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INSIDE: TACKLE INSTRUMENT SUPPLY CO.
A “heritage brand” offers products that are designed to stand the test of time. They never breakdown. They never fall out of fashion. They never lose their utility or are surpassed by newer designs. Instead they improve with age and use, superior and timeless regardless of when they were produced. Tackle is one of those brands.
Inspired by vintage military and camping tack, Tackle uses canvas, leather, brass, copper and many of the same materials popular with heritage brands for their quality and durability to create simple, functional, sustainable bags and accessories for the working drummer.
Tackle’s founder Scott McPherson tells us how he and right-hand man Nate Babbs are staking their place in a synthetic, machine-made industry with hand-made products designed to be handed down for generations.
What is Tackle?
Tackle Instrument Supply Co. is a Minneapolis-based brand that produces high-quality, durable and long-lasting bags and accessories for drummers.
Who is Tackle?
Scott McPherson is the FounderOwner/Designer/Master Craftsman. Nate Babbs acts as Account Manager/Shipping/Apprentice Craftsman/Herder of Cats.
How did you get started building accessories?
I began making accessories similar to how I decided to start making bags: out of an observable need that wasn’t being met in my own musical life. Finding a flaw in a design that the drumming world collectively seems to have accepted and then solving that problem in my own way.
When and how did Tackle begin?
Tackle began in 2011 in Portland, OR, when I returned from a long year of touring with Bright Eyes. I had been partnering with Jose at Revival Drum Shop, and when I returned I decided to begin making bags, initially intending for them to be a Revival Drum Shop brand. I ultimately decided to take the brand out on my own and Tackle was born. I have since relocated to Minneapolis with my family.
What inspired you to begin and what inspires you to continue?
I had been touring really hard that year (2011) and found myself inspired much more by the vintage civilian bags I was seeing and using instead of my drum bags. And at that time, there were no drum bags on the market that offered that same feeling.
I’m very intrigued with vintage camping/military goods, old 1920’s Abercrombie & Fitch catalogues, that sort of thing. I particularly love the stories behind these legacy companies and how they began (Red Wing Shoes, Levi’s, LL Bean, etc) and find myself greatly inspired by their stories.
How are Tackle products constructed from start to finish?
For our stick and cymbal bags, I design and construct the prototype in the shop and send it to the manufacturer. They make one sample and send it to us for testing and any changes or feedback. Once we greenlight the final design, the item goes into full production. A pretty standard process, really.
The smaller accessories get made in the shop by myself and/or Nate (drum key holders, sizzle chains, beater patches, hoop protectors, etc). For those, we do the entire thing from cutting the leather to assembly. Almost all of our machines are hand-powered, with the exception being the Hydraulic Clicker Press which allows us to cut our leather using our own custom dies much faster (and saves our precious drummer wrists). Nate does get unnecessarily excited whenever he gets to use the hammer and anvil, but that should pass.
.What components, designs, materials, techniques etc. make Tackle products unique?
Primarily it’s in the materials we use. Leather, cotton canvas, copper, brass...we avoid synthetics/plastics almost entirely with a few exceptions. The zippers we use have some synthetic material. We use a polyblend synthetic binding for reinforcement on some bags, and then a polyblend thread for strength. But other than that, we keep it natural. I think these materials actually look better as they age, not worse. And if they wear, they are repairable and worth maintaining, unlike synthetics which feel disposable.
How long does it take to make a Tackle product from start to finish?
Some ideas I have in the back of my mind for years before I ever get around to making a prototype, but some come storming out and get started almost immediately the moment I think of them. Once I have a prototype, Nate, some other drummers that are around the shop, and I will often road test things, take new bag designs on the road or bring new accessories to gigs/sessions to see how they function. Based on their feedback I’ll sometimes make edits before finalizing the design. If it’s a bag that needs to be sent to our manufacturer, that back-and-forth can add a good amount of time to the process, so the range can be anywhere from a couple hours to many months until the final design gets found.
What is Tackle’s mission?
To make bags/products that endure and become as much a part of your musical history as the instruments you carry in them/use with them.
Where does Tackle go from here?
We’re very excited for the future because we haven’t produced lots of the ideas I’m actually the most excited about, so we’re looking forward to pursuing these ideas. Keep an eye on us. We’ve got big plans!
Is there anything else you’d like for our customers to know about Tackle?
Tackle started as what seemed like a crazy idea and has become a small business based on drummers and people supporting us directly and intentionally, which has been amazing. We appreciate everyone who has posted photos or sent us messages about how much they enjoy their bags. It means the world to us!
Tackle’s handmade approach means that many of their products are in high demand and limited supply, and they should be. That longer production time and slower output means every stitch and cut is deliberate and unhurried. Take it from us. That’s what you want.
Many of us at CME carry Tackle and it’s just as Scott says: made for drummers by drummers and out of the highest quality materials, and they really do look and feel better as they age. With bags and accessories made to last as long as these, that means they look really, really good. If you don’t believe us, shop our selection of Tackle products and see for yourself how good heritage looks.
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