200 Greatest! Gear Breakthroughs

200 Greatest Events

Mesh-Head Pads

Playing a rubber electronic drum pad might provide an appealing sonic experience, but it often has an unfulfilling feel when compared to acoustic drums. By outfitting its new V-Drum line with mesh-heads in 1997, Roland created an electronic drum set with a forgiving and bouncy feel (and quieter response) that was much closer to that of acoustic drums.

200 Greatest Events

Standard-Size Drum Keys And Tension Rods

Manufacturers have gradually evolved toward standard-sized square-hole drum keys and standard thread count tension rods that can be interchanged from one brand to another. For example, Sonor, who for years used slotted-head rods, now offers square-head rods on many of its drums. But there are still outliers. For example, DW’s tension rods have higher thread counts than other brands.

200 Greatest Events

First Official Drum Brushes

In 1895, a patent was granted for a “fly killer” fanned wire brush that was meant to kill bugs without leaving messy fly carnage behind. Drummers started finding uses for these fly killers beyond just insect murder. By 1913, Louis Allis & Adolph R. Wiens patented a drum brush. According to Remembering Bix, a biography of 1920s jazz leader Bix Beiderbecke, his drummer, Vic Berton, is the first to use wire brushes. However, Baby Dodds was one of the first drummers to record brushes on tracks played with pianist Jelly Roll Morton in 1927.

200 Greatest Events

Hi-Hat Drop-Clutch

Numerous Internet sources attribute the invention of the hi-hat drop-clutch to “ragtime drummer Graig Cortelyou.” But ragtime enjoyed its heyday before the hi-hat was invented or Louie Bellson ever played double bass drum, so we question the accuracy of the “ragtime drummer” claim. Regardless, the drop-clutch is a great little invention that allows drummers to keep their hi-hat closed while switching to double bass.

200 Greatest Events

Synthetic Drumheads

Evans claims Chick Evans first invented the synthetic drumhead out of a plastic/polyester film in 1956. Remo claims Remo Belli created a drumhead from Dupont Mylar (a polyester film) in 1957. Regardless of who was first, both men accomplished something previously impossible with calfskin heads: the ability to tune and play drumheads that were unaffected by changes in temperature or humidity.

200 Greatest Events

First Professional Japanese Drum Sets

There was a time when American drum companies like Ludwig, Gretsch, and Slingerland ruled the world. Beginning in the 1960s, Japanese manufacturers began to emerge and offer less expensive professional alternatives. Pearl made its first professional kit in 1966. Yamaha followed suit in 1967. Also during the 1960s, Hoshino Gakki (now Tama) began manufacturing professional-level “Star Drums.”

200 Greatest Events

First Electronic Drum Set

Dave Simmons founded the Simmons company in 1978 specifically for the purpose of creating an electronic drum set. By 1981, Simmons released an electronic drum set with hexagonal pads, the SDS-V. Subsequently, Simmons kits were played on recordings by notable bands like Spandau Ballet, Duran Duran, and Rush.

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