So… What Happened to Regal Tip?

Posted on January 22, 2023

Edit (September 2023): So... this article has quickly become the most popular thing I’ve written (by a considerable margin), and my piece is now one of the first things to show up when you Google something to the effect of “Regal Tip out of business”. Well, I have a few important updates to share.

First, we should pay homage to Regal Tip founder Joe Calato, who passed away at the start of the month at the ripe age of 102. Secondly, it looks like Regal Tip has started a bit of an overhaul — a Shopify site has now been launched, and although the inventory has been scaled back, comments online have confirmed that the company is shipping sticks in some capacity, directly from their own site.

It’s still a recent development, but it looks like Regal Tip is back! We can only hope the company keeps it together — we don’t want this to become the next Xymox where orders are only fulfilled for a select few.

I have to wonder what to do about my article now. I’m tempted to pull it, or at least remove it from indexing. I don’t want to cause any confusion about Regal Tip’s condition, and I still don’t know how I feel when it comes to speculating about the Calato family. I’m not exactly muckraking; none of this info was hard to find, it’s just spread out over the web.

Still, I know that my article is getting passed around the internet, so if someone learns that Regal Tip is back from my post, I guess that’s a good thing. I usually append my articles with updates, but it felt important to get this right up top.

I do feel for the Regal Tip fans out there — Vic Firth temporarily pulled the stick I use, and while it eventually came back into production about three months after I found out... what a long three months those were.

I’ll try to keep tabs on this story to see if anything else transpires. On that note, here’s the original post:

I want to do the drumming community a public service and round up some info regarding drumstick manufacturer Regal Tip.

Rumors are all over the internet about Regal Tip being out of business. Nothing has been confirmed, but what is true is that it’s basically been impossible to buy a pair of Regal Tip drumsticks for several years now. While I don’t use Regal Tip, I feel sorry for the people who do — the sticks you play with are a highly personal choice since it’s the key way you interact with your instrument. I’ll be heartbroken if Vic Firth ever discontinues the AJ5.

Edit (February 2023): Guess what just happened?

Anyhoo, the fact that the Regal Tip website is still running only adds to the confusion, although I suspect that the domain is on auto-renewal; whois says the domain will expire in 2025. The cracks are beginning to show in the meantime since the TLS certificate is gone (if the site ever had one). 

Moreover, the socials have been dormant for quite some time, with the exception of their Facebook page — someone was uploading videos until November of this past year, while (almost comically) ignoring the clamor of commenters asking “What the hell happened to you guys?”. 

This forum thread has most of the info: apparently, production wound down towards the end of the last decade as the company began to replace the aging machinery in its factory. But problems with the new hardware stymied plans to reset in 2020, and the difficulties were turbocharged by the pandemic. 

It’s all hearsay though. What’s less of a rumor and more of a fact is that there’s now some sort of a dispute within the Calato family that runs Regal Tip, specifically between Carol, daughter of Regal Tip founder Joe, and Carol’s own daughter, Michelle. 

Hard facts are tough to come by, but we do have a screenshot of an alleged Facebook post from Michelle:

There are more social media comments here and there, but I’m not going to spread any more rumors about a family’s acrimonious situation. 

It would be nice if the staff at Regal Tip would address the bavardage, but as I said, nobody seems interested. I don’t think anyone expects details about family matters, but at least say something

Meanwhile, Carol was on some music business podcast back in October of ’21, making no mention of the company’s status.

In terms of actual news, a New York–based website profiled Joe and the company for his 101st birthday a few months ago, and the article curiously says “Granddaughter Michelle now in charge of the business”. 

Could it be that the grievances have been sorted out? The article also confirms a rumor that the company is in the process of relocating to Niagara Falls. All three of the Calato family members were interviewed, and unsurprisingly, none of them touched upon the fact that Regal Tip hasn’t made a drumstick in almost four years. 

But maybe that’s a reason for all you Regal Tip fans out there to be optimistic. Perhaps the company will come back this year, and the silence is part of the business strategy — get back to making sticks, and don’t draw any attention to the glitches, although soft–pedaling the circumstances would be a bit beyond brazen at this point.

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