I hope this finds you all well and in high spirits! For those of you that have made orders this past year, you have probably noticed that I write this in some form on nearly every order. Why? Because I genuinely care about your well being as musicians and humans. This has been an exceptionally trying year for everyone, especially musicians that make a living playing music. Having played music professionally for 30+ years, and now a provider to the music industry, I can sincerely feel what everyone has been going through. This has affected me as well. I have purposefully kept sticks at the holiday sale price in attempt to offer some sort of support to all of you. I love to see and hear what you all do!
Here is the part of this letter that pains me to present. After much internal debate with myself, (yes, you could say I talk/debate with myself) I am having to force myself to increase drumstick prices. Believe me, I do not want to increase prices. However, almost daily I am reminded of the increased costs of materials over the past two-three years as well as the everyday supplies and overhead to keep making quality drumsticks, the time that goes into it all, along with the amount of loss incurred creating the best drumstick we can make. This price increase does not come easy for me, but to keep on this journey, making the best drumsticks we can with what we have, it must be done. I consider you all family, brothers and sisters, in this drumming/life journey. Many of you have seen the developments and improvements in LaBB drumsticks through the years. Quality drumsticks requires quality control… and some “thinking outside the box.” All of you are family and I have gotten to know all of you to some degree. I am also inspired by what you do and present to the world, along with sharing your love for La BackBeat drumsticks. I see it and feel it and that love is very much appreciated. Without you LaBB drumsticks would not be here. You are part of the family and that means a lot to me. I know it’s mushy but it’s true.
If you have been waiting on a certain model of stick that is out of stock online, shoot me an email and I will put you on the waiting list. This is highly suggested :) I read all emails and try to respond in a timely manner.
Some of the goings on in the shop…. There has been some fairly major lathe challenges the past several months that included performing previous owner deferred maintenance. A major carriage bushing rebuild occurred shortly after COVID shutdown along with another machine teardown/rebuild. I’ll save that for another story. There are no replacement parts for the lathe (as of 2020 the owner of the machine company is retired), so these bushings had to be fabricated in-house by yours truly. Finding materials during the shutdown proved to be a lesson in itself. Then there was alignment. Sheesh, if only that could be easy. Zach and I ran some sticks and then the carriage dropped a bushing. Crappers! Well, that got fixed and then there was another gremlin lurking causing a 30-35% loss of a batch of sticks. That little devil turned out to be a faulty pressure regulator valve in the hydraulic system. Big hands with wrenches in tight spaces causes a little mumbling. While we were at it and waiting on parts, might as well do a hydraulic fluid and filter change along with open the tank and clean it out. Messy! Did I mention that the valve was obsolete when I talked to the hydro parts supplier and a new one VERY expensive?! However, I found a NOS very inexpensive and scooped it up. After weeks of being down, we were back to making sticks…. so we thought. Turns out that the lathe was out of alignment, AGAIN! After a couple weeks trying to align based on manufacturers previous suggestions with no success, I was at my wits end and thought this was the end. This lathe has lived for 50 years and maybe, just maybe, I wasn’t going to be able to resurrect it. (I should include here that I have deduced that the lathe was either dropped or set down very hard on its front left corner causing me to believe that it is twisted a little since the “legs” do not all sit level on the floor. Along with a possible tail block (these are machined per machine) swap by a previous owner that had several of these machines.) Tired, deflated and beaten down, I came home on a Thursday to reflect on it all. After dinner and some rumination… I had a light bulb moment. Rumination Illumination! The gears are always turning. No surprise, it was an “out of the box” idea and it seemed it would work…. in theory. I got a good night of rest and set out the next morning to apply the alignment idea… for the next two days…. And….it worked!! While I don’t think it’s quite at 100%, it’ll do for now until a better alignment technique comes to fruition. For a week or so, we had started making sawdust again! Then, late on a Friday while I was on track for a record solo stick run, a fifty year old limit switch in the loader sequence failed. I just had to laugh at Murphy and his law! Now to find another switch within the budget. eBay! Eight days later and some calibration, the lathe was, and still is, back online. Countless hours later, lessons learned and knowledge acquired, we have been making sticks for a week or so now with no challenges (knock on wood) and hustling to play catch up for all of you patiently waiting.
Many of you already know LaBB is a “micro business” and there are those that unknowingly assume this is a large scale operation… and hopefully one day it will be. LaBB is what you could call “boutique” or a “cottage industry.” If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. I wear quite a few hats out of necessity and lack of budget. There is one part time helper with me making drumsticks. His name is Zach and he has learned quite a lot about making drumsticks over the past few years and he was a helpful sounding board the past few months. There is also the outside support of needed professionals like a CPA, lawyer, and others for tasks I simply cannot do. This support team also includes my life partner. She is definitely supportive of this endeavor. And most of all, there is YOU! Without you this would be nothing and I am grateful that all of you are a part of this family.
Either sign up on the mailing list or accept marketing when you checkout. I will only send a few emails a year and very possibly some specials here and there. Again, I want to thank all of you for playing LaBB drumsticks and helping to keep this growing. My hope is that we can continue to grow, as a family, and make a bigger happy family. I’ll say it again too…. I hope you are all well and in high spirits!