Albert Alfonso (USA)
Erle Bartlett (Australia)
Belgarth Bodhráns (Scotland)
Boreal Woodworks (USA)
Bodhráns By Brenden (Canada)
Buck Musical Instrument Products(USA)
Charlie Byrne (Ireland)
Pete and Mandy Collier, Brouhaha Bodhráns (New Zealand)
Cooperman Fife & Drum Co. (USA)
James Davey (Ireland)
Davey Drums, David Settles (Calgary, Canada)
John Davies, Craft in Wood (Scotland)
CJ Dixon (Canada)
Paul Doyle (Ireland)
Fiddler's Grove (USA)
Richard Fox (Ireland)
Fundy Bay Music (Canada)
David Gormlie (Scotland)
Grady Bodhráns (USA)
Neil O'Grady (Canada)
Gurt Mint Bodhráns (England)
Barry Hall, Burnt Earth Ceramic Musical Instruments (WWW)
Fred Halpin (Canada)
Christian Hedwitschak (Bavaria)
Here, Inc. / St. Stephans Bodhráns (WWW)
Harald Hougaard (Norway)
Brian Howard, Howard Musical Instruments (UK)
Gary Hudson (USA)
John Jackson (Scotland)
King Puck Drums (England)
Malachy Kearns Bodhráns / Roundstone Musical Instruments (Ireland)
MacDaid Bodhráns (USA)
Frankie MacNamara (Ireland)
Eamon Maguire (Northern Ireland)
Marcus Music (Wales)
Jeremy McCool, Time-Machine Timber Products (Ireland)
Danny McCormack (England)
Dave McCort (USA)
Brian McGarrigle (Ireland)
Paraic McNeela (Ireland)
Karl McTigue (Ireland)
Metloef Irish Drums (USA)
Mountainbrook Bodhráns (USA)
Marc "Mog" Moggy, Renegade Rhythms Bodhráns (England)
Martin Murphy (Ireland)
Murphy O'Kane Bodhráns (Canada)
Cindy Norton (Canada)
Kevin O'Connell (England)
Stan Pope (Canada)
Clive Quinn, Deadrat Bodhráns (Australia)
Remo, Inc. (USA)
The Singing Goat (USA)
Davy Stuart (New Zealand)
Tango Trading Co. (Pakistan)
Thunderheart Drums (USA)
Tipperary Music (Ireland)
Torben Wendelin (Denmark)
Michael Vignoles, Claddagh Pipes and Bodhráns (Ireland)
Waltons Manufacturing, Ltd. (Ireland)
James Wappel, artist
Brendan White Bodhráns (Netherlands)
Bill Wright (Ireland)
Although he used to make some unusual hybrid drums, Alfonso is now making top-quality traditional-style bodhráns. I have received several rave reviews recently, and I was highly impressed by his drums when he last visited New York. Deborah Colvin-Brower called him one of the finest bodhrán makers in North America. Mark Stone raved about them and tells me that Tommy Hayes and Johnny McDonagh also liked them. Mark uses Alfonso's drums exclusively, as does Seamus Egan of Ceolas.
Alfonso makes fairly small drums -- 16 inches, 14 inches, and even smaller -- but they have a big sound with enormous dynamic range. He uses absolutely the best skins I've ever seen, and a custom-made heavy-gauge brass tuning mechanism. His website contains pictures of his work.
Alfonso is also an accomplished performer. Mark Stone retails Alfonso drums.
Anderson makes tunable drums and tippers. His drums are laminated ash with goatskin heads, removable crossbar, and tuned with eight externally-mounted banjo tensioning bolts. He sent me a picture. He's asking $250, which is a good price for a good tunable drum. I'd appreciate any reviews of his work.
His tippers are turned from bocote, a dense gold hardwood with black grain. He will make them to your specifications for $18. A selection of his tippers is available at Artichoke Music in Portland.
Bodhrán maker since 1989. Latest models feature 'through the shell' tuning, with a choice of cross bars, a single bar or no bars at all. Supplies parts (frames and skins) to other bodhran makers. Also runs drummaking workshops.
Handmade drums with solid wood bodies and natural skins, decorated with veneer, limed finish, or paint. They generally make drums 14, 16, and 18 inches in diameter. They also make a wide variety of beaters.
Ken Larson recommends Boreal drums, made by Steve Sleight. He says: "They make bodhráns with nice strong light shells out of white oak with comfortable square cross bars, and the skins are of a reletively good quality. I've owned 2 of them in my 12 years of bodhrán playing and they've worked very well for me. Their bodhráns were priced in the $120 to $150 range the last time I checked."
Lark in the Morning and Elderly include Boreal drums in their catalogues.
I found this company in the Ceolas Celtic archive mail-order database. He advertises custom crafted bodhrans of one-piece wood with goatskin heads.
Acknowledged as one of the finest bodhrán-makers in the US, Buck makes drums from 13 to 22 inches in diameter, in two depths, with fixed, removable, or no cross bars, and with fixed or tunable skins. The tunable drum has a tuning ring on the inside of the shell, attached to the inner supporting ring. This option is only for the serious player: These drums were priced at $350 to $400 two years ago. Ken Larson notes that these are heavy drums, but he uses this one exclusively.
"I bought my own drum from Buck. It is an 18" drum with a solid, white oak body, walnut cross-bars, and a goatskin head. The edge of the body is curved where the skin lies against it, which will lengthen the life of the skin. One of my favorite features of the drum is an inner-supporting ring on which the skin rests. This provides a fairly large, flat area on which to play rim-shots without cutting the skin against the corner of the body. The skin on my drum doesn't deal well with high humidity, but I love it just the same."
Take a look at some pictures of Buck drums.
Buck also sells instructional tapes and books, excellent carrying-cases made to fit their drums, and a range of other musical instruments.
I have their January 1993 price list on-line; and Lark in the Morning includes Buck drums in their on-line catalogue. Mark Stone retails Buck drums, as do Andy's Front Hall and House of Musical Traditions.
Tommy Hayes considers Byrne the greatest bodhrán maker in the world. Johnny McDonagh gets drumheads from Byrne and has used his drums. Jesse Winch and Mark Stone use Byrne drums and swears by them.
Buying a drum from Charlie Byrne is an experience in itself. I'm told that you ahve to get by his wife first, and that you don't get to see Charlie unless you convince her that you're worth his time. If you do, you should be expecting to be there for the afternoon. Tommy Hayes tells a story of trying out every drum in the shop, not finding one that was quite right, and finally convincing Charlie to show him the one hidden upstairs under the bed.
On IRTRAD-L, Cliff Moses wrote some say [he] is the quintessential Irish bodhran maker of the last 30-35 years. He always has a supply of drums of different sizes, thicknesses, with/without hair, and now has a tuneable version I'm told. The ones with hair use a short-haired skin from the Netherlands. Kevin Rumery wrote I bought one of his donkey hide drums from him during the Willie Clancy school (actually in Miltown Malbay) in 1989. Several of us in the group purchased drums, and they are alive and well in Colorado. Bernard Argent noted Charlie cures his own goat skins, which are heavier than many. So his drums hold up in damp conditions better than most.
I've had the great pleasure to play two drums made by Byrne, and I agree that they are the finest drums I've seen. A trip to Ireland is definitely on the agenda.
I have a pricelist that Byrne recently gave to a customer.
I am told that they have a good reputation among local musicians, and that their drums are less expensive than imported ones.
Cooperman makes a variety of very fine drums with solid shells, and will take custom orders. Tommy Hayes likes their drums, but thinks they use poor skins. Peter Irvine has two drums: a 14" drum with a 5/16" thick ash shell, 4" deep, 10 tuning points (metal screws), 1 handle 2" from the head to the top of the handle; the head is a thick Australian goatskin; and a 16" drum with ash shell, slightly thicker than 1", no tuning points, 1 handle, with a plastic fiberskyn head that has been blowtorched to give it texture.
Lark in the Morning, Crafton, and Elderly include Cooperman drums in their catalogues.
Davies makes his double-laminated rims and crossbars from ash and mounts the goatskin heads through a leather rand. I have his price list.
CJ Dixon's drums are tunable (solid brass tuning mechanism) and made from your choice of either Maple or Red Oak. The rim's are laminated from solid wood (no ply) and have a goatskin head. Bodhran's are custom made to suit each individual... available in a variety of sizes and depths, with or without arm access cutout and with or without a cross brace. Tippers are also custom made to each customer's personal preference and made from African Blackwood, Cocobolo, Rosewood or Maple.
Richard Griffiths told me about Doyle. Richard wrote A very nice drum - 18 inch, 6 inch rim (took a while to get used to), with the rim being covered in leather. [the leather covering] gives it a nice bass sound while still being able to hear the higher tones. He does take his time. It took a year from ordering it to finally getting it (a postal strike in Galway didn't help either).
Eckermann has developed a tuning system that can best be described as "through the rim" as it intrudes on neither the inside or the outside of the drum.
Spencer makes tippers to order in a variety of hardwoods, charges $15 to $55, and promises delivery in two weeks.
Werthmann is an instrument maker who recently added bodhráns to his product list. His drums are made from laminated layered oak plywood with goatskin heads. He plans to make solid oak drums soon and is working on a system for tunable drums using a hidden inlayed tuning ring. He will make customized drums to order. His 18 inch drums sell for $275 Canadian plus shipping.
Greg Taylor reports good things about Gormlie drums: [I] was impressed by the sound and workmanship. Gormlie uses a good internal tuning system. Greg's opinion is supported by Tommy Hayes, who owns a Gormlie drum and calls him his second favorite drummaker. Johnny McDonagh says that Gormlie made the first tunable bodhráns, on McDonagh's suggestion.
Grady was an early participant in Celtic fusion music, and has been making bodhráns since 1975. His drums are used by Touchstone and by Mark Stone.
His flier says: He used first grade heavy goat or calf skin making sure that none bear blemishes and knicks [sic] that may adversely affect [sic] it later. The rims are made of top quality maple, fitted with a single padded dowel. ... Mance's wide assortment of tippers come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and woods such as ebony, cocbolo, bubinga, cherry, mahogany, maple, padauk, purpleheart, poplar, oak, teak, zebra, and walnut...
I saw two of his drums recently, when I heard him play at Sam McGuire's in the Bronx, NY. I took some pictures. They are truly lovely instruments, both in their music and in the craftsmanship that went into them. Both were tunable, 18 and 22 inches, with elaborate knotwork designs painted on the rims. He uses an interesting tuning mechanism: six or eight screws, controlling separate pieces of a tuning ring (rather than a single, solid ring around the entire skin). This construction allows him to tune the skin differently at points around the drum.
Grady also makes his own beaters, including a lovely brush stick, with less than an inch of brush protruding from each end of a rather thick beater. I tried this stick, and I loved the sound. He also sells an instructional video. I have his price list as of April 1995.
O'Grady makes drums for Fiddler's Green Music.
Handmade, tunable bodhráns, from 12.5 to 18 inches, with goatskin heads. Kress offers a range of options and will build custom-ordered drums.
"I use one of his bodhrans, at sessions and when teaching at the Bristol Hibernia Centre. A superbly made instrument with top-quality skin, tunable, and very playable. Not wishing to drop names but the same day I bought mine from Gerhard, Ciaran Boyle bought one too - I consider that to be a good enough recommendation." - Chris Caton (5/2001)
Hall makes a variety of ceramic instruments, including a circular didjeridu with a drumskin stretch on it, like a bodhrán. He has a picture and some recordings.
Halpin has patented a new design for tunable bodhráns. He uses a thicker rim, and runs the tuning screws through the rim itself. The tuning ring is set into the upper edge of the rim. I saw a couple of his drums recently, and I recommend them as excellent, professional-quality drums.
More recently, I spoke with Jesse Winch, who is using one of Halpin's tunable drums. He is very pleased with it. Most interestingly, Halpin has started making drums with tanned goatskin heads; the head on Winch's drum seemed to be a particular heavy skin, as well. Winch says that this gives him a very soft sound.
"His drums have an extremely heavy goatskin which is treated a special way and, combined with his excellent woodwork, helps produce a truly unique bodhran sound: rich, deep yet soft. If you need volume, his drum has it in abundance. If you want something soft and rich, his instrument offers that as well. I have drums by him, Michael Vignoles and Malachy Kearns, and Fred's have the greatest sound range. I have two of his and they're tremendous. At a recent concert which our band Glencoulee gave, many in the audience loved the sound of Fred's drum enough to come up during breaks and ask me about it. That actually has happened a few times. Fred has also been making extra large drums recently and I tried his 27" one about two weeks ago. It had a remarkable range. Terrific drum. I expect I will add it to my collection down the line." - D'Arcy Kavanagh (3/2001) (Glencoulee)
Gary Stone bought Len McEchren's designs, and now produces a bodhrán kit which is sold by Andy's Front Hall. Andy herself describes it thus: The kits that Gary makes are of the highest quailty and easily put together. The bodhrán kit, or course, is not a state of the art bodhrán, but the materials are excellent. The rim is laminated, not solid and that accounts for the better price. It does have a goat skin head.
Hougaard has been making drums for about a year and selling them locally for about 900 NKr. He prepares his own skins, and makes various-sized bodies from birch, ash, and beech. He uses Viking-inspired decoration on some drums, and will take special orders. His website has some great pictures.
Howard has been making natural-skinned bodhr&accute;ns for some time. Greg Taylor writes that he likes his Howard 18" tunable, particular the single cross bar and the heavy skin. Currently, Howard is co-operating with Remo to make top-quality synthetic-headed and all-synthentic bodhráns; the first drums are due in December 1998.
Howard sells backsliders, his own version of the slide bar, and invented a similar tool with bristles called a bodhsnare. There's a description on one of his pages.
His web site advertises an on-line catalogue. Soar Valley Music carries the full range of Howard bodhráns; Lark in the Morning and Hobgoblin Music carry some of his drums.
Hudson makes drums and tippers. His makes laminated hardwood bodies in three sizes, with goatskin or deerskins heads and an internal tuning system. He makes ebony and rosewood tippers, for $25 to $30. For drums, he charges $355 to $415. These prices were quoted in October 1999.
David Shaughnessy, from Kansas City and writing on IRTRAD-L, owns a Hudson tuneable bodhrán, 16" by 4", with one removable crossbar, made from paduke and maple. It cost him $350, but he considers it a good buy. He wrote Gary Hudson is first a craftsman. He has hand made flutes and whistles for many years. He also makes bodhrans and tippers. ... If his price is too high for you, spend $25 for his tippers, they are great!
Jackson makes professional-quality drums. He's got pictures of some lovely work on his website.
Andrew MacAoidh-Dall passed on a recommendation from Steafan Hannigan. Tommy Hayes recently gave me a strong recommendation for Heather's drums.
Roundstone drums are very good. They range from good starter drums to professional quality. Kearns started making drums in 1976, training with Peadar Mercier, of The Chieftains. He made the bodhráns for Riverdance, and Christy Moore uses his drums exclusively. I have a couple photos of Kearns and his drums.
Henry Geraghty recommends Roundstone drums. Roundstone makes a full range of drums, including internal tunable models. They also sell teaching books, cassettes, and videos, cases, and sticks.
Many vendors sell Roundstone drums. You can find on-line listings at Lark in the Morning and Hobgoblin Music. Matthew Newby bought a Roundstone internal tunable from them for only $165.
He writes that he makes 18 inch drums with a goat-skin head, tunable ($290 US) and non-tunable ($185 US), and invites people to his website for more details.
Maguire has reportedly made drums for Kevin Conneff, Bob Dylan, U2, the Everly Brothers, and Mick Jagger. He makes them in different sizes, tunable or not, and will paint any design your want on the skin. He leaves a little goat fur on the head; this is his trademark. As of 1992, he was asking about £80 for a bodhrán, £15 for a case, and £20 to ship to the US. Tim Taylor, who provided this information, has two of Maguire's drums and is very pleased with them.
Gerard Robinson tells me that they are a husband and wife team, who make various folk instruments. He sent me a picture of his drum, made with a Marcus frame.
McCool makes tippers from a variety of woods (Irish oak, Parana pine, mahogany).
Edward Max dropped me a line to tell me about McCormack, who he says makes superb goats, much in the style of Charlie Byrne or Eamonn Maguire, if not better. He makes drums 10 to 22 inches, tunable or not, and cures his own skins.
McCort makes drums for Chris Caswell; Greg Taylor tells me that they are excellent instruments in both sound and workmanship. McCort makes Y-shaped crossbars, which Greg feels allows the off hand to move more freely across the skin.
McGarrigle has been making high end professional bodhrans for a number of years for the local market in Strabane Co Tyrone in Northern Ireland. He has now launched his own range of 16" and 17 1/2" bodhrans in a range of colours. He also makes special custom made instruments to order and can be contacted at www.bannabodhrans.com.
McNeela makes drums for the Dublin-based group Kila. He makes drums ranging from 10 to 18 inches in diameter, 3.5 to 4 inches in depth, with light to medium thickness goatskin heads, stained hardwood bodies and removable crossbraces, hand-painted Celtic designs, single row brass tack with fabric lining underneath, and a tipper included with each drum. Customized drums can be specially ordered.
A friend, Joe Mulvanerty, reviewed his drums: These are interesting drums... comparable to Malachy Kearns' instruments.
Custom-made tunable drums, priced around $400. Can anyone tell me more?
Mog (as he names himself) has provided drums to Steaphan Hannigan and to Gino Lupari. Lupari endorses Moggy's drums enthusiastically. Andrew MacAoidh-Dall passed on this recommendation from Steafan Hannigan. Andrew says:
I tried his Moggy-made drum which he likes very much. It had a thick, quite flexible goatskin head, but the most unusual features were its diameter, only about 15-16" compared to the standard 18"; and its depth, about 6" or more ... noticeably deeper than usual. It had no cross-bracing of any kind and was tunable. The drum had a wide range of tones and sounded quite jazzy in an almost Brazilian way!
I finally saw one of Murphy's drums when I went to hear Moving Cloud. Their bodhranist, Kevin Crawford, plays one of Murphy's drums. The drum had a particularly deep and hollow sound. It wasn't one of the more polished drums I've seen -- the skin was simply tacked onto the body, with the edge left exposed -- but Crawford certainly made lovely music on it.
I met Ron Murphy at the 1995 Comhaltas convention, where he was demonstrating the art of bodhrán-making. This alone prejudiced me in favor of his drums, but they are worth every bit of admiration. He uses ash for the rim, selects and prepares his own billygoat skins, and makes them with great skill. The drums I saw were not tunable, and had a single crossbar, slightly bowed toward the skin. He was charging $120, which is a good price for these professional-quality drums. He also makes beaters and bones, which he sells for $7 to $10. Henry Geraghty recommends Murphy's drums very highly. An article about Murphy's work appeared in the Spring 1995 issue of Ontario Craft (p.7), which is available from the Canadian Magazine Publishers Association.
Norton works out of Toronto, and also teaches. Her page includes a pricelist.
O'Connell makes drums in a variety of sizes, tunable and non-tunable, with natural skins. In early 2000, his prices ranged from £90 to £190. He also makes tippers and drum bags. He also publishes Janet McCrickard's book The Bodhrán. His drums are available through Custy's Music.
Pope makes and sells a variety of instruments, including bodhráns.
Clive made drums in the 1980s and early 1990s. He's not making drums any more, but would be happy to hear from old friends and customers.
Remo makes synthetic-headed bodhráns. Until recently, they used fiberskyn heads, but they have switched to Reemlar, a treated mylar head which they market under the brand names Legacy. They make 4" deep, 16" and 18" diameter bodhráns with Legacy heads and Acousticon shells. They also carry a couple bodhráns designed for other styles of play: a 22" Glen Velez model with a smooth white mylar head, intended for Middle Eastern style drumming, and a 22" Mickey Hart model, with one of a selection of New Age designs on the head, apparently intended to be beaten with a leather mallet, as in Native American drumming. I have price listings from April 1995.
Brian makes tippers and also sells tutoring books, videos, and tapes. He also gives workshops.
Retailing and making bodhráns; he hasn't given me any details.
Stuart makes a variety of musical instruments, and has been making
tunable bodhráns since 1994. His website includes
of his bodhráns and sticks.
His bodhrán clients include Donal Lunny, (16" and 23" tuneable), and Christy Moore, (18" tuneable).
Millen makes a variety of drums, including a fixed-headed goatskin bodhrán, 18 to 20 inches, solid oak frame, for $160 to $185.
I saw one of their drums for sale at the House of Musical Traditions table at the 1995 Comhaltas convention. It was imported by Saga Musical Instruments. In my judgement, it was a poor instrument, though it was nicely decorated. At $105, it was not a good buy; you could get the same quality for considerably less. A reader of these pages wrote to me to agree: He owns A Tipperary drum and found it poorly constructed.
Wendelin makes tunable 16", 18", 20", and 22" bodhráns; other sizes by special order. He uses pine or white ash bodies and Remo Fiberskyn 2 or natural skin heads (goat, sheep, calf, or reindeer). His prices run $200 to $300.
We've received several enthusiastic letters about Vignoles and his
drums. It sounds like he's doing top-quality work.
"Brilliant. Vignoles makes tunable drums, solidly made, and charges about 90 punt. He does business out of a small kiosk in the main shopping mall in Galway City Center, where he also makes uillean pipes." ... Rolf Wagels
"...his quality is clearly the best I've seen. The bodhrans are
simply beautiful, in function, sound and design." ... Rebecca Almand
"His drum, which he just made for me recently, is a
lovely instrument, in appearance and tone. Because I prefer a heavier
skin and a slightly softer sound, he came up with a product that gives
me exactly what I want. I cannot recommend his work highly enough. Great
to deal with, too. He added an extra touch: a one-inch leather strap
around the drum edge featuring Celtic designs. Dramatic." ... D'Arcy Kavanagh (3/2001) (Glencoulee)
"He makes a wonderful instrument, and will do custom orders...(as he did for me). He does great work and delivers in a very timely fashion. I recommend him very highly." ... Pastor Mark Bray (5/2001)
US distributor: Walton Music Inc., 500 Saw Mill River Road, Yonkers,
phone (914) 375-4309, fax (914) 375-4319, firstname.lastname@example.org, website
Elderly Instruments and Hobgoblin Music carry some Waltons drums. Henry Geraghty described them as lousy drums, but they have reportedly developed a new line of professional-quality drums, tunable and non-tunable, that will be introduced in mid-1999.
Wappel is an artist specializing in hand painted bodhrans. Many designs to select from on his website but he will take custom orders. The drums he sells are from Pakistan but if you send him your drum, turn around time is usually two days.
Han Speek reports on IRTRAD-L that White's drums are played and promoted by Donal Lunny. Johhny McDonagh (pictured here) uses a drum made by White, with a head from Charlie Byrne. White cures his own skins, which he gets from a local slaughterhouse, and makes both tunable and non-tunable drums in various sizes; they are available in Europe, Ireland, and the US. Rolf Wagels wrote to me with enthusiastic praise of White's drums. He told me that White is making double-skinned, i.e., two skins stretched one atop the other. Wagels writes that it is a different sound altogether, which is hard to describe, strange, sort of fluffy, ... and sometimes quite powerful.
I've got some pictures of one of his drums.
Brian Kessler from Vermont wrote in April 1999 to tell me about Wright's drums, which he says are fairly popular around Dublin. Wright makes tunable drums to order from laminated birch stained a variety of colors, with calf-skin heads. He charges around Ir £150. He recently made what he called The World's Largest Bodhrán, at 15½ feet in diameter! It's a bodhran on one side and a lambeg on the other.
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Last updated 18 Dec 2000