Category Archives: The Frankendrum Project

Frankendrums vs … Finger Drums?

The only thing we found yesterday…


We’ve been a little low on luck lately with our search for drums, and that’s ok. The boy took away from the Iron Giant Percussion concert that anything can be a drum, even coffee cans and clay plant pots and, well, cacti. Though, we tend to argue over whether or not the cacti were drums or harps. I vote for harps.

I did pick up a cheap bass drum pedal one day for $1.50. I’m glad to have a smartphone, I can google things up and make sure they are not missing pieces, etc.


We also found these the other day, but I decided they wanted too much for them. The price tag was $70. There was a separate snare drum with no stand, and while we could have used the bass and the hardware, the cost of replacing the stand for the snare along with the remaining need for hi-hats and cymbals, I could just buy him a decent beginner set off craigslist and save myself the thrill of the hunt. These did sell, so maybe I was wrong, but I’m not that worried about it. It will come in time. Meanwhile, the not-so-little little one has an electronic practice pad, a score of buckets outside, and many things to make noise with.

Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center at UAB

This past Sunday, my youngest and I attended a concert at the UAB Department of Music’s Alys Stephens Center.  The concert was free and was being performed by Iron Giant Percussion,  an award-winning band based out of Bham AND the band that has our Drum Wizard as a member.

The little one was very excited, and kept going on about how great everything is and how much he loves life and how this was his first concert and on and on. I didn’t even have to force him to comb his hair for the event. We should go to concerts every day!

When we arrived, it was early, as we like to be early to the events so we can explore, and we picked our seats. The theater is very nice, and honestly, I was afraid we should have dressed up when we saw the ushers handing out programs. Honestly, I’ve never been to a concert that didn’t have a mosh pit or where I didn’t end up sweaty by the end of the night. When we got inside, though, people were dressed as casually as we were so it wasn’t a problem.

Here was the view from our seats:



After we were seated (we had to change seats multiple times till we found ones where the center tom in front blocked one particular light at the back of the stage. Then the youngest saw the balcony, so up we went.


Look how long his hair is getting. He wants to be like his dad. I can think of worse.

But the thing is, he didn’t love it from up there, either. The lights were even brighter, so back down we went and took our original seats, behind some friends we know from Scrollworks. We chatted for a bit, then the show started. I only took this one pic of the show plus one other at the end, and that’s when I realized that the noise my phone makes when I take a pic seemed horribly LOUD when the click went off during a lull in music.


So there is the band. He was excited to get to see the Drum Wiz in action, but he was pretty squirmy in his seat, regardless.

It was a great show! All except for that one song… We didn’t know cacti could be used as instruments before, but we know now! It was fun and they are really a talented group. It’s no wonder they win awards with their work.

Seriously,  if you’re planning an event in Birmingham, Iron Giant Percussion would be worth giving a call.

Check out their website at

Throughout the show, while I listened to the music, I found myself focused on the right hand wall beside the stage. The lights would cast the drummers’ shadows across the wall and I’ve always loved shadows.


One day, I’ll have a better camera and I’ll be able to get some really good close ups.

So, the schedule at the Alys Stephens Center may be worth really looking into if you live around Bham. The program they handed us has a lot of “Faculty recitals” that are free but the website has a lot of concerts with affordable ticket prices.

The concert was about 1.5 hours and then we left, heading home to be greeted by a most beautiful moon. It was almost ten, so the boy felt like he had had a late night, concert going experience.

The Frankendrum Project

My youngest son is 11. He is taking percussion classes in Birmingham with an organization called Birmingham Scrollworks.  Drums are expensive. I am resourceful!

I’ve decided that rather than taking the money from our savings account to buy a drum set, I will slowly piece some together from pieces we pick up in the thrift store. We call these our Frankendrums.

(I really want to add “And this is their story” right here…)

Recently, I headed out to the Roebuck area to hit up some thrift stores in search of drums (and, at times, random things that make great gifts for the boys). The thrift store scene in that area is pretty good, from Roebuck Parkway to Pinson, there are 5 big shops. I didn’t have great luck at United, but when I went to America’s Thrift, I found these.


I’m not a pro, but I was a percussionist in the high school band and I thought these looked pretty good. I snapped a pic, then fired off a text to our Drum Wizard and asked him his opinion. The small toms, I wasn’t sure about because there’s no bass with hardware for them to sit on and I wasn’t sure if hardware is universal. If so, chances are, I’ll find a bass with missing toms sometime and can attach them.  After a bit, he texted me back that they looked pretty good and that ten bucks was a fine price for the floor tom, for sure. I loaded them into my basket and went up front and paid.

As I exited the store, these two ladies came charging out of the wig shop next door, making a ruckus and chasing after me. All I could think was “Shit! These must be their drums.” So I threw them into my van and booked it outta there.
OK, no, I didn’t. I stopped and listened to their story. Here is what I gathered.
They were very excited and one or both of them had a set of drums at home that may or may not have been broken and/or incomplete. They wanted to make me a deal BUT one of them kept telling me the drums were broken and the other one kept telling her “Shh! Don’t tell her that! Just get her to come to the house! *I* have some drums, and they’re not broken.” They continued to argue about the drums that they might have had.

They kept talking over one another and jockeying for who would sell me drums, so I took their number in case I wanted to call them later. I still haven’t called, but I do still have their number. I’ll probably just keep looking, but THEY were fascinating!

So, my next stop was Big Saver, and they had this drum and stand…


The Drum Wizard said it was a no go, though. He said those white heads don’t hold up and to pass. So, I passed. He saved me 12 bucks! I was going to buy that one until he said to wait.

So, we keep looking. In the meantime, the boy can get his room clean and ready to sling his hair around and drum like a rock star.