By Phil Hood

Doc Sweeney is a San Diego-based drum company that has quickly developed a reputation for artistic one-off drum designs using proprietary building techniques. Founder Steve Stecher (pictured behind one of his kits) is the face of the company and its master builder. We dropped by in May to see some of his creations in person.

Doc Sweeney drums are all stave or steam bent (solid-shell) drums. Minimizing glue and laminate layups has traditionally been a way to bring out the natural sound of the tone woods involved in drum making. What sets Doc apart is that, to date, no two drums that it has produced have been the same. Each model is a one-of-a-kind based on the availability of particular exotic woods and the preferences of the builder and customers. Stecher says that may change in the future as the company plans to offer some limited-edition series.

One of the advantages of this approach is that the wood available to Doc Sweeney drums is virtually unlimited. A larger company needs to source enough wood from a tree or supplier to make a line of hundreds of identical models. By comparison, Stecher can buy a single exotic board, knowing there will only be one snare or kit made from it.

The company’s drums are typically finished with hand-rubbed oil. However, Stecher also uses dyes and other coloring techniques to highlight natural wood patterns, producing drums that work as musical or visual art.

Enjoy Drum Magazine’s quick, exclusive visual tour through some of Doc Sweeney’s creations:

A 14" x 6.5" Doc Sweeney birch snare drum in a Blaze Flame finish. Steve Stecher says, “We are making a series of these snares in a variety of unique dye/oil finishes.”

A 14″ x 6.5″ Doc Sweeney birch snare drum in a Blaze Flame finish. Steve Stecher says, “We are making a series of these snares in a variety of unique dye/oil finishes.”

Wild Wild West: 14" x 6" steam-bent bird’s-eye maple

Wild Wild West: 14″ x 6″ steam-bent bird’s-eye maple

Doc Sweeney’s Panther Kit inlay (comprising a 20" x 14" bass drum; 14" x 14" and 13" x 8" mounted toms; and 14" x 5.5" snare drum) is made of steam-bent East Indian rosewood with purpleheart and maple inlays. It also features curly maple hoops with purpleheart. Have you ever seen another complete kit made of solid rosewood?

Doc Sweeney’s Panther Kit inlay (comprising a 20″ x 14″ bass drum; 14″ x 14″ and 13″ x 8″ mounted toms; and 14″ x 5.5″ snare drum) is made of steam-bent East Indian rosewood with purpleheart and maple inlays. It also features curly maple hoops with purpleheart. Have you ever seen another complete kit made of solid rosewood?

Roble Blanco: Spessart Oak with leopardwood and walnut inlays.

Roble Blanco: Spessart Oak with leopardwood and walnut inlays.

6eagleinlay

Doc Sweeney’s Eagle inlay

The Electric Kool-Aid 14" x 6" snare is made of curly maple.

The Electric Kool-Aid 14″ x 6″ snare is made of curly maple.

 

Steam-bent 14" x 5.5" Myrtle snare

Steam-bent 14″ x 5.5″ Myrtle snare

Doc Sweeney's padauk shells

Doc Sweeney’s padauk shells

The 14" x 5.5" high dosage solid elm snare has .75" bearing edges.

The 14″ x 5.5″ high dosage solid elm snare has .75″ bearing edges.

Doc Sweeney showed its Dual Species kit (22" x 15", 16" x 15", 13" x 9", and 12" x 8") at Winter NAMM 2017. The shells, which are .25" thick with milled reinforcing rings, feature a hand rubbed oil finish and combine Tiger Maple and figured Makore with Redheart band.

Doc Sweeney showed its Dual Species kit (22″ x 15″, 16″ x 15″, 13″ x 9″, and 12″ x 8″) at Winter NAMM 2017. The shells, which are .25″ thick with milled reinforcing rings, feature a hand rubbed oil finish and combine Tiger Maple and figured Makore with Redheart band.

Walnut #One: The company’s first steam-bent kit. For more, see Drum’s Soundlab review in the May 2017 issue.

Walnut #One: The company’s first steam-bent kit. For more, see Drum’s Soundlab review in the May 2017 issue.

Doc Sweeney's Figured Myrtle stave kit #1

Doc Sweeney’s Figured Myrtle stave kit #1

Spalted Apple

Spalted Apple

For more information, visit Doc Sweeney online at docsweeneydrums.com.

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