Detroit Custom Drum CompanyCustom Corner by Sean Mitchell // March 03 2012
Sam Oginsky is a passonate drum builder from Detroit, Michigan, who has designed some incredible kits for some very big names. We spoke with Sam about his company and their awesome kits. Check it out!
Sam, let’s talk a bit about the history of Detroit Custom Drum Company (DC/DC). How did you get started and why did you want to start a custom shop?
I was in art school in Pennsylvania, and while at a local drum shop (I was interested in buying a mid line GMS kit) the employee challenged me by saying, “You’re creative. You could probably build something twice as nice.” So, I gave it a shot and it (my first custom build) sounded great and had a ton of compliments. This was in 1997, so there were only a few custom drum companies around at the time. After a while I built a second kit and started getting offers on it, so that’s when I thought that I might be on to something.
What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced as the company progressed?
My biggest challenge is finding the time. I have a day job and am married with three kids; spare time is hard to find. But the reward of creating an awesome snare or drum kit is great!
As far as finishes, how custom can a client get? How far can we go with color, inlay etc.?
Pretty much as custom as you want! We do a ton of satin stains, wraps with stripes and inlays, hi gloss lacquers and exotics too. My father is a custom hot rod painter, so the sky is pretty much the limit.
Let’s talk hardware and mounts. What types of finishes can we get hardware in?
I try really hard to use different types of hardware than the competition. Different ISO mounts and lug designs. As far as finishes, we offer the standard chrome, black nickel, and brass, as well as our own brushed and blasted finishes. We can powder coat our hardware in any color too.
What mounts do you use? Does a client have a choice? For example can someone get Pearl mounts?
Yes, we mostly do the L-Arm style but have done Pearl mounts in the past too. Basically whatever you want.
How many lines do you have, and where does a custom shop get ideas for names of lines?
We have two different lines. The Custom series is pretty much whatever you can dream up, from powder coating hardware, to inlays, stripes, exotic solid shells, acrylic, custom graphics, custom laser cut wood badges, wood hoops, die-cast hoops, etc. The standard custom comes with our solid piston lugs, and all the drums come fitted with ISO mounts and floor tom cradles (unless specified).
The second line is the Rock City series. The Rock City is filling the gap of offering a custom 100% maple, American-made drum kit at an affordable price. The main difference is that the Rock City is limited to sizes (most common), die-cast lugs, but any satin stain you want. This series competes with the custom drums you’ll find at the big factory stores. A standard four-piece kit starts around $1,300.00.
Tell me about the shop itself. How many employees and who are they?
(Laughs) The shop is just me, with a few assembly helpers from time to time. Shout outs to Ben and Shawn and my wife, Erin. She takes a lot of the photos and even my daughters, Ava and Madeline, help with the sorting process.
Can you give us a glimpse into a day in the life of a custom builder? What would your average day entail?
Busy, crazy! I have a fulltime day job, so every minute is valuable. I am usually sending quotes and orders on my phone, in between drilling, finishing, and assembling most nights and weekends.
Let’s talk bearing edges. As a builder, how important is the cut and what types of edges do you offer?
Most important part of the drum, I think. I’ve heard beautiful drums sound awful and ugly drums sound incredible! We have or own special edge, but will do any kind of edge you want.
Many drummers know how many plies their drums are, but no idea how or why it is important. What is the industry standard and what is the benefit of more/less plies?
The industry standard seems to be 6-ply for toms, 8-ply for kick, and 8- or 10-ply for snare. Thinner shells are going to produce a lower and more resonant tone, as a thicker shell is going to cut the overtones and give a higher pitch.
What is the most interesting/difficult/unique job you have ever taken on?
Funny question, actually. Right now I am working on a 22x12 (22”long x 12” diameter) with glass inlaid wood hoops. I had to come up with a special mounting system to hook a kick pedal up to it (since the hoop will not be on the ground).
One of my very first snares was a 8x14”, 30-ply with wood hoops, powder-coated tube lugs, vent holes—pretty much every option. It’s a lot to take on—gluing plies, re-tapping the lugs for longer screws to fit the thicker shell, deciding what you can do and what you might need to send out. I just jump in head first; it’s the only way you’re going to get better!
I see you do some timbale designs too. How creative can a client get with sizes at DC/DC?
Any size, really—depth, diameter, and thickness. Why not? It’s custom; step away from the standard sizes. It will sound different, better—it’ll be your sound! That’s why you came to me, not a factory music store.
What are some things drummers should learn or educate themselves about before ordering a kit?
With DC/DC it doesn’t really matter. If you know all your specs, we’ll build it. If you have no clue, we’ll work with you along the way to get the best kit for your situation and ear.
Who is playing DC/DC drums? Who are some of your endorsers?
We had a kit out on the whole Kid Rock Born Free tour last year, as well as a few Bob Seger dates too! We support artists from all over the U.S. and Canada, but have a strong connection with our Detroit drummers. Here are some of our biggest artists:
- Brian Reilley - Ty Stone and the Truth (Atlantic Records, Produced by Kid Rock)
- Adam Cargin – Kurt Baker (worked with Screeching Weasel, Riverdales, Dr. Frank)
- Justin Headley – Sauce Boss, Vince Neil, Shram, Motor City Josh
- Scott Cross – Untimely Demise (Sonic Unyon Metal Records)
- Jordan “Witchhammer” – Nocturnal Fear (Moribund Records)
- Jevin Hunter – Studio Drummer in LA
- Tom Penescuvski – Monkey Grinder
- James Trunko – Mound Road Engine
- Kyle Bondy – Exit the Ordinary
- Luke Frenette – Firelife
- Lucas Blaze Zell - Shorelines
What is the average turnaround time on a kit?
Right now we are on a two- to three-month waiting list on full kits and about a month on snares.
How can someone order?
Email or call. All info is on our website. Deposits are 50% to 75% down.
Visit Sam and the Detroit Custom Drum Company online: http://detroitcustomdrums.com/
About the Author
Sean has 15 years experience behind the kit, studying under greats like Mitch Dorge and participating in master classes with Dom Famularo and Zoro. It was these life-changing exchanges that prompted the Canadian-born drummer to create a global drumming community, The Black Page, that was easily accessible to drummers of all backgrounds and levels of expertise. In addition to his work with BP, Sean is one-half of the world soul group The Mitchells.
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