Drum Building & Cymbal Making with Timothy Roberts

reverie drums wood

To me, it all comes down to many little factors that come together to create what I would call a good tone.

We’re excited to share our interview with artist and drum pioneer, Timothy Roberts, of independent brands Reverie Drum Co, Timothy Roberts Cymbals, & Stack Ring Percussion

We discuss how and where his products are made, factors that effect drum tone, and of course, his top selling products from each brand.

Table of Contents

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stack ring percussion logo

Learning how someone got to where they are today is always interesting. What were you doing prior to building the Reverie brand?

I was a touring and recording drummer. I started doing that straight out of music school and did it for about 5 years before starting my business.

How did you learn how to build drums and cymbals? Which product line came first?

I started with looking on youtube for drum building tutorials. I found some, bought some raw materials, and started practicing. I ruined a lot of shells in the process of learning.

The cymbals and percussion products came a few years later. Those had the same process. There was tons of prototyping, messing around, and “failure” before I started doing some stuff I found interesting.

What has the most effect on a drums tone? Is it the type of shell, # of plies, hardware, bearing edges, etc.?

reverie drums

To me, it all comes down to many little factors (like you mention in the question) that come together to create what I would call a good tone. It’s hard to narrow it down to just one factor.

If I had to simplify it, I’d say the wood type/plies, bearing edges, and hardware will have the biggest effect on dictating just what “range” of drum tones you can get.

For instance, at Reverie, I like to focus on thinner ply shells with low profile/light hardware and a slightly rounded-over batter edge over a sharper 45 degree resonant edge.

This gives me open, dark, and low tones that sound really beautiful tuned in any range. They don’t “cut” and have as much projection relative to the standard kit, but that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.

My drums are mostly catered towards recording situations, jazz, funk, and other music that requires drums that are expressive. I can (and have many times) made drums for rock situations. That involves picking brighter tone woods (like cherry, maple, or birch) with heavier hardware and sharper edges.

What's your method for making Timothy Roberts Cymbals?

timothy robert cymbals


My cymbal-smithing method consists of taking bronze blanks that are either completely flat or have a pressed bell (I source the blanks from Brazil and Canada). Through the process of “cold-forming” I hammer the metal hundreds of times into the desired shape. I then lathe (turn) the hammered piece to dial in the tonal grooves, taper, and the weight. I often do these two processes multiple times to get to the sound I have in mind for the cymbal.


My concept for cymbal sounds comes from my experience performing, combined with my influences. I offer 5 different series that cover different sound profiles. My Series are: Labyrinth (complex, trashy), Landmark (dark, refined), Prism (glassy, nuanced), Tributary (vintage, funky), and Foundation (dry, articulate). Each series is rooted in either one of my favorite drummer’s sound, a particular album, or my take on a classic cymbal sound. I also collaborate with a few artists to create sounds that are outside my particular expertise.

I also offer modifications of pre-made cymbals, which involves all the processes mentioned above. This is a great way to take a cymbal that’s not inspiring and make it useful for the drummer (at an affordable cost).

Tell us about the materials used for Stack Ring Percussion

Stack Ring Percussion is a brand that utilizes cracked cymbal material, stainless steel, brass, and copper to create unique and inspiring sounds for drum set and percussion applications.

The materials often allow these instruments to have an industrial and electronic vibe to the sounds. They also allow drummers to emulate electronic sounds, acoustically. We have drummers that play all styles use these instruments to expand their sonic palette.

stack ring percussion accessories

Tell us about your shop, equipment, & where all of your products are made

My shop is very humble. I’ve been fortunate to operate out of my residence for years as the company has grown.

All the tooling was either made or modified by me and my team, along with the help of some extremely skilled engineers. I currently have 3 anvils for hand hammering, a mechanical hammer, furnace, 3 lathes, industrial tumbler, and a plethora of different hammers. This is just in the cymbal/stack ring shop.

For the drums, we have a modest woodworking shop consisting of router table, truing lathe, table saw, lacquering station, and other little odds and ends.

What are your best selling products from each product line?

My top cymbal products are 20″ and 22″ rides from all the series as well as the mods we do.

Stack Ring has a lot of products and the most popular are the Kstack, Versa Stack, Stacker Hats, and the Crunch Ring.

Reverie drums is mostly custom at this point, but we made a product called the “little drum” that is designed to be used with Sensory Percussion sensors. Beyond that, we have a series called the Landmark that is great for studio purposes.

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