bell·weth·er --- One that serves as a leader or as a leading indicator of future trends
Testamonial from Jake W-
Not long ago in the world of drum building, achieving unique did not require much. Cut a big hole in the shell, slap some bright orange hardware on there, and suddenly you’re hip and creative. Which isn’t to discredit the early pioneers of the industry, but their original innovations were lost with a misunderstanding of their values, as well as in a shift towards leopard pattern wraps and 220 ply thick shells. However, as a backlash to these trends, the scene adopted a new challenge, as drummers educated themselves and began demanding specifications and a level of detailed customization previously unknown to the major companies. Now each potential builder can access a myriad of options and parts, somewhat homogenizing the array of companies a drummer can choose from, making an individual’s dream drum available from many different competitors. On top of that, a number of these companies are doing it well. Really well. Yet, that original handcrafted, artisan flair of old-world instruments still remains all but lost. Enter Bellwhether drums.
At the core of Bellwhether drums is one man, a veritable virtuoso of a craftsman, Tony Kessler. Wielding nothing more than his hands and classic machinery, he applies his knowledge and skill to craft sonic art from raw materials. That’s right, every drum is built top to bottom by him. In fact, any part of his drums that he does not build himself, he will still enhance with his own unique touch. This is by no means a case of an assembler, a company that buys stock parts and throws them together. No, Tony captures the experience one would have treasured centuries ago, visiting the village luthier and watching an heirloom lute fashioned out of the choicest woods. He combines his prodigious skill as a craftsman with an awareness for modern advancements and capabilities to achieve a product of such extraordinary visual splendor, it can only be exceeded by its auditory superiority. While each instrument’s physical magnificence is clearly undeniable, the incredible sound and feel produced by each drum is absolutely unparalleled. Superb articulation, an infinite depth of tone, colors, and textures, and, most impressively, a level of sensitivity never before realized. The term “functional art” only just begins to describe the opulence of a Bellwhether drum.
I remember asking Tony where the name came from. Originally I assumed Bellwhether was his last name, which it turns out it’s not. He explained to me that a Bellwhether is “one who leads or indicates trends”. I can safely say, after having spent months with my Bellwhether snare, that there is no better name for his company. But it’s more than that. As I got to know Tony while I enjoyed the privilege of witnessing the creation of my drum, I learned that “Bellwhether” is more than just an ideal he strives for. It’s a commitment. With every drum he builds, every instrument he crafts, he will continue to reinvent himself and push the frontiers of the drum world, all while reawakening that lost charm of a handcrafted instrument. This is an experience you will find nowhere else in the world of drum building. This is unique.