Ivor Arbiter

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Ivor Arbiter
Born1929 (1929)
DiedJuly 26, 2005(2005-07-26) (aged 75–76)
OccupationDrum designer
Years active1950s-2003
Known forDesigning the Beatles drop-t logo
The original Beatles drop-t logo

Ivor David Arbiter (1929 - July 26, 2005) was a British-American drum designer, manufacturer, and salesman who designed the Beatles' original drop-t logo.[1] In his early career, he was the owner and operator of a specialty drum shop in the West End of South London.[2] Later, Arbiter founded or co-founded several of his own instrument companies, including Arbiter-Western, Dallas-Arbiter, and CBS-Arbiter.[2] He is credited with bringing karaoke to Great Britain.[2]

Early career[edit]

Arbiter began his career by opening Drum City, a drum specialty shop, on Shaftsbury Avenue in London.[1] In the late 1950s, his shop quickly begame a regular hangout for jazz drummers.[1] Soon after, Arbiter became the UK franchise for Fender guitars[1] and introduced the first Fender Stratocaster to Britain.[3]


Ringo playing on Arbiter's kit in Belfast, 1964

In the early 1960s, Arbiter secured exclusive rights to sell Ludwig drums. Ringo Starr, interested in a Black Oyster Pearl drum kit, then only available through Ludwig, approached Arbiter in early 1963. Starr insisted that a large Ludwig logo be printed on the bass drum head, which was not available. Brian Epstein suggested that the drum head also include a Beatles logo, and Arbiter decided on a design including a large Beatles logo with enough room to fit a Ludwig logo on the top.[4] He sketched a logo mockup on the back of a cigarette package and paid a local sign-maker five pounds to paint the logo on the drum head.[2]

Other ventures[edit]

Arbiter continued to find success in the music market, selling equipment to musicians including Brian Bennett, Jeff Beck, and Jimi Hendrix.[1] In 1966, Arbiter established a new guitar company, Arbiter-Western, which was sold to Dallas in 1969. Arbiter became the company's deputy chairman and the company was renamed to Dallas-Arbiter. While there, Arbiter's work included launching a new line of Hayman drums, considered the loudest on the market[1][2] In 1974, Arbiter left Dallas-Arbiter and began a new venture, CBS-Arbiter. Arbiter introduced Autotune in 1975, which allowed drums to be quickly replaced and retensioned. In the late 1980s, while visiting Japan, Arbiter discovered karaoke and began importing and manufacturing karaoke machines.[2] In 2001, Arbiter received a lifetime achievement award from the Music Industries Association. Arbiter retired in 2003 and died in London in 2005 after a battle with cancer.


  1. ^ a b c d e f Alcantara, Hall, Paul, Sally J. (24 September 2005). "Ivor Arbiter: Captain of the music industry and designer of the Beatles' 'drop-T' logo". The Independent. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Ankeny, Jason. "Artist biography". All Music. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  3. ^ "Features - A Tribute to Ivor Arbiter (1929-2005)". Hendon Football Club. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
  4. ^ West, Charlie (2000). "The Story Behind Ringo's Drums". Ringo Starr Homepage. Retrieved 10 November 2018.