Special Feature – Jobeky Custom Electronic Drums
Jobeky Custom Electronic Drums is a family business specialising in electronic drums and triggers. The company manufacture everything from individual triggers all the way up to full drum kits, with plenty of options to suit everyone from students to professionals. Andy Hughes spoke with company founder Colin Ackroyd about the start of the company, its survival through the pandemic and the current and future plans for growing the business.
How was Jobeky Drums founded? It’s not easy to launch a new brand in a crowded market place such as the one that includes drums and hardware.
Jobeky was founded in 2005. In the early nineties, I wrote a drum building guide called ‘The Art Of Drum Making’. The guide turned out to be very popular – in fact, some people who bought it are still in the kit building business today!
I was interested in the development of electronic drums, so I started making them in 2005, and The Jobeky Company was formed. The name comes from the first two letters of our children’s names, so it’s unique and it means something special to us.
From 2009 to 2013, we hosted the Jobeky Custom Drum Show which helped to increase out profile in the drumming community. It showcased some of the best drum manufacturers we have here in the UK, and we had artists like Craig Blundell, Steve White, Karl Brazil, Ash Soan, Matty Brown, and lots more playing at the shows.
Is the technology you use for your design and manufacture standard, or are there unique aspects to what Jobeky provide over and above what may be available elsewhere?
Jobeky pioneered electronic drum triggers and have been at the leading edge of the industry for the past seventeen years. Our triggers are considered by many to be the best on the market, with customers highlighting how responsive they are. The triggers in our drums are created from our own unique designs.
We also offer a specific ‘custom’ aspect to our kits. We offer many different kit finishes, and we have had customers design their own finishes, which we incorporate for them. It’s a selling point for us, because other electronic drum companies are quite limited in the finishes they offer compared to us.
Are you constantly researching ways to upgrade the technical specifications of your kits?
As a leading-edge music technology-based company, we are always looking at different ideas and spend a lot of time on research and product development.
Our trigger designs have grown over the years incorporating different designs for different budgets. One of our most popular recent innovations has been the creation and development of low volume cymbals which has made a considerable impact on the drumming industry. We also make electronic cowbells and jamblocks.
How were affected by the mass shut down caused by Covid 19?
We are fortunate being a family-run business, and we continued to work throughout the pandemic. We were very busy as the pandemic took hold and the isolation increased – many people started to need electronic drums because they are unable to access studios. Teachers were adapting to teaching by Zoom, so we had a lot of customers buying triggers and mesh heads for quiet playing at home.
As well as complete kits and cymbals, we also sell mesh heads and triggers to enable people to convert their existing acoustic kit to an electronic kit. Of course, we were affected like everyone else with issues regarding supplies of the equipment we sell, because of some suppliers ceasing trading, and there was an overall delay on import deliveries, but other than that, we managed to survive pretty well.
Who uses Jobeky Drums? Do you have such a thing as a ‘typical’ customer profile?
There really is no such thing as a typical customer, because our products appeal to the entire drumming market. Our drums are used by drummers from the biggest stadiums and West End shows, right down to drum tutors, gigging drummers, people who just need a quiet kit for home use and volume sensitive venues such as churches, especially in the USA.
Do a lot of teachers and educators use your drum kits?
Very much so. Drum teachers and educators find full size electronic drums are great for teaching on, as the majority of students will also play acoustic drums at some point, so the transition from a full-size e-kit to an acoustic is a lot easier than from a small pad kit.
The benefits of e-kits are well known for learning and development of essential drumming skills. Vicky O’Neon was just speaking to us today about how she has been using them to teach her students and how fantastic they found the drums to play.
Do you have any ‘famous’ customers and users of your kits?
When we first started in 2005, we searched for drummers using electronic drums and found John Jenkins on Myspace We contacted Johnny and asked if he could try our drums and give us some feedback. He was with The Streets at the time and using another brand of electronic drums. A year later he started working with Lily Allen and got in touch with us and started using our electronic drums incorporated in his set-ups. When he moved to drumming for Example, we made drums for him to use there as well.
We had other bands over the years using our drums incorporated in their set ups and more recently in the last few years, we have made cymbals for Dom Howard to use on tour with Muse and we made Dom a full kit for home use.
We made a few cymbals for Luke Patterson to use with Clean Bandit. In the first lockdown Owain Wyn Evans purchased some cymbals and triggers and heads from us to use with his kit, he had moved house and needed a quiet kit. That set-up was used on a New Year’s Eve show on TV, and Owain used the set-up used to start his Drumathon for BBC Children In Need.
Are your materials all sourced within the UK, or do you import any of the materials you use?
Most of our parts and products are made in the UK, however our mesh heads and hardware are imported. Our drums are constructed to order in our family business, where each kit is hand-made as a bespoke product according to the customer’s specifications.
Are your drums able to be inter-connected with other manufacturers’ kits?
Our drums are very interconnectable with other manufacturers’ kits. We are dealers for Roland, Pearl, and ATV and we have recently collaborated with Pearl at The UK Drum Show with a pairing of our drums and cymbals with a Pearl Module. Our customers regularly install our electronic drum triggers to a wide range of standard kits from other manufacturers.
There is a definite growth in electronic kits – do you think that the original fear from acoustic kit players that electronic kits would do away with their skills is unfounded?
Electronic drums have certainly gained a big popularity as they are so versatile whether they are being used in ‘live’ situations, or for quiet home use, for teaching, or just incorporated as a hybrid set-up.
I don’t think use of electronic kits does away with standard playing skills, especially with full size kits. We find that modern drummers embrace both the traditional kit and the versatility of our kits. Our kits are not small pad kits, they are the same size and shape as a regular drum kit and so none of the drummer’s skills are impacted, which means that our customers can seamlessly transition between kits.
What advice would you give to a player who is considering investing in a Jobeky kit for the first time?
If someone needs to use an electronic kit due to noise constraints etc., then our kits are a great way of still having that full size kit set up, but also being able to control the noise levels. We also can provide pretty much any kit finish so the customer can really have a custom kit.
We advise anyone thinking of investing in electronic drums and hardware to take a look at our website and give us a call. We will be able to create your perfect kit according to your particular requirements, at a really competitive cost.
As most of our customers are used to playing an acoustic kit, we invite them to tell us about the spec of their ideal acoustic kit and we’ll create a bespoke e-kit, which looks and feels like their dream kit. Our desire as a company is to make each and every kit as individual as each and every player.
In order to develop and maintain your share of the market sector, what plans do you have for the future development of the company, from a design and technology, as well as a sales perspective?
From an industry perspective, we are looking to form partnerships and creative collaborations with other key suppliers in our space. For our customers, we are always keen to adapt and deliver what e-drummers are looking for, in order to ensure they have the e-kit to allow them to achieve their musical ambitions.
What’s the most valuable lesson you have learned since you started the company, that you were not aware of at the beginning?
Over the past seventeen years, we have seen the industry change from being driven by High Street retail, to an internet-led industry where drummers can source kits and parts from anywhere around the world.
Our most valuable lesson in this time has been gaining direct communication with our customers and adapting to their ever-changing requirements. The most important thing our customers have taught us, is the need to ensure that our e-kits accurately replicate the playing experience of a full-size acoustic kit.
What’s the immediate future for Jobeky Drums, as the industry finally emerges from the grip of Covid restrictions?
As we come out of the world of COVID, we are looking to grow the Jobeky name by making our kits locally accessible, allowing more drummers to get behind the kit and enjoy the Jobeky experience for themselves. In this process we are seeing far more known artists engage with our drums and cymbals, and we are currently in talks to expand our artist roster.
For more info about Jobeky Custom Electronic Drums, head to: www.jobekydrums.co.uk
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