By Christopher “Flood the Drummer®” Norris
3.29.16: Philadelphia – (Business): My first job ever was as a sales associate at a Guitar Center location in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania. After a year or so, I, at age 19, became the Drum Department Manager, overseeing a small staff of drummers and roughly $2 million in inventory. Among the merchandise I had to market and sell were cool accessories like Moon Gel, little blue gooey squares that muted the drum(s), and Click Hi-hat Tambourines, an attachment that sits atop a cymbal that adds a bit of jingle to the groove.
Many of the accessories we stocked in my department were not just big sellers, but were also really cool inventions. Some of the gear my shop carried made me want to moonlight as a sales representative, or marketing manager, for those brands themselves, retailing the unique accessories at trade shows and chain stores alike and collecting a hefty commission. That feeling of inspiration and excitement for drum gear has, for years, been non-existent, as my life now, as a journalist, activist and CEO, is consumed with publishing deadlines, attending, organizing and/or moderating high-profile events, and political lobbying.
However, today, that long-lost feeling returned when I connected with Mr. Guy Juravich, a 30 year-old American inventor residing in Philadelphia who has created what I believe to be the next big thing in the drum industry: Spinbal, an cymbal sleeve of sorts manufactured in South Philadelphia that, through the creative integration of a skateboard ball-bearing, allows a cymbal to spin on a stand for 10-15 minutes. In order to demo it personally, Mr. Juravich, who reached out to me on Twitter with a link to his Kickstarter, and I met up this afternoon at BridgeSet Sound, a less than three year-old musical instrument retail store at 710 South Street, where the only Spinbal display in the entire City exist.
“It resonated with me right away,” said the music store’s co-owner Mr. Steve Harner, Mr. Juravich’s business partner in the Spinbal venture. “Now drummers will have a reason to come here because there’s something cool for them.”
Mr. Harner, whose lunch was getting cold as he spoke passionately to me about the drum accessory, met Mr. Juravich several years ago when, before BridgeSet Sound opened, the brilliant inventor was waiting outside the store at 3am to help move them in. This past summer Mr. Juravich, after purchasing a skateboard ball-bearing from a nearby shop, pitched the idea to Mr. Harner with no real desire to profit from it. Mr. Harner on the other hand saw the potential of Spinbal and offered to help take it to market.
“There can be a lot of money in this,” Mr. Harner told me, as he summarized his market strategy: first connect with smaller musical instrument stores before aiming for the Guitar Centers of the world, while building out an E-commerce site and fulfilling the orders via the already established infrastructure at BridgeSet Sound.
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Spinbal, a unique and attractive product that’s also discreet, is one of the many impending materializations of genius that Mr. Juravich, who obtained a Bachelors Degree while living in Quebec, plans to present to the world through his company, Neue Gestalt, which in German means new design.
Mr. Juravich was 26 years-old when he, as a gimmick, spent his cymbal on stage during a tour in Dallas, Texas, at the Kessler Theater. He had just finished watching the opening act: a pro Lasso thrower who was manipulating 40 to 50 feet of rope over the audiences’ head.
“It was that circular motion,” he said.
The ideology of Mr. Juravich is that music is just as much about performance as it is art. So, prior to his first spin of the cymbal, Mr. Juravich would knock over his drums, which would excite the crowd. When he spent the cymbal for aesthetics, he realized they sounded different.
“The vibration was different,” he said.
Mr. Juravich, after the tour, thought of, and tried, many things to make his cymbals spin at length. But it wasn’t until a skater bumped into him on South Street did he realize that the size of the bearings inside a skateboard’s wheel would work. The prototype of the Spinbal was made at NextFab, a workshop and co-working space in South Philadelphia that Mayor Jim Kenney toured a few weeks ago. Roughly 10 Spinbals have been produced thus far, and have been given out to particular persons, and another batch is being produced in a week or so, with one reserved for me.
Mr. Juravich and I spent nearly 10 minutes striking the cymbal at the store, a few times with it spinning while draped with a sizzler, several times with it spinning without it, and a few times with no spin at all. A spinning cymbal undoubtedly alters the tone. According to Spinbal’s Kickstarter page:
“Playing a spinning cymbal produced a unique Doppler-Shifting vibrato, tremolo and sustain similar to Vibraphones and rotary speakers such as Leslie cabinets (the big wooden box seated next to organs).”
The Spinbal is most effective on Ride cymbals, or when playing nuanced genres where tonality is wanted and white noise is welcomed. For crashes, or when crashing, the Spinbal doesn’t dramatically alter tones, though, as Mr. Juravich noted, it does look cool.
“It opens a creative medium for drummers that we haven’t had,” Mr. Juravich said of Spinbal.
When Spinbals eventually hit the market en masse, the price point is estimated to be at $9.99. Mr. Juravich, who quit his job in order to focus on Spinbal full-time and who spoke exclusively to Techbook Online about his invention in part because I’m a drummer, is, as soon as possible, hoping to get percussive impresarios, like Mr. Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson of The Roots and Mr. Jojo Mayer, who once played with Ms. Nina Simone, to give his product a spin.
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Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™
About Christopher “Flood the Drummer®” Norris
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