Updated: Jan 6
Since their advent in the late 1800s, drum kits have been growing and changing. Each new innovation has led to new creative opportunities and greater ease of playing. Here are our top four favorite drum kit innovations of all time:
1. Snare drum stand & bass pedal combo
Back in the late 1800s, brass bands were all the rage. Groups would have multiple drummers to play the cymbals, bass drum, and snare. Drummers would have to hold their drums on a strap or balanced on a chair, therefore they would only be able to play one rhythm each. The invention of the snare drum stand and the bass pedal meant that a single drummer could play multiple rhythms at the same time. Thus, the drum kit was officially born!
2. Low boy
The Roaring ‘20s saw the advent of the “low boy,” a mechanism that brought two cymbals together when a drummer pressed the attached pedal with their foot. Before the low boy, drummers had to choke or mute suspended cymbals with their hands. Now that they could use a foot pedal to get the same effect, their hands were freed up to play syncopated rhythms. The low boy evolved into the sock cymbal and the hi-hat, creating the four-way independence texture that drummers use today.
3. Synthetic drum heads
Before the mid-1950s, all drum sets used calfskin heads. Drummers had a great deal of difficulty keeping the heads in tune due to variable humidity. Therefore, when Remo Beli invented synthetic drum heads most drummers switched to new plastic heads. This completely changed the sound, feel, and longevity of drums.
4. Welch Tuning Systems
For decades, tuning a drum by using a drum key and multiple tuning points has been a time-intensive and laborious process. In 2015, Samuel Welch, Patrick Auell, and John Montaña developed the Welch Tuning System™ (WTS). This revolutionary new tuning technology uses a system of pulleys and cable to bring both drum heads into tune with the turn of a single handle, similar to tuning a guitar string. By tensioning both heads at the same time, the drum can be tuned as a whole providing a remarkably clean and clear note at any pitch.
Drum sets and drumming have been improving for hundreds of years. The Welch Tuning System is the next step in that tradition of innovation. Try our revolutionary products out for yourself today!
Agree with our list? What else would you want to add? Let us know – contact us!
(For a more in-depth analysis of the history of the drum set, the National Jazz Workshop has a fantastic article about this subject. It can be found here.)
Article by Courtland Thomas, Elise Collins, and Veerasak Nichayapun (Poom) (University of Colorado Boulder MBA Program)