Mark Jeffs, the owner of Rusty Drums UK, kindly took his time to tell us his story and his passion for vintage drums. Rusty Drums was established in 2010 by professional drummers, with the aim of importing ‘fresh’, desirable vintage drum equipment to the UK market.
Could you please tell us about Rusty Drums UK? Where are you located?
Rusty Drums sales are based in the UK, around 40 miles north of Central London, situated on th Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire Border. Our purchasing hub is in Boston, Massachusetts, with shipping from Florida.
What initially motivated you to set up an online drum shop, and when was that?
Having worked in a ‘local’ drum store for several years, my passion had always been Vintage gear, and I love nothing more that chatting to customers about drums and drumming.
Are you a musician yourself? If so, when did you start to play, what styles/genres?
Yes, I’ve been playing since I was 9, playing in local wind and brass bands, before finding my passion in Big Band and jazz drumming at music college.
How do you choose what brands and models to carry?
I have always had a passion for the ‘classic american’ brands, you can’t go too wrong with Gretsch, Slingerland, Ludwig and Rogers.
What is the coolest drum set you’ve ever sold? A great story to share?
I’ve had a couple of incrediblle kits, the ones that have only had one owners excite me the most. I brought a Leedy&Ludwig kit from the original owner in New York, it had all the original calf heads, sticks, brushes and carry bags. It was features in Feb 2012 ‘Rhythm Magazine’, truely a piece of history. The 1942 Radio King kit I have at present is a similar story. I love the history that oozes from these kits.
Given that this is for a blog, what role has technology (the internet, your website, etc.) played in the success of your business?
The internet is the best platform for any business, and although I’m not massively pro active with my twitter account, i’m always on facebook chatting about drums, and uploading info onto the website. You can’t be without it!
Is there a general trend to the people who purchase from you, in terms of how skilled or experienced they are?
To me, skill and ability play no part in what I do….I have several ‘famous’ customers from professional bands, I deal with drum collectors and dealers, London studios, and most importantly the everyday guy.
What advice would you give to somebody looking to purchase a drumset from you?
I have a lot of guys with pre-conceptions of what Make, size, model drums they want, but for me it’s the guys who come in and use their ears that get the most from their visit.
How do you see the international vintage drum market today?
The reason we started Rusty Drums was to bring ‘fresh’ vintage gear to the UK, I was fed up with seeing the same drums being passed round, going up in price evey time with their origin stories being expanded. Although American prices are definatley on the increase, I think if the right drums at the right price are made available there will alway be a market for them. More guys seem to be getting turned on to the vintage vibe.
Are your drums especially common among musicians playing a certain genre or style?
I have guys from most styles buying my drums, although I haven’t seen many ‘Metalers’. I guess there are a lot of jazzers, guys who play the ‘singer songwritter’ scene, but mostly players who just want a sound that they don’t get from ‘out of the box’ new gear
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