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Local musician fine tunes handcrafted instruments
Mass produced drums have saturated what is essentially a niche market, providing a near endless supply of drums that are all basically the same. Rochefort Drums founder Jordan Rochefort, dissatisfied with this situation, took matters into his own hands in August.
Rochefort, 21, was naturally drawn to drumming when he was younger. He started out as a fan of music and evolved into an active participant when he took up drumming 10 years ago. The physical aspect of striking something, and the accompanying stress relief, appealed to him from the beginning. As he grew as a musician, so did his desire for a more personal instrument to play.
Rochefort Drums was born.
He sold the drums he had been playing to fund the building of a one-of-a-kind kit. He ordered everything he would need from distributors and put together a drum kit to his own exacting specifications.
“It started as a want for better instruments, but I had no money to support that,” Rochefort said. “It took off from there.”
Tim Harman, co-owner and manager of Denton’s only drum shop, The Ghost Note, has been playing drums for 14 years, and selling them for seven.
“One of the most overlooked factors contributing to a good overall drum sound would be the cut of the bearing edge and how it interacts with the drum head,” Harman said.
To that end, Rochefort cuts all his own bearing edges and hand-sands them smooth. This promotes the most interplay between the drum’s head and shell, creating a resonance that is desired among drummers.
Rochefort does all his work by hand, including applying specially made leather badges to the drums, something he notes that no other manufacturer is doing. Abalone inlays, a visual accent usually reserved for high dollar guitars, are another feature of Rochefort’s creations.
“Why not dress the drums up?” Rochefort said. “These are boutique instruments. Why not just dress it up as much as I can?”
In addition to the complexity of the cosmetics of his drums, Rochefort also uses a variety of different wood combinations in the shells to produce a varied spectrum of sounds.
He can also manipulate the angles at which the bearing edges are cut to hone in on specific types of sounds customers may be after, a fact that helped sell Patrick Wheeler of Austin’s Wheeler Brothers on Rochefort’s fledgling company.
He’s used his Rochefort drum kit in recent appearances with his band at Austin City Limits, the Texas State Society’s Presidential Inaugural Ball in Washington, D.C. and he is planning on ordering another kit from Rochefort soon.
“I told him what I liked about a vintage drum I had, and he diagnosed it from there,” Wheeler said. “He built a kit around a sound I really liked.”
Rochefort Drums can be seen on the web at www.rochefortdrums.com