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TL Drums

The Drum Shop by Sean Mitchell // January 24 2013
TL Drums

Canadian drum maker Terry Laurenzio has been drumming all his life and prides his company on the truly custom nature of his drums. Every TL drum is finished to incredibly high standards and can easily be considered a masterpiece. What should give a potential TL customer comfort is the knowledge that no two TL drums are alike. Terry graciously took time from his busy schedule to talk drums, wood and the finer points of being a drumsmith.


Terry, tell me how you got into the business of drum manufacturing.

I began customizing and restoring drums when I was about 15, however things really started happening about 12 years ago when I embarked on a journey after becoming obsessed with finding my perfect-sounding snare drum—I’m still on that journey. Of course, there really isn’t such a thing as the “perfect sounding drum”; what sounds great to one person may not sound perfect to someone else. Having my work enjoyed by a fellow drummer is an awesome feeling; it keeps me going!

How does one further their skills in drum making? Is there a school for drumsmiths like there is for luthiers?

No, I don’t think so, but there is a lot of info out there and some great people that share the same passion. If you do enough digging, you’ll find enough info to get you started. My skills have developed over time, and at the end of the day there is no replacement for hands-on experience. It’s important to keep pushing yourself to further your skills and try new ideas. I’m constantly learning something new and that makes it exciting.

Would you say there are differences between a drum-maker’s ears and the average drummer’s? You must have to develop an incredibly sensitive ear. How do you feel your tastes for drum sounds have changed since you began building drums?

You definitely develop your perception of sound and your ability to distinguish subtle tonal differences that might otherwise go unnoticed to a less-trained ear. My appreciation for drum sounds has broadened dramatically over the years of drum making. People are constantly challenging me to create that sound that they hear in their head. I enjoy this challenge and so far I haven’t had one drum come back for tweaking. I am very proud of that.

Where is your shop located?

I have a small workshop located in central Ottawa, Ontario (Canada).

Can you give us a rundown on some of the materials you use in your line of work? What are your favourite woods to work with?

I have worked with metals such as stainless steel, brass and bronze, acrylic shells, and a lot of wood species using different shell construction such as ply, stave, and solid steam bent shells. There are a lot of choices of wood species available out there, each having their own characteristics. I have always loved the sound of a solid maple shell, and I am currently playing a solid cherry set that I absolutely love. I also have a solid bubinga stave snare drum that has an amazing sound. The most important thing to know when choosing a custom drum is that the material and shell construction is the foundation and fundamental note of your drum. Everything else is fine-tuning and tweaking to shape the voice of the instrument. If the foundation is wrong then you’re really not going to get the sound you’re after.

How different is it working with each material?

Some materials are definitely more difficult to work with than others including some of the harder and oily woods. You really need to take your time cutting some of these and make several incremental passes on the router when cutting edges. I spend the time necessary to research the characteristic of new materials before tackling them.

Do you make full kits as well?

Yes, I most certainly do, although the majority or my work has been snare drums. I am particularly proud of my bass drum sound. I don’t believe a bass drum should be stuffed full of pillows and made to acoustically sound like a cardboard box and then have a sound engineer build the sound. A bass drum should sound and feel great and have a wide tuning range.

Do you have specific lines of kits or are your drums all one-offs?

Funny you should ask. My drums have always been one-offs tailored to individuals, but I am presently working on categorizing my drums in order to help drummers determine and select what would best meet their needs.

How “custom” can a customer get with your company?

If you have an idea, I’ll figure out how to make it happen.

Have you seen any effects on your business since the popularity of electronic drums?

Yes, the electronic market has definitely picked up in the last several years, but there are always musicians that want and appreciate the organic nature of a fine acoustic instrument. This is something you just can’t replicate.

What keeps customers coming back to a custom company?

People are uniquely individual, often looking for that special instrument that speaks to them. I listen and get to know them. When they order a drum from me, they are very much a part of the creative process in developing something special. Each drum is tailored to their taste and requirements; I want them to feel great when they play my drums. I think they sense just how much I care and that keeps them coming back.

For someone who is looking for a custom job, can you give us some easy care tips for shells and finishes?

Most drums and finishes are pretty durable and require little care. I ensure everything is well-sealed and protected for the long run. Keeping the finish clean and checking the tensioning of your hardware is always a good idea.

Where can a customer order your drums?

My drums can be ordered through my website at tldrums.com (“contact” page), by emailing me at info@tldrums.com, or calling me directly. I can ship worldwide.

Visit Terry online at www.tldrums.com



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About the Author
Sean Mitchell

Sean Mitchell has been an active participant in the drumming industry for over 20 years. He has studied under Crash Test Dummies drummer Mitch Dorge and Drumming's Global Ambassador Dom Famularo. Sean is also a songwriter and regularly performs with his wife (and singer) Jill Mitchell. Sean proudly endorses Aquarian Drumheads.

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