You might say it started with a childhood dream to play drums in the band, and now Britt Boyette handcrafts beautiful snare drums at his Salem Street Drum Company shop in Wilson, NC. The construction is unique and sometimes he uses reclaimed wood from an old tobacco barn or farm house that lends a unique sound and character beloved by world-renowned drummers and collectors alike.
[The drums] have a little more personality. The wood seems to have been somewhere, and it’s got a little history behind it and it’s totally unique.
Boyette received his first drum set in 1987, and instantly fell in love. Then in 1989, when Boyette took up woodworking, the idea to craft drums of his own was set into motion. With his skill and some encouragement from friends, what started as a unique hobby, turned into a successful career.
“It’s kind of a personal thing, making one of [the drums],” Boyette said. “If you know the drummer who bought it, and you know what kind of music he likes to play and you know what it’s going to be used for, you put your heart in it a little. It’s very gratifying to hear someone make music with it.”
World-renowned percussionist Jeff Sipe, from Brevard, NC, is one of Boyette’s loyal customers.
“His Salem Street drum is just a joy to play, and the fact that it’s made here in North Carolina, it’s special to me,” Sipe said.
The wood that Boyette uses to craft each drum, also makes them particularly special. While taking a drive through Pitt County one day, Boyette saw an old barn being torn down and asked the farmer if he could have a couple of the boards. The farmer said yes, and now reclaimed wood from old tobacco barns is a mainstay in Boyette’s drums.
Boyette said, “When you cut into it you can smell the tobacco that had been in [the barn] one hundred years or more.”
With its scent, look and feel, the reclaimed wood carries with it a bit of North Carolina history.
“[The drums] have a little more personality. The wood seems to have been somewhere, and it’s got a little history behind it and it’s totally unique,” Boyette said.
That uniqueness is what continues to bring percussionists around the world to the Salem Street Drum Company.