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Welcome drum enthusiast!

Here at AVA DRUMS I (mainly) make stave drums in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Stave drums are constructed with solid pieces of wood in their natural state, unlike most mass produced drum shells that use a ply construction.

Staves cut to length ready for building have an actual note.. hold it gently between forefinger and thumb and tap it, it generates a tone, just like a xylophone.  Stave shells use less glue than ply and the wood isn’t under constant tension like ply. Furthermore this type of build results in the grain running vertically from skin to skin…  This transduces head vibration into shell resonance giving stave drums quite a differentiating sound to their ply counterparts.

Stave shells will cut through like a metal shell in terms of volume, but have a warmer tone just like a regular wood shell.    The hardness of the wood will play a big part in the fundamental tone it produces. Harder woods will give a higher pitch and softer woods will give a lower pitch. Shell thickness will also play a part in the sound produced.

The stave production process utilizes custom made in-house tooling on an 8 cutterhead axial constant cnc moulder.

I can machine to within +/- 0.05mm accuracy to achieve a stave with an interlocking profile, that when assembled can retain the flat outer sides of the stave.
This gives the drum quite a unique look!

The inner side is also machined to have the radius cut into the stave resulting in a perfectly round inner circle when assembled in our mold.

Check out the one pass process from raw wood to the ready to assemble stave in the video below.


Here you can see the interlocking profile that’s machined into each stave. This allows for precision alignment during glue up to retain the flat outer sides of the staves when assembled. The top and bottom reveal is then machined round for the skin to seat.


Another available option is added reinforcement rings.

These rings are also stave construction with interlocking joints. Its basically like making a shallow depth shell with slightly less diameter then slicing it in half and machining it to be a snug fit into the main shell. A regular reinforcement ring is normally a flat piece of wood that has a scarf joint and is literally forced outwards to make a tight joint between the ring and shell. These AVA rings are standalone components that are designed to support the shell and not interfere with its low tension stave properties.

These rings are not easy to implement but worth the effort as it will retain the low tension within the shell. A horizontal grained ring and a vertical grained shell will fight each other, seen it with my own R&D!

Both pieces having vertical grain means the ring and shell will move in unison if subjected to humidity swings.

“Why not just mill the rings into the shell like other builders do??” This method will add extra security against a potential unseen hidden flaw or weak spot within the wood and increase durability.





After the addition of reinforcement rings I thought the thickness of the shell at the bearing edges was a bit too much for a full round over so I designed a little ogee shaped cutter to allow a full round over bearing edge. This keeps the rounded diameter to a total of 3/8″ then curves away through the reinforcement ring.

This really sets the drum up for a really fat sound. Gets a lot of shell to head contact and helps absorbs unwanted overtones right into the shell. Do not waste energy through some sort of external dampening, use it to bring the shell to life!  This Edge can be added to the batter side of a snare and will be used exclusively on all toms and bass drums.



After a lot of trial and error and many hours of design with help from a few special friends along the way, I now have our proprietary custom machined AVA drum lugs.

These were designed to have a self-aligning feature that would avoid tension rod splay and keep everything nice and true.  Tension rod splay is a no no here at AVA.

AVA lugs are machined on a 5 axis CNC mill from billet aluminum to the highest of standards, precision and tolerances. Almost NASA quality!

They have an indexed stainless steel “piston” insert that can travel to/from the shell to aid with alignment.

These lugs can be anodised in a variety of colours and they also have laser cut gaskets for a really tidy fit to the shell.

Are these the best lugs in the world?



My aim is precision made, high quality, great sounding drums with a unique twist.!


There are many options regarding depths, bearing edges, species and finishings. Please message with desired spec.


New on offer are cast metal shells and hoops. Available in Bronze, Brass, Aluminum, Stainless steel and Copper.. All sizes and depths- please inquire!

Prices are in Canadian $$$

Custom, made to order drums.. What do you want?

Craig McKean

AVA Drums


Check out these stave kits!