Things you can expect from ordering a custom snare

Things you can expect smallhpkit1from ordering a custom snare. Michael Outlaw handcrafts each drum at Outlaw Drums, rest assured, you are getting a superior percussion instrument.IMG_1639 There are many steps to the process, which you are allowed to be a part of. During the build, at least 4-6 different photos will be taken, and emailed to you, the customer, during different steps in the process. You will be able to watch your drum as it unfolds from the structure to raw, rough cut boards, bringing it all together as if you are helping in the shop.    IMG_1616


IMG_1292A small bottle of the original saw dust from your drum will be included. Hand signature and date is written on the inside of the drum. Before any drum ships it is built, tuned, and played by Michael Outlaw himself to make sure you are getting that “vintage Outlaw sound” he is known for, that “fat and punchy sound with a nice pitch bend in the sustain”, according to IMG_1249Modern Drummer’s own Michael Dawson. Rest assured, you have a lifetime warranty on hardware, drum shells, other than abuse or neglect. Finally, you are followed up with a call or email to make sure you are happy with your new instrument.



One of the most important and unfortunately very overlooked aspects of being a drummer is the importance of protecting your ears.

I know, the drums sound awesome and you can’t hear the tone as well when you have ear plugs or specialized ear muffs on, but it’s a much better option than blowing out your ear drums.  To give you an example, playing a piano is about 65 decibels (“db”), while playing the drums (and keep in mind this is not near full strength) is usually around100 db.  A hard hitting drummer with loud kit could easily hit 140db.  Research shows that if you are constantly around 90-95 db then you are entering the ear pain zone and that can cause permanent damage and hearing loss.

Regular headphones will NOT protect you.  In fact, the worst thing you can do for yourself is to take a regular pair of headphones that you listen to music with, turn up the volume on them and play drums on top of the track.  Normal headphones like apple ear buds and Beats headphones aren’t designed for isolation and ear protection, so when you turn up the music on your headphones to hear the song while drumming, you are blowing out your eardrums from not only the high volume of the music in your headphones, but also from the full volume of the actual drums.

If you want to play along to songs, getting an isolation headphone is a MUST.  It allows you to keep the music at a safe volume and still be able to hear it, while also bringing down the db’s of the drum set by around 25db, allowing you to be in an 80 db or so environment which is much safer and better for your ears.  Vic Firth makes excellent isolation headphones for around $50.00.  Vater makes some reusable ear buds for around $15.00 that work great.  Trust me, it will be one of the best investments you make.  If you don’t want to play along to a song necessarily, and just need to protect your ears during band practice or a concert, plain old fashioned ear buds are a great choice.  They are very affordable, bring down the db by about 30, and are very discreet and easy to use.  Playing in orchestras or attending a concert can also get into the 150 db range so it’s not a bad idea to have your ear protection with you at all times. Personally, the biggest problem I’ve had with ear protection is that my fellow band mates are not on board with the idea of using ear protection because you won’t hear each other as well.  And it’s true, without a high end in ear monitor situation it makes it harder to hear the other instruments around you with ear buds or ear muffs on.  It takes a lot of practice and getting used to, but don’t let people or other musicians convince you it’s lame to use ear protection.  If you want to play music for your whole life, or if you don’t want to lose your hearing, you have to invest in using tools to keep your ears safe.   

There are lots of other options out there that are making it easier to use ear protection and still hear what you want.  Companies that make in ear headphones can specially mold a set of ear buds to fit your ear perfectly and block out everything you don’t need to hear while keeping in everything you need.  Just because you don’t see other people doing it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t either.  Next time you watch a pro drummer look a little more closely at their ears, and I guarantee that you will see them wearing some type of ear piece.  You only have one set of ears so make sure you take good care of them!

Hitting a wall with your drumming. Staying motivated.

If you’re like me, you love to play drums but sometimes you find yourself getting bored and hitting a wall with your drumming. Maybe you’ve played the same groove over and don’t know what else to play. Or you’re bored with the way your kit looks and sounds. Whatever the reason, keeping our relationship fresh and exciting with the drums is an important factor in improving our skills as a drummer.

  1. Changing your setup

Motivation is a huge aspect of playing drums – you need to be motivated to learn and practice and play. Getting new gear is always an easy way to motivate yourself, although, it can be costly. You can go as far as buying a whole new drum set to simply changing the placement of one of your cymbals to try to change things up! For me, changing my drumheads is a great way for me to motivate myself to play. I tend to grow tired of the same drum sound and like to experiment with new drum sounds. I love doing this with cymbals too but that costs a lot more money, so I don’t do that as often.

  1.  Changing Sticks

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 11.05.00 PMAnother affordable way of motivating yourself is trying out new pairs of drumsticks. It’s amazing what switching up drumsticks can do for your playing! Changing up drumsticks can make you realize how much you liked a certain pair you used to play with, or, on the other hand make you realize that you are much more comfortable playing with a different stick that’s thinner/thicker, has a different type of bead etc.

  1.  Playing new genres

The easiest way to freshen things up behind the drum set is to branch outside of what you usually like to play. For example, if you only play rock music, try playing some jazz! The technique you use in each genre of music is VERY different and will force you to learn new beats, patterns, licks, sticking, and general playing style. Metal is also a genre that will introduce you to the world of double pedal and really challenge you with blast beats, time signatures and odd rhythms that you made have ever heard before. Sometimes listening to the music alone will not give you the insight you need to learn how to play these new genres, in which case you should hop on over to YouTube and watch tutorials or other drummers playing certain songs and seeing how they play it. Another option is to buy a music book for that genre that has exercises and sticking that will teach you how to play these new patterns.

Hopefully these methods give you some ideas to work with to keep it fresh behind the drum set and encourage you to practice more and have lots of fun doing it! Changing things can be intimidating, but can really go a long way to making you a better, more well rounded player.

Mahru Madjidi

Best Books For Drummers

Best Books For Drummers

If you don’t use any books to learn drumming, you may want to re-think that decision.  Rudiment and other types of drumming books are some of the best tools to improving your chops.  Here are five of the best books on the market.  Keep in mind there are many, many, different books out there that are awesome, these are just some recommendations, so if you finish these or want something else, go online and you can find many more.  With that said, if you can play what’s in these books, you can play pretty much anything!

*NOTE:  I know a lot of drummers do not read music but fear not!  Drum music is the easiest of any instrument to read, I guarantee you will pick it up by the first page!  Make sure you add a metronome while you practice and focus on getting an equal tone and bounce on each stroke and hit.

BOOK #1:  STICK CONTROL by George Lawrence

This book is a MUST HAVE for any drummer.  Whether you are starting off or a pro, this book will really fine tune or develop your foundational skill sets.  The key to this book isn’t the difficulty of the rhythms, rather, playing them at the proper speed will require you to develop the right technique.  I promise you that you will notice changes right away!  After you finish playing these rudiments on the snare drum, try them with double bass pedals – that’s what famous drummer Thomas Lang did and swears by!


Ted Reed does a great job pushing our limbs to do things outside of what we are used to.  This is another great book for drummers of all different experience levels.  Try adding a swing pattern on the ride and your foot on the 2 and 4 of each measure while playing these rudiments for an extra challenge!


If you want a more challenging book that will turn you into a jazz master on the drums look no farther!  Jim Chapin is absolutely brilliant and put some very challenging rhythms in this book.  This book is better geared for intermediate and advanced drummers.  Getting through the whole book is quite the challenge so make sure to take a slow and be patient.


Not only is this book tons of fun, but you will really find yourself improving on your linear rhythms on the drum set.  Although this book has “Funk” patterns in it, there are lots of modern beats that you can use in any genre.

BOOK #5  PORTAITS IN RHYTHM by Anthony J. Cirone

Though it’s a snare drum rudiment book, snare drum playing and reading skills are of the utmost importance on the drum set. The snare drum is the heart of the drum set and played more than any other drum.  This book will develop your snare drum skills to the max.  If you can play what’s in this book, you will be able to play any snare drum part out there.

Noise Control: Happy Neighbors = Happy Drummer

Noise Control: Happy Neighbors = Happy Drummer

As many of us have encountered, the biggest reason for not buying a drum set (or alternatively, playing your drum set) is the NOISE! Well, that excuse won’t work anymore. Companies have recognized this barrier and continue to use modern technology to develop more ways for us to control the noise on our drums so we can play anytime and anywhere our heart desires. To feed the drum kit playing need, here are some things to consider when you are shopping for a drum set or get that late night craving to play your kit. Keep in mind these are just a few options that I personally recommend, but that there are many other ways to lower the volume of your drums and with time, I have no doubt more options will continue to emerge. Hopefully these are helpful methods that can help you convince yourself or someone else that buying a drum set and playing it won’t bring a headache to everyone around you J

Electric Drum Set ($300 – $8000)

This is the obvious choice at first glance when it comes to buying a drum set that you plan on playing in a small apartment. Electric drum sets are amazing. Keep in mind however that they are nothing close to the amazing feeling it is to sit behind and play an acoustic drum set. Nevertheless, they give you all the basics of a drum set but with the option of using headphones so only you can hear your drumming.


– Recording is very easy

– You can play around with different kits and sounds

– Allows for use of headphones or an amp

– Takes up less space than acoustic drum set

– Volume control is very easy


– Transitioning from electric to acoustic drums can be awkward

– You can still hear the sticks hitting the pads of the electric pads (depending on the model this can be loud for late night practice)

– The feel of the electric kits falls way short of an acoustic kit

-The high hat feels awkward.

REMO Silentstroke Drumheads ($100 for a 4 piece kit)

These drumheads were one of the main leaps in the market to allow drummers to play acoustic drums without the loud noise. The concept is simple; these drumheads are made out of a mesh material, similar to the ones used on Roland electric kits, and function like any other drum heads except that they are roughly 20 times more silent than a typical drumhead. The cool thing about these is that they still retain the tone of the drum so you can hear the difference between playing a snare, the high, low tom, and kick drum.   You only need to put these on one side of the drum, not both the resonant and batter head. Keep in mind these still leaves your cymbals at regular volume.


  • Allow you to play an acoustic kit and maintain tonality and feel
  • Affordable alternative to electric drum set
  • You can put it on the resonant side of the drum and flip the drum around every time you want to practice silently
  • These do not need tuning, just slightly tighten them


  • Constantly taking these on and off takes up time and becomes a burden
  • Leaving it on the resonant side can make the drums sound odd when playing a standard drum head on the batter side
  • The bounce of the head is not identical to a standard drumhead
  • *****Cymbals are still loud – you would also need to purchase silent cymbals (i.e. Zildjian L80 or Generation 16), which can be pricy******

Aquarian Super Pad Drum Mute and Practice Pad (Roughly $50.00/pad)

Aquarian has recently launched a serried of Super Pad Drum Mutes that can serve as mutes for the drum kit, as well as practice pads. These silencer heads strap onto the drums and produce an almost completely muted sound. At the same time they also still allow the snare wires to function so you can hear the variation between the snare and the toms/kick drum, although not quite as distinctly as you can with the silentroke heads mentioned above. These are a slightly more expensive alternative, but you don’t have to worry about changing drumheads all the time and you can also use them as practice pads.


  • Function as mutes as well as practice pads
  • Easy and quick to strap on and off the drums
  • Virtually mute the drum kit completely


  • Feel is more like that of a practice pad than drum set
  • *****Cymbals are still loud – you would also need to purchase silent cymbals (i.e. Zildjian L80 or Generation 16), which can be pricy******

    Mahru Madjidi

Have you ever noticed what type of shell your drums are built with?

 Outlaw Drums


Segmented shell

Have you ever noticed what type of shell your drums are built with?  If you are like most drummers, as long as the drum sounds good, you don’t care what it’s made out of.  However, here are a few tips and some information to make you more aware of what you are buying so next time you go to the music store, you know exactly what you are getting for your money.



There are two main types of shells: 1) Ply Shell, and 2) Stave shell.  Ply shells are more popular than stave shells because of the more affordable pricing options mainly due to the price of the wood and speed at which they can manufacture ply shell drums.  Essentially, the way a ply shell drum is built is by taking a long sheet of wood (almost like a giant sized roll of tape except there is wood instead of tape), which is then measured and cut to fit the size of the drum to be made.  From there, the builder has to stress and steam the wood to be able to manipulate it and bend, fold, and mold the straight wood into the circular drum shape you see it when you purchase it.  A downside to this method is that all that stress on the wood impacts its sound and if not done carefully can produce a canned sound rather than letting the wood breathe and speak for itself.

Now on to stave shells!  This is a much more time consuming process and as a result is more costly than ply shells, but the sound you get out of stave shell drums doesn’t even compare to ply shell.  Stave shell building includes taking small square pieces of wood and gluing them together piece by piece until the drum is finished (see picture above for segments in the snare drum).  There is no stressing or manipulating the wood giving you the most natural sound straight from the heart of the drum.

Outlaw Drums has been building stave shells drums from the time it started, but is proud to recently present you its new affordable ply shell drum line!  Both ply and stave shell have their pros and cons but lucky for you Outlaw Drums offer both types of drums at the highest of quality and will work with you on the price to find the drums of your dreams!

-Mahru Madjidi-