NOTE: If during your travels on the www and various clubs and discussion
groups, you happen to come across a bastardized quote of what I've said
on this page, especially if the intent is not as I intended it, feel
free to direct readers to this page where they can get the facts straight.
-- Thank you.
- How Good Are They?
What are "endorsements?" The basic definition is "an approval." When a "name" musician authorizes a manufacturer to use their name as a marketing tool for the manufacturer to sell more product.
I always recommend caution, however, if you are solely basing your decision on such an endorsement. Why? Simply because you do not know the extent of the business relationship between the endorser and the endorsee.
While some players feel one manufacturer truly makes a superior product that warrants them to stake their name (and reputation) in support of that maker, this, I feel, represents a small percentage.
The more common relationship between endorser and endorsee is one in which product is traded for advertisement. In other words, some bodhrán makers will give you a drum for free or get you gigs if they're in a position to do so, if you tell others what a great drum they make. This kind of endorsement is unreliable because it is based on business only and not necessarily a truthful disclosure of the quality of the instrument.
As always, my advice is to research, research, research. And, if opportunity presents itself, try different bodhráns out if you can, so you have firsthand knowledge about the kind of product different manufacturer's make. Check for consistency in quality of construction and materials. And also make sure you can get service and satisfaction should you have any questions or problems. Too often I hear of drum makers who feel they have little or no obligation to you or their product once it is sold. I get countless numbers of people trying to sell or trade-in bodhráns that they are simply not happy with, despite the fact that it was endorsed by a "celebrity" musician.
Please let me be clear. There are some really nice bodhráns to be had for the educated shopper. Unfortunately, for every one decent bodhrán maker, there are probably 10 that have only recently started the craft and are rife with misinformation.
- Raw versus Processed
Having been making Bodhráns for almost three decades, I am surprised at how many people are still misled by Johnny-come-lately bodhrán makers that only want to make a quick buck.
Here's the story...the "new" marketing ploy is raw skins are better than processed skins (utter nonsense). There are good skins that are "raw" as well as good skins that are "processed." What you've been reading is more a marketing ploy than anything else.
Another marketing tool that is often used (that I don't buy into) is to mention who uses what bodhráns - I am constantly running into performers who are willing to praise my drums in exchange for my giving them one. I don't do that. I have countless letters and emails from clients praising my bodhráns for their exquisite tonality and beauty.
We all get duped every day and in every way by fads, and sadly, lies. It's up to us to refuse to buy into it and to educate ourselves and question everything.
I was making these drums in the U.S. when most others didn't even know what they were. When it became a musical fad to own one, I had to laugh to see the self-appointed bodhrán gurus (both teachers and so-called drum makers) pop out of the woodwork. Where were they before there was money to be made?
I do it for the tradition first, so this instrument will never be lost. Secondly for the people who urgently need an instrument worthy of being taken seriously, not just because it looks rustic,and not the tourist-model toy which is basically a wall hanging, but the finest, most beautiful, tonally superior bodhrán one can possess. Thirdly, for myself and the satisfaction of making the very best bodhrán (and doing so without ignorantly maligning other makers or misleading my customers) and will maintain that what will outlive everything is the truth.