Since 2005, Rob Kampa has been the hidden talent behind the DrumMaker in-house custom shop. Rob has experience as a research scientist, science teacher, a drummer/instructor and a fine furniture refinisher. He spent a decade of his life working in the field of chemical research and has even taught science. So when it comes to applying scientific method and the principles of materials science, Rob holds valuable knowledge of the critcal underlying factors of wood crafting, finishing, and the physics of sound... basically he knows how to build a great drum.
For some in the drum industry, Rob has "flown under the radar". Having crafted 3000+ snare drums, he is truly an innovative and influential custom drum maker. He has crafted drums for the likes of Blue Man Group, the U.S. Army Ground Forces Jazz Bands, and many metal and country artists. For more than 24 years, Rob has challenged drum making communities around the world to raise the level of excellence.
In 1989, When Rob brought his own "Magstar Drums" onto the scene, there were only a few fledgling custom drum makers searching for new ways of approaching the individualized needs of drummers. Many knew the look and sound they wanted, but couldn't find it amongst the cookie cutter brand-name drum co's of the time. More than a decade before the modern-anything-you-want custom style was born, Rob had begun to experiment with different materials and techniques of bearing edge cutting, wood type and ply-configurations to produce drums with higher sensitivity, projection and response.
Magstar first appeared in Modern Drummer magazine's New and Notable section in 1993. Proving that by utilizing the right tools and craftsmanship, one could embark upon a mission to give the big name drum companies a run for it. The custom drum world was still in very early days and Rob Kampa was one of only a select few paving the way for the craft we know today.
By 1994 Magstar's snare drums were under full review, showing up in MD. A full kit review followed in 1995. This Magstar kit utilized low mass piccolo-type lugs on the toms and bass drum which were powder coated for visual effect and low-maintenance. Both features uncommon before this time.
December 1997, brought another great MD review of Magstar snares. Rob's innovations were soon to inspire be imitated industrywide. Altogether, Magstar has seen 5 very favorable major reviews in Modern Drummer magazine.
"If you have ever had the chance to play one of Rob's creations, you know that he knows how to build a great sounding drum."
George Lawrence- Not So Modern Drummer Magazine 2013 feature article
In the DrumMaker shop today, Rob is ready to hand craft your drums to any Tour- of completion, whether it's just prepping your raw shell, re-cutting edges on that vintage snare or creating a full custom kit with multiple steps of hand sanding, custom bearing edges, drilling mounting holes, shaping snare beds, and wrapping with plastic finishes. He maintains his fanatical devotion to the craft of drum making.
The early DrumMaker years
From 1995 to 2004 DrumMaker custom work was done by Bill Von Kamp of Huntsville, AL. Bill was a true craftsman from the old school of drum building, having spent time perfecting his craft at the Corder drum company. After many years in the industry, he was anxious to retire. Many of the original tools, jigs and templates that Bill acquired from the Corder and Fibes drum companies are still utilized by DrumMaker in our shop today. A few include: Our 42" custom belt-drive sanding disk for trueing shells, a special table saw jig for cuttting shells to depth, and our high pressure roller used in applying wrap. Tools like these combined with our seven router stations allow DrumMaker to offer nearly any imaginable bearing edge design/profile.
Bill has likely forgotten more about the art of drum building that most of us will ever come to know. He passed the torch along to Rob Kampa, sharing his drum makings secrets and techniques during an in-depth crash course visit to his shop in 2005. Rob has combined this old school art of handcrafting and attention to detail with the his own cutting edge and scientific methods to offer DrumMaker builders the best of all worlds.