After a decade spent laying the groundwork, the Japanese manufacturer captured the imaginations of drummers who obsessed over its top-level endorsers, including the drum heroes Rick Marotta, Andy Newmark, and Steve Gadd. Today players like the Dave Matthews Band’s Carter Beauford, Pearl Jam’s Matt Cameron, and jazz greats John Riley, Dafnis Prieto, and Antonio Sanchez continue to rely on Yamaha drums for their professional sound and construction. Here’s a rundown of some of the company’s notable acoustic lines from over the years.
1967 The Japanese corporation, whose roots in instrument manufacturing go back eighty years prior, introduces its first drum lines, the D20 and D30, in an effort to offer instruments to musicians inspired by the wave of British Invasion bands like the Beatles.
1976 Yamaha’s System Drum concept unifies drum-mounting hardware across the company’s lines, allowing players to mix and match as they desired. Notable aspects included hex rods, 22 mm freestanding hardware piping, and hideaway boom stands.
1977 Yamaha introduces a bona fide classic drumset in its YD9000 model, later known as the Recording Custom. It features 100 percent birch shells, one-piece lugs, and piano-finishing techniques. Top endorsers include Steve Gadd and Cozy Powell.
1984 The Tour Custom model is introduced, replacing the YD7000. This original kit featured shells made of meranti wrapped in birch. Yamaha’s now reviving Tour Custom with thin maple shells.
1991 Yamaha introduces maple shells in response to changes in contemporary music styles and recording technology, via its Maple Custom line. Hardware mass is reduced to aid in shell resonance, leading to the Yamaha Enhanced Sustain System (or YESS) nodal mount design.
1996 Stage Custom is introduced, employing the same type of birch shell and one-piece lugs used in the RC series but at a lower price point.
Yamaha tom-mounting innovations, from left: ball mount clamp, hook lug, Nouveau lug, small lug, and YESS system
2002 Oak Custom drums, benefiting from the company’s Air Seal System technology, are introduced.
2008 Yamaha’s PHX line features a hybrid shell and minimally sized lugs that suppress unwanted harmonics.
2011 Yamaha appeals to vintage drum fans with the Club Custom line, marrying modern manufacturing techniques with retro-looking, hand-painted swirl finishes that pay homage to ’60s-era designs, but without the vibration-restricting nature of wraps.
2013 The Live Custom series is created to be ideal for live situations. It features 1.2 mm oak plies that are 10 percent thicker than those used on Oak Custom drums, with bass drum shells made of eight plies and tom and snare shells made of six.
2016 Iconic Yamaha drummer Steve Gadd collaborates on the design of a new Recording Custom set, which aims to provide a more focused sound and a rounder, deeper tone. North American birch 6-ply shells with 30-degree bearing edges are complemented by a redesigned Hi Tension lug that is weighted to enhance lower frequencies.