Iíve been making percussion instruments since age 11. This all started at age five when my father took me to a local parade. When the drum section went by me, I was hooked, after hearing the strength of the bass drum vibrations, the crispness of the unison snare drums and toms, topped off with the bright sounding cymbals.
There were seven children in my family, at that time, so we had a few metal garbage cans which quickly became my first drum or drum set. I played them for hours to the dismay of my family and neighbors, but that didnít stop me. I canít remember what grade I was in, Iím guessing second grade, when a music teacher would come into the class room and demonstrate different instruments. Well, of coarse I chose the drum and was given a pair of 5A drum sticks to practice rudiments with. This was very cool since IĒd been using twigs from the trees in the yard. Eventually, in fourth grade, I befriended a new boy in town who also had seven children in his family. He started to learn how to play the trumpet and we quickly formed a friendship and started a ď ComboĒ, that in later years became know as, ď The Blues Five ď boy !!! Iím getting hit with a lot nostalgia as I write this. Anyhow, things progressed musically over the next few years until at age seventeen when the group I was playing with signed a major record deal, which my parents had to co-sign for, with Mercury Records and ended up recording at A&R recording studio in N.Y.C. owned by Phil Ramone. One of the things that my young mind will never forget was when I went into the studio one time to do a drum fill overdub as a build up in one of the songs and did it on a snare and tom. When I went back into the control room they told me they wanted the fill only on the toms. So, I said that I would go back in and do it again. Instead, Phil said not to bother because he would mix it so the snare would sound like a tom. This was my first BIG lesson in not only recording but producing sound as well. When I got my first drum set, a Black Pearl four piece Gretsch kit, bought for me by my father and grandmother, I completely disassembled , lugs and all, the drum set to clean it. When I looked back on my bed I was flabbergasted to see all the parts laying there and realized that I now have to put it all back together. Now go forward a few years when I started experimenting with different drum coverings like putting different kinds of felt on the shells. Then I went to a music college but also attended a tool and die school and started drawing blueprints. Then I was asked to go to Memphis about age nineteen to do a complicated recording using many different time signatures at Ardent Recording Studio. When I got back From Memphis I stared making the ď Bellatope ď, seen on my website homepage. Also, being a practice fanatic, I created what has become to be known a the "free hand technique "which I taught to dozens of drummers over the years. Johnny Rabb is given a lot of credit for this technique but I created and stared teaching it back in the early seventies. The point here is that now I have studio experience learning about sound, I am looking for new ways of improving drums and started creating new playing techniques. Other samples of new playing techniques would be in some of the drums that I have invented over the years like: the orthogonal lapdrum, the klacker, the pocket drum, the travolette, the circular marimba, the thumb drum, drum circles, the slit marimba snare drum/kit to name a few. All of these drums can be seen and heard on youtube and the American Percussion website, www.americanmpercussion.com,
Over the many years of playing and recording in many different genres of music I still find it enjoyable to make interesting looking and sounding drums and percussion instruments.Thanks, Ken Lovelett- Founder an CEO of American Percussion Instruments .