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Author Topic: A little history of your craft. Know about it. (Must Read)  (Read 18811 times)

Offline L.V.Drumma

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A little history of your craft. Know about it. (Must Read)
« on: December 26, 2009, 08:54:57 PM »
I was going to wait until New Years to refresh everyones mind about it but I changed my mind.  But this is somethin' we all should know about. There are too many drummers that claim they love their instrument but yet dont know atleast a decent amount of the history of what they are playing on. So i wanted to share this so ppl who dont know can know, and others can be refreshed. Here are the links to the original sites:



-From cmeabay

History & Origins

The various pieces of the drum set have origins spanning thousands of years: from the Ancient Romans' adoption of African drums around 200 B.C. to the circulation of the Turk-made bass drum throughout Europe in the 1500's. So where did so many wildly varying cultures come together to form one unified set, you ask? Well, the answer lies in American history. As the use of Africans for slave labor became more common in the 1800's, the slaves began creating their own variations of their culture's instruments. Slaves were not generally allowed to play music, but hand-crafted drum sets were often ignored, and by the time more of America recognized the drum set's existence, no one even knew it had been originally created by African-American slaves.

As America entered the 20th century, drum sets and African rhythms began to break into the mainstream. As more beats relied on the use of cymbals, the size of the cymbals gradually increased; the initially-used Chinese tom-toms were replaced with their African variants; and the size of the hi-hat was increased to make playing with sticks easier. Thus, the modern drum set as we know it today began to take its shape.


-From drumtek

The Evolution of the Modern Drum Kit
Story by Ray Deegan
It's not easy to accept that while today's elite players demonstrate almost superhuman feats of technical prowess on countless configurations of drums and cymbals, in reality after nearly a century of evolution nothing is really new! There is no questioning the ability of today's elite players but a close study on drums of the 20th century reveals that history does have a tendency to repeat itself.

Aided by the advancement of technology drum manufacturers in the 90's have basically refined the greatest inventions of the 20's, 30's and 40's endeavouring to provide today's elite with the best tools possible for perfecting their craft.

As we draw to the close of the 20th century and look to the new millennium, Drumscene asks the question

What is the "Modern Drumkit" and just how far can it be refined and improved?

The universally accepted "Modern Drumkit" of today only began to take shape around 1930.

As with so much of today's technology the initial invention underwent several generations of improvement slowly refining and scaling down the technology to suit the convenience of a society under constant change.

This process of technical evolution was no more prevalent than in the early decades of the 20th century.

In the late 1800's it was commonplace to find several drummers in one band. Each drummer was assigned an instrument, snare drum, cymbals, a bass drum and took their place amongst relatively large bands of musicians. In the late 1890's things began to change.

At the turn of the century most musicians were employed in the pit area of theatres performing forvaudille. As the pit became smaller so too did the band. No longer was it possible to have three drummers.

Necessity forced drummers to re-think their position, experimenting with the idea of playing more than one instrument at the same time.

In the late 1890's the development of the bass drum pedal sparked a new generation of invention. Suddenly the bass drum pedal enabled one drummer to play two drums at once. Initial designs had no spring and required the drummer to control both the striking action and the recoil with an exhausting and restrictive heel toe motion. Adding to the awkward playing action was the fact that the most commonly used bass drum size of the era was 26 inches or larger further compounding the sluggish nature of the heel toe action.

While drummers were still adapting to this new invention it was thought that perhaps cymbals could be played in the same manner. Early bass drum pedal designs began to include cymbal strikers (See Diagram 4). Strikers were attached to the shaft of the bass drum beater. A cymbal was mounted on one side of the bass drum hoop allowing the bass drum and cymbal to be struck simultaneously.

While the first patent ever registered for a combined bass drum pedal and cymbal striker dates back to as early as 1888, it wasn't until 1909 that William F. Ludwig and his brother Theobald made history, revolutionizing drumming with the invention of the first spring driven pedal. Immediately drummers were able to play faster and for longer periods of time (See Diagram 6). Ludwigs new pedal designs grew to include a mechanism that allowed drummers to switch the cymbal striker on and off with their foot as desired. The idea that a drummer could play a multitude of drums, cymbals and sound effects was now plausible and in fact, reality!

The drum-kit at this point was still very much in the infant stages of development. In 1918 Ludwig began marketing arguably one of the first drum-sets ever offered. The Ludwig "Jazz-er-up" outfit consisted of a 24" X 8 bass drum, 12" X 3 snare drum, bass drum pedal with cymbal striker, suspended cymbal and hoop mounted wood block. (See Diagram 8)

Ludwig later added an accessory package consisting of two single headed tuneable toms, cowbells, two tone blocks and triangles.

The modern drum-kit was now beginning to take shape.

In the mid 20's drummers began to realise the potential of tom-toms in creating and expanding the scope of sounds available to them. The development of the modern tom-tom began with the Chinese tom-tom. This crudely made drum consisted of a shell with two heads (top and bottom). Each head was folded and tacked to the outer of the shell and displayed a painted traditional Chinese symbol or dragon. (See Diagram 7)

Usually small in size Chinese toms were hung from a bass drum lug with wire. As their popularity grew so too did the development of the "Trap-Tree or Console".

In the early 20's a craze began and lasted until World War II. Drummers everywhere began using Trap Tables, Trap Boards and Consoles designed to mount Chinese toms, triangles, tambourines, cowbells, temple blocks and cymbals. Consoles were the equivalent of modern day rack systems aided by the convenience of wheels. (See Diagram 2)

While the most popular console design consisted of a curved bar which followed the contour of the bass-drum, others included trays for sticks, bird whistles and other sound effects. Consoles grew to include mounts for snare drum and tom-toms, making the drum outfit easily transportable as it rolled into and out of the pits on wheels. (See Diagram 3 and 10)

The primary manufacturer of consoles and trap trees in the 20's, 30's and 40's was Premier in England, as well as Walberg &Auge who supplied major drum companies Ludwig and Gretsch. As the development of mounting systems and hardware continued so too did the tom-tom. By the late 20's Ludwig, Leedy and various other companies began adding to the catalogue a range of Chinese tom-toms in sizes varying from 7 inches in diameter to 20 inches.

In the late 20's and early 30's a new tom-tom began to appear on the scene. Featuring a tuneable top head early versions of the first tuneable tom either had the traditional tacked on bottom head the same as a Chinese tom, or no bottom head at all! (See Diagram 9)

Early tuneable heads were made by tacking a vellum or calf head onto a wooden counter hoop which in turn was tensioned with T-rods and claws. Ludwig first added tuneable toms to their catalogue in 1932, but at this stage the Chinese tom-tom was still the preferred option.

It wasn't until the mid 30's that tom-toms with both tuneable top and bottom heads would stun the drumming world.

The modern drum-kit was now becoming a familiar site in theatres and film houses all across the world.

Up until 1928 drummers had persisted with the "Clanger" or cymbal striker as earlier covered. Drummers tired of the monotonous characteristic clanging sound of the cymbal striker turned to the Snow Shoe Sock Pedal. Designed as an alternative method of independently playing cymbals the player would simply slip his foot into the toe strap and press down to hit the top and bottom cymbal together. Aided by a spring loaded hinge the top and bottom cymbal would recoil and hit together as desired similar to the hi-hat action familiar to us all today. (See Diagram 12, see following page)

Although the snow shoe sock pedal, in all its variations and models, was an improvement on the clanger, it soon gave way to the Low-Boy. The low-boy sat approximately 9 inches off the floor and utilized 10" and 12" cymbals with very large bells. The low-boy was only playable with the foot and at this stage could not be played by hand in the cross-over manner that is used today. (See Diagram 1)

In 1928 Leedy, Ludwig and Slingerland all offered a conventional Hi-Hat stand along side the low-boy in their catalogues. The conventional hi-hat stand as we know it today did not become readily accepted when first released in the late 20's. The low-boy was still the drummers first choice until the mid 30's.

When Slingerland released the Gene Krupa model manufactured by Walberg & Auge, the hi-hat gained wide acceptance leaving the low-boy to the history books. The modern drum-kit was almost complete.

Armed with these new inventions Drummers at this stage were still using wood blocks and sound effects with hoop mounted toms, racked to consoles on wheels.

In 1935 Gene Krupa changed the face of drumming by using what was refereed to as a "Stripped Down Kit". Designed by the Slingerland Company Krupa's kit was a standard four piece and included tom-toms with tuneable heads both top and bottom. Tuneable toms took the world by storm, and so too did Krupa's new streamlined kit. Stripped of the usual sound effects of blocks, cowbells etc, Krupa's star status as the drummer for the Benny Goodman band made the four piece an industry standard. His flamboyant style and extended drum solos gave rise to a new generation of solo performers. (See Diagram 13, see following page)

Gene Krupa was instrumental in developing and designing the double-headed tuneable tom-tom in conjunction with the Slingerland Company. Krupa's set-up of a bass drum, mounted 13 inch tom and one or two floors toms became the standard configuration used by players throughout popular music.

During the 20's the snare drum grew from a crudely designed six lug drum with no throw off and gut snares to a magnificent double tension ten lug drum with parallel throw offs, engraved shells and gold plating.

In 1883 Emile Boulanger patented a design for Duplex Drums that depicted a double tension single post tube lug snare drum. Boulanger's early design theories would in time become the accepted standard. Consisting of a solid wood shell and wooden hoops the Duplex design became standard manufacture for Leedy, Ludwig and most major drum companies around 1920. Common sizes available at this time included 13 inch and 14 inch diameter snare drums with 15 inch and 17 inch snare drums a widely used option. While today solid shell and block shell snare drums made from Maple, Mahogany and Walnut are a unique feature offered by expensive custom drum manufacturers, in the 20's, 30's and 40's and even 50's (Slingerland only), all the major drum manufacturers made drums this way.

It wasn't until after World War II that most drum manufacturers realized the economy of plywood shell construction and began mass manufacture this way. In 1912 Leedy produced pressed metal lug casings which held swivel nuts. Ludwig and Slingerland were to undergo several trials of their own in swivel nut design, all of which failed dismally. In 1920 Ludwig and most other drum manufacturers gave into the inevitable and adopted the swivel nut design and made it their own.

Both Ludwig and Slingerland began producing cast lug casings around 1931. These casings, although similar in appearance from company to company, were designed so drummers could identify the company by the casing. While the early tube lug designs would eventually return it seems they all looked the same and made it hard to differentiate between drum brands. Companies looking to change the appearance of their drums, making them readily identifiable and commercially appealing, turned to cast lugs made uniquely for a given model.

The advent of World War II was to change drum manufacture and design forever. Due to a shortage of metal in the 40's the government ruled that non-essential items could contain no-more than 10% of their total weight in metal. Drum manufactures were faced with the task of producing as many drum components from wood as possible. The major drum companies began manufacturing drums with all wood shells, wooden hoops, throw offs (snare action) and lug casings. The only metal components that remained were the tension rods, swivel nuts and screws used to assemble the drum.

Some of the models that graced this era were:- The Alliance by Leedy, Victory by Ludwig and The Rolling Bombers by Slingerland.

To distinctly separate and identify each brand all the major drum companies designed and produced their own hand carved lug design. This new era of all wood drums was short lived though, as the end of the war virtually signified the end of solid wood shell manufacture.

World War II had forced the major companies, and their smaller less visible rivals, to experiment with wood in every means possible. The result of forced economic and resource restrictions was the use of Plywood as the major alternative in drum manufacture. Plywood gained rapid acceptance, it was cheaper and easy to use and soon dominated drum designs.

While all drum companies turned to plywood shell construction, Slingerland remained loyal to solid wood shell manufacture for the longest period, continuing to produce solid wood shells up until 1970 when they gave in to total plywood construction.

The end of World War II also brought changes to drum company ownership. In the late 40's the Leedy name, manufacturing tools and equipment were all sold to Slingerland. The Conn company which had dominated drum ownership and manufacture sold the Ludwig name back to William F. Ludwig who had succumbed to the lack of business in 1929, selling his interests along with Leedy and several other manufacturers who struggled with the times. This movement and shuffling of ownership in the market place gave rise to a new generation of drum companies, some of which had been living in the shadows of the majors for many years.

The companies Gretsch, Rogers, George Way (Camco) and Premier began to gain greater market share. Rogers became a leader in the design of new mounting systems with the Swiv-O-Matic hardware system and The Dynosonic Snare. Kieth Moons Premier drums were fitted with Rogers Swiv-O-Matic system hardware and mounts in the late 60's and early 70's, in an attempt to prolong the life of Premier drums subjected to Moon's constant trashing at the end of live shows.

It wasn't long before all the companies began to re-design everything, experimenting with hardware and drum configurations trying to catch-up on Roger's reputation for quality.

In the 50's and 60's music world wide was undergoing constant change. Be-Bop Jazz inspired and required the drummer to play smaller drums. Cocktail drum-kits became popular giving us smaller bass drums and more portable kits. Progressively the 24 inch, 26 inch and 28 inch bass-drums characteristic of early drum design gave way to 18 inch and 20 inch bass drums popular for their punchy sound, suitable for the music of the time.

The 60's brought Rock 'n' Roll to the forefront with an emphasis on bass drum, snare and hi-hat playing. 20 inch and 22 inch bass drums now became standard for Rock 'n' Roll playing, with the addition of a 12 inch or 13 inch mounted tom and 14 inch or 16 inch floor tom.

The most popular snare drum sizes in the 50's included 14" x 5" with the Be-Bop drummer opting for new designs in 13" x 3", 13" x 4" and 14" x 4" snare drums. While the 14" x 5" snare drum was still the most popular size of the 60's Rock 'n' Roll era drummers soon began experimenting with 5 inch, 6 inch and 8 inch deep snares for a bigger and fatter sound.

Throughout the 50's and the better part if the 60's the standard 4 piece remained the most popular configuration. In 1964 Ringo Starr and The Beatles drove Ludwig into double shift production when they appeared on the Ed Sullivan show. Ludwig could barely keep up with the demand for Ringo's four piece Black Oyster Pearl design.

The most significant change of the 60's was in drum configuration when in 1965 Gretsch, Slingerland, Ludwig and Premier began to add an extra tom mounted on the bass-drum creating a 5 piece kit configuration. Early adaptations included a second tom of the same size (e.g. 2x 12 inch toms) but when a different size was added (13 inch) the 5 piece kit became popular. By the late 60's the standard five piece kit utilized 12" and 13" mounted toms, 16" floor tom and 20" or 22" x 16" bass drum.

By far the 70's and 80's brought the greatest period of experimentation since the 20's and 30's.

The "standard" kit depended completely on which style of music you played! Smaller four and five piece kits still dominated the Be-Bop or Jazz scene while multiple-toms, racks and electronic triggers became standard in Rock, Pop and Rock Fusion and Jazz Fusion.

Born as a reaction to the times the classic four piece and five piece kit was eclipsed in the 70's and 80's by bigger kits with open-ended toms, (concert-toms) and deeper drums mounted on elaborate rack systems. (A design stemming from the consoles of the 20's and 30's)

A characteristic of mainly the 70's and early 80's, drummers and studio producers began taking the bottom head off drums in an endeavour to create a bigger sound with greater projection. Drum manufacturers hungry to capture market share began producing a multitude of tom and drum-kit designs all laying claim to producing the volume and projection required for modern rock 'n' roll.

The big drum companies that had dominated the market for so many years began to lose ground as the market opened up to the new Japanese manufacturers Yamaha, Pearl and Tama. The 80's would bring the greatest challenge as drummers now had to compete with drum machines and samplers. Electronics in the 80's gave rise to a generation of new wave and new romantic bands backed by drummers using electronic pad kits. Simmons was one of the earliest companies to flood the market with their easily recognized modern electronic kit design.

While the battle with electronics robbed some drummers of a job in their early introduction it wasn't long before the new technology became an accepted part of a drummers equipment. Drummers discovered the benefits of a kit that combined all the technology available in aiding the creation and production process.

Offline SabianKnight

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Re: A little history of your craft. Know about it.
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2010, 10:18:56 PM »
* much needed bumb *

great info...
Try not to become a person of success but rather a person of VALUE. - T. Harv Eker

Offline juSe

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Re: A little history of your craft. Know about it.
« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2010, 03:06:12 AM »
Man, this is a loong read, but it is definitely troof!

Sir, you have earned yourself a sticky!

You Are Your Only Limitation!!

Offline Beastmode1983

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Re: A little history of your craft. Know about it. (Must Read)
« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2010, 08:20:03 PM »
This message that you posted is very informative man. 

Offline nessalynn77

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Re: A little history of your craft. Know about it. (Must Read)
« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2011, 06:23:20 PM »
I know I'm late, but this was a great read!


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Re: A little history of your craft. Know about it. (Must Read)
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2011, 12:44:08 PM »

Offline LyricTenor

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Re: A little history of your craft. Know about it. (Must Read)
« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2012, 11:12:17 AM »
Yo, I'm not even a drummer, but this is good food nonetheless.
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