Independent Gong Makers

Steve Hubback is a Welsh-born musician, bronzesmith and metal sculptor who spends much of his time in Europe, particularly the Netherlands, Czech Republic and Scandinavia.

Steve left Wales for Paris in 1981 and started to experiment with very small drumsets and more unusual percussion. He made his first gong in Aarhus Denmark in 1990 and, although rough, it had interesting qualities. This inspired him to explore working with metal to make instruments and sculptures, He learnt welding from a metal working friend and a Norwegian blacksmith who after years of observation, eventually gave Steve a demonstration of master forge craft.

In 1992 Steve hammered out what was at the time the Worlds biggest gong, 2.5 metres in diameter and made from 4mm thick 304 stainless steel, weighing 155 kg - it took a month of continuous work to create it.

In the early 1990's Steve had a vivid dream where a percussionist was playing a number of otherwordly percussion instruments on a very unique drumset that had a large living bronze dragon's wing instead of a ride cymbal. This image stayed in Steve's mind and after much work it was translated and forged into the Dragon cymbal. 

Since then Steve has invented and pioneered many cymbal, gong and percussion sculptures. He has developed special techniques for his work and most of his creations are made from bronze. Some works are in stainless steel especially those for outdoor installation and a small amount of work in nickel silver.

He continues to invent and create unique gong and percussion sculptures. His creations are played by some of the world’s best percussionists including Paolo Vinaccia, Paul Clarvis, Evelyn Glennie, Andrea Centazzo, Snorre Bjerck, Birgit Lokke, Marilyn Mazur and Chris Whitten amongst others, as well as many shamanic healers, sound healers, occultists and those influenced by gong energies.

Steve is heavily influenced by dreams and shapes in nature. He makes his own sticks, mallets and parts of his percussion set are made from wood from European forests.

Astrology Gong (courtesy of Steve Hubback)

Left to Right: Om Gong and Dragon Gong (courtesy of Steve Hubback)

Matt Nolan is a cymbal and gong maker working in the ancient city of Bath in the south-west of England.

Matt Nolan is an electronics engineer by training but was also a drummer and percussionist in his spare time. Over time, the pull of working with his hands on creative metal sounds as well as a desire to create new and interesting sounds and shapes for cymbals and then for gongs, got the better of him.

Today Matt makes a range of cymbals using different metals and decoration, including interesting hammering marks, colours, shapes and designs. Matt describes his works as "artisan metal percussion instruments". He draws on inspiration from the natural world, geometric shapes and symbolism from ancient civilisations.

Matt now produces a range of gongs and musical sculptures to complement his cymbals. These are made from a variety of metals and include bronze (especially phosphor bronze), nickel silver and stainless steel. The gongs are essentially ‘wind gongs’ in appearance though he has experimented with bossed gongs and some gongs with a small turned over rim.

The gongs themselves are highly individual and possess many sounds and tonal colours. Gong diameters tend to be in the 20" (50cm) – 24" (60cm) range, but both smaller and larger gongs are occasionally produced.

The sound sculptures are varied and include a large ‘bat’s wing’ and an impressive ‘Hand’. This latter instrument is made from sheet bronze in the form of a one metre long human left or right hand and is available in two weights. For an additional fee, this gong could be made to represent your own hand!

Matt makes bespoke gongs, incorporating designs and logos into the gong specified by the customer. He is also developing other percussion instruments such as triangles and bells and is making hand cymbals for orchestral use.

Matt’s customers have included Dame Evelyn Glennie, Björk, Danny Elfman, The Boston Symphony Orchestra, The Finnish National Opera, The Bergen Philharmonic, The Royal Opera House Covent Garden, The Illinois Symphony Orchestra, Massive Attack and Lea Mullen (percussionist with Happy Mondays and George Michael).

Bat Wing Gong (courtesy of Matt Nolan)

Left to Right: Solisbury Gong and Ogham Gong (courtesy of Matt Nolan)

Broder Oetken was a master gong maker at Paiste, working alongside Walter Meyer for many years.

Broder eventually left Paiste after that company wanted to concentrate on its Symphonic and Planet gong ranges whereas Broder wanted to carry on with developing new gong sounds in the tradition of the Sound Creation series.

He has set up his own gong making company - Oetken Gongs, not too far from Paiste in Osterrönfeld near Rendsburg in north-east Germany. With access to the foundries supplying blanks for Paiste, he was originally commissioned to produce a range of tam-tams for the Meinl Company. These ‘Symphonic Tam-Tams’ were first displayed at the Frankfurt Musikmesse in 2011. He is also producing the Planetary Tuned Gongs and Wu Xing gong ranges for Meinl as well as gongs for Olli Hess. He has also worked with individual gong players to produce gongs for their needs.

Left to Right: Sol Gong, Thor's Hammer Gong and Water Gong (courtesy of Broder Oetken)

Broder is also developing his own range of gongs in between the commissions for Meinl and others. His first bespoke gongs were a pair of ‘Sol’ or Sun gongs made at my suggestion and tuned to B1 but 36" (90cm) in diameter with radial scrape marks. He has since made the ‘Erda’ gong which is 36" (90cm) in diameter and tuned to C2#. Other Oetken gongs include a Thor’s Hammer gong, a heart gong, (designed with Graham Bater) several Earth gongs and gongs made as tributes to the legendary Walter Meyer. Broder can also produce symphonic gongs and planetary tuned gongs.

Michael Paiste began working at the Paiste cymbal factory in Notwill in 1986, mainly involved with the development of cymbals.

Michael left Paiste after 12 years as he wanted to specialise in custom made cymbals but this was not in line with company policy at the time.

For the past 13 years he has developed a range of visually and aurally stunning cymbals and gongs from a variety of metals.

His gong range includes a 14" (35cm) bronze Volcano Gong, a 30" (76cm) brass Volcano Gong, a 24" (61cm) Water gong, a 24" (61cm) Heavy Wind Gong, a 40" (102cm) Wind Gong and the evocatively named 24" (61cm) ‘Screaming’ Gong.

Michael's gongs are made to order.