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ANGELA, 36, DRUMSTICK MAKER; IT'S A FUNNY OLD JOB...BUT SOMEONE'S GOT TO DO IT; Angela Kidd has spent 10 years giving Britain's top pop bands plenty of stick - and they love it! PAT MOORE called in to find out why...

A two-room converted farm building on a Yorkshire back road has done more than its fair share to help shape the sound of British rock music.

Toiling away inside is Angela Kidd - and many of the world's most famous drummers have been glad of that.

Ringo Starr, Iron Maiden's Nicko McBrain, Status Quo's Jeff Rich and Marillion's Ian Mosley are just some of the top names who beat a professional path to the family firm of drumstick makers.

Angela has worked at William Shaw and Company for the past 10 years. "When I tell people I make drumsticks, most think of chicken. I have to put them right," she says.

One of her responsibilities as a drumstick finisher is smoothing the butt ends, an important job which lets the drummer get a firm grip on the sticks.

The company, based in Cleckheaton, makes thousands of pairs a year for pop stars, pipe and marching bands, as well as aspiring Ringos of the future.

Most sticks are made of either hickory or maple woods, imported from the US and Canada. They arrive in 20-inch long bundles.

Angela says the first job is to shape the sticks and then hand check that they are straight.

"This is done by rolling each stick on adjoining metal bars. It's easy to pick out a wonky one," she says.

Managing director David Hammond, 57, says a straight stick is crucial.

"If a drummer turns the stick and it's not straight, it will give a totally different sound when it again hits the drum."

Angela then runs the wood through machines where each stick is shaped and sanded to give a smooth finish.

After that, they are graded for quality. Any sticks with knots or cracks are put aside. The faults could cause the sticks to break and it would be embarrassing, to say the least, if a famous star's sticks snapped in mid-concert.

Angela says: "I check the acorn end - the bit that hits the drum - for any pips or tiny pieces of wood sticking out."

Then the sticks are sealed with a secret formula the company has developed over the years and dipped in a wax-based lacquer to strengthen and protect them.

Angela gives the sticks their final inspection. "Once again, I check the acorn end for smoothness and roundness then the butt end is placed into a chuck machine which gives it its rounded bottom.

"I then have to run my fingers over every butt end to ensure each is nicely smooth and blends in with the rest of the stick. It's a bit time- consuming but I enjoy my job.

"I must have made millions of sticks in my time but I still get a sense of achievement when I see the raw wood turn into the finished product.

"Nicko from Iron Maiden visited the workshop and it was great to meet someone I make sticks for.

"I love The Hollies and we also make their drummer Bobby Elliot's sticks. It's nice to think I do my bit for them."

The average stick is 16in long and costs between pounds 6-pounds 8. The company makes 300 different types as well as individual designs for customers, including their famous clients.

Angela says business really took off at the same time as The Beatles did in the 1960s.

"Before that this was mainly a wood-turning company but The Beatles helped put our name on the music map. Everyone wanted to be like Ringo who, incidentally, likes his drumsticks slightly shorter than the average length.

"When Nicko visited we discussed what sort of sticks he likes. He's a super chap who likes thicker sticks with beefed-up necks, probably to get a greater thud when he plays.

"The slightest change in design can make a difference to the sound so it's important we understand what these guys want. It's not as easy as you may have thought!"

Have you got a funny old job? We'd love to hear about it. Write to Jobs, Yes! Magazine, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5AP.
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Moore, Pat
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Feb 16, 1997
Words:677
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