Monday, August 18, 2008

Jay never really left...

I wanted to confirm some information that has been floating around for a while. For the longest time it seemed that Skin on Skin Percussion would no longer exist. Jay had been making drums for eons, and unfortunately hit a rough patch and was thinking about calling it quits. Just recently the conga community recieved word that he was back in business. I called Jay today to basically catch up and confirm some details.

For all you New Yorker's who remember Jay's shop on Atlantic Ave, know that it no longer exists as Skin on Skin. Jay packed up and moved to upstate NY (Afton to be exact) to set up shop there. When I talked to Jay today he seemed to be in very good spirits and mentioned that with the help of his apprentice Joshua Scott, he will be making drums as long as he can.

Now this information has been floating around in cyberspace and in the community for a while. Mark Sanders has put it out there. Various blogs and the congaboard as well. I wanted to ask Jay whether he is still doing the majority of the work, and he confirmed that he is. So if you do place an order for a conga, or bata, or bongo, rest assured that the master will be doing the work personally. It may take 3 months or so, but thats not bad considering the time it takes to make a drum from scratch. His congas start at $750 for whatever type of wood drum you want. Jay's best work is probably his oak and cherry drums. He also sells skins. Jay turned 70 not too long ago, and I asked him if he is still playing, his response, "I actually just started playing again a couple of weeks ago..". It was good to hear Jay in such good spirits.

(Set of Skin on Skin bata, photo provided by BongosNotBombs on

Skin on Skin Percussion
1618 State Highway 41
Afton, NY 13730
(607) 639-2417

(great tres golpes, pic from Taikonoatama from

(more eye candy from Taikonoatama from

check out Tony's great conga site (he covers Jay's drums in various posts):


CongaDR said...

Man, so glad to hear Jay is so involved.

And thank you Mr. Scott, for keeping it going!!!

bongos not bombs said...

Hey Ralph,
Nice blog you have going here. Just to keep the credits straight, those bata belong to Akihiro Tsuzuki who used to play with Orchestra De Luz.
I got the image from his website which has more images of the bata and another set of Skin on Skin.
He really loves his bata and says they are cherry and he doesn't show the imgaes often.
His website is here:

Sentimiento Manana said...

Tony, I wanted to make sure I asked whether he was doing the work, I know people wanted to know...

BNB's, thanks for clearing it up on the credits. I knew you had gotten it from somewhere...good to see you post on the blog.

Rumba Clave said...

Hey, those are my SoS'! - the shot of the one on the back porch is from the set of three in the other shot. BnB was actually over at my place for a session last night and played them. Sure do love these drums - very fine craftsmanship, beautiful sound, gorgeous quarter-sawn oak with nice tight grain, great skins that really feel wonderful on the hands - buttery - some of the very best drums around.


Bongos not Bombs said...

I've been talking to Jay as I've ordered some congas from him.

Anyways seems like bata are on the back burner, he's not really sure if their going to keep making them. Seems like they are labor intensive, but he can't charge as much as a conga for them.

Sentimiento Manana said...


Those drums looked great which is why i posted the pic, hope that was cool. I could only imagine how good they sound, I know the bottom end must be monstrous

Sentimiento Manana said...


Last time I talked to Jay it seemed like it was no problem to order bata, but since you probably talked to him after I did maybe he is changing strategy...i hope he doesn't completely phase it out

Cara said...

Hi, I'm Cara, Jay Bereck's daughter. Great blog! I really enjoyed reading some of the comments on Skin on Skin here--and there are some beautiful pictures of his drums!
I went to visit him in Afton this summer, and he and Joshua surprised me by showing me a gorgeous oak set that they were making for me and my family. He brought the drums to me last week, here in Israel, and invested some time in teaching his youngest grandson how to play--amazing how los ritmos span the generations!
Thanks again, and thanks for helping to dispel the rumours--Skin on Skin IS doing business as usual.
Cara Bereck Levy

Sentimiento Manana said...

but of course, with the help of guys like Tony and Geordie, we are just trying to do our part in spreading the word and keeping Jay's name alive and well in the conga world...thanks for checking in....