A Los Angeles Diary Part Two
Andrew And Phil's Excellent Trip To Yamaha
- By Phil Hood
- Published November 20, 2012
We got down to LA last week to spend a day with Yamaha, visting their corporate office in the morning and their stellar artist relations facility in Hollywood in the afternoon.
Yamaha's Buena Park, California headquarters houses sales, marketing and corporate offices for all its US divisions, including guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, recording, band and orchestra. Drums have a big room to display all their main offerings for artists and dealers.
Jim Haler and Dave Jewell (lower left) were our hosts. Dave's got a tough job which forces him to get out of his cubicle and demonstrate drum sets every few hours. By the way, that finish is paint, not a wrap.
The beauty of a room like this is that customers can really hear the product in a cleaner listening environment than a typical music store. The oak customs sound amazing when A/B'ed against woods you're more familiar with. Electronic drums and other instruments are demonstrated here as well.
In the back warehouse there are parts, some backline kits, and rare treasures such as kits formerly played by Elvin Jones, Roy Haynes and other greats This was Elvin's last kit, from his final gig in San Francisco.
Some of you may remember that twenty years ago Premier Drums was briefly owned by Yamaha. This tall tom carries a "Made in England" label. Neat purple stain, too.
After a morning in Buena Park, Andrew Lentz and I drove north to Hollywood, to see Yamaha's latest artist services facility. Here they try out prototypes, customize guitars and drums, and generally take care of their artist endorsers.
Greg Crane handles drum set artist relations at the facility; Darryl Anderson is the drum designer who customizes, builds, and prototypes kits.
In the drum room Darryl has set up four drum sets with identical trim. It helps artists evaluate different drums without being swayed by finishes and appearance.
That's not all the drum room holds. In addition to some rare color options we saw an amazing new model that will be introduced in January. We'd show you but Yamaha's security Ninjas take a dim view of product leaks.
DRUM! Assistant Editor Andrew Lentz checks out the artist lounge outside the guitar room. Kitchen (hey, you gotta eat) lower right.
Great drummer (and human) Kirk Covington of Tribal Tech dropped by in mid-afternoon to hang with Greg Crane. A long-time Yamaha endorser, Kirk says, "Endorsements are not just about drums. They're about relationships."
In the back we saw lots of parts and instruments that are kept on the premises. Andrew reminisced about his time playing this 3" piccolo snare with Chick Corea. Oh wait, that wasn't Andrew, that was Dave Weckl!