Celebrate International Drum Month with the Chicago Drum Show


The Chicago Drum show, the oldest, biggest and most original vintage drum show of its kind is coming May 17 & 18, 2014 to the Kane County Fair grounds. With over 30,000 square feet event space, it’s a great way to help celebrate May as International Drum Month!

For the past 24 years, drum historian, author, and drummer Rob Cook has hosted one of the best original drum events ever. It has drawn drummers and drum enthusiasts from all over the world to see vintage gear piled high, great deals, and good conversation.

The show bills itself as “the world’s largest and longest-running event of its kind… a swap-meet, a drum expo, and an entertainment event [featuring] new, used, vintage and custom drums, cymbals, and related accessories. ”

In the earlier days of the show when he was still alive, Mr. Ludwig himself made appearances every year. He always had such great stories to tell. Over the years we have met drum enthusiasts from all over the United States, Europe, and Japan. Major companies such as Ludwig, Sabian, Drum Workshop, Zildjian, Trick, and many others set up booths chock full of products for attendees to view and check out. The show has also attracted some of the smaller boutique drum companies that you often don’t see at bigger shows like NAMM or PASIC. Even YOU can be an exhibitor by bringing instruments to the consignment area staffed by experts in drum valuation and letting them sell gear for you!

Donny Osborne at the Chicago Drum Show
Donny Osborne at the Chicago Drum Show

For the uninitiated, the Vintage Drum Show is two full days of drums, drumming, with guest appearances from some of the best clinicians out there. The two days are filled with clinics, workshops, seminars, raffles, and master classes. On the bill this year are clinics and master classes by Chip Ritter, Jason Sutter, Stanton Moore, Curt Bisquera, and JoJo Mayer.

It started out twenty-four years ago with vintage drum dealers and has evolved into a drum expo with dozens of companies, large and small. Vendors bring together all aspects of drums and accessories, sometimes featuring one-of-a kind products and prototypes as well as the occasional product launch. There are usually 50 – 60 exhibiters ranging from private collectors and individual craftsmen to some of the leading drum and cymbal companies in the industry.

Every year more and more exhibitors and attendees are making the trip to Chicago to celebrate International Drum month and the craft of everything drum related. In fact next year’s 25th Anniversary of the Chicago Drum Show will also be an expanded 3-day event that you wont want to miss either (May 15, 16 & 17 2015)!

So, whether you are a drum geek or are just in looking for a great occasion to come out to Chicago (well St. Charles, IL actually), then be sure to stop by and see what the fanfare is all about. Some of the Five Star Drum Shop owners come to the show too, and we hope to see you there. For more information on the show, go to

Or, check out the show guide here.

– Liz and Terry Hawkins
Skins ‘n’ Tins Drum Shop
Champaign, IL

Terry Hawkins
Terry Hawkins

…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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Best of NAMM 2014


The NAMM show is the annual gathering of the music products industry. Dealers and manufacturers from around the globe gather in a pilgrimage to Southern California to see what’s new. As always, the January NAMM show is filled with the best and newest gear, and this January was no exception. In polling some of my Five Star brethren, here is a list of some of the new items that impressed us at NAMM:



Paul Francis and the folks at Zildjian introduced the new Kerope K line. These cymbals are warm and soft, and look and sound like some of the softest old K’s from the 50’s and 60’s. Delivery is due in April, so look for these at your favorite drum shop then.



Sabian delivered on their cymbal vote winners, and some cool new stick and cymbal bags. As trends are moving towards bigger, darker, and trashier cymbals, these cymbals all went there.



Yamaha has finally come out with their new Maple high end drums, the Absolute Maple Hybrids. Their heritage comes directly from the Phoenix philosophy of having the hardest wood (wenge) in the center, and then maple flowing out. These drums were beautiful. These drums come from the new Yamaha factory in China, and feature hook lugs and aluminum die cast hoops….. very cool.

Vic Firth


Our friends at Vic Fith have created a new series of bass drum beaters (VicKick), and they are pretty darn cool. There is an “old school” lambs wool beater, as well as a wood and hard felt beaters that allow for two distinct striking positions. You can get a flatter beater position and a more pointed one for two distinct sounds.



While many are trying to complicate gear, ProMark has simplified drumsticks. There took their 4 most common diameters and, by changing nothing but the tapper of the stick, made a more forward balanced model (for power) and a rebound model (for faster response). When you play them, you really get the difference, and why it makes sense.



As well as some very cool new snares, Pearl impressed us with their new “Spin Tight” lugs ($20 for 4). These tension rods expand on the inside and take a special key to work….. and they do work. If you’re a hard hitter and your rods loosen up on you, then this a cool fix.



As well as some great sounding drums, it’s no secret that DW makes some of the most beautiful drums around. Their new Neal Peart, Nick Mason, and Roger Taylor signature drums are just stunning. As a matter of fact, we were so enamored with their beauty that we forgot to actually play them!



Mapex changed a great deal of their drum line at NAMM, and one of their key features of their new Mars and Armory series drums (under $1,000) it makes tuning easier. By moving the contact point of the bearing edge more to the center of the drum, and making it wider, Mapex claims to allow a stronger and more centered pitch…… and from first hearings, we would agree.



It’s Tama’s 40th Anniversary, and they released (re-released??) a collection of their best snare drums of the past 40 years. Pretty darn cool stuff here…..



The family owned Japanese company made drums for years for larger company, but they are now on their own…. The drum are beautiful, the hardware very cool, and they are a company to watch on all fronts.

– Jim Rupp
Owner of Columbus Pro Percussion

The 2013 Five Star Drum Shops Holiday Buyer’s Guide is here!

Our annual holiday deals are back with a bang for 2013. Inside our new Holiday Buyer’s Guide you’ll find exclusive deals, packages, bundles, discounts, extras, and other treats from favorite brands like DW, Tama, Gretsch, Yamaha, Paiste, Sabian, Zildjian, Pearl, LP, Meinl, and more. We’re working overtime to make this holiday season the best ever for drummers, so come see us at your local Five Star Drum Shop today!


Click Here to Download the PDF

Welcome to the new Five Star Drum Shops website!

Here at Five Star, we are always trying to offer you the best drum shop experience possible, both in our stores and online. Today we are very excited to introduce our new website, complete with our new Five Star Drum Shop Locator, an Events Page, new photo galleries, our classic Drum Tips, this new Blog, and of course our annual Five Star Holiday Buyer’s Guide, just in time for the Holidays!

We hope you enjoy the new website and find it useful for learning about the many ways that we are working hard to bring you not just the best drum gear and the best prices, but the best drum shop service found anywhere. We are drummers ourselves, we speak drum, and we are here for you.

-Five Star

Cymbal Foundry Cymbals

Now Available Exclusively at Five Star Drum Shops!

Cymbal Foundry designs, manufactures, and imports top-quality vintage-style cymbals directly from the factory in Istanbul, Turkey. Our mission is to craft the highest quality handmade cymbals, using time-honored techniques, and the absolute best tools and materials, coupled with stringent quality control, to produce a consistently excellent product. They are modeled after vintage cymbals using the same cymbal hammering and lathing techniques that have been passed down from generation to generation in Turkey, and found at only the most exclusive drum shops in North America.

Unlike other cymbal companies, each cymbal is played by real drummers right in the factory and chosen based on sound above all. If they don’t pass the ear test, then they are not stamped with the Cymbal Foundry logo. It’s that simple. These are small batch cymbals made by drummers, for YOU.

Available exclusively through your Five Star Drum Shop,