Among the numerous patents that hang on the basement wall at Paul Griffin’s home in Kenosha is one for a new device that is making his life much easier.
Griffin, who has designed tools for Snap-on for 33 years, has been a drummer even longer. As a freelance musician, he hauls his drums all over the place.
“It is generally three trips out of the house into the car, three trips out of the car into the gig, out of the gig into the car,” Griffin said.
Always a thinker who likes to tinker, Griffin decided to use his passion for engineering to invent a universal drum transport dolly.
“I’m always coming up with new ideas,” Griffin said. “When I’m taking a plane ride, I redesign the seats in my mind. When I use products, I always think of how to improve them. I got this from my dad (Raymond Griffin), who was a designer for American Motors. He was always building or fixing something.”
Like all inventions, it started with a crude design.
“I took a couple of dollies apart and printed some things on a 3-D printer,” Griffin said. “It was enough just to prove the concept would work.”
What he came up with is a hand cart on which a four-piece drum set and hardware is mounted. When wheeled into place, the drums remain attached and are pivoted into position.
“You don’t even have to take the bass drum off,” Griffin said. “Everything is mounted right where it needs to be.”
Because the wheels remain attached, the set can easily be rolled around the stage — one of the claims Griffin said is unique to his patent.
“I’ve used it for three gigs so far,” Griffin said. “It draws a lot of attention.”
Griffin said all drum manufacturers have come out with their version of smaller, portable drum sets. But, portable does not mean mobile.
“Even though they are smaller and lighter weight, they still have the same number of pieces,” he said, adding his cart works with all brands of drums.
While he did use a patent attorney, Griffin did his own drawings and patent searching. He was awarded the patent in September 2017. His goal is to also be able to attach the hi-hat and stool as well.
“I am really enjoying combining my passions,” Griffin said. “I know how power tools are made because I’ve spent the main part of my career designing those for Snap-on. By getting involved with designing for drums, I’m learning how they are made, taking factory tours, meeting great drummers and making friends and partners in the musical instrument industry.”
Griffin said he was inspired by Emil Pacetti, longtime owner of Pacetti’s Music.
“He had such a passion for music and great knowledge of the physics and mechanics of instruments to repair them so well,” Griffin said.
Love of music
His love of music comes from his parents, who were dancers.
“I began playing drums at age 12, started a band with my brother Michael Griffin, who is principal bassist with the Rochester Symphony,” Griffin said. “I also played in bands a lot with my younger brother, Patrick, a composer in LA.”
He said he learned from a host of Kenosha school band directors and private instructors.
“I’m so grateful they saw something in me to develop,” Griffin said. “I occasionally get to perform along with them or for them.”
He said he hopes his new invention will make some of their lives easier someday as well. The next step, he said, is to improve the design in preparation of manufacturing.
“I know there is a market for it,” Griffin said.