Drum Break

LSU CEE Graduate Designs Hoop for Snare Drums

February 7, 2019

Gabriel Martinez sitting next to his computerBATON ROUGE, LA – When LSU Civil and Environmental Engineering alumnus Gabriel Martinez received his first drum set at the age of 15, he never imagined that one day he would design his own drum hoop. By combining his passion for drumming with his engineering knowledge and skills, Martinez exemplifies what engineers can do outside of their usual realm, combining art and engineering with an entrepreneurial spirit. Martinez is definitely dancing to the beat of his own drum.

“There was no specific inspiration for wanting to play the drums,” Martinez said. “It just felt like a natural draw. I banged on pots when I was little and always had beats in my head. Once I started playing the drums, I became obsessed with it.”

Throughout high school, Martinez practiced drumming about three hours each day, until the time came for him to attend college. Martinez reluctantly sold his drum set to help pay tuition but didn’t give up on his passion.

“I made myself a promise that I would get back into playing drums one day, since I loved it so much,” he said.

After earning his CEE degree from LSU in 2015, Martinez moved to Houston, where he spent three years working for engineering companies such as Versabar Inc. and ExxonMobil. Unfortunately, living in an apartment meant that Martinez still could not own a drum set even though he now had the money to buy one. Once he began working offshore, his chances of drumming on a regular basis grew even slimmer, until fate intervened one day.

“I had just got off of an oil platform in Houston for seven weeks, and my first day back in the office, I get a random call for a project management position in Puerto Rico doing disaster relief [after Hurricane Maria],” he said. “The money and contract were incredible, but it felt like a natural fit to help these people out since I experienced Hurricanes Katrina, Gustav, and Harvey.”

Martinez, a New Orleans native, said there was something about Puerto Rico that inspired him to get back into drumming.

“I had been yearning to get back to playing the drums,” he said. “The island’s natural beauty is relaxing and inspiring. The people are amazing. They’re super sweet and lively. There’s always eating, dancing, and drinking, kind of like Louisiana.”

After nine months on the island, Martinez’s work contract was up, but he found himself not wanting to move back to Houston.

“I loved Puerto Rico so much that I didn’t want to leave,” he said. “I had enough engineering experience, and I was playing the drums again, so it was time to finally design some drum hoops. I want to engineer drums from the ground up. I decided to rewrite the book. I wanted to seek out designing and fabricating the best possible components.”

The snare hoop Martinez designed is made of 6061 T6 aluminum, which is aircraft-grade aluminum that is very different from standard hoops used in the music industry.

“Hoops are typically a cut of high-tension steel, then pressed and rolled,” Martinez said. “So, there are a lot of imperfections that come with that. It’s an unrefined way of doing it, and they’ve been using this technology for 50-60 years now. I decided to use the most premium material and process to make sure this thing is absolutely true, extremely accurate, and precise across the board. It’s pricey and takes a lot of time, so I decided to start off with just the drum hoops and tuning key.”

According to Martinez, his T6 aluminum drum hoop dampens unwanted overtones and allows the drum shell to resonate more clearly so you can hear the tone of the drum. The hoop fits any 14-inch, 10-lug snare.

“Once drummers hold this in their hands, they’re absolutely fascinated by it,” he said.

As far as Martinez knows, his drum hoop is the first CNC machined aluminum hoop, for which he has filed a patent. He credits a couple of his LSU Engineering classes with giving him the knowledge he needed to create the hoop.

“My LSU Manufacturing Processes and Materials classes definitely helped me learn how to design and produce the hoop,” he said.

After producing the hoop, Martinez needed a way to market his design, so he created Percussion Ordnance: Weapons of Sonic Destruction—Military Grade Drums & Hardware. The company name and logo reflect the material used in making the drum hoop and also incorporate his love for Puerto Rico, which inspired Martinez to create a custom color for the hoop called Puerto Rico Purple.

“It changes color in the light, almost like a royal blue,” he said.

Martinez’s next step is reaching out to the music industry to promote his creation, having recently attended the North American Music Manufacturers (NAMM) Conference in Anaheim, Calif.

“If you have anything to do with music, you better be at NAMM,” he said. “It’s the biggest tradeshow in the world for music.”

He also hopes to eventually design a full drum set. Having recently launched a successful Kickstarter campaign, Martinez can now move forward with his plan of producing more snare hoops. As for any speedbumps that may come his way, he does not foresee a problem.

“I won’t stop because I don’t quit on anything,” he said.

For more information on Martinez’s company and snare drum hoop, visit www.percussionordnance.com.


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Contact: Libby Haydel

Communications Specialist