Over the years I have always used the beater that came with my kick pedal. I had never really considered using other beaters at any point. The thought of using an aftermarket beater had simply not crossed my mind. It wasn't until way down the line when I was first discussing the prospect of writing a DrumGAB article with Ramy Antoun, owner, and operator of A&F Drum Co., that he had mentioned to me that I should look into Low Boy Beaters. At this point, I had not yet heard about Low Boy, but if it came recommended from Ramy, I knew it was something I had to look into. Upon first seeing a Low Boy Beater, the first thing that struck me was just how damn beautiful they are, and how many different colour options were available to choose from. It seemed like drum jewelry to simply pimp up your drum set and turn some heads. However, as I began to dig and observe the things people were saying about these beaters, it became apparent that maybe there was a lot more to this beater than simply looks. People commented on how good it felt to use and that they noticed a change in tonal delivery in their kick drums. Besides this, you can even have your own logo
laser etched into the beater, custom colour options....hell Chris will even hand paint a checkerboard black and white pattern onto your beater like he did for my friend Ryan Claxton. This is all really desirable stuff for gear heads.
So this brings me to my next observation. I can't believe the traction Low Boy Beaters have gained with their product and social media presence. Both Jeremy and Chris have really put their strengths together and the result is a great product with a strong brand that's promoted very well. So with a company that is just shy of three years old, and showing no sign of slowing down in popularity, I figured it would be a good time to ask some questions about how they got to where they are today, plans for the future and of course the advantages to using the Low Boy Custom Beater.
DG: Jeremy and Chris, what did you both do professionally before Low Boy Beaters came to fruition?
JEREMY: Actually, Low Boy is a side gig for both of us, so we still have our day jobs! I produce podcasts and other audio for the web.
CHRIS: During the day I am an Art Director at a design studio in Boulder, CO.
DG: How did you guys come up with the name “Low Boy”?
JEREMY: As I’m sure is often the case, we had a really hard time coming up with a brand name. One day Chris had the idea that we could name the company after some obscure old jazz drummer. I spent the afternoon researching, and came across some colorful characters! Guys like Baby Dodds, Buzzy Drootin and Tootie Heath. Great names, but nothing felt right for us. What that did, though, was trigger the idea of looking into the history of drumming for a name.
A low boy was the predecessor to the hi hat. They had two cymbals that were pressed together with a pedal, just like a hi hat, but only sat about a foot off the floor. Sometime in the 1920s, someone realized that if you just brought those cymbals up near the snare drum, they could also be hit with a stick. With that, the low boy faded into extinction!
CHRIS: Jeremy mentioned Low Boy along with some others during a meeting and it clicked right away. I liked that the name was short and both words having the same number of characters offered more options while working on the identity.
DG: What made you guys decide on creating your own bass drum beater?
CHRIS: I am a novice drummer and the idea of a custom beater was pretty wild to me. I never thought drummers paid attention to the beater they were playing and just used whatever came on the pedal without giving it a second thought, which I think was partially true. It’s amazing to hear from drummers about how we’ve opened their eyes to this part of the instrument and how it has changed their sound with our beater…. because that’s exactly how I felt when I first played it.
JEREMY: I also thought wood got a bad rap as a beater material. I talked to so many people who said something like “I used to own one of those wood ball beaters. I loved the way it sounded, but it was too heavy and sluggish.” I’m not sure why someone didn’t just make a lighter wood beater. That’s what we did!
DG: Can you explain the process in coming up with your unique design and whether there was a reference point in designing the Low Boy beater?
JEREMY: Chris can talk about the process and inspiration, since he’s the designer. From my standpoint, I just knew we needed to throw away the idea of what a beater was supposed to look like.
CHRIS: It was decided early on that we wanted it to be a wood, two-way beater and look totally different than anything on the market. One of the first things that popped into my head was a badminton shuttlecock, and that’s what the initial sketches and designs were based around. I really liked how it had two distinct ends and was an interesting shape that we could easily customize. I worked with my dad, a master woodworker, on prototypes over several months to get the right weight, balance and design we were looking for. Jeremy and I knew we had something special when we landed on our last prototype and had created a tone that you couldn’t get anywhere else. It was really exciting.
DG: What is the distinct advantage in using a Low Boy beater?
JEREMY: There are really three advantages. First is the tone. On our standard beaters, you can use the rounded end to get a very focused, warm tone. It sounds a lot like a traditional wood beater.
The really unique tone comes when you flip it around. Because you have a flat piece of wood hitting the flat head, you get way more smack than you would with a round beater. That’s going to help your kick drum cut through the mix better than it normally would.
Second is the feel. Like I said before, we wanted a wood beater without the weight, but we also worked really hard on the balance of the beater. That’s really important to its feel, and we think we nailed that.
Finally, is obviously the look of the beater. If you don’t have tone and feel, this doesn't matter. If you do, though, why not have a cool looking beater? You can go on our website and customize your own beater, with over 30 paint and stain combinations. We also offer custom laser engraving, so you can have your initials in a shield (just like the old jazz guys like Buddy Rich and Gene Krupa had on their bass drum heads), custom text, or even your band’s logo engraved in the wood.
DG: How many different lines of Low Boy are available to potential customers?
JEREMY: Right now we offer two weights and three materials.
The Standard beater is the two-way beater I mentioned earlier. It's a mid-weight beater at 100 grams, about the same as a DW two-way beater, so it's a very easy switch for the thousands of drummers who have been using that beater forever. Our Lightweight beaters feature the same design as our standard beaters, without the rounded end. These are 80 grams, so about the same as an Iron Cobra felt beater. They are the lightest wood beaters on the market, and great if you want a lighter touch, or for double bass.
Any beater we make can be built with all-wood, or as a Felt Daddy or Leather Daddy, which adds a felt or leather disc to the flat end. On the Felt Daddy beaters, we use a hard, flat piece of felt, which retains the warmth of felt while giving you more punch than a round felt beater would give.
The tone of the Leather Daddy beaters is somewhere in between felt and wood. Still really punchy, while the high end click an all-wood beater gives you is rolled off.
DG: The response to your product is overwhelmingly positive. What challenges are presented when a business finds success so quickly?
CHRIS: Time is definitely the biggest challenge for both of us right now. There are different areas we both want to focus on a little bit more, but we’re just keeping up with orders at this point.
DG: Recently it was announced A&F Drum Co. and Low Boy Beaters were collaborating on a unique model. Is that furry end available on any other model, or is this specifically for A&F Drum Co.?
JEREMY: That’s such a cool beater, and what we love about Ramy at A&F is that just throwing his logo on a regular Low Boy beater was not an option! He wanted to do something that fits the vibe of the amazing drums he builds. The red hair on hide is exclusive to the A&F beater.
DG: Where do you guys see Low Boy Beaters in 2 years from now?
JEREMY: When we started 2 ½ years ago we only offered one model. Now we have two weights and three materials, which gives drummers so many more options. I just want to see us continuing down that path, until we offer a beater for every drummer in every musical situation.
CHRIS: Like Jeremy said, we are hoping to grow our product line to offer something for every drummer out there and I’d also like to get our Artist Series and Limited Edition beaters to become a more frequent offering.
So, if what you want is a beautiful, artisan quality beater to show off to your buddies and talk about how cool it is, then just go to Low Boy's website and have a good look through all of the customizing options and build your own one of a kind custom beater. They have detailed pricing options for every model and permutation imaginable and it is all presented with a gorgeous website. These guys are doing things right and I hope that they have great success in the future.
Before I conclude on this interview, I want to mention that I really appreciate people like Jeremy and Chris. The fact that they took the time to participate in this article is pretty amazing when you consider that they already have a terrific following and almost too much work to do as it is. So thanks guys for making such a wicked beater and really doing the drum community a good service with your efforts.