Updated: Apr 19
Samuel J. Welch is the founder and CEO of Welch Tuning Systems, Inc. In a moment of frustration in 2015, Samuel's metaphorical lightbulb exploded into brilliance and provided him with the solution to the longstanding problem of tuning drums. Let us retrace his steps to this significant moment...
A Musician from the Start
Born in Juneau, Alaska, Samuel was raised off the grid (no plumbing or electricity!) in the mountains of Colorado. Here he developed a strong work ethic and a keen sense of creativity and innovation from an early age.
Most importantly, Samuel found a passion for drumming...whenever and wherever possible! Starting at age 5, he turned his house, furniture, and the surrounding woods into his personal drum set.
Samuel pursued drumming throughout his childhood. He was always excited to participate in his elementary music class and later in the high school's concert, marching, and jazz bands. As every band geek knows, such experiences provide a lifelong appreciation of teamwork, love of music and creativity, and understanding that "practice makes perfect".
As an adult, Samuel has played with numerous professional bands, including Mighty High, the Deadlocks, Paper Bird, Natural Motives, and Engine 99. He also enjoys playing the cello, mandolin, guitar, and banjo.
Keys to His Success
Self-discipline, motivation, and determination have long been key to Samuel's success. He accredits the foundation of these skills to his early introduction to martial arts. Samuel began his TaeKwonDo training at age 5, competed in the Junior Olympics at age 8, and earned his black belt by age 10.
When he turned 15 years old, Samuel used his life's savings to purchase a rusty 1973 Toyota Land Cruiser. For the next three years, he bussed tables in restaurants every day after school to save enough money to buy the tools and parts needed to fix the vehicle.
Samuel finished rebuilding the Land Cruiser after 3 years of hard work, just in time to drive it to school on the last day of his senior year. He has carried this strong work ethic and pride in a job well done into every aspect of his professional career.
The Only Artisan Blacksmith/Drummer?
Since 2004, Samuel has led a very unique career path. He initially trained as a massage therapist. Although he enjoyed the profession, few jobs were available once he graduated. While perusing a newspaper, he spotted a job opening for a Blacksmith Apprentice. For the next 10+ years, Samuel honed in his ironworking skills.
Today, Samuel's portfolio features a diverse collection of traditional and contemporary ironwork. As a highly-skilled artisan blacksmith, Samuel has designed and built for multi-million-dollar homes throughout Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and Idaho.
The Origin of WTS
The spark for the Welch Tuning System (WTS) came to Samuel after he opened his own drum school in Evergreen, Colorado and began to work full-time as a professional drummer.
Samuel, like many drummers, was frustrated with the lengthy and inaccurate process of tuning drums. Samuel was thus motivated to develop a solution; he ultimately used his creative talents and innovative perspective to imagine his single-point tuning system.
The first prototype tuned drums so well that Samuel knew he had to make it available to other drummers and music industry professionals. He formed his team and company; wrote his own patent (with help from the team, a patent attorney, and others); and worked with Patrick Auell to design, engineer, and produce a high-quality prototype.
Throughout this multi-year process, Samuel worked full-time as an Artisan Blacksmith in Jackson, Wyoming. Apart from working, writing the patent, and skiing, he found time to play a number of gigs in the region. It was at a New Year's Eve gig in 2016 that Samuel met Laura Welch, now a Welch Tuning Systems, Inc. team member and Samuel's wife. The following year, the couple moved to Denver, Colorado to work full-time for the company.
The 2018 Winter NAMM Show
The WTS drums debuted in January 2018 at the world-renowned National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Show in Anaheim, California. Many music industry professionals were amazed by how well the Welch Tuning System worked and how great the drum kit sounded.
Launch of New WTS Drums in 2019
After a year of hard work and product development, as well as a move to northern Montana with his wife Laura, Samuel launched the WTS Artistry Series™, the first line of drums featuring the Welch Tuning System. The reception at the 2019 NAMM Show was fabulous and included participation in the highly prestigious NAMM Media Day. At the following Summer NAMM Show, the company received the prestigious Editors Choice Award from Music Inc. Magazine.
'Best In Show' at the 2020 Winter NAMM Show
Samuel and the WTS team once again shared the WTS drums with the world at the 2020 NAMM Show. It was an incredible experience! Through Samuel's hard work, the WTS Artistry Series drums were showcased throughout the percussion hall floor, from D'Addario, to Bosphorus Cymbals to the Welch Tuning Systems booth to Drum Talk TV.
The most exciting and part of the NAMM Show was when Welch Tuning Systems, Inc. was awarded Best In Show in the category Companies to Watch!
Both Welch Tuning Systems, Inc. and the WTS drums were highlighted by Best In Show panelist Robert Christie of A & G Central Music. Robert gave a very poignant speech about the integrity, honesty, and drive of Samuel, as well as Samuel's dedication to working with retailers and creating a high-quality product.
Making the Best of 2020
Following the NAMM Show, 2020 proved to be a very difficult year for the music industry. With a pandemic at hand and the fight for racial justice coming to the forefront, Samuel spent the year working to support the music community. Samuel committed to staying open throughout the pandemic, encouraged followers to support local music shops and artists, spearheaded a drum sale that provided donations to local retailers, implemented an Inclusion & Equity Policy for Welch Tuning Systems, highlighted virtual performances from venues and artists on social media, and developed a number of more affordable professional WTS drums and products for 2021.
Great Start for 2021!
Samuel's hard work of 2020 came to light at the virtual 2021 NAMM Show where he and his team launched four new products: the working drummer's WTS Epiphany Series™ 3-piece shell pack and snare, the WTS Steve Pruitt Signature Snare, and WTS hardware kits for drum builders.
Since then Samuel has also added apparel and TnR Booty Shakers to the online WTS shop, collaborated with Red Rock Drums Australia, garnered a WTS drums review from Hamilton drummer and SONOR artist Andrés Forero, and more!
Onward and Upward
As an artist, entrepreneur, and visionary, Samuel works non-stop to support Welch Tuning Systems and the music industry. He and his team continue to bring on new dealers, expand the company's product offerings, collaborate with other drum builders, welcome new WTS artists, and more! In every aspect of the business, Samuel leads the company with high-end customer service, quality products, and a love of music. He believes the WTS drums will help every drummer Live In Tune®.