The Eggstar Drum


The idea for this drum first came to me many years ago while watching my mom, Lola Rokeach, refinish a table with eggshells. Yes, actual eggshells! The finish looked very striking to me, and I thought that it would look pretty cool on a drum.When I mentioned it to her about a year ago, her response was "Well, bring me a drum." My mom, in addition to raising eight kids, is quite an accomplished artist. She's done everything from sculpture, to painting, to rug making, and oh yes, furniture refinishing. She celebrated her 80th birthday last June. She was pretty confident that the eggshell finish would work on a drum. I wasn't so sure, but I thought that it would be worth a try.

I didn't want to use just any old drum. I had to get something special. I'm a Yamaha endorser, but I didn't want to bug them about doing a custom made one-off that might or might not work anyway. Besides, I was thinking about a single--ply solid shell for this project, and Yamaha has yet to offer one (I hope that they do someday). I did want to get someone involved who knew something about drum finishes.My mom lives just outside of New York City in the small town of Harrington Park, NJ. On one of my recent trips back there, I visited my old friend Neil Richter, also a drummer, also from Harrington Park, NJ. He told me that he had recently reconnected with yet another drummer from Harrington Park, Rob Kampa. Readers of this newsletter may know about Rob from his drum company Magstar, and his work with DrumMaker. Rob is known as one of the best drum craftsmen in the country. I had read rave reviews of Rob's custom drums over the years, in Modern Drummer magazine and on the internet. I also knew Rob when I was a kid.Between Fall of 1969 and Spring of 1970, I played in the percussion section of the Harrington Park School band with Neil and Rob. They were in eighth grade, I was in fifth. Rob, Neil, and another Harrington Park drummer named Mike Murtaugh, who was already in high school by this time, were the best drummers around. I thought that those guys were about the coolest dudes that ever lived. Getting to hang out with them definitely helped plant the seeds of my desire to be a drummer early on.Rob has been living in Nashville for the past few years, but still gets up to New Jersey every once in a while to visit family.

The more I thought about it, the more I came to realize that Rob would be the perfect guy to help make this happen, If he'd be willing. He could even get together with my mom and figure out the woodworking logistics if necessary. Well, Rob and I reconnected on the phone. Once we got to talking about drums, we decided to order a 5.5 x 14 solid shell from Vaughncraft. Vaughncraft sent a shell that was so beautifully figured that it would have been a crime to cover up the wood grain. I loved the shell but had planned to let it go. My wife and two daughters knew how much I hated to let that amazing shell go. They decided to have Rob build it for me as a Christmas present. So Rob built an incredible drum with a beautiful soft gloss finish, ten tube lugs, and a trick strainer. It looks and sounds fantastic. Merry Christmas!But we were still left with the task of finding a shell for the egg drum. We didn't want to order another solid shell. It seemed crazy to ask for one that was crappy-looking so that we could cover it. So we decided to use one of Rob's eight-ply Keller shells that he had already stained black. I had heard great things about Rob's multi-ply drums. This seemed to make the most sense. I had sent Rob some photos of a table that my mom had done her eggshell magic on. After seeing the photos, he suggested that we use black hardware for contrast.He sent the shell up to my mom in New Jersey. I still wasn't sure if the eggshell thing was going to work on a drum. I could tell that Rob was a bit skeptical too. My mom seemed to be the only one who was sure that it would work.She got going on it. Eggshells-- lots of eggshells, Elmer's glue, and ten coats of varnish. I was worried that the eggshells might be easily knocked off, but she told me, "Those eggshells aren't going anywhere."

Then she sent it back to Rob. He put all of the hardware on, and here it is. The drum has eight tube lugs, triple flanged hoops, forty-five degree bearing edges, and a trick strainer. The EGGSTAR has been hatched! It sounds great and looks eggstraordinary! It's got plenty of crack, and it's high in calcium too!I'm eggstatic about it!

-Dave Rokeach


David RokeachDavid Rokeach is a freelance drummer in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has played with Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Charlie Musselwhite, Mark Murphy, Rita Moreno, Merl Saunders, Aaron Neville, Patti Labelle,The Rubinoos, The Broadway Show Jersey Boys, Holly Near,and many others. He has been a faculty member at Jazz Camp West, The Stanford Jazz Workshop, Lafayette Summer Music Camp and The Jazzschool in Berekeley. You can visit his website at