Monthly Archives: April 2014

Elvin Jones’ 1990s Yamaha Maple Custom

Some of the greatest experiences and relationships in my professional life have revolved around the huge collection of Elvin’s Jones’s drum gear that I was so fortunate to acquire shortly after he passed. I have met so many people via these drums. My life would have turned out much differently had these drums never found there way into my life.

One of the many sets I acquired was this Yamaha Maple Custom. One of four identical sets Jones required for his globe-trotting itinerary — one each for East Coast, West Coast, Europe, and his home in New York. Jones began his relationship with Yamaha in the early 1990s and maintained it for the remainder of his life. 

The set consists of an 18″ × 18″ bass with “Elvin Jones Jazz Machine” logo head, 12″ × 8″, 13″ × 9″ toms, 16″ × 16″, 18″ × 18″ floor toms, and a 14″ x 5″ snare. “ELVIN JONES” is engraved in the badges on the snare, bass, and floor toms. The cymbals are all Zildjian K’s. The drums are finished in Jones’ signature gold sparkle “champagne” finish with all gold lugs. These were the drums he played from the mid-1990s until the day he passed.


You can see Elvin himself playing this kit in this video:


To celebrate these drums even more, Drum Magazine recently featured them in their Time Capsule section:


Download the PDF: Time Capsule: Elvin Jones’ 1990s Yamaha Maple Custom


This set and many other items from the Elvin Jones collection are still available. You can view the entire collection HERE.

And don’t forget to check out the other unique pieces of drum history that I’ve come across at

– Donn Bennett
Donn Bennett Drum Studio

…Because it’s Personal

In the movie “You’ve got mail” Tom Hanks’ character Joe Fox says: “It’s business. It wasn’t…personal”. To which Meg Ryan’s Kathleen Kennedy replies: “It’s *personal* to a lot of people. And what’s so wrong with being personal, anyway? Whatever else anything is, it ought to begin by being personal.”

I agree.

I’m not here to wax on about the evils of modern day, big box, music store customer service, and I have not been chosen to scream from the rooftops my opinions on how to fix such atrocities. I am simply here to tell any reader/drummer that I am proud to be a member of an organization that takes you and your drum habit personally.

Donn Bennett Drum Studio
Donn Bennett Drum Studio in Bellevue, WA

When you walk into any of the FIVE-STAR DRUM SHOPS, you’re going to feel right at home. After the initial friendly greeting, which you can usually get in most “music” stores (if you’re lucky), you will almost immediately notice a shift in focus. The staff won’t bombard you with whatever 20 pound bag of balsa wood sticks you can buy for $5, or what ride cymbal you should buy because “I use this in my band, and it rocks!” Exactly the opposite will happen. The focus will be on you. We want to know what you like: what drums, what cymbals, what sticks and why. Knowing your particular likes and dislikes will help us to get to know you on a personal level, so we can make educated suggestions when it comes to helping you get to where you want to be in your drumming journey. It seems simple enough, but if you have tried to buy drum gear in the last 5 years, you know that the “personal” touch is becoming more rare.

Get more than just “what you pay for”, get what you deserve. Five-star drum shops offer everyday discounts that go head-to-head with anybody. The difference is that we have customers, not consumers. Smart customers know that true value goes far beyond just simply the best price. True value is a combination of competitive pricing, broad selection, honest and knowledgeable purchase advice, and top- quality customer support before, during, and after the sale.

Stebal Drums
Stebal Drums in Willowick, OH

As a “drums only” network of stores and staff of professional drummers, we are able to devote 100% of our resources to everything drumming. There are no guitar strings, banjo heads, or harmonicas at a Five-star drum shop. We all know what it’s like to find that perfect snare drum, the just right crash cymbal, or to finally play the bass drum pedal that does exactly what you need. These are experiences that are unique to all drummers and we want you to share your experiences with us.

My personal little corner of the Five-star network is Drum World in Tulsa. We are celebrating our 24th year in business thanks to our growing number of new faces that are looking for something more than just an internet connection, and to our community of customer/friends we have had since the beginning. We strive for a total drumming experience utilizing lessons, drum clinics, repairs, workshops, free drum tuning, free drum head replacement, and our massive annual drum event and food drive, DRUM DAY! If you aren’t satisfied with the level of service and attention you are getting where you shop, I invite you to check out any of the Five-star drum shops to find people who are like-minded and take drumming as personally as you do.


You may know the name Sir Edmund Hillary. In 1953, he was the the first confirmed man to reach the summit of Mount Everest (29,029 ft). What you might not know is, that a year earlier in 1952, a Nepalese Sherpa named Tenzing Norgay ascended to 28,199 feet of Everest. So when Sir Hillary made it to the top, who did he have with him every step of the way? That’s right, good old Tenzing. He couldn’t have done it without him.

That’s really how I see the Five-Star network. We’ve been there, we know the ropes, and we can help. Every experienced staff member and teacher at a Five-star drum shop is dedicated to the art and love of drumming. That means that whether you’re a beginner or a pro, your questions and issues will get the right answers and solutions. We can help you have the gear you love and love the gear you have.

So if you’re one of the many drummers who is dissatisfied with your shopping experiences or the level of expertise in the answers to your questions, then we are the place for you.

I encourage you to find your Tenzing, find your Five-star drum shop. We want to help…because it’s personal.

-Mat Donaldson

Mat Donaldson

Mat Donaldson has been a part of the music industry for over 30 years as a professional drummer, drum tech, producer, writer and store owner. He opened Drum World (a Five-Star drum shop) in 1990….and he’s probably playing somewhere tonight.

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