(Left) Gary Gauger first tried to enhance the resonance of his drums by hanging them from microphone stands with rope.
Necessity is the mother of invention, but sometimes curiosity plays a big part. Gary Gauger, founder of Gauger Percussion and inventor of the RIMS drum-mounting system, noticed his drums sounded a bit choked when mounted on a holder. Determined to figure out a way to make his drums achieve maximum resonance, Gauger began rigging up unorthodox prototypes.
One of his first ideas consisted of hanging drums from boom stands with rope. While it worked well and produced an open sound, it was obviously cumbersome and a bit bizarre. When Gauger moved to Minnesota in the mid-1970s and recorded at the famous Studio 80, he rigged a new prototype made up of a broomstick and a few pieces of wood, which suspended the drums from the rim. It wasn’t quite the system available now, but it worked well. Tom Jung, one of the studio’s owners, was very impressed by the wooden rig and suggested Gauger see a patent attorney.
“Initially, the mounts worked well on smaller toms,” Gauger says, “but on bigger toms I noticed that they caused the hoop to bend. I realized that I would have to distribute the weight somehow, so I made the mounts out of aluminum so I could hook them to the tension rods – two at the top and two at the bottom. It worked better but it pulled the tension rods. I finally figured out that the best way would be to even out the weight and distribute it over several tension rods.”
After applying for a patent in 1980, Gauger began to send home-welded sets to some big-time players. Russ Kunkel was the first drummer to try them out. “He called and said that the sound engineers were flipping out over how phenomenal the drums sounded.” Kunkel asked Gauger to make sets for his four other kits, and kept the musical inventor busy full-time for several months. Word quietly spread about the new gadgets, and once Gauger found himself taking orders from powerhouses like Jeff Porcaro and Jim Keltner, he went into business.
Gauger soon improved on the product, thickening his mounts, thanks to some testing and feedback by the late Larrie Londin. Still, he had problems getting RIMS in stores. “The players promoted RIMS but the stores did not,” he admits. “The stores didn’t pick them up until Porcaro raved about them in an interview and our sales went up about 40 percent. They just took off from there.”