Drums At Musikmesse: 2010

Alto Beat? Drumcraft? DJs? NP? CVL?

No, those aren’t stock symbols, rock bands, or monograms, they’re drum brands. But they’re not ones you’ll see in North America very often. These are just a few of the companies that we caught at the annual Frankfurt Musikmesse, Germany’s largest annual gathering of musical equipment dealers and distributors from across Europe.

Most of the usual firms were here. Tama and Pearl had cavernous exhibits, as did Premier, which is no longer widely distributed in the States. Fans were turning out to see demos of Pearl’s electronic kits. We were puzzled by the absence of Sonor, though, as the German maker usually has a big display. Apparently, they decided that they’d rather focus on their own dealer event, which takes place at the factory next month. According to Heinz Kroneberger, editor of Germany’s Drums & Percussion, the Frankfurt Show plays second fiddle to the annual NAMM show (in Anaheim in January) these days, and has become less important for international brands.

Be that as it may, there was plenty to see at the show, including...

The aisles at Musikmesse were wide open early Thursday morning when this picture was taken. Traffic was down from a year ago, but by Saturday, when consumers hit the show, this aisle becomes a thrashing mass of gear-crazed humanity

Alto-Beat Drums are Austrian-made. They offer two lines: American maple, or custom, and as you can see, they can deliver in any color you want.

CVL is an Italian maker, whose drums have impressed us on previous visits. The way they apply lacquer to a shell is a thing of beauty. They also sell shells of various exotic woods to other makers. Note the cool Zebrawood snare.

CVL also has a proprietary technology that compresses the wood after the plies are bonded. It leads to an extremely strong, light drum.

Dixon Drums, distributed by KMC Music in the States, had an enormous booth. This Chinese company aims to be a worldwide brand in the future, but as a representative told us, it’s an expensive undertaking to build a brand. They’ve made a good start here.

Talk about calfskin. Dixon’s "Cow" design wins my unofficial "Bass DrumHead Art That Kicks Major Butt Award, thank you very much.

Another award, this time, for swinging-est sign. DJs Rockids setup.

Drumcraft had one of the biggest stands this year. The German manufacturer has plans to invade the US market. Perhaps we’ll see them here in 2010.

Drumcraft’s creamy gray fade, and their copper hardware on a massive kit played by Mike Terrana, were two interesting innovations.

NP Drums are from a Spanish distributor. The top-of-the-line kits feature 7-ply maple shells.

Premier is a traditionally strong brand in the UK and Europe. They had a big booth this year.

The Tama exhibit featured a beautiful display with a huge riser and snares tucked below. We’ve come to expect this kind of curb appeal from them.

Kevin Packard of Ludwig gave us the rundown on the Jim Riley autographed snare. Interestingly, at first, the plan was for a plain-Jane approach. But the Ludwig art staff played off of Jim’s Irish background to create the engraved motif. It’s a big drum that the Rascal Flatts skinsman now uses in all situations, replacing his wood snare drums.

West Wheeler of Taye Drums in Chino, California was on hand and having fun. The reason? His blue-sparkle kits, introduced in January at NAMM, are selling well.