Vic Firth in 2006
June 2, 1930|
Winchester, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Died||July 26, 2015
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Musician, business owner|
|Instruments||Percussion instruments, cornet, trombone, clarinet, piano, drums, timpani|
Everett Joseph "Vic" Firth (June 2, 1930 - July 26, 2015) was an American musician and the founder of Vic Firth Company (formerly Vic Firth, Inc.), a company that makes percussion sticks and mallets.
Founded in 1963 and headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, the company bills itself as the world's largest manufacturer of drum sticks and mallets, which are made in Newport, Maine. In 2010, the company merged with Avedis Zildjian Company; officials said at the time that the companies would continue to run independently.
Vic Firth was born June 2, 1930, in Winchester, Massachusetts. He was raised in Sanford, Maine by parents Everett E. and Rosemary Firth, where he graduated from Sanford High School. Son of a successful trumpet player, he started learning the cornet at age four, turning later to percussion, trombone, clarinet, piano, and music arrangement. When he reached high school, he was a full-time percussionist, and created an 18-piece band at age 16. He played a variety of percussion instruments such as vibraphone, timpani and the drum set. He held a Bachelor's degree, as well as an Honorary Doctorate in Music from New England Conservatory in Boston.
|Industry||Manufacturer of percussion sticks and mallets, salt and pepper mills, and rolling pins|
Number of locations
Boston, Massachusetts (headquarters)
Newport, Maine (manufacturing)
|Vic Firth, Founder|
The company began when Firth, who had been performing with the Boston Symphony Orchestra for 12 years, was asked to perform pieces which he felt required a higher-quality drumstick than those that were currently being manufactured. Firth decided to design a set of his own sticks.
Firth hand-whittled the first sticks himself from bulkier sticks and sent these prototypes to a wood turner in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The two prototypes that he sent would become the SD1 and SD2, the first two models of sticks manufactured by Vic Firth, Inc. Firth said, "It came out of necessity, not of imagination or my ability to start a company." Although the sticks were initially intended for Firth's personal use, they gained popularity among his students and were eventually carried by retailers.
As of 2012, the company offered about 300 products, and made 12 million sticks a year. The company also produced a line of pepper mills, salt grinders, and rolling pins sold under the Vic Firth Gourmet brand for many years until those interests were sold to Maine Wood Concepts of New Vineyard, Maine in 2012 and re-branded under the name Fletchers' Mill.