, I started down the rabbit hole of reading, watching, and learning everything I could about drum building. Being a drummer myself made this even more exciting, but I had no experience with woodworking.
As a kid I always enjoyed watching TV shows where people built things but never had any tools myself. That was about to change. I asked my brother in law, who is a builder and craftsman if he had any spare tools laying around and sure enough he did. I got started with a job site table saw and plunge router. It’s been 4 years since then and I haven’t looked back.
You make custom drums on request for loads of different musicians. What is the most unusual drum design you’ve made for a client or just as an experiment?
The majority of my drums are made to order. There have been a few I’ve sold that I build for no one in particular, but I love when a client comes to me with an idea and I get to turn it into reality. The most unique drum I’ve built is the maple and purpleheart chevron pattern drum. One of my customers came to me with a picture of a lampshade and said can you make this a drum. I told him I have no idea, but I’ll give it a shot. Turns out I was indeed able to do it! Turned out great, but was the most labor intensive snare I’ve built to date. It was his 3rd snare he bought from me and I was up for the challenge.
You specialise in making stave drums, what are the fundamental differences and advantages of a stave drum design?
This is a debated topic among drummers/drum builders. The theory is there is more solid wood and less glue, which leads to a more resonant tone. I don’t know if that is true or not, but I do know stave drums sound awesome. I am a believer that heads, tuning, drum material, shell size, etc., all play a role in drum sound. Since I build to order, no two drums are alike, and all have their own personality.
Did any of your personal music icons inspire your preference for stave drums?
I can’t say they did. My first exposure to stave drums was my friend as I stated, and I really don’t know many people who play them. I’m trying to change this though, one drum at a time.
Have you any preferred materials or woods to use for making the drums?
Maple will always be my favorite for drums. It really makes a visually and sonically pleasing instrument. Since I’ve been using more species of wood, Purple Heart and Walnut have also become some of my favorites.
Are there any notable artists on the music scene using Diamond drums?
The very first snare I completed is still being used by one of my personal favorite drummers. A local jazz great named Paul Romaine who my father has been playing with for more than 30 years.
Neal “Fro” Evans of Dopapod, Mom and Dad, Elephant Wrecking Ball, and Cashed Fools. We went to elementary school together and have kept in touch over the years. He has been using one of my snares for several years now and loves it.
John Nowak of the band Desmond Jones has also been a great addition to the roster. He is up and coming on the scene and touring extensively.
One of my most exciting moments as a drum builder was to have Mike Calabrese of Lake Street Dive play one of my snares for over a year on their North American and European tours. The snare also got recorded on a few videos, and even was on the Conan O’Brien show! Mike has since moved on to be endorsed by C&C which are amazing drums. I am thankful mine got the amount of stage time it did.
I’m also in the process of building a snare for Julian Allen. I met him while he was touring with Joey Dosik, and recently completed a tour with Theo Katzman. Can’t wait to get the drum to him.
Also, if you want to see more of the building process check out this video Dean did with SparkFun as part of Youtube’s Geek Week.
Whilst writing this post I listened to Paul Simon’s ‘Graceland’, revisited The Lucids’ debut album from 2010; they’re an amazing band from Dublin. Think Bob Dylan with Neil Young’s band; with more Church organ, and the Mono takes of ‘My People Were Fair and Had Sky in Their Hair… But Now They’re Content to Wear Stars on Their Brows’ by T.Rex.