Ayotte Drums

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Ayotte Drums Inc.
Industry Musical instruments
Founded 1982; 35 years ago (1982) in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Headquarters Bedford, Quebec
Key people
Ray Ayotte, Founder
Jean-Denis Beaudoin, President and CEO
Products Drum kits, drum sticks
Number of employees
Website ayottedrums.com

Ayotte Drums is a custom drum company based in Bedford, Quebec, Canada. The company builds boutique drums distinguished by their wood hoops, which give the drums a unique sound and aesthetic. The drums are also known for their Tune-Lock tensioning system, which both protects the drums’ tuning, and provides a quick-release when changing drum heads. Although Ayotte has manufactured a range of drums over its history, including some pre-made kits, and some with steel hoops, the custom-made kit with wood hoops continues to be core of its production.


Ayotte was founded by Ray Ayotte, who began his career in the music and percussion business in 1966. He began selling, teaching and repairing drums in 1972, and manufactured drums and other related percussion and musical products since 1982. Originally, the business was incorporated under the laws of British Columbia on November 28, 1974 under the name "Ray Ayotte's Drums Only! Inc."

Ayotte Drums began as a collaboration between DrumsOnly! drum store owner Ray Ayotte, brother George Ayotte, and Odyssey Guitars’ master woodworker Attila Balogh who was in charge of research and development.[1] Through Ray Ayotte’s entrepreneurship and Balogh’s skill and innovation as a craftsman, the company became known for its unique custom drums.

In 1993, Mr. Ayotte made the decision to give up drum retailing in order to concentrate on manufacturing drums. By the time of Balogh’s death in 1987,[2] the company employed several craftsmen,[3] who continued to build the drums according to the brand’s standard of quality. Partner and brother George Ayotte decided not to be involved into the manufacturing business and left. On February 11, 1993 the name was changed to "Ayotte Drums”.

In November 1994, a group of investors led by Louis Eisman, Bruce Allen and Sam Feldman invested in Ayotte, taking a controlling interest. The investment was to assist in expanding the production facilities and implementing a world-wide marketing program. In July 1995, Ayotte raised capital through a company formed under the British Columbia Small Business Venture Capital program. The funds were used to expand the factory and hire new employees and managers. Also, the factory capacity was improved and new equipment was purchased. The product line was expanded to include drumsticks, and the dealer network was expanded from an initial 11 to more than 200 dealers.[4]

Ayotte was joined in 1995 by drum artisan Gregg Keplinger, who helped to publicize and promote the drums, particularly within the burgeoning West Coast music scene, where the Grunge movement was on the rise. Ayotte Drums introduced the Keplinger Snare Drum which consisted in a 3mm thick Stainless Steel shell designed by Keplinger fitted with wood hoops.[5] Throughout the Nineties, the company’s success grew, until, at the peak of its popularity, most important Canadian drummers played an Ayotte kit.

On December 10, 1997 all of the shareholders of Ayotte Drums Only Inc. tendered their shares under a share exchange takeover bid made by ISI Ventures Inc., an Alberta Stock Exchange Listed Junior Capital Pool Company.[6][7][8]

On August 23, 1999 Ayotte Drums founder Ray Ayotte resigned his positions as President and Director stating he was unwilling to carry out the direction he was given by the Board regarding the management and direction of Ayotte.[9]

Ayotte was then sold in 2002 to Bill Jennison, who operated the business out of Abbostford, BC. Under Jennison, Ayotte introduced the Velvet Series in 2005, a new line of drums made from 8ply shells and offered in limited colors and sizes. Jennison determined, in 2007, a more efficient factory with a reliable manufacturing staff was necessary to facilitate the anticipated changes arising from probable markets shifts in distribution and demand. The search for an appropriate location began in spring 2008. This required two years including three provinces and more than twelve sites to complete the search.[10]

In 2010 the company was moved to its current location in Bedford, Quebec. Ayotte then introduced the Bedford line, a special low-cost configuration offered upon the company's relocation. However, after several years of declining activity and growing complaints about customer service, Jennison was unable to maintain production, and in 2012 Ayotte Drums was acquired by Jean-Denis Beaudoin.[11] Beaudoin has since been working to rebuild the company, by returning its focus to the quality and workmanship that originally built the brand.[12] Ayotte kits have since returned to dealers across North America and Europe. Ray Ayotte rejoined the company in December 2013.[13][14] After 2 years being retained as an ambassador to the brand, Mr. Ayotte employment was terminated soon after the North American Music Merchant (NAMM) convention of 2015.

Ayotte Drums exhibited at the NAMM (North American Music Manufacturers) show in 2013,[15][16] 2014,[17] and 2015,[18] and received the Summer NAMM 2014 award for ‘Company to Watch’.[19]


Ayotte is especially well known for their resurrection and improvement of wooden drum hoops, developed as an aesthetic & acoustically pleasing alternative option in place of diecast zinc or flanged steel hoops, although Ayotte also still offers steel hoops. The company's tension mounts (a.k.a. "lugs") assembly is also unique unusual. Using a cut-away lug housing, the traditional tension rod intersects perpendicular to a cylindrical nut (similar to rack-and-pinion) with a nylon plug insert, which once tightened with an Allen wrench makes movement of the tension rod virtually impossible, thus ensuring the drum will stay in tune longer. Ayotte's TuneLock tension system is guaranteed to be indestructible under normal use.


Made to order, the custom line is considered a high quality construction. Made from 6 ply maple shells with reinforcement rings and fitted with wood hoops.

  • Large Badge (1982 - 1996)
  • Small squared badge (Serial A: 1984 to 2012)
  • Small squared badge (Serial AA: 2012 to present)


In the late 1990s, Ayotte produced a limited semiprofessional line of maple drums dubbed "Drumsmith", available in a limited selection of colors and sharing the same lugs as their custom line. The most distinctive differences between the Drumsmith line and the custom operation lies with use of triple flange steel hoops as opposed to wood hoops. Also, the bass drum hoops for the Drumsmith line were offered only in a natural lacquer.

  • Long badge (1998 to 1999)

Professional Maple DS[edit]

At the summer NAMM convention of 1999, the Drumsmith Series was renamed the Professional Maple DS.

  • Long badge similar to Drumsmith badge (1999 to 2009)


In the early 2000s, Ayotte began producing their most often-requested sizes and finishes in the custom line in advance, rather than wait for a specific customer order. The Pro-Canada line of drums were manufactured in limited colors and sizes to reduced turnaround time. Made in the same facility, by the same craftsmen, with the same materials and machinery, the Pro-Canada line was simply an expedited form of their custom line

  • Small squared badge similar to custom badge (2002 to 2008)


In the later half of the 2000s, Ayotte began offering a new small-scale line of drums, the Velvet series. Offered in limited colors and sizes, the Velvet is made from 8ply maple shells and is fitted with wood hoops.

  • Small squared badge (2005 to present)


Similar to the Velvet the Bedford line is offered in limited configuration but is fitted with steel hoops. This line is offered as a low-cost alternative.

  • Small squared badge (2010 to present)

New Era[edit]

Introduced at NAMM 2015. The New Era line is offered in limited configuration and color.

  • long see-through-logo badge

Ayotte products are praised often on drum-related forums across the Internet for their sound and build quality.[20] However, the company itself has been known for their lack of customer service.[21] In recent months, reaching Ayotte Drums has been very easy compared to earlier years with the new staff, which promises a potentially great growth in resolving these issues.

Notable endorsing artists[edit]

A number of notable drummers have endorsed Ayotte drums including the following:

Name Associated Acts
Matt Cameron Soundgarden, Pearl Jam
Matt Chamberlain Tori Amos, Pearl Jam
Todd Sucherman Styx
Joey Waronker R.E.M.
Jeremy Taggart Our Lady Peace
Ian Browne Matthew Good Band
Blair Sinta Alanis Morissette
Terry Clarke Jazz recording artist
Brian Blade Joshua Redman, Kenny Garrett
Mel Gaynor Simple Minds
Brett Reed Rancid
William Goldsmith Sunny Day Real Estate, Foo Fighters
Johnny Fay The Tragically Hip
Tyler Stewart Barenaked Ladies
Tom Stephen Jeff Healey
Brian Gillstrom Kick Axe
Gary Peterson The Guess Who
Ryan Vikedal Nickelback
Tré Cool Green Day
Chester Thompson Genesis, Phil Collins, Frank Zappa, Bee Gees
Christian Tanna I Mother Earth
David Keith Rainbow, Blackmore's Night, Mission Zero
Steve Turner Dolly Parton
Kris MacFarlane Great Big Sea
Tucker Rule Thursday
Jon Fishman Phish

note: With the exception of Terry Clarke, David Keith and Steve Turner, the artist mentioned above have moved to other manufacturers


  1. ^ Janna hanson, (1989). "Drumming to the beat of a custom kit". Nite Moves Paper (April 1989): 38
  2. ^ Random Notes column,(1989). "Drum wizard is mourned by musicians". The Georgia Straight, (November 3–10, 1989): 27
  3. ^ Van Horn, Rick (1990). "Inside Ayotte", Modern Drummer Magazine (June 1990) 32-35, 90-93
  4. ^ Van Horn, Rick, (1996). "Innovators From The North". Modern Drummer Magazine (December 1996): 98-109
  5. ^ Watson, Rich (1998). "Ayotte Keplinger Stainless Steel Drums". Modern Drummer Magazine (February 1998): 32–34
  6. ^ Alberta stock exchange, Ayotte Music inc,Management Information Circular Sept 11, 1998
  7. ^ Alberta stock exchange, Ayotte Music inc, Management Information Circular Sept. 11, 1999
  8. ^ Alberta stock exchange, Initial annual information form, Ayotte Music Inc. February 28, 2000
  9. ^ Security Exchange Commission, filing 000-30683, Ayotte Music inc,. 8/11/99
  10. ^ http://www.robertgalbraith.com/the-sweet-sound-of-success-resounds-ayotte-drums-rises-from-ashes/
  11. ^ http://affaires.lapresse.ca/pme/201207/09/01-4541883-ayotte-drums-relancer-une-marque-connue-mais-eprouvee.php
  12. ^ https://issuu.com/drumsetc.ca/docs/drumsetc_v25-01/18
  13. ^ https://www.moderndrummer.com/2013/12/ray-ayotte-returns-ayotte-drums-fifteen-years/
  14. ^ http://sickdrummermagazine.com/news/industry-news/a-new-era-for-ayotte-drums-ray-ayotte-is-back-after-15-years/
  15. ^ Highlitghts from winter NAMM 2013. "New Drum Gear", Modern Drummer Magazine (June 2013) 76
  16. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=INnopn9trXE
  17. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofmoEC93MkM
  18. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYA-H0UL9xM
  19. ^ http://canadianmusictrade.com/blog/2014/07/22/ayotte-named-one-to-watch-at-summer-namm/
  20. ^ [1] http://www.musicradar.com/reviews/drums/ayotte-custom-drum-kit-27124
  21. ^ [2] http://www.pearldrummersforum.com/showthread.php?245578-Contacting-Ayotte...

External links[edit]