Hands-On Review:Building better bags in the U.S.A.

By E. A. Tennaway

I’ve been aware of Beato drum bags for some time now. Drummer buddies have raved on about their superb quality and incredible functionality. But it was only when the folks at Musician’s Friend asked me to review the product line that I realized there’s more to Beato than meets the eye. Take the name for instance. I figured it had to relate to the fact that they make stuff for drummers. Well, I was right, sort of.

The story behind the name
As it turns out, there’s a visionary who is the guiding force behind Beato. And guess what? His name’s Fred Beato. When I interviewed him in preparation for this review, he filled me in on how he came to be making drum bags, and how his company got its name. Fred was born in Cuba and came to the U.S. back in 1962 as a 10 year old. Actually, the family name Beato is correctly pronounced ”Bay-ah-toe.” Eighteen years ago, when Fred was casting about for an appropriate name for his brand new business, one of his earliest customers, Bob Yeager of the Professional Drum Shop in Hollywood, told him he had no choice—with a surname like Beato, he had to use it for the business.

The opportunity . . . and the challenge
But there was more on Fred Beato’s agenda than simply finding a name for his firm. He had observed that there was a real vacuum in the drum bag marketplace. Most of the bags that were available back then were poorly designed and manufactured using low-grade materials, shoddily put together in Third World nations. As a working drummer, Fred knew what his fellow musicians needed. As a guy committed to quality, he knew he wasn’t about to send his designs offshore to be knocked out on the cheap in foreign sweatshops.

Marching to a different drum
Though he recognized that it would be tough to compete on price with those cheapies, Fred believed that if he could just get his wares out there into the world of drumming, he would succeed. He saw that designing and manufacturing his products to his own standard of excellence required his direct involvement and control of every step. So, bucking the trend of going overseas, Fred set up his own manufacturing facility in Southern California and began seeking out suppliers who could provide him with the quality components he insisted on.


”When I was a kid,” Fred recalled, ”things were tough. There was a time when we pretty much lived on powdered milk and peanut butter.” That experience has shaped his approach to doing business. He treats his people right, and he pays them fairly. When business temporarily slowed a while back, he didn’t take the ”downsizing” route. He values his workers’ loyalty and bit the bullet by resisting a layoff.

His gambles have paid off. Beato’s positive reputation has spread throughout the drumming community. That great word-of-mouth advertising has caused Beato’s business to take off and it has grown to be a highly respected name in the realm of drum protection and transport gear. And that’s no wonder—Fred’s stuff is GOOD!


Details make the difference
It’s big and little things that count. Take thread for example. Beato spends the extra bread to buy BT92 nylon thread—with superior tensile strength, it’s the best stuff available . Fred Beato considers a split seam to be a personal failure and will go to extraordinary lengths to ensure the integrity of his gear. As a drummer himself, he knows about the attachment and investment players have in their gear and builds his bags as though it were his kit that was going into them. And speaking of attachment, Beato bags are crafted with nail rivets instead of cheaper, more simply applied pop rivets. This same approach extends to every aspect of the Beato line and manifests itself in things like top-quality YKK zippers, dense 5/8” foam padding, high denier-count nylon fabrics, road-rugged Tolex coverings on the Pro I bags, and military-grade webbing on straps.


With quality and value for all
Beato’s top line is the waterproof Pro I Series with a lifetime warranty. They are made in a three-layer sandwich of materials consisting of a rugged Tolex exterior, 5/8” dense foam padding, and a protective fleece inner lining. The Curdura Deluxe and Curdura series have the same sandwich construction with tough Curdura exteriors. The Curdura Deluxe bags include handy shoulder straps. For entry-level drummers and students, Fred has created the super-affordable Pro II series. Other than a leather-like vinyl outer layer, they share the same durable construction techniques, quality hardware, and appointments of their costlier siblings.


Give the drummer some
Beato’s new Club Series Three-Piece Bag Set provides a smart solution. The bass drum bag has a full circular zipper and a rugged web strap. The tom bag accommodates all three of your tubs plus snare and comes with a fully zippered opening; three fleece-covered, floating, foam-padded dividers; a handy accessory pocket with Velcro closure; and webbing straps and handles. The hardware bag has gusseted bottom and outer pockets for voluminous capacity and compact storage. Imagine loading in with just three pieces. Now that’s slick.


Some heavy friends
If you’re known by the company you keep, Beato’s rep is bound to be heavy. The roster of players who use and endorse the Beato line is formidable. They include Steve Gadd, Peter Erskine, Greg Bisonette, Tico Torres, Rafael Padilla, and Dennis Chambers. Some of these percussion heavyweights have helped shape the Beato line thanks to their wealth of experience. Coupling their input with his own knowledge of the working drummer’s needs, Fred Beato has continued to expand his line.


Recent developments
A new product is a nicely-crafted bumper pad that protects the finish of snares and toms. Percussionists will appreciate the new Curdura Beato bags designed to accommodate quintos, congas, and tumbas. And for any drummer who hates having staff and customers pawing over his kit between sets, he’s come up with his drum kit dust cover. It protects your drums and cymbals from the elements and has weighted corners so it easily drapes over your set. Fashioned of black Oxford cloth, it’s light enough that when removed, it won’t send your stands crashing to the floor.


You’ve got a lot of bucks tied up in your kit. Why not give it the protection it deserves? You’ll be doing yourself a favor while providing a worthy, made-in-the-U.S.A. enterprise with your support.


Musician’s Friend has a complete range of Beato gear in stock at the best prices on the planet. Give them a click or a call and they’ll get your Beato drum storage and transport solutions winging their way to you on the double.