Skip to content

Welcome drum enthusiast!


Craig here at AVA DRUMS I (mainly) build stave drums in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

The aim is to build drums to the best of my ability, using the best materials and unique techniques, that result in fantastic sounding drums!

From lumber selection right the way through to the most high end Italian finishings, I got you!



This is the standard joint on all my stave drums. The cutter for this profile was designed and made in-house for one purpose, AVA drums.

Here you can see the T&G 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.




In an effort to evolve the simple stave drum I now offer some different models of stave construction.



This is a regular straight up AVA stave shell with custom in-house tongue and groove joints.

Only available in 3/4″+ shell thickness due to fragility concerns.




This is a straight style AVA stave shell with stave re-rings added for extra durability.

This is my most popular construction method. 11mm shell with maple rings.

This shell has a 1mm piece of flat horizontal grained maple in between the stave shell and stave re-ring.

This piece adds even more strength but it still allows the shell to expand/contract just like a normal stave drum.

A year long experiment with this construction had pleasing results, an unfinished shell that was exposed to the crazy humidity swings here in Alberta was able to shift without any harm or distortion to the shell.

I have also developed the STABLE-STAVE model from a different angle now too… 45 degrees to be precise!

This design utilizes reinforcement rings with the grain and glue lines running at 45 degrees to the main shell.

The idea here is there’s no natural fault line so the strength of the shell is enhanced significantly.

But, the rings should have enough movement to let the shell breathe due to differing environmental conditions.



This shell has 5mm thick staves. This model now also utilize the 45 degree re-ring design

The re-rings have the the grain and glue lines running at 45 degrees to the main shell.
Rings are approximately 1″ thick on this model drum.

Check out the video below for shell strength.


This build was inspired by acoustic guitar construction.
Thin shell/body like a thin acoustic sound board and using the reinforcement rings as the stability/structure.
Double ended tube lugs evenly disperse tension load.
Responsive and super articulate.
From a whisper to a roar,
Defies many assumed logics!
Combines the projection of a thicker shell with the body and dexterity of a thinner shell






Inner and outer vertical grained pieces house a thin horizontal center piece for maximum strength and stability.

The SUPER-STAVE is designed specifically for ultimate durability, but also allows me to run the shell a little thinner than I would normally be comfortable with, makes for a great sounding drum. All toms and Bass drums use this construction method by default.

This design is incredibly strong, the center cross lamination pieces increase stave strength tremendously. To test this I have driven over test pieces, and put the staves in a vice and smashed on them with a hammer. Crazy strong!

The actual secret here is the horizontal cross lamination pieces are thin enough to let the entire shell flex and not focus any trauma back to the joint.







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 small dimension, 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 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 from different hoop selection and keep everything nice and true.  Tension rod splay is a no no here at AVA. I find that some triple flanged hoops and die-cast hoops often have different hole spacings, problem solved!

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 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?




These can be made with AVA STRIKE-PLATES installed in the areas that see the most abuse.

Can be cut from 3.2mm phenolic or carbon-fibre!

The hoops have a recess machined into them to house these pieces.

The plates sit just proud of the hoop surface to take the stick impact.





Available in Bronze, Brass, Aluminum and Copper.. All sizes and depths- please inquire!

All cast shells have AVA OCD edges and beds cut in-house.

AVA faceted cast hoops available for 14″ snare builds.




Acrylic shells available now too, in-house AVA OCD edges and beds!





These shells are available in 14×5.5 and 14×6.5 and can be anodized in a variety of colours

These shells have a SUPER-STAVE resonant snare side added.

The addition of the wood to the shell allows me to use my own snare bed profile.

The idea behind this approach is to remove some of the high end tinny frequencies and replace them with a little bit more low end.

Anodizing creates a very protective layer that is very scratch resistant, its rated 9 out of 10 on the Mohs hardness scale, meaning its second only to diamond!

All this happens at a molecular level so its as close to being a bare metal as can be, but will have an attractive aesthetic for many years to come. No lacquer or sealer applied.





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.

Prices are in Canadian $$$

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

Craig McKean

AVA Drums


Check out these stave kits!