Tucked away in a workshop in Aljunied, two friends Ben and LC, spend their days and some nights hand building custom drums for percussionists in the local music scene.
Their passionate efforts eventually started Colbern Drums, which was born from the idea of bridging drummers from all walks of life through the making of custom drums; be it for classical performances, for drumset players, or for ethnic percussion.
“The idea of building is always fun and serious. There is a constant need to be creative and yet meticulous to details at all time,” said Ben.
“The best thing about making your own drums is that you are in complete control of every aspect of the drums, from the head you put on, down to the screws and nuts you use. In other words, it’s all customized to the needs of each player.”
Colbern Drums caters for a wide range of custom drums. From concert snare drums, concert toms, drum-kits, frame-drums to occasionally some wild ones, the duo also makes a lot of stave drums, which are similarly joined as to how barrels are made.
Apart from making drums, they have also done some customization work for percussion instruments in general, such as the replacement of marimba bars, repairs on snares, mallet instruments or ethnic drums, as well as building xylophones and marimbas.
Most recently, they have been experimenting a lot on building their steam-bent shells which have generated some interest on their Instagram (@colberndrumssg).
The process of making a custom drum begins with the drummers getting in contact with Ben and LC.
“We would always recommend they head to our shop to try some of the drums to get a feel of the sound they are going for.”
“Drums vary in sound and many factors play a part. Some drummers prefer a cutting and biting sound to their drums whereas some would prefer a drier and blended sound to their drums. Depending on their needs, we would advise what would suit best and of course the aesthetics of the drums to follow.”
According to Ben, options to customise a drum are limitless, ranging from drum size and depth, to the colour on the drums, lugs and hoops.
“Most drums in the mainstream market are common sizes like 5” 5.5” 6”6.5”, but we are able to make in between sizes such as 4.75” and 5.25”.”
“Sometimes, we also get requests to make drums that are a combination of different woods.”
Launched recently, the NYATOH Piccolo Snare Drum is targeted at both concert and drum-kit players.
“NYATOH is a South East Asian wood and we wanted something close to our hearts. It is very commonly used for premium hardwood doors here in Singapore.”
“There aren’t too many made around the world and we wanted to experience first hand on the sound it produces. We were pleased by the results so do come and check it out for yourselves.”
Over the years, Ben and LC have constantly been refining their skills and techniques, learning through mistakes and sharing experiences with one another.
Their craftsmanship and attention to detail ensure that every single drum doesn’t go unnoticed in visual or aural quality.
“We are learning new things everyday by doing drums together. The great thing about the industry is that the skills and knowledge are not just shared across Singapore, but also from our overseas friends who have provided us with many insights to help us get better.”
Going forward, Ben and LC hope to continue supporting the local music community by providing an avenue where drummers can hangout and share their knowledge.
“We have allocated practice studios in our workshop for percussionists to use – be it for self-practice, for teaching or jamming. We have even made a 5 octave marimba for students to practice out of their school time.”
Intending to build towards a unique Singapore brand that provides top notch drums to the international drumming community, Colbern Drums hopes to collaborate more with different drum and music companies over the world.
“As the saying goes, alone we can do so little; together we can do so much more.”
Yu Li Industrial Building
37, Lorong 23 Geylang #03-02 S388371
[Opening hours by appointment]