Longo Custom Drums
DRUM ROLL, PLEASE
Where do you find some of the world’s best drums? In Sybertsville, the home of the famous Longo solid shell drum.
Deep in the heart of Pennsylvania, you can find the story of Longo Custom Drums. They’re known around the world for their solid wood shells, and have long been a staple among professional musicians from the studio to sold-out stadiums. Just ask Herbie Hancock, Faith Hill or Air Supply. They’d know the "Longo sound" anywhere.
Neil Longo, owner and founder of Longo drums, was a drummer from an early age. Like his father, and his father’s father, Neil shared a knack for detail and hand-craftsmanship. For generations carpentry has run in the family, and it wasn’t long before Neil began fashioning his stunning, truly custom, solid wood drums.
Then in 1993, Neil met studio drum legend Vinnie Colaiuta. "I gave Vinnie a custom walnut snare with maple reinforcement hoops," remembers Neil. "And he loved it."
From then on Vinnie used the drum wherever he recorded, from Nashville to Los Angeles. The raving was unanimous, and continues today. According to the famous musician, "People immediately started asking me, ‘What is that drum?’ Since then it’s appeared on many records. Now the word is out."
Vinnie even admits that he calls his Longo drums "his secret weapon."
Thanks to the Market Access Grant from Pennsylvania’s Department of Community & Economic Development, Neil has been able to take his show on the road to the annual National Association of Musical Merchants, a key trade show in Anaheim, California. It’s a "who’s who" of instrument makers and musicians, and the perfect opportunity for a small, local business to drum up business. Which is exactly what has happened. Longo receives orders from around the world, and enjoys a loyal following of famous musicians who play with LeAnne Rimes, Barry Manilow, Bruce Hornsby, moe, and a long list of others.
It’s easy to hear why. Neil has tuned in the art of steaming and bending solid pieces of wood to take advantage of each wood’s natural qualities. The solid shells resonate as one entity, adding to the drum’s natural dynamic response. It’s a one-of-a-kind signature sound that’s hard to find, but well worth the effort.
So why Sybertsville, PA? Why wouldn’t the Longos move to a music Mecca like Nashville? It turns out the location – 40 miles southwest of Scranton – is just as unique as the drum building process.
"Pennsylvania hardwoods are some of the best in the world for drums," says Neil. "And we’ve become known in the community, so people call us when they have fallen trees for us. It’s the perfect location."
Although the drums are featured in retail outlets far and wide, the brisk online sales enable a small Pennsylvania company to succeed on an international level.
Now in its twentieth year of operation, the family business is as solid as ever. Neil plans on making his exotic drums for generations to come in Sybertsville.
"I have a two-month-old granddaughter now," Neil says. "Maybe she can take over the business."
And the beat goes on.