BY NICOLAS GRIZZLE | FROM THE SPRING 2019 ISSUE OF DRUM!
When a new London-based company making snare drums out of reclaimed wood takes second place in the write-in Boutique Drums category in the Drummies! Gear Awards, it warrants a Skype call across the pond to find out more. De Broize Custom Drums did not disappoint.
Considering the precision, skill, and sheer amount of labor required to make a stave snare drum of De Broize’s quality, it’s incredible to learn the two-year-old company’s 28-year-old owner, builder, marketer, webmaster, and everything else-er Sam de Broize-Ward hadn’t even attempted to make a drum until two years ago. In fact, he’d never even heard of stave drums before starting this project.
“When it came to me actually taking on the project, I spent ages researching, watching videos on YouTube, reading articles about it,” he says. “I thought, with the basic tools I’ve got, I could crank one out.” His first drum was 1.5″ thick, complete with nail holes from its previous life supporting a door beam in his parents’ 300-year-old Victorian home. “They were gonna burn it, so I thought I’d try and turn that into something,” he says.
Now, with more experience, de Broize-Ward makes his snare drums between 9–12mm thick, with 45-degree inside and round outside bearing edges (and fewer visible nail holes). The polished, weathered look of reclaimed wood is immediately striking, and as a custom shop, De Broize works with drummers to make drums out of wood that has as much sentimental value as it does sonic value.
Since every drum is made with reclaimed wood of unpredictable origin, each drum is truly one-of-a-kind. Even if he has enough wood from rescued, 100-year-old oak cabinets for ten snares, de Broize-Ward will make sure every drum is truly unique by not making the same size twice. Each will vary sonically, but generally they seem to share a boisterous projection and wide tuning range.
The story of how he started building drums is a heartwarming, light-from-the-darkness kind of tale. De Broize-Ward built his first drum in 2016 after his grandfather, Ken de Broize, passed away. Ken was a woodworker, and his grandson had dabbled in the trade himself before going to college for music; the two had always talked about building drums together. At first, says de Broize-Ward, “I was excited about the fact that I completed it. It was a grieving process for me.” Then he examined the finished product and saw the ways it could be improved. He got better at building drums, to the point where people wanted to buy them.
The company made a splash with its UK Drum Show debut in 2018. “The first two hours were nerve-wracking because of the adrenaline of the situation and wanting to come across correctly,” says de Broize-Ward. But he found comfort in the camaraderie of the drum community. “All these companies and artists that I’ve looked up to for years … everyone was so friendly.”