Happy 100th Birthday To… The Modern Drum Kit!

Did you know that 2018 marks the 100th birthday of the drum kit as we know it today?

Back in 1918, Ludwig released the Jazz Er Up. This was an “all-in-one” drum set featuring a single-tension 3″ x 12″ snare drum, and a single-tension 8″ x 24″ bass drum. In the photo below, you’ll notice the snare and bass drum heads are tensioned on the resonant side, which also pulls on the batter side at the same time! Also included were two cymbals, one 13″ Chinese crash (hanging from the bass drum) and one 12″ crash (mounted to the bass drum’s hoop). The lower hoop-mounted cymbal was hit with the bass drum pedal’s cymbal striker. The Jazz Er Up also featured a wood block mounted to the top of the bass drum’s hoop.

Ludwig Jazz Er Up 1918 Drum Kit

This kit provided a huge range of sounds to drummers at the time, and sparked the beginning of the drum kit as we know it today. While drums have been played for thousands of years, there has been a huge ongoing evolution in the relatively short time since the Jazz Er Up was released in 1918.

If you’ve got a spare five minutes, NPR has a great little audio special covering the last 100 years of drums and drum kits. Drummer and historian Daniel Glass is interviewed, along with Fugazi’s Brendan Canty – it’s a great little piece well worth listening to. Listeners are taken on a journey starting at Ludwig’s Jazz Er Up, later innovations, the invention of electronic drums, right up to today’s drum sets. Check it out below, or head to NPR’s website to listen or read the transcript.

Chad Smith Drums With Foo Fighters Live On Stage: Video

Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith joined Foo Fighters on stage Saturday night, taking over the drums during a cover of Stay With Me by The Faces (sidenote: the original song features a young Rod Stewart on vocals).

Foo Fighters were playing at Jones Beach, New York when Smith was invited onto the stage to take over on the drums.

Chad Smith Drumming With Foo Fighters

Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins handled the lead vocal role for the song, with Dave Grohl on guitar and backing vocals.

The action was captured by a fan in the crowd, check out the video footage below:

Foo Fighters are currently touring North America on their Concrete And Gold 2018 Tour.

The New Yamaha DTX402 Beginner’s Electronic Drum Kit

Yamaha have just announced a big update to their range of beginner’s electronic drum kits. The brand new Yamaha DTX402 series is designed to help new drummers improve their skills and technique, with some great features.

Yamaha DTX452K Beginners Electronic Drum Kit

The DTX402 series is an update to the older DTX400 range, and includes some nice upgrades like quieter and more natural feeling drum and cymbal pads, and a redesigned rack for greater stability, pad placement, and customization.

The brain driving everything is the new Yamaha DTX402 module, which includes 10 fully customizable drum kits and 287 drum and percussion sounds. The sound library covers all of the standard samples you’d expect, with a focus on pop, rock, and jazz drumming. There are also 128 keyboard sounds, 9 different reverb effects, training and learning functions, drumming exercises, and a recording function so drummers can listen back to their playing.

There are a couple of different versions available for the new Yamaha DTX402 series, with the DTX402 module included with both options:

  • The base model is the DTX402K, which features silent hi-hat and kick drum pedals, three cymbal pads, and four drum pads.
  • The full-featured DTX452K comes with a three-zone snare pad (giving drummers a head, rim-shot, and cross-stick zone), a more expressive hi-hat pedal, and the KP65 kick drum tower with pedal.

Along with the new hardware, Yamaha have also released the DTX402 Touch app for iOS and Android. The app allows drummers to fully customize their kits, control the module’s training functions, and access video tutorials and skill testing challenges.

For drummers looking for a high-quality beginner’s electronic drum kit, these new Yamaha kits are great options. Along with Roland, Yamaha are one of the leaders in professional electronic drum gear. Click here to check the latest price of both models.

Looking to step up from the beginner’s range of electronic drum kits? Take a look at the new Roland TD-17 series, which is a great intermediate electronic kit.

Need low-volume drumming options? Check out our guide to quiet drumming and reducing your drum kit’s volume – perfect for playing without annoying the neighbours. 

Pantera Drummer Vinnie Paul Passes Away Age 54

Vinnie Paul, drummer for Pantera, Damageplan, and Hellyeah, has passed away aged 54 years. No other information is available on his death.

Vinnie Paul

Pantera released a statement on their Facebook page notifying the world of his passing:

“Vincent Paul Abbott aka Vinnie Paul has passed away.
Paul is best known for his work as the drummer in the bands Pantera and Hellyeah.
No further details are available at this time. The family requests you please respect their privacy during this time.”

Vinnie Paul was a co-founding member of Pantera (in 1981), and Damageplan (in 2003). His brother Dimebag Darrell was tragically shot and killed on stage while performing with Damageplan in 2004. After taking a break from performing, Vinnie Paul joined the metal supergroup Hellyeah in 2006.

Vinnie Paul used Evans drumheads, Sabian cymbals, and ddrum drums.

Iron Maiden 2018: Nicko McBrain’s New Drum Kit Video Tour

Nicko McBrain 2018 Iron Maiden Drum Kit Tour

Legendary Iron Maiden drummer Nick McBrain has just released a really cool video tour of his 2018 drum kit, to be used in Iron Maiden’s shows across 2018.

The video gets up close to Nicko’s beautiful custom-made Sonor SQ2 9-ply beechwood kit. The artwork around each drum features different iterations of Iron Maiden’s Eddie mascot.

The drum kit also features a full set of custom black painted Paiste cymbals. Nicko uses Remo Ambassador X drumheads for tom batter heads (these are slightly thicker than regular Ambassadors), and Ambassador Ebony for resonant heads. His snare drum features a heavy-duty Remo Emperor X: these are extremely thick drumheads capable of handling long-term hard hitting and abuse.

Check out Nicko McBrain’s video tour of his 2018 Iron Maiden drum kit below:

Iron Maiden have recently kicked off their Legacy Of The Beast 2018 tour, which runs across Europe from May to August.

Nicko McBrain celebrated his 66th birthday on stage in Copenhagen on June 5th… take a look at the crowd singing Happy Birthday to him below:

If you’re interested in making your own custom Sonor SQ2 drum kit, check out the Sonor SQ2 Drum Configurator, where you can build your own fully customized Sonor kit online (and then buy it if you wallet allows!).

John Bonham Memorial Unveiled for 70th Birthday

John Bonham Memorial Statue Redditch England

After last year’s news, the permanent bronze statue of John Bonham was unveiled yesterday in Bonham’s home town of Redditch, England.

The statue features Bonham in full action mode, playing at his drum kit. The memorial is perfectly timed to coincide with John Bonham’s 70th birthday, which would have been May 31st, 2018.

Here’s the announcement from Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant’s Facebook page:


We are thrilled to announce that a permanent bronze memorial of world renowned drummer John Bonham of Led Zeppelin has been erected in Redditch Town centre to commemorate the Redditch born musician’s 70th birthday May 31st 2018. The idea originated from fans in the West Midlands town who felt that John’s achievement of being lauded as one of the most outstanding and original drummers of his time, be formally recognised.

The memorial, created by acclaimed sculptor Mark Richards, has been made possible from generous donations from both sides of the Atlantic with excess funds raised being donated to Teenage Cancer Trust West Midlands. In addition, a specially designed memorial teeshirt is being made available with 100% of profits going to the Trust to support their vital services across the West Midlands in memory of John Bonham who resided in Worcestershire with his wife Patricia and their two children until his untimely passing 25th September 1980.

The John Bonham memorial teeshirt is available July 2nd. You can buy it here, with all profits going to the Teenage Cancer Trust.

For more on John Bonham, check out our analysis of the iconic drums on When The Levee Breaks.

Become Better, Faster: Roland Announce TD-17 Series V-Drums

Roland have announced their new line of electronic drums, with the main attraction being the new TD-17 V-Drum series. There’s a big focus on realism, connectivity, and some great tools to help drummers improve their skills in new ways.

First up, Roland have given drummers some excellent improvements, making their gear more closely resemble the feel of an acoustic drum kit:

  • A larger snare drum (12”), with a rim sitting at the same height as an acoustic snare.
  • An improved hi-hat system (with bottom sensor) that mounts to any hi-hat stand.
  • A larger bass drum pad, with built-in noise reduction this is great for apartment drumming).
  • The TD-17 module, based on Roland’s flagship TD-50 sound engine.

Beyond the hardware improvements, Roland have put a big focus on giving drummers some great training tools to improve their skills:

  • A coach mode, with drumming exercises to warm up and improve your groove, tempo, timing, and stamina. You’ll get a score to monitor improvements over time.
  • Bluetooth connectivity, to play along to your favourite music, videos, and lessons. The TD-17 can even record your performance, so you can listen back to find areas for improvement.
  • Over 70 free Melodics drum lessons with the Windows or Mac application, which connects to the TD-17 module via USB.
The Roland TD-17KVX, with all-mesh pads and full hi-hat system

There are four versions of the new Roland TD-17 available:

  • TD-17KVX – with the full TD-17 module, all mesh pads, and full hi-hat system.
  • TD-17KV – with the full TD-17 module, all mesh pads, and standard hi-hat system.
  • TD-17 KV-L – with the “lite” TD-17L module, all mesh pads, and standard hi-hat system.
  • TD-17KL – with the “lite” TD-17L module, mesh snare, rubber toms, and standard hi-hat system.

Check the current prices (and availability) for the TD-17 here.

The TD-17 replaces Roland’s TD-11 series with some great upgrades that bring electronic drumming into the future. While the TD-17 is an excellent successor to the TD-11, the TD-11 is still a great midrange electronic kit… If you can’t afford a TD-17, keep an eye out for price reductions on the TD-11 as the TD-17 appears in stores very soon.

Roland also announced an expansion of their Noise Eater range yesterday, designed specifically to reduce electronic drum noise. The RDH-100 Noise Eater Single Kick Pedal, RDH-102 Noise Eater Double Kick Pedal, and RDH-120 Noise Eater Hi-Hat Stand will be in stores very soon. Each of these products features Roland’s vibration- and noise-reducing Noise Eater hardware, to cut the sound by up to 50 percent. We covered the Noise Eater addons in our top tips to reduce drum kit volume and noise a few months ago.

RIP Roy Burns, Aquarian Drumheads Founder

Very sad news over the weekend as we learn that Roy Burns has passed away. Roy was the founder of Aquarian drumheads, and a world-renowned drummer and educator.

Before Aquarian, Roy worked as a performing drummer and clinician around the world. He founded Aquarian Accessories in the early 1980’s, and began producing Aquarian drumheads in 1987. Aquarian has since grown to become one of the best drumhead brands in the world, known for quality and innovation.

As well as creating drumheads and accessories, Roy wrote a number of great drumming books, ranging from basic skills to advanced techniques.

Photo: Drummerworld.com

Roy will be greatly missed in the drumming community.

For more on his life and drumming story, take a look at this great video with drum legend Dom Famularo interviewing Roy Burns a few years ago:

Drum Legend Jabo Starks Dies Age 79

Jabo Starks, one of the funkiest drummers to ever sit behind a kit, has passed away today age 79. A pioneer in the funk drumming world and a huge influence to countless drummers, Starks died in his home in Mobile, Alabama after fighting leukemia and myelodysplastic syndromes. The new has been confirmed by Starks’ manager Kathie Williams. 

John Henry “Jabo” Starks was a key drummer for James Brown, playing on many of Brown’s biggest hits and bestselling albums. Jabo Starks was often joined on stage and in the studio by the equally funky Clyde Stubblefield, in a two-drummer groove team that formed the foundation of James Brown’s music.

Alongside bandmate Clyde Stubblefield, Jabo Starks can be heard playing on many of James Brown’s classics including Sex Machine, The Payback, Super Bad, I Got the Feelin’, Cold Sweat, and Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud.

Check out this great interview with Jabo Starks to see him in action:

Drum Beats Like Human Speech

Royal Society Open Science has a super interesting new publication showing how the Amazonian Bora people use drums to communicate across long distances.

This is more than just a morse code style of communication: The drum patterns closely match their language. Small variations in the beat placement match how their words are vocalized, to create sentences that travel much farther than the human voice. Compared to shouting, the sound of their drums can travel up to 10 times the distance.

Check out the video below to see it in action. Read the RSOS paper here, or check out a more digestible article from Science Mag here.