You never know where inspiration will strike. Philly drummer Guy Juravich got the idea for his invention, the Spinbal, while watching a performer twirl a lasso at a Texas nightclub.
His big breakthrough in designing the nifty device - a cymbal spinner that offers drummers bold new frontiers in sound - came when a skateboarder knocked him down on South Street.
He's since had packaging-design and marketing help from students at the La Salle University Center for Entrepreneurship.
We spoke with Juravich recently about his sonic a-ha moment and his product, now available for preordering online at Spinbal.com and expected to be ready for shipping at GuitarCenter.com and other outlets by June.
The genesis of this came while on tour?
I was playing in Dallas in 2013, halfway through a two-month tour with the Pretty Things Peepshow. We were in the backing band, the Peepin' Toms.
Our opening act was a famous rope thrower - a lasso artist. Being a Northerner, I'd never seen this. I was enamored with that motion, how it went along with the music. So I started to spin the cymbals.
Every break or stop in a song, I would do it. When the band was introduced at the end of the night, I got a standing ovation.
At first, it was purely a visual thing.
First, it was to engage the audience. Doing it the rest of the tour, I started recognizing the sonic qualities, that it had a beautiful vibrato, a wobbly shaking [when the cymbal was struck].
I also noticed that when spinning the cymbals with sizzlers [chains draped on a cymbal], you got a nice, consistent white noise. I thought that could be especially great for solo acts or small bands looking to add to their sound.
The first part was the discovery. The question then was how do I get it to spin longer, instead of just 30 to 40 seconds?
After [the] tour, it came to me when a skater knocked me over on South Street. A skateboard wheel landed right in front of my face. I realized that a bearing would be the perfect approach.
The 608 "skateboard" bearing has an interior diameter of 8 mm - the diameter of every cymbal stand. An astrophysicist friend helped me settle on a design for the housing, which I developed using a CAD program.
I took the design to NextFab in Philly and they 3D printed a prototype, which gave me a proof of concept.
Twenty seconds of spin time went to over 10 minutes.
You've gotten a lot of feedback from musicians.
One of the first musicians I reached out to was Makaya McCraven, a noted jazz drummer that I know from high school. He loves it so much we're using his quote on our packaging.
John Convertino from Calexico played around with it in the studio. Ira Elliot of the band Nada Surf took it on tour to Europe. These were only prototypes, but they're dying to get more.
I also got advice from equipment manufacturers about selecting the right material and bearings, because it turns out a skateboard bearing is not ideal.
Are you seeing interest across all genres?
The interesting thing is the different kinds of drummers that are reaching out. A lot of classically trained concert musicians have reached out to me. Percussionists from major orchestras. A lot of metal drummers and Latin-style percussionists.
How much will a Spinbal cost?