A new series in Xombiewoof Magazine’s interviews is “Meet Your Makers”; the music world is not only driven by talented artists, but by the instrument manufacturers that, through innovation and time honored practices, create the “Tools of the Trade”.
One such company of dedicated and skilled crafters is Los Cabos Drumsticks. Located in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Los Cabos Drumsticks operates its facility located about 60km from the headquarters of Sabian Cymbals. The company began producing drumsticks in 2005 and has been growing in popularity and is favored by many new artists looking for quality percussion tools.
Los Cabos works with a number of artists around the world and are very proud to call each of them a member of their family. Randy Black is making waves on the festival circuit in Europe and recently Los Cabos just welcomed Richie Ramone, who has a new album out and has returned to his rock and roll roots. Brad Morgan of the Drive-by Truckers, Chris Prescott of Pinback and Sam Corbett of The Sheepdogs are just a few of the artists that endorse Los Cabos.
When the company started, Los Cabos sold directly to retailers. Company owners, Gill and Larry Guay actually built the business by traveling across Canada, going store to store with stick samples. “I’m confident this approach was a key factor in establishing the company early on” says Matt Carter, Director of Marketing & Artist Relations. “This was back in 2005 and at the time, face to face meetings with manufactures were becoming a thing of the past. I’m sure it was a pleasant surprise to have those two show up, introduce themselves and then show their product. That and the fact that they rarely make a visit without bringing coffee and donuts for the staff! By today’s standards, that’s a very old fashion way to do business but on the opposite side of the coin, that’s also the best way to make friendships and build relationships with the folks behind the counter”. Now, eight years later, even though Los Cabos now works with a trusted network of distributors, owners Gill and Larry still make a point to get out on the road and visit the friends they’ve made over the years.
Los Cabos try to use locally grown raw materials, their maple from mills in Quebec and New Brunswick, but their use of Hickory is a different story because it doesn’t grow in Canada. At least not to the standard required to make great drumsticks. Los Cabos source their hickory from mills in the United States. Over the years they’ve managed to develop some great working relationships with wood suppliers in the USA, keeping a concept of fair trade and keeping the economy of both countries strong.
Los Cabos product line is based around three types of wood – Canadian maple and American White and Red Hickory. The Red hickory is something unique to Los Cabos, its heartwood, meaning it comes from the center of the tree so is therefore a bit stronger on average than standard white hickory. They offer a complete line of standard models in all three wood types. Los Cabos also is known to create and make some of the best practice pads in the business and offer a complete line of brushes and mallets as well. Every tool a drummer or percussionist could want from a manufacture.
When asked about the product line and the question of quality standards came up, we were enthused with Matt’s response ”If you’re asking where the craftsmanship comes into to play in drumstick manufacturing, I suppose that would be different for each manufacturer as everyone has their preferred methods. For us, we turn our sticks on back knife lathes and like every other step in our manufacturing process; it’s a very hands-on approach which allows an almost continuous inspection of each stick. Very little of our process is automated. Each stick passes through our hands all the way from the initial inspection of dowels before they enter the lathes, to the sleeving and shrink wrapping of bricks. So I guess to answer your question, our level of craftsmanship relies heavily on the experience of our team, the understanding of what makes a good stick, and the commitment we all show to producing the best stick possible”.
When asked which units were the most popular, Matt said “Well, I think it’s safe to say that there’s no competing with the popularity of a “5A” Hickory Drumstick. The “5A” stick has been the industry go-to for years and despite the hundreds of models available on the market today, I bet the 5A will remain king for years to come”.
Los Cabos is also known for its philanthropy and community service. Los Cabos make a pink “5A Hickory Drumstick and a portion of the sales from each of those sticks go to support Cancer Research and Cancer Charities. Los Cabos launched this stick in 2010 initially as a way of keeping cancer awareness alive and well throughout the entire year. Each year they contribute to festivals, camps and events that embrace the world of drums and percussion. Unfortunately, with so many worthy causes, they cannot contribute to every event who reaches out, but they are building on a slowly growing a list of annual events that they proudly support.
It all comes back to friendships and strengthening relationships they’ve made over the years. By working with a few key events every year, Los Cabos get to know the organizers and so when the times comes that their reaching out to connect about their upcoming event, Los Cabos lend their support.
A major milestone in their line was just released, their second “Signature” stick, the Richie Ramone Signature model. It was designed by Richie and it is something Los Cabos and Richie Ramone are pretty excited about. Los Cabos will be showing the Richie Ramone Signature model stick at the 2014 NAMM convention in January along with a several new models launching that week. Check www.loscabosdrumsticks.com for the latest info on what Los Cabos will have in store NAMM participants and convention attendees.
Visit www.loscabosdrumsticks.com for more info on Los Cabos Drumsticks and their entire line of Percussion Instruments, and what’s coming up from this marvelous maker
All photos credited to and supplied by - Matt Carter