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  • Fred Smith

How to Turn an Apple Box into a Drum Set

Having spent nearly 10 years working in the film production industry, I’ve logged my fair share of downtime, sitting on apple boxes and tapping my fingers into their unique wood patterns searching for a timbre only drummers can fully understand.

One day I decided to take a pair of sticks to a weathered apple box that looked like it had endured more hours on film sets than Michael Caine. It was love at first double-stroke roll. No matter where I struck the box, I discovered another tone. I began applying rudiments around the box’s surface. Before long I was making music.

One of our recent commercial shoots took us to a Sam Ash music store. There I played a cajon with an inverted kick pedal which turned the box you sit on and play with your hands or sticks into a working bass drum.

The idea for the apple box drum set was conceived.

For the video above, I took my bass pedal and placed it against the apple box. Then I placed my hit-hat in the usual position and rounded out the kit by placing a metal colander on the floor next to the box. This was my ride.

Assuming you already have a drum set (and therefore own a bass pedal, hi-hat and drum throne), the apple box kit I played in the above video would cost less than $40- and that’s if you go all out and buy an official Mathew’s Apple box. A stainless steel colander can be had for less than $7. Be wary if you rob one from the kitchen cabinet, lest you unleash the lady of the house’s wrath upon returning it with a drummer’s touch.

The moral of the story here is that tones exist in every physical surface around us. Find some and make your music.

Another note: I used ?uestlove’s signature drum sticks in the video. At 17 inches, these sticks have never felt right for me when playing a traditional set. However the extra reach proved to be an advantage on the apple box kit.

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