DVD Review: Guerrilla Drum Making

Guerrilla Drum Making:
Drum Making With Realistic Tactics and Realistic Tools

86 minutes


First off, a confession: I suck at building stuff. I can’t turn on a power tool without soiling my shorts (the fear of puncturing or outright severing a limb is really quite the bowel loosener), and frankly I can’t even hang a poster without bruising a finger. So even though I love the hell out of drums and have long been fascinated with the art of drum building, I didn’t think there was any way I could customize a kit on my own.

Until now. John Dutra’s Guerilla Drum Making demystifies the process of customizing drums and—most important of all—gives you the knowledge and confidence to do it yourself. While watching the DVD, you’ll soon be thinking, “I really can do this.”

The Lowdown

Just to be clear, though, this DVD doesn’t show you how to build actual drum shells. If you have a hankering to carve out a kit from that big birch tree in your backyard, Guerrilla Drum Making won’t help you. What the DVD does instead is expertly guide you through DIY methods for customizing the look of shells.

Like all good teachers, Dutra starts with the basics and clearly defines his terms: what’s a unibit? Or a straight-edge square? Or tailors tape? The DVD’s first chapter shows the viewer what those and other recommended tools actually look like and how to use them, along with a few time-saving tips. For any tooltards out there like me, it’s a greatly appreciated intro.

The rest of the 86-minute vid is divided into 6 more chapters that demonstrate how to work with and apply a variety of finishes—from stains to wraps to veneers to acrylics. Looking for a cool-ass collage kit? Chapter 2 takes you through each step to a perfectly finished and unique drum. Want a striped laminate for your bass drum? Check out Chapter 6. As each chapter progresses, you’ll also learn how to mark and drill a shell for proper lug placement, whether the lugs are in-line or offset.

Throughout the DVD, the vid quality is top-notch, the camera work is slick, and Dutra’s voice-over explanations are professional and easy to follow. Even the background music, which ranges from downtempo to metal, is good.

Who Should Watch

If you’ve always been interested in customizing drums but didn’t know how to get started, then Guerrilla Drum Making is essential viewing. Stop whatever you’re doing and go buy it now.

If you have some experience with drum building or are even a seasoned pro, then Guerrilla Drum Making is highly recommended viewing. You’ll pick up some great tips that will make your drum-building life easier. And at the very least, you’ll see the instructional quality you need to aspire to in case you ever decide to turn teacher and make your own video.

If you have no desire to ever take a drill or piece of sandpaper to your drums, you’ll still get a lot out of watching this DVD. Dutra’s clearly a guy who is passionate about the craft, and he imparts his knowledge well. You’ll appreciate drums even more after seeing the skill that goes into making them. In this case, learning some of the tricks doesn’t at all spoil the magic.

BDT rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

2 responses to “DVD Review: Guerrilla Drum Making”

  1. […] HERE to read the rest of the review, and be sure to check out bigdrumthump.com for the latest in […]

  2. Bryan Albright Avatar
    Bryan Albright

    I was disappointed in the sinse that it isn’t about building drums, but customizing or finishing pre-made drum shells. Either way, it is well done and in my particular case, about twenty years too late. Although, I was hoping to see something about cutting edges of shells as apposed to just protecting them with tape or vasoline. The DVD is somewhat informative and it’s sure to help give the confidence needed to plunge right in without looking back, and get professional looking results, even for first timers.
    Good luck,
    Bryan Albright

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