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The Ford Drums story began with a chance encounter when Jay Gaylen met Jimmy Ford in 1997 at the NAMM show. Gaylen asked Ford what drums he played and he replied, “Are you kidding? I make my own.” Once he saw Ford's drums, Gaylen was so impressed he spent the next four years trying to convince Ford to go into business with him to build them commercially.
Ford Drums started business in 2001, initially doing repair work for music stores around Southern California. As they worked on a variety of drums they became dissatisfied with how drum makers sometimes cut corners in the interest of making cheaper products. They began to use their knowledge of how other drums were made to build their own line of custom drums, which are acknowledged as some of the finest in the world.
Ford loves thick-shelled drums particularly if they’re going to be used for performance, as opposed to recording. “A 6-ply shell of yesteryear is equal to a ten-ply today,” he says because the wood industry makes veneers thinner than before. And, he adds, “A rigid shell gives you increased tuning range and better projection.”
Ford today makes three lines of drums. Their Organic line features solid, one-piece, steam-bent drums in your choice of more than 40 wood species. The Ply series is available in maple and birch in 10/10 or straight 10-ply configurations. And, the Maverick Series features10-ply North American Maple drums with Ford’s exclusive, virtually indestructible BTS Kevlar-infused elastomer finish.
Ford’s drums are not cheap. Their custom shells (either plies or solid) receive multiple coats of vinyl sealer and nitrocellulose lacquer—and that’s just the inside. Outside, they use $300-a-gallon lacquer, so that “it looks like you can dive through the damn thing.”