Given the number of musicians in this city, it’s kind of shocking how few stores there are selling music gear. Shopping for equipment is even more of a challenge if you’re a drummer. Shops are few and far between, and not always particularly practical when you do find them. For example, the new drum room at Chicago Music Exchange is beautiful, but unless you’re a one percenter, you most likely won’t be making much of a purchase. You’ll probably wind up at Guitar Center, home of mediocre inventory and pushy salespeople.

I’ve been playing drums for about 15 years, and since I started, my go-to shop has been the Drum Pad in Palatine. What made this place so great was its general manager, Victor Salazar. Salazar is a supercool, calm, long-haired 38-year drum veteran who’s always been beyond passionate and knowledgeable.

Salazar recently left his position at the Drum Pad after 16 years, but luckily for the drummers of Chicago, he’s opening up his own place.