Yamaha Custom Drums

Back in August, my amazing local drum shop posted this photo with this description:

Rare pre Maple Custom Yamaha drum set. 22/10/12/14/16 all toms are suspended. Includes matching 6×14 snare. Gold maple custom lugs.


I was immediately intrigued – it seemed like a great deal for what looked like a Maple Custom kit. So I headed down the next morning to check them out in person. They were a bit dirty, had a few nicks and scrapes here and there, and I was confused by the badges. Instead of a YMC badge, they read “Yamaha Custom Drums. Maple Shell. Made in Japan”.


Unsure of what they actually were, I decided to pass. Every once in a while, though, I’d think about the mystery Yamahas and wonder how they sounded, what they’d look like after a little bit of TLC, and I returned to Dave’s website every few weeks to see if they were still available. And six months later, they still stood stacked in a corner of the store.

Of course, you know how this story ends. That little voice in my head kept whispering “You should give those poor lonely drums a nice home”, and so after Christmas, I was back to look them over one last time.  And the next day, I returned to load them into the back of my car.

Once home, I removed the rims and some of the hardware and spent a few days cleaning and polishing the shells and parts. The rims are Yamaha’s triple-flanged Dynahoops, and the gold Maple Custom lugs are the improved second-generation version. They are beautifully made drums, with gorgeous interiors, smooth bearing edges, and an exquisite blue lacquer finish that shows the maple grain when viewed up close.


I’ve been able to find very little information about Yamaha Custom drums online. It’s a bit tricky as Yamaha obviously has several lines that use the word Custom (Maple Custom, Recording Custom, Tour Custom, etc.), so searching for “Yamaha Custom” brings up lots of dead ends and false leads.

The Yamaha Wiki contains the briefest description under Discontinued Products:

Yamaha Custom – A custom series of drum kits featuring either 100% Maple or Birch wood, a variety of colors and finishes, and the “Yamaha Enhanced Sustain System” (YESS)

The drum forums were a bit more helpful. A post on the Drummerworld site from 2010 prompted a couple of interesting responses:

“Those were Yamaha’s attempt at the first custom tailored series, I am almost positive. That is the badge I remember, and you could choose the RC or MC shell, choice of lug, finish. I am almost totally sure this is what these are.”

“I talked to Jim Haler at YAMAHA about why they ditched the ‘custom’ effort, he said it just got too crazy when someone ordered Maple Customs with RC lugs.”

I posted a similar question and photos on the Drum Forum site, and got some help from the resident experts:

“Yamaha had a short-lived series called the Custom series. The buyer could specify wood type, finish hardware colour and type choices. It was very quickly discontinued. I recall this being around the mid 90’s. The finishes available were very extensive and many non-standard colours were available. They had fades and burst, Black, chrome and gold hardware. You could get Maple Custom lugs ; RC style lugs etc. Various hoop thicknesses (1.6 mm; 2.3 mm or diecast). I recall these being very expensive at the time, far above a standard Maple Custom or Recording Custom at the time.”

Back at the drum shop, Dave said he talked to the Yamaha rep about them, and apparently Yamaha had a cool catalogue at the time where you could overlay transparencies of various finishes on the drums so you could see what they would look like.

This all confirmed my thinking, based on the drums’ features and the serial numbers, which seem to indicate the drums were made in 1996. I’m still curious about the model number on each drum – they follow the usual Yamaha pattern where MTT010 = Maple tom tom 10 inch. However, each of these drums ends with the initials PGD, which I’m guessing are the initials of the person who originally placed the custom order.  [edit: after some discussion, I think P=power size, G=gold lugs, D=Dynahoops]


In the end, I think they’re really just Maple Customs with a blue maple finish that wasn’t available at the time (after several Google image searches, I haven’t found any Yamaha drums with this exact finish). And that’s totally fine with me, as MCs were Yamaha’s flagship line for many years. I’m still tinkering with drum placement and head choice, but I’m looking forward to many years of fun with these.


I still find it incredible that these fantastic drums went unsold for six months, priced just a bit higher than I’ve seen the snare drum alone sell for.  I probably won’t get this lucky again, but I suppose the search for bargains is partly what drives every collector.



Got another interesting post from Toady on the Drum Forum site:

On your website, you mentioned the cool catalog that Yamaha had…

Timing is everything!  I was visiting a high school buddy last weekend, and he’s a huge Yamaha collector. We got to talking about NAMM, and Pearl’s Music City Custom line, and I asked if he remembered Yamaha’s Custom series from the mid-90s. He pulled this catalog out of a bin.

Yamaha Custom Drums Color Book

I’d say you’ve got quite a treasure there. Yamaha only had that line for a few years, and yours is the first one I’ve seen “in the wild.”

Congrats. Super envious of your find!


8 thoughts on “Yamaha Custom Drums

  1. I recently purchased a similar Yamaha Custom Maple Shell set with chrome MC lugs and a see through red laquer finish. They have the 3mm power hoops and the sizes range from 8″ to 16″ inch hanging toms, a 16″x22″ kick. No snare on that one, sadly. I was in the belief that this was a custom order kit that yamaha made for an endorser and I wasn’t aware of a custom built series being available for “your averige Joe drummer” until reading your blog. Thanks for a great post! I usually tend to love the chrome lugs more, but the navy blue and gold is such a classic combo, very nice… By the way, do you still have access to that catalog? Does it have my red finish in it and by what name? I think that the original thick shelled MC line is superior in terms of sound quality compared to anything that came from Yamaha after them.

  2. Great to hear about another custom set – there’s not a lot of information or photos about these online. The catalog was just a photo someone posted after they saw the thread on a drum forum. I’d love to have a copy to flip through some day. Wondering if your model numbers also have letters / initials at the end (ie my 10″ tom is MTT10PGD) – I’m assuming those are the initials of the original purchaser, but haven’t seen anything that backs that up.

  3. I too recently purchased a Yamaha Custom Maple kit online, they caught my eye and I just couldn’t pass them up. I couldn’t find any information on them except for the name of the person who ordered them originally. Searching online didn’t turn up much and I was wondering if you had come across any other sources that could lead me in the right direction to possibly date them and or get the name of the finish I have. From what I have found these were the pre curser to the Custom Absolute series.

  4. Great kit! I’ll give you $1501 for it! Just kidding. I worked at Guitar Center during the time of the “Custom” Series. You could mix and match any shells with any hardware from any of the series. You could even get Maple Custom lugs in chrome instead of gold. And yes, you could get maple shells in recording custom finishes and hardware. I think it lasted two years. You should look up the Erik Smith Snare Drum. It looks pretty close to what you have. It was only available in Europe and I think they only made 60 of them. I paid almost as much for that snare as you did for your whole kit!

  5. I have a set of transparent purple Yamaha Maple Customs. I am the original owner but the person who placed the order and probably paid for half of if… didn’t pay it off the layaway and the music store got sick of waiting for payment so I think I got a 5pc set for $1000. I’m a guitar player but I knew these were a deal I couldn’t pass up. All the drummers I jam with come over and love them. They record well.

  6. I own one of these Yamaha custom drums. It has the original sunburst paint like a fender strat.. It has a 22X18 maple kick and 3 birch toms 10 -12 – 15.
    The lugs and badges are gold.

    The kick has several plys and is very thick and heavy. The toms and kick have the same dark lacker finish on the inside, same as your drum set.

    I have not yet found any more info about these drums and have not seen any of these for sale since I bought mine three years ago.

    I can send you pictures.

  7. I also own a Custom Series set. Mine is 7 piece 8 10 12 14 & 16 22*18 BD 5 1/4 *14 SD. Toms are Birch(Japanese) and BD and Snare are Maple. I also have the small springless lugs in chrome and Dynamic hoops 2.3 mm triple flange. The interior finish is as yours, note that this finish I believe was also optional and this one in particular is called vintage finish and is the same finish that the interior of Yamaha high End string instruments use.
    These are one of a kind and most likely no one of these kits is exactly the same as another which make them very collectible.
    The finish on my set was a fade grey gold metallic to black gold metallic.(description is my own Yamaha had a specific Name for this one but don’t remember it).
    Finding sets like these at the prices mentioned that you have bought them are a steal!
    My set cost at the time(1997) Cost over 5Gs! And worth every penny.
    Ernie Marcial
    Tampa Fl

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