DRUMTACS’ BREAKING BAD SOLUTION FOR TONE CONTROL HITS A HIGH

       They say “Necessity is the mother of invention.” If you’re a drummer, tone control IS a necessity. For Cristian Beaulieu, it became an obsession. Cristian isn’t a scientist, and he never set out to invent BEAULIEU, CRISTIANanything for the purpose of getting rich. He’s a drummer who is a self-proclaimed “tuning nut” and wasn’t satisfied with the tone control products that were available. Out of this frustration came his addiction to #AssumeControl. His dedication to being the best he can be at what he does led him to attack the problem of tone control with the urgency of an addict. To get the hit without the high, Cristian turned to a Breaking Badlike solution to his tone control problem. He turned his basement into a lab and cooked up a recipe for Drumtacs.

     The methodology that led to the invention of Drumtacs was a manifestation of the same desire that led Cristian to learn drumming with a fervor. He never dreamed of becoming a professional drummer. He said he plays for fun, and he only started playing because it was offered to him, like a drug. Cristian grew up in the coal region of Pennsylvania, where his family didn’t have a lot. Perhaps foreshadowing his bent towards invention, he made drums out of everything as a child. Heading in a bad direction, the school band director grabbed hold of him one day and asked what he wanted to do. His answer? “Play drums.” When he found out he could get drum lessons for free by joining the band, his reaction was, “Where do I sign?” He joined everything he could on his way to becoming a virtuoso snare drummer by the age of 16. Looking back, he says drums saved his life as a kid by pulling him out of the fire.

     After high school, Cristian went on the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned degrees in architectural landscape and environmental studies. As an undergraduate, he played with the school jazz band. Playing with them one night, he was approached, literally while playing, by a man who spoke very little English but enough to convey he had a reggae/rock band that needed a drummer. At that time, he was taking 19 credits; he was in a fraternity, had five part-time jobs, and the sixth was drinking. Clearly having no time for this gig, he drove to Philadelphia for the audition and got the job. He toured for six years making money that he says, “seemed excessive when you come from nothing.” Few musicians achieve wealth and stardom from touring, but feeding the desire, playing is all they need. Cristian mused, “All musicians have are stories and empty bottles.”

     Adding to his playing time, Cristian is a session drummer and linear specialist. He says few DRUMTACS LOGOuse it, but it’s something he enjoys. Playing in a studio, he is hyper-focused on the sound quality of his drum kit and wanted to tune it to his liking without compromise. Driven to find an answer to his problem, he took his mind off the sound and focused it on the material he was interested in and the process by which to make it. He went to school for one year to learn about polymers and the family of molecules that make them up. Armed with this information, he set about turning his basement into a lab. Call it Breaking Bad meets a drummer driven mad by high frequencies. The first thing he had to do was make the air safe for his family. He went to Lowe’s and bought $6,000 worth of supplies. The system he built allows for the exchange of air in his basement in four seconds. Establishing a safe environment, he moved on to the process of mixing the chemicals he’d ordered in raw form.

     Over the next 18 months, our Breaking Bad drummer-turned-chemist would set his sights on working out the formula for the product he envisioned that would revolutionize tone control. Cristian said he’s always done math and predicting so formulaic calculations weren’t a big stretch. What eventually got him DRUMTAC ON A DRUMHEADto the finish line was dogged determination. Despite the many fires he started and things he ruined, he could still see the product he wanted. Admittedly, he said, “I got killed many times and lost lots of money in the process.” He’d chosen to work with polymers because they’re strong, not adhesive, and don’t leave a residue. Contributing to the length of this project was having to build a machine that didn’t exist to mix the chemicals in. They require very specific conditions to come together properly. When he finally had something he thought might work, he put it on his snare drum. “It was the sweetest sound I’d ever heard in my life.” He put it under his crash cymbals and got “a pop and a punch.” Elated, he said he laid on the floor and laughed. This 1″ polymer disc had muted the high frequencies drummers find distasteful and focused the rest of the sound to Cristian’s liking. I’d ask for a drum roll here, but Cristian would probably want to tune it first….and now he can!

     The joy over this newfound tone control soon ran into another question mark. Without marketing and CLIFFORD, JC POINTINGdistribution, Cristian simply owned the most effective and expensive tone control product on the planet. He could impress his friends, give a few away, and pat himself on the back for having invented what no one else had. Fortunately, through the miracle of social media, his soon-to-be Drumtacs partner picked the right moment to connect with him on Facebook. Cristian and JC had grown up near one another in Pennsylvania, but their paths had never really crossed. They’d since connected over the years, but nothing regularly. Just days after Cristian’s discovery, JC sent him a private message. He asked how things were going with the project and what he planned to do with it after determining its viability. Over a golf outing, they discussed the particulars. JC was immediately sold on the idea and determined to find a way to produce and market it. JC’s background was in sales and marketing, having just retired after 23 years of running car dealerships. The timing was right to turn this revolutionary product into a commercial success.

     Houston (or in this case, Cristian), we have a problem. It had taken four years to get to this point. JC had spent six months on a marketing plan and gotten prototypes out to a few drummers he knew on the west coast. They had an inexpensive product that performed as advertised, allowing drummers to fine tune their tone preferences on a variety of percussion instruments. They’d applied for a patent on the product and were slowly making their way through the red tape and expense involved in that process. Working with the last batch of units initially produced, Cristian ran into a mixing problem and one that involved the formula for that recipe for tonal success. Exact replication was going to be a problem. The ingredients, formula, and procedure had to be true to the original and the same every time. Cristian was meticulous in his note taking, but raw chemicals can vary from batch to batch. The slightest variance will produce a different, and often disastrous result. How to mix the chemicals together and under what conditions also had to be mastered to specificity. Then, there was the problem of the formula.

     JC had invested himself fully in the success of the project. Drummers that had used the product, wanted it exclusively. Cristian had to come up with the mathematical formula of molecules and the right amount of the active ingredient in order to get the same thing every time, despite the odds of that happening. He got a partner to help him figure out how to do that and didn’t tell JC until after he’d solved the problem. He’d kept detailed records of the first batch, what was used and what was sent. It took him two months to document and figure out the amino structures and molecules that were known so he could put it back together every time. Success came with a hefty price tag. Cristian said what got him through the ordeal was cheap Scotch. It was a learning experience that JC says gave them an understanding of the variables they would face going forward. Out of this challenge came the next variation, which ended up being better than the original batch. Now, it was time to promote the product and start capitalizing on their investment.

DRUMTAC SHOT FROM COACHELLA

     The first step in selling the new product was getting it in the hands of drummers and showing them how Drumtacs work. Proof is in the pudding as they say, or in this case, in the non-ringing cymbal. Drumtacs are a custom fit for a generic problem. Every drummer is particular about the sound they want CLIFFORD, JC WITH CYMBALto hear and what constitutes perfect tone for their purposes. Drumtacs put artistic control in your hands, with an endless number of possible variations in fine tuning. What the polymer does is allow the vibration to be absorbed without creating a dead spot. It controls the higher frequencies and overtones without killing the natural resonance. Placement depends on the sound you’re looking for and how much dampening you want. Used in the traditional sense, Drumtacs are placed on the top of the drum to control intonation and frequency, but some drummers put them on the bottom during live performances to account for the conditions in the room. Placed on cymbals, it takes the higher frequencies out and shortens the note, eliminating some of the sustained ring. Drumtacs work on any percussive instrument. They’re reusable, if cared for properly, and will stay on forever if you don’t take them off. An added benefit is Drumtacs won’t melt under extreme temperatures. A nice perk when touring during the summer!

     JC‘s approach to marketing Drumtacs has been largely grassroots based. As the drum community is a large one and interconnected coast to coast, word of mouth recommendations have been key to expanding their reach and burgeoning sales. It will be two years in May since the product launch and already they’re on the fourth year of a five year business plan. They don’t endorse or pay anyone to DRUMTACS REVIEW IN MODERN DRUMMERtalk about the product, and they don’t cold call drummers. People have been reaching out to them to handle distribution and international affiliates are beginning to take hold. Perhaps their biggest marketing coup so far came from Modern Drummer at NAMM this past January. The managing editor, Michael Dawson, had seen Drumtacs at a studio and loved them. He wrote a review of the product for the March issue. That issue was handed out to roughly 50,000 drummers at NAMM. On the cover of that issue is Animals As Leaders’ drummer, Matt Garstka. Matt is known for using every kind of tone control product out there. A year ago, he bought a pack of Drumtacs at a festival. Sitting behind his drum kit on that cover photo, it was pure coincidence that the only drum top clearly visible has a Drumtac on it. Clearly, Matt has #AssumedControl. It was the perfect storm of marketing events that led to a social media deluge of sharing and promotion.

     Though things are expanding at a rapid pace for Cristian and JC’s Drumtacs venture, it is still mostly an in-house operation. Cristian makes the polymer in his basement lab and then takes it to an DRUMTACS PACKAGEindependent die cutter. Every step along the way, Cristian has invented whatever was needed to tackle the assignment. They have code names for the equipment because they are all patentable machines. He designed the machine to make the product and the fabrication. Where safety and certification are concerned, he’s left no stone unturned. His is the only OSHA approved lab in the country that’s attached to a residential facility, and he can do any commercial or chemical thing in it. For JC‘s part, his basement is Drumtacs central. Packaging and distribution organization happens here. JC said eventually they will move to automation and a larger lab. There’s a company in Austin that’s interested in doing the manufacturing. For the time being, he sees the work he does out of his basement as a stress release and is in no hurry to relinquish the task.

     As with any new invention, protecting it is important. There are only three people who know how to make this product and each only knows a portion of it. There is a pre-set way of putting the pieces back together, should that ever become necessary, due to Cristian’s untimely demise. Thanks to a chance encounter with a roofer who was working on his house during the development of Drumtacs, Cristian learned that there are many unseen uses for the product. Hearing about the product, this roofer decided to try it out on his bow. The result is a licensing agreement from Drumtacs and a product called HUSHPUKS. HPK Innovations made a few adjustments to the original design and it is now the only adherent to a bow deemed legal in competition. It’s been proven to absorb the vibration, making the bow quieter and more accurate. Users have racked up perfect scores in competition and eight world records have been broken. It’s just the tip of the iceberg with regard to the many yet to be discovered uses for the product.

     Cristian Beaulieu will tell you that he didn’t invent Drumtacs because he’s the brightest guy. He had a problem he was obsessed with solving and wouldn’t quit until he found the answer. Once he set about his Breaking Bad solution, all he needed was a partner like JC who was equally determined to sell it. Drumtacs is the epiphany tone control has been waiting for. It took a scientific formula, hatched in the mind of a frustrated drummer, to capture the high frequencies no drummer wants. He didn’t set out to kill them entirely, just throw an off switch on their intrusions. For an affordable price, Drumtacs gives you the luxury of custom sound design for every gig. The chemistry in the product eliminates the need to compromise anything in frequency selection or application. All that’s left is your artistic direction. Once you get the sound that’s music to your ears, it’s a high you’ll want repeatedly. Where Breaking Bad meets tone control, drummers are no longer handcuffed by product limitations. Lower the highs. Raise hell. #AssumeControl with Drumtacs!

DRUMTACS BY STUDIO LAB PERCUSSION BANNER

Drumtacs are available at:

http://www.drumtacs.com/

Eastside Music Supply in Nashville, TN

Independent drum shops across the U.S.

And coming to Sam Ash Music this month!

With affiliates in Australia and Italy.

FOLLOW…..

Drumtacs on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/drumtacs?fref=ts

Drumtacs on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drumtacs

Drumtacs on Instagram: https://instagram.com/drumtacs/

DRUMTACS JC AND CRISTIAN

Visit Drumtacs at Summer NAMM!

You can find them at the Denver Music Group and Porter and Davies booth.

DRUMTACS DRUM KIT SET UP

Drumtacs are endorsed by:

  • Thomas Lang ( Stork , Clinician / Educator )
  • Daniel Glass ( Clinician , Author / Educator )
  • Vinnie Paul ( HELLYEAH ) 
  • Chris Culos ( O.A.R. ) 
  • Larry Rodbell ( Clinician )
  • Brian Fields ( Independent , Educator )
  • Chuck Tilley ( Alabama )
  • Jason Schmidt ( Lindsay Ell )
  • Jason Heiser (Charm City Devils)
  • Sam Boyd ( Independent )
  • Mike Lester ( Independent)
  • Dean Butterworth ( Sugar Ray . Good Charlotte )
  • David Agoglia ( Rev Theory )
  • Rich Redmond ( Jason Aldean )
  • Michael Aubrecht ( ?E , Author )
  • Sean Fuller ( Florida Georgia Line )
  • Joshua “Chachi” Marunde (Pop Evil)
  • Matt Starr ( Ace Frehley , Mr. Big )
  • Dennis Leeflang ( Bumblefoot , Lita Ford )
  • Xavier Muriel ( Buckcherry)
  • Mark Poiesz ( Tyler Farr )
  • Jeff Fabb ( Black Label Society )
  • Ed Udhus (Zebrahead)
  • Terry “T- Bone” Gray (Drum Tech Buckcherry)
  • A.J. Merlino ( Independent )
  • Frank Kumar ( Independent )
  • Nick Ruffini ( Drummers Resource )
  • Brain Hardaswick ( Drum Tech Pop Evil )
  • Roy Wooten (Independent)
  • Nick Adams ( David Cook)
  • Matt Greiner ( August Burns Red )
  • Chuck Treece ( McRad )
  • Danny Dolan ( The Virginmarys / UK )
  • Chris VonStreicher ( The Supersuckers )
  • David Sleishman (Independent )
  • Jimmy Elcock ( Jamie Lynn Spears Band )
  • Adrian ” Red ” Herbert ( Independent / Australia )
  • Justin Kier (OTEP)
  • Elton Charles ( Glen Templeton)
  • Tim Haines ( Colt Ford )
  • Rob Hammersmith (Skid Row)
  • Stephen Jude Mills ( Independent)
  • Cyrus Bolooki ( New Found Glory )
  • Nathan Walker ( LIT )
  • Sean Winchester ( Everclear )
  • Dave Hidalgo Jr ( Social Distortion )
  • Chad Ray Crochet ( Independent , Sleishman Drums )
  • Anthony Mingoia ( Patent Pending )
  • Michael Miller ( Breakaway Patriot )
  • Toby Caffery ( Blame )
  • Kevin Soffera ( Independent , Hybrid Studios )
  • Daniel Malsch ( Soundmine Studios )
  • Kiley Cubicciotti ( BrewStu Studios )
  • Dustin Yewell ( Angels Fall )
  • Paul Simmons ( Tom Keifer , Reverend Horton Heat, Petra )
  • Stephen Berlen ( Romeo Vegas )
  • Randy Elmy ( Heirosonic )
  • Michael Macrone ( First of Autumn )
  • Marc Slutsky ( Independent )
  • Pork Chop (Independent)
  • Dexter Story (Independent )
  • Bryan Keeling ( Big Motor )
  • Jeff Brown ( Indepedent )
  • Robbie Fritz ( JJ Weeks Band )
  • Ryan Burdette ( Justine Blazer )
  • Kayleigh Moyer (Independent)
  • Sean Deel (Joe Bachman Band , Clinician , Educator)
  • Michael Turner (Independent , Mothertone)
  • Bill Ray ( RDG )
  • Chris Carr ( Bucks County Drum Company )
  • Eric Rosebrock ( Drummers Connection )
  • Joe Bailey ( Independent )
  • Chris Faircloth (Super Bob)
  • George Lawrence ( Not So Modern Drummer / Poco )
  • Eric Choi ( We Came As Romans )
  • Aaron Kennedy ( Rhythm Saint )
  • Mike Intelisano ( Go Go Gadjet )
  • Tre  Stafford  ( Adelitas Way )
  • Dan O’Neill  ( Cassadee Pope )
  • Vinnie Fiorello ( Less Than Jake )
  • Patrick Hall ( Wesley Spangler )
  • Matt Yonker ( Independent )
  • Jason Dean ( Sidewise )
  • Daniel East ( Clinician , Educator )
  • Sara Verduzco ( Money for Nothin )
  • Stephen Taylor ( Clinician , Educator )
  • Josh Ward ( Chris Martin Band )
  • Chris judge ( True Becoming )
  • Thomas Finch (Ronin )
  • Max Nudi ( Independent )
  • Greg Goose LaPoint ( Independent)
  • Glenn Fryatt ( Independent )
  • Mark Allee ( Trig County )
  • Bobby Angilletta ( Independent , Educator )
  • Jeff Sorenson ( Independent , DrumsmackTV )
  • Jeromy Bailey ( Independent )
  • Kristina Schiano ( Independent , YouTube )
  • Benjamin Satterlee ( Independent )
  • Mike Johnson ( Trippin Dixie Band )
  • Joe Beam Percussion ( Independent )
  • Justice Napeahi ( Hermosa PNW )
  • Adam Argullin ( Argullin Custom Mallets )
  • Tristan Kelley ( Independent )
  • Marcus Hunter ( The 4 Tops )
  • Lance Lee ( The Temptations )
  • Daniel Cole ( Independent )
  • Kelsey Cook ( Independent )
  • Mirkko Demaio ( Independent  )
  • Paul L. Marshall ( Paul Marshall Recording Studio )
  • Stefano B. ( Gary Douglas Band )
  • Ross Webb ( Frankie Ballard )
  • James Agnew ( Ledisi )
  • Jen Ellison ( Bearing Torches )
  • Siros Vaziri ( BillionDollarMan )
  • Todd McCune ( Independent )
  • Bobby Mertz ( Independent , Educator )
  • Jason Truda ( Independent , Tru Tuner )
  • Rachel Fuhrer ( Independent )
  • Jimmie Dean ( Independent )
  • Ingo Marte ( Independent , The Drum Tech )
  • Alan Jax Bowers ( Mudcut Studios )
  • A.J. Curtis ( Pushing the Sun )
  • Rick Munoz ( Independent )
  • Cody Cook ( Violence in Vanity )
  • Landon Baker ( Ringling Brothers & Barnum Bailey Circus )
  • Gina “G” Osmar ( Forever Starts Today )
  • Patrick Kennedy (Opposite Day/Rick Trevino/JazzBonez)
  • Bryan Iadisernia ( The Red Pandas )
  • Andre Marchildon ( Independent )
  • Thomas Hassell ( The Alex Michael Band )
  • Carlos Mayo ( Twisted Charm )
  • Taylor Mead ( Shoot the Hero )
  • Greg Hersey ( Independent )
  • David Steinbach ( Kingshifter ) 
  • Larry Douglas ( Independent )
  • Billy “Thunder” Mason (Tim McGraw/Aaron Tippin)

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©2015-nashvillethreesixty.com. All rights reserved.

Bev Miskus

Blogger of all things music related in Nashville and beyond.

3 Responses

  1. JC Clifford says:

    Thank You Bev and staff for a wonderful Article !! #AssumeControl

  2. Patti says:

    My partner in crime has outdone herself! Absurdly fascinating! You are a gift to the drumming world almost as much as Drumtacs themselves!!!! Bravo!

  1. April 23, 2015

    […] DRUMTACS’ BREAKING BAD SOLUTION FOR TONE CONTROL HITS A HIGH  […]

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