Vic Firth
Vic Firth in 2006
Vic Firth in 2006
Background information
Birth nameEverett Joseph Firth
Born(1930-06-02)June 2, 1930
Winchester, Massachusetts, U.S.
DiedJuly 26, 2015(2015-07-26) (aged 85)
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Occupation(s)Musician, business owner
Instrument(s)Percussion instruments, drums, timpani
Years active1946–2015

Everett Joseph "Vic" Firth[1] (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.[2] He was also known for his association with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.


Vic Firth was born June 2, 1930, in Winchester, Massachusetts.[3] He was raised in Sanford, Maine by parents Everett E. and Rosemary Firth, where he graduated from Sanford High School.[4] 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.

Firth was the principal timpanist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra from 1956 to 2002. He was the orchestra's youngest member when music director Charles Munch hired him as a percussionist in 1952.[5]

Firth wrote several books in his career. He wrote The Solo Timpanist in 1963,[6] followed by Marching Drums in 1964.[7] He wrote for beginning snare drum with his Snare Drum Method Book I - Elementary [8] and Snare Drum Method Book II - Intermediate,[9] published in 1967 and 1968. These books combined the concepts of orchestral snare drum technique with 30 Drum rudiments. He published the more advanced book The Solo Snare Drummer in 1968.[10]

Firth died at the age of 85 on July 26, 2015, at his home in Boston, Massachusetts.[11]

Vic Firth Company

Vic Firth Company
Company typePrivate
IndustryManufacturer of percussion sticks and mallets, salt and pepper mills, and rolling pins
Founded1963; 61 years ago (1963)
Number of locations
Key people
Vic Firth, founder

Founded in 1963 and headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, the company bills itself as the world's largest manufacturer of drumsticks and mallets, which are made in their factories in Newport, Maine and Norwell, Massachusetts.[12][13][14] In 2010, the company merged with Avedis Zildjian Company; officials said at the time that the companies would continue to run independently.[15]

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.[2]

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.[2] 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.[16]

See also


  1. ^ Fox, Margalit (July 28, 2015). "Vic Firth, Who Gave Drummers Their Sticks, Dies at 85". The New York Times. Retrieved April 15, 2018 – via
  2. ^ a b c "The History and Development of Vic Firth Inc". Vic Firth. Archived from the original on February 13, 2012. Retrieved October 14, 2012.
  3. ^ "Vic Firth Company Founder: Vic Firth". Retrieved January 23, 2012.
  4. ^ "SHS Hall of Fame: Vic Firth". Retrieved January 9, 2014.
  5. ^ "Vic Firth, 85; was celebrated BSO timpanist and drumstick maker". Boston Globe. Retrieved August 2, 2015.
  6. ^ Firth, VicThe Solo Timpanist. Carl Fischer, 1963.
  7. ^ Firth, Vic (1964). Marching Drums. Carl Fischer.
  8. ^ Firth, Vic. Snare Drum Method Book I - Elementary. Carl Fischer, 1967.
  9. ^ Firth, Vic. Snare Drum Method Book II - Intermediate. Carl Fischer, 1968.
  10. ^ Firth, VicThe Solo Snare Drummer. Carl Fischer, 1968.
  11. ^ "Vic Firth, noted BSO timpanist, drumstick maker, dies at 85". Boston Globe. July 28, 2015. Retrieved July 28, 2015.
  12. ^ "THE VIC FIRTH BRAND JOURNEY". Vic Firth. Retrieved October 31, 2023.
  13. ^ "Vic Firth". Vic Firth. January 20, 2012. Retrieved October 14, 2012.
  14. ^ "The Vic Firth Brand Journey". Vic Firth Company. 2020. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  15. ^ "Vic Firth Company and Avedis Zildjian Company Announce Merger". Archived from the original on December 22, 2010. Retrieved December 21, 2010.
  16. ^ "Vic Firth Gourmet". Vic Firth Gourmet. Retrieved October 14, 2012.