Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Story Behind the Last Soistman Drum Ever Built

(The story of this drum comes to us from Michael Jedd, a drummer and drum collector in Connecticut with a long history in drum corps, including having played with the Casper Troopers Drum & Bugle Corps as well as some of the finest fife and drum corps in Connecticut.)

Jedd reports that manufacture of the drum (see "Buck Soistman Shell Assembled by Reamer (1979)" was started by Buck Soistman and completed by Bill Reamer. As such, he says, it is the last GAR drum made by Buck Soistman and, even though it was completed by Bill Reamer, it is still the last Soistman ever made. Jedd said that Soistman/Moeller drums (birch shells) are considered by many drummers to be the Stradivarius of rope-tuned drums.

The Connecticut Yanks from Bristol, Connecticut (Around 1973-1976)

Jedd wrote that in 1977 he spoke with Bill Reamer at a rehearsal of the Connecticut Yankees Fife & Drum Corps. Reamer had then just acquired Soistman's drum-making equipment and inventory from Buck Soistman's wife Marie and was moving it to Pennsylvania (Bromall). Jedd arranged for the purchase of some remaining Soistman drum sticks.

Later Jedd spoke with Reamer about any remaining Soistman drums, including any left-over GAR shells, hoops, ears, hardware. Jedd learned in January, 1977 that there was one GAR shell left in inventory with hoops, ears, rope and hardware. The drum was finished in August 1979.

Jedd said that at the time that the Connecticut Yankees folded, they disoposed of six Soistman drums. He said that two of the drums went to corps officials, and that four were sold to the Connecticut Rebels of Danbury. "The hoops were re-painted solid red, but the Connecticut Yanks' name painted on the sides [was] left intact."

Jedd also reported that the first GAR drum totally built by Mr. Reamer is/was owned by Mr. Bill LaPort of Connecticut, a former executive with Connecticut General, now Cigna or ACE Insurance. The last GAR drums built by "Buck" Soistman were purchased by two former members of the Connecticut Yanks. Both drums are reportedly still in Connecticut.


Aug. 23, 2009 update: Jedd wrote today mentioning that he had just returned from the Westport (CT) Muster where Andrew Reamer (son of Bill, Principal Percussionist with the Pittsburgh Symphony and Chair of Percussion at Duquesne University)) and his wife (Ruth Ann) were selling drum sticks and taking orders for drums. Reamer reportedly had quite an inventory of drum sticks. Jedd noted that a GAR drum fully painted in the Moeller tradition is priced at $2,000.00. See Drummers Service.

Andrew Reamer has moved the drum manufacturing shop from his father's basement in Lancaster County closer to Andrew's home near Pittsburgh. And Andrew has hired a person to work in the shop. Jedd was not sure if that person is making sticks, drums, or both. Andrew was extremely busy selling drum sticks.


  1. My Dad and I played with Plainville Fife and Drum in the late late 60's and he also played in the early 70s with Lancraft. I still have my cocabola two piece Patty Cooperman Fife and my Dad still has his drum and a set of Soistman Sticks.
    Tom Woodward

  2. I'm interested in knowing the demensions of these drums. Could someone please share that information with me?

    Gary D. Laura

  3. Dear Gary,

    Thank you for your comment to our blog, www.FieldDrums.com at http://blog.fielddrums.com/2009/05/story-behind-last-soistman-drum-ever.html.

    See http://www.fielddrums.com/2009/05/buck-soistman-shell-assembled-by-reamer.html where the owner reports that the subject drum measures 17” (diameter) by 21” (height).

    If you don’t mind telling me, what is the nature of your interest in rope drums? Do you play?, collect?, build?, refurbish?


    Ellis Mirsky

    P.S. I have blind copied the owner of the drum in case he has something he wants to add.


  4. Corrections:
    Connecticut Yankees should be Connecticut Yanks
    Westport (CT) muster should be Westbrook (CT) muster

  5. Charlie Buck Soistman was my Uncle. We use to play drums together in his shop when I was younger studying percussion. I am looking for one of the family drums to pass down to my children. I can be contacted at blackdogdiver@comcast.net. Thanks,
    Ricky Whitmire

  6. My great grand dad was Buck. My father, Mark (Buck's grand son), has told me many stories about the Soistman drums. I am currently looking to purchase any Soistman drums to keep them in the family. So- if anybody has any information- please email me.



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