For years, the ever-inventive drum equipment manufacturers have racked their brains. Design engineers have sweated over their T-squares. For what? Very simply, to win in the race for the great innovations—the winning ideas in design and manufacture, if you will.
Of course, most of them have been quite successful during the past half-century and the drummer of the ’80s has reaped the benefits. But they weren’t all good ideas down through the years, and those that did serve a purpose in bygone days wouldn’t quite make it by today’s standards. Some of the items you’re about to see were all the rage for a short while, then gradually faded into obscurity. Others were downright disasters from the beginning, much to the dismay of the manufacturers.
Our thanks to Danny Bevilaqua and Theodore S. Otten for their assistance in assembling this light look at a handful of paraphenalia that didn’t quite stand the test of time. Should you find yourself mumbling, “Were they serious?”. . . keep in mind, they were—quite!
“Staccato bass drum beats, or the hand struck and sustained tone—you have your choice of either . . .,” claimed the advertisement for this novel item. The Double-Beater pedal gave the player the option of striking the bass drum dead center, or slightly off-center. Item sold for $10.
The Handsock cymbal was another contraption which attempted to fill the need for unusual cymbal effects. The device could be used similar to a slapstick, or held in one hand and tapped with a drumstick. We’re told it disappeared from the scene rather abruptly.
Double-ended drumsticks, devised by E. O. Roarke of Kansas City in 1927, were advertised on the premise: “Never be stuck in the middle of a number because of tip breakage.” Good possibility that Mr. Roarke still has several thousand pairs of this model stored in his basement.
Quite the rage in the late ’20s, was this Simplex holder which held two loose cymbals, tied together, from a double-post holder fastened to the bass drum. Clearly a forerunner of the modern day hi-hat which made its debut about the same time.
This $1.25 bass drum muffler, introduced in a 1929 issue of The Ludwig Drummer, was considered “. . . a necessity for the drummer who plays four-in-a-bar.”
From Ludwig came this bass drum pedal which jingled along with every stroke of the beater. The item could be used with or without the pedal cymbal, and volume was adjustable. “The boys in the orchestra will turn around and smile,” was the catch phrase for this 1929 ad campaign.
A Drum Head Retainer designed to keep calf heads from warping when not in use. Before and after photo demonstrated the merits of this $2 item.
The Duncan Foot-Sock Pedal, priced at $7.50, gained notoriety in 1933 with its “new” vertical cymbal-mounting arrangement.
Mountain and Lake,” “Millstream,” and “Winter Scene” were just a few of the painted scenes one might choose to liven up the front of the bass drum. Multi-colored “Blinker Lights” that drew attention to the scene were available for an additional $10.
Here’s a device used primarily by the vaudeville drummers, consisting of a holder for an 11″ cymbal which attached to a snare drum. This item sold for $1.50 in 1930.
“… and the music goes round & round and it comes out here,” might best describe this 10″ cymbal, struck by a brush which attached to a bass drum pedal. This classic Rube Goldberg item was tested and approved as a “new idea” in a 1935 copy of Leedy Drum Topics. The donor was awarded $2.
Another Leedy item was the bass drum Arch Trap Rail which could accommodate a wide variety of traps. It was humbly billed, in the ’30s, as “the finest, most convenient, most practical set-up ever devised for the drummer.”
Whoever said drum manufacturers weren’t active during the ’60s revolution? It was during this period when the Hollywood Tronicdrums were introduced, offering the daring drummer a variety of tonal effects. The Hollywood concept involved electronic pickups in each drum which were wired to a control box housing volume and tone controls. Manufactured by Meazzi of Italy, Tronicdrums proved to be a rather short-lived phenomenon. Though drums and electronics did eventually mesh in the ’70s, no one broke down Meazzi s door in 1965. As a matter of fact, the negative response of American drummers probably had a lot to do with closing the door on this company.
Bass drum Wheel Spurs enabled the drummer to roll the entire bass drum and mounted traps from one place to another without upsetting a thing. Practical? Perhaps. Popular? Hardly. Leedy offered it at $5 in 1941, but the idea proved to be nothing more than a passing fancy.
An eliptical shaped bass drum was the claim to fame of the European-made Trixon Drums, undisputed winner of MD’s coveted Bomb Of The Century Award. The bass drum, which bore a striking resemblance to a flat tire, provided space for two pedals and contained an acoustical partition which created tone chambers. As if this wasn’t bad enough, conical-shaped snare drums and tom-toms were soon added to this rather gimmicky line. The halt in manufacturing was attributed to “an inability to supply parts.” Actually, inability to attract buyers might have been a more truthful diagnosis.