Russ Miller / “Miller’s Creations”
I have been developing drum gear since my early twenties. While in high school and college I worked at several drum shops and it turned out to be valuable in many different ways. Before the chain music stores you actually had to know something about drums and be a relatively proficient drummer to work in the local "Pro Drum Shop". I spent a long time learning about how drums were designed and repaired from the older guys working in the repair departments. Being in the sales section allowed me to A/B several different manufacturers gear and also multiple lines from the same makers. I really got an idea of how different woods effected the sound. Also how the design of bearing edges and plies changed the way certain woods reacted. I ended up building several sets from scratch as well. For me it was a great learning experience. At the same time, I had a lot of interest in architecture. I took several courses in architectural design. This taught me how to make a legible set of plans for a product. As my professional playing career grew I began to have musical experiences that inspired me to design something to handle a given musical setting. For instance, the idea for my Signature "Groove-Wedge" with Yamaha Drums came from doing a record date with Nelly Furtado. The producers loved this small 12" snare that I was using. However, they wanted crossticks in the verses and the snare in the choruses. A 12" drum is too small of a diameter to get to the "sweet" spot of the stick for an adequate crosstick sound. If I put a regular sized snare under the hi-hat, the crossticks would be panned left in the stereo image and the producers didn't want that. My idea was, take a small piece of the Yamaha vintage wood hoops and create an adjustable mount that would allow me to attach it to any size drum. This would give me a great crosstick sound on smaller diameter drums and also an option of a wood crosstick on regular snares. I drew up the plans and made a working prototype. I then took it to Takashi Hagiwara at Yamaha drums. Some companies like Mapex, Vic Firth and Yamaha have always been so great about working with artists on products, developing and innovating.
Why invent it?
All of my signature products has come from necessities that I have ran into musically in my career.
Yamaha Groove-Wedge : Louder, fatter crosstick sounds on small drums
Yamaha Jingle-Wedge : Layering jingles with crossticks/rimshots for country, rap, etc.
Yamaha Cascara-Wedge : Playing palito patterns on my drum's shell, without destroying the finish.
Yamaha Jingle-cascara-Wedge : Creating sounds of multi-percussionists at once.
Zildjian B3 “Bent Bristle Brush” Brushes : Brushes that project through amplified music and a cymbal band for full crash sounds.
Yamaha Subkick : Creating a low-frequency capture device that was easy and that I was able to use live.
*In the Percussive Arts Society Museum
Prologix Signature “All In One” Practice Pad : A drum pad that facilitates great brush practice while learning techniques with maps, also has a hoop that is quiet.
Zildjian signature sticks : A jazz wood tip stick with a rounded bead for cymbal clarity and a marked band that the sweet spot for a perfect crosstick sound.
Yamaha signature snare drum : Med-shallow body for projection, with wide snares and staggered lugs for extended tuning range.
Vic Firth “HD” signature Sticks : A totally new tip design for maximum clarity on cymbals and drums, the “Half-Acorn” tip, also an “X” at the sweet spot to give you consistent crosstalk sounds
Vic Firth “HD” signature Brushes : A very unique design for brushes! A “Ride” brush for more rebound and projection with denser bristles and smaller fan. A “Sweep” brush for a more subtle and beautiful sustain, thinner bristles and wider fan. HD Also have .535. handles similar to a standard drumstick diameter.
Meinl signature “Multi-Bell” : An 8” Mambo cowbell with adjustable mute on the inside of the body, mutes the ring and Changs the pitch of the bell
Mapex signature “Versatus” snare drum : A 14” x 4 5/8” Hybrid shelled snare with a sonic re-enforcement ring on the batter side only.
Mapex “Design Lab” Snare Drum Series (4 Models) : Heartbreaker Cherry Bomb 6” x 14” Equinox Cherry Bomb 5 1/2” X 13”
Mapex Drums “Design Lab” (2 Drum Series)- Complete Ground-up design and invention of the flagship Drum Series for Mapex Drums. New inventions such as “SAS” Soniclear Attenuation System, adjustable floor tom legs, Magnetic drum mounts (with Randy May) and special edges, venting and thickness designs in the shells.
Mapex signature Russ Miller Design Lab Versatus Snare Drums : New designs of the Versatus snare drums in 4 5/8” and 6 1/2” deep versions.
Some products that I have designed are not even advertised in association with me.
Yamaha Original V1 YESS mounts
Yamaha “Vintage” woods hoops
Yamaha Daxdad Satellite kick drum
Yamaha “Click-Station” metronome
Yamaha DTX Drum Trigger System
Yamaha DTX 2.0 Drum Trigger System
Yamaha DTXtreme Drum Trigger System
Yamaha DTXpress electronic systems.
Yamaha DTX Expansion Pack
Yamaha DTX Latin-Expansion Pack
Yamaha loops and Samples for “Motif” keyboards
Yamaha Cherry Wood to Black fade finish
May XL57 Internal snare mic, smaller body facing towards the snare side head.
May Audio blend module, to combine a Subkick and Kick drum mic into a single audio single.
Mapex “Soniclear Bearing Edge” : New Bearing edge design for better head seating on the drum.
Mapex Black Panther Snare Drum Series (14 Models):
- Atomizer Mettalion Hydro
- Persuader Shadow Razor
- Predator Venom Heritage
- Solidus Nucleus Pegasus
- Wasp Cyrus
Mapex 2020 Saturn Drum Series : New Saturn Series drums with “Design Lab” features added to the designs.
Mapex Saturn Evolution Drum Series : A completely new drum series featuring the “Halo” mounts. Hybrid shells and hybrid combinations in a complete cross-colored drum system.
Mapex Design Lab “Maximus” Snare with Jeff Hamilton : Ground up co-design with Jeff Hamilton of all Mahogany 6” X 14” Snare.
Mapex Design Lab “Machine” Snare with Craig Blundell : Ground up co-design with Craig Blundell.
Mapex Design Lab “Warbird” Snare with Chris Adler : New design elements of the Chris Adler Signature Snare Drum.
Finally, I launched a new company in 2020 called “GRUV-X, LLC.” Myself and Bill Detamore from Pork Pie Drums created this company to create products that we market and distribute ourselves. The first product for this company is called the “X-Click” - “Extreme Crosstick Percussion accessory”. A completely new re-imagined “Crosstick Accessory” for all sized snare drums.