Marlon Brando’s Drum Tuning System Patent Uncovered

By Andy Doerschuk Published September 15, 2010

Totally obscure fact: Back in the ’40s, when my father was a teenager living in Libertyville, Illinois, he briefly played trumpet in a jazz outfit with Marlon Brando (then known as “Bud”), who was the drummer. While Brando went on to be known more for his acting skills than ratemacues, he never lost his passion for rhythm.

Perhaps the best evidence has recently been uncovered in the form of a 2002 patent that the actor won for an automated drumhead tensioning system. Here’s how Brando described his device: “The present invention is directed toward a tunable drum for use with or without a drum stand. Embodiments of the invention allow an individual to quickly and reliably tune the drum either manually, by operating a motor, or automatically by way of a tuning circuit.

“In one embodiment, a motor is coupled to the tuning linkage such that an operator can manually adjust the tuning via a motor. In another embodiment, a transducer and a tuning circuit can automatically provide control signals to the motor based on a difference between a desired frequency and a determined frequency.

“It is therefore apparent that a need exists for a simple and inexpensive drum tuning device that is also accurate and reliable and not subject to inadvertent adjustments.”

To take a closer look at Brando’s patent application, go here.