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Where the melodies are made

Profile: Starting as a side business, percussion-rental company serves some high-profile clients

Posted: August 5, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: August 5, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Owners Abby and Dan Savell stand in their warehouse at L.A. Percussion Rentals in Santa Clarita. Owners Abby and Dan Savell stand in their warehouse at L.A. Percussion Rentals in Santa Clarita.
Owners Abby and Dan Savell stand in their warehouse at L.A. Percussion Rentals in Santa Clarita.

A musically passionate couple in Santa Clarita can honestly say they are surprised at the success that came from an idea that originally was meant to provide them with more time to perform in a band.

Five years ago, the owners of Los Angeles Percussion Rentals in Santa Clarita started the company solely as a side business, renting instruments to people in the music industry.

Today, company owners Dan and Abby Savell have made a success of the venture.

What once was a small business, L.A. Percussion Rentals, or LAPR, now rents out 10 times the number of instruments it had when it launched.

The rental company caters to clients such as the Los Angeles Philharmonic, The London Royal Philharmonic, award-winning composer Hans Zimmer, lead singer Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, California Institute of the Arts, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and more.

“Since we started specializing in the harder-to-find things, that is when we really got more attention from the bigger-name artists and composers,” Dan Savell, 36, said.

LAPR has also provided props for film and television productions “The Social Network” and “Glee.”

“The reason I think that we get the calls for the very high-end things like that, ... is the personal attention,” Dan Savell said.

The company prides itself in carrying as much inventory and selection as possible — only the very best of instruments.

LAPR’s business model, and what really attributes to its success, is that the company doesn’t skimp on anything, Dan Savell said.

When the Savells first rented warehouse space, they wanted to design it differently from most warehouses, Dan Savell said.

LAPR wanted instruments to be organized and to allow enough room to see all of them, requiring a five-month renovation period, Abby Savell said.

“We wanted the space to be fairly friendly for composers and percussionists to come and try things out,” Dan Savell said.

Success on stage
Still actively performing musicians, the couple has been a part of the band Nesta for six years, and rarely turn down jobs if they can avoid it, Abby Savell, 31, said.

LAPR’s niche in the industry is in the orchestral market, and the company rents some unusual musical instruments.

“Star Wars: in Concert” requested “chromatically tuned” cowbells; meaning the bells were tuned to a music scale with 12 pitches.

LAPR was able to fulfill the request for the concert production. The cowbell sounds cover four octaves, and the bells are the rarest instrument the company has, Abby Savell said.

The company also has chromatically tuned wooden blocks, made in-house at LAPR, available for rental. The blocks impressed Neil Grover, percussionist with the world-renowned Boston Symphony Orchestra, she said.

Another rare piece carried by LAPR is the keyboard glockenspiel, similar to the xylophone with a set of tuned keys arranged in the fashion of the keyboard of a piano.

When you’re working as a percussionist, you expect to have all the instruments available, Dan Savell said.

In one month’s time, the couple rented out instruments to Star Wars: in Concert, Sting and the Aspen Music Festival.
“(For) almost every decision we make we always look at what it is best long term; from the littlest decision to the biggest decision,” Dan Savell said.

LAPR recently expanded by establishing a partnership with a rental company in San Francisco. 

The local rental company was able to provide the San Francisco company with a truck full of high-end percussion equipment that will now be stored, and made available to clients, in the Bay Area.

Community care
LAPR has shipped equipment as far as Amsterdam, and also participates in the Ojai Music Festival each year. The owners try to make it easier for neighboring areas and groups to utilize their service.

For local Santa Clarita businesses, there is no delivery charge added to the cost of equipment rentals.

And only two months ago, LAPR sponsored a local event at the Remo Recreational Music Center called Vibe Summit.
Remo Belli, founder of Remo of Valencia, came by when LAPR first opened to congratulate them.

“I never thought this would turn into what it has,” Dan said.  “It was more about the passion for music than the money.”

L.A. Percussion Rentals is located at 26450 Ruether Ave, Suite 208, Santa Clarita and be reached at (310) 666-8152 or


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