CongaDr+ '''Tony's Conga Adventures: Old Ashiko from Tom Flores - one of his first?

Monday, May 12, 2008

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Old Ashiko from Tom Flores - one of his first?








A friend of mine and fellow blog watcher Chris sent me some pictures of an old Valje Ashiko.

Close inspection reveals Toms signature work, on a rather odd drum. I say that, because it is made of fir, and thicker than most of his work, with a round comfortable bearing edge, witch is exactly what you would have to do,if you made it out of a softer wood.

In the beginning Tom is said to have worked with various woods. I believe he was trying to find the material that worked best for him. It would also make sense that he worked out new shapes with cheaper, more easily workable wood.

We all know he settled on one wood - said to be a Red Oak, but the armature botanist in me thinks its a White Oak (many species in both the red and white designation).

Anyway, this old drum has inexact, hand made side plates in stead of the exact stamped ones he used later in the life of Valje, the buisiness. (note: the marks under the side plates in the pic are due to mixing up the mounting of the side plates - due to the hand made nature of the side plates, they are all different)

The bands and the feet are just like the ones in the pic from the resolution site, from Ralphs collection of fotos.


Chris's Ashiko has his signature gluing technique inside (brushed off, no beads, his glue) and the bearing edge is knocked off with precision, yet still rough - Very, very Tom Flores.

The drum is thick fir, I believe. It has bands and legs seen in the picture on Tom's son Ralph's site, resolution drums.

The legs are made of Oak, as Fir legs would be too brittle and weak. I think this, and the fact that it is a fir shell, is why others have been reluctant to call this Toms work.

But really, The hardware it Toms, no doubt, with Valje stickers, legs, crown, sideplates and all. The shell has no sign of prior hardware, or tackhead tack and associated strap mounting holes.

The hardware looks original to me, and not retrofitted to this shell, for instance.

It has two Valje logo stickers, but the address is worn off - they look like the old design.. they changed the look of the lable at some point in the early 60's, i believe.

interesting to see Toms early work, this is the second all hand made old Valje by Tom that ive seen, actually.

One day i will be able to share a video i took of this old cat in Mosswood park a few years back.

He had a very Cuban looking bullet quinto of Mahogany with 5 bands with very Valje like, hand welded but almost exactly like the final Valje hardware.

I asked the old man where he got the drum (did not want to tip him off, in case he would sell it to me on the spot, so i didnt say anything about Valje). The cat tells me his neighbor Tom Flores made it out of his garage in Los Angeles!

I was blown away... he let me film it closeup with my phone.. i need to figure out how to convert it for yall.

Anyway, This is some of Tom's early work, i believe...