In memoriam: Johnny Craviotto Master drum builder passes away Master drum craftsman Johnny Craviotto, founder and CEO of Craviotto Drum Company, has died. He passed away on July 15th, 2016. Johnny reintroduced the nearly forgotten art of handcrafted solid-shell drums.

During his whole drum-building career, always honing his skills and perfecting his technique, Johnny Craviotto stayed true to his core philosophy: "It's got to start with the foundation, like a house; it's got to be the shell."

Craviotto Drums, based in Watsonville, California, has issued a statement calling Johnny "the world's finest drum craftsman":
"No one had his knowledge, his skill, and the passion he displayed for his craft. He created instruments of incredible sonic and visual beauty, and those instruments have graced stages, recording studios, and collections worldwide. His contribution to the world of drum building has been without equal."

John Angelo Craviotto was born to Italian-American parents in San Francisco, CA. Johnny began playing drums at at an early age and he started playing professionally as a teenager.

In the 1970s, he started his musical career as a professional drummer playing with artists such as Captain Beefheart, Ry Cooder, Moby Grape, and Neil Young, among others. At this time, John Craviotto also developed an interest in the work of early drum builders.

Around 1979, Johnny did a stint in a boatyard working with a master boat builder. Using this experience, John Craviotto began applying these techniques to build drums. With the help of the master boat builder, Johnny began making one-ply drum shells.

Johnny Craviotto loved solid shell drums and spent years developing processes to eliminate manufacturing imperfections to bring new precision and reliability to this ultimate snare drum design.

During the mid-1980s, John Craviotto teamed up with Billy Gibson, drummer of Huey Lewis & The News, and launched his first drum company, Select Drum Company, later renamed to Solid Drum Company.

John Craviotto developed a steam-bending technique which led to a partnership with DW Drums in 1993. For about a decade, John's snare drums were available as part of Drum Workshop's catalogs.

In 1999, Johnny came up with spectacular idea, which was to build drums from ancient, old growth wood recovered from sunken timber. He would go on to build a limited edition series of solid-ply drums made from 600 year old wood rescued from the bottom of Lake Superior. These drums were adorned with hoops engraved by master engraver, John Aldridge – the Lake Superior Timeless Timber series. A few years later, these were followed up with the Lake Superior Timeless Timber birch series of drums. These made a huge impression in the drum community because of their amazing sensitivity, dynamic range, and attention to detail. They were aesthetic and sonic masterpieces.

By 2002, Johnny found himself aspiring for more independence and found an investment partner to establish his own company, The Craviotto Drum Company. He did a couple of years of additional R&D to come up with his own diamond-base tube lug and the Craviotto diamond badge, his new signature. Officially, the Craviotto Drum Company got off the ground in 2004.

As the heart and soul of the Craviotto Drum Company it was vitally important to Johnny to pass along his skills and his innovations in the art and craft of drum building to his trusted colleagues and protégés at Craviotto. This way, the "Craviotto-way" can carry on for the next generation.

Artists playing Craviotto Drums include Ronnie Vannucci of The Killers, Jason McGerr of Death Cab for Cutie, Nashville session drummer Chris McHugh (Keith Urban, Garth Brooks, etc), Chris Tyrrell of Lady Antebellum, and Billy Martin of Medeski Martin And Wood, among many others.

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