The Father of Drum Sticks

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“Listening to teachers and young drummers they are obsessed with playing loud and fast and I hear nothing said about sound” – Vic Firth

Everett Joseph “Vic” Firth was one of the most respected people in the drum industry. He was close to many of the world’s greatest drummers such as Steve Gadd, Steve Smith, Zoro, and Peter Erskine. He passed away on July 26th of this year.

Vic was born on June 2nd, 1930 in Winchester, Massachusetts, but was raised in the town of Sanford, Maine. It didn’t take many years before music became a part of his life. When he turned 4 he picked up the cornet and later decided to learn percussion, trombone, clarinet, and piano. Aside from learning instruments, he had an interest in arranging music. During his time in high school he became deeply involved in the school’s music program, became a full-time percussionist, and formed an 18-piece band at age 16.

Percussion instruments were his preferred instruments to play. After focusing on drum set, he learned to play pitched mallet percussion such as vibraphone and timpani.

After high school he attended the New England Conservatory in Boston, Massachusetts where he received both a bachelors degree in Music — and much later, an honorary doctorate. He was the youngest timpanist to ever be hired by Charles Munch of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, playing with the orchestra from 1956-2002.

During his time with the BSO, Vic started performing pieces that required better sticks than were currently available. Vic developed the first prototypes of the SD1 and SD2 general sticks — the beginning of something big. He sent them to a wood turner in Montreal, Canada to get them finished. The word spread about the high quality of these sticks, which are still sold all around the world. The Vic Firth company now manufactures millions of sticks in various categories, suitable for any style of music.

A fun fact about the Vic Firth company: they also sell pepper mills, salt grinders, and rolling pins.

To most young drummers, Vic will be remembered for being the founder of the Vic Firth Company, which has provided sticks, mallets, and brushes for so many players over the years. People close to Vic remember his dry humor, his gentlemanly nature, and his combination of excellent artistry and business sense. He brought only the best to all drummers and was a true mentor and friend to many.

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          February 11, 2017