Mike Ciprari designs sets for the biggest bands at SJC Custom Drums
Starting in the basement
SJC Custom Drums in Southbridge was also founded by a pair of brothers – a lot more recently. Scott and Mike Ciprari started building drums in 2000 as teenagers working out of their grandmother’s basement. After high school, Mike went on tour with his band No Trigger, bringing the drum kit Scott had built for him on the road (and drumming up business).
“Just by me being out there, kind of as a traveling salesman on the band’s dime, I met a ton of drummers that were interested in what we were doing,” Mike Ciprari says.
Today, they’ve definitely outgrown the basement – SJC recently moved to a new 60,000-square-foot HQ – and its roster of drummers includes big names like Tré Cool of Green Day, Josh Dun of Twenty One Pilots and Kim Schifino of Matt and Kim.
“My favorite part is working with the artists, designing custom kits for a band I’m a fan of and then seeing that drum set on tour or on a record or on TV,” Ciprari says.
Mike Ciprari, 33
Cofounder, SJC Custom Drums, Southbridge
Products: Drum kits, snares, hardware and accessories
Education: A year and a half of college
Favorite band: “311. Everyone makes fun of me for it, but Chad Sexton is the drummer for it, and he’s the reason I wanted to play the drums in the first place. I love that band so much.”
Average salary for his position*: $128,020
*Based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data
Those custom creations can be quite elaborate – say, a snare made from whiskey barrels for the Zac Brown Band, or a light-up drum kit for local pop rockers Boys Like Girls – but they’re all produced by a lean crew of six people, some of whom, Ciprari notes, had no prior manufacturing experience.