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Winter NAMM 2008 Show Report: Drums
By: Eric Sands

It was another exciting year at the Winter NAMM show. As usual, exhibitors managed to fill every last square inch of space at the Anaheim Convention Center — and spilled over into adjacent hotels. It took us two full days to visit just the drum and percussion companies! Even then, our time at each booth was brief to ensure we had enough room in our schedule to visit as many exhibitors as possible.

At times we found ourselves running from one hall to another, weaving in and out of the crowds to keep our various appointments with manufacturer’s PR folks. It was a well-coordinated effort, though, and by the end of the show we were exhausted, sore, and mentally drained, not to mention our ears were ringing.

As expected, all of the big name drum manufacturers were on hand with massive displays containing a multitude of drum sets representing entire lines of products. DW, for example, had a wall of drums that showed off all the different types of finishes and hardware you can choose when ordering their drums.

The good folks at Hoshino were kind enough to give  a private tour of their TAMA line of drums. One of the newest Tama Starclassic lines is an absolutely gorgeous Natural Cordia Bubinga kit.

This kit is based on the popular Bubinga model, but with a layer of natural Cordia wood added to give the drums a classic look. As if this kit wasn’t eye candy enough, TAMA had two custom kits on display. One was a reproduction of the electric blue Starclassic kit used by Stewart Copeland on the current Police tour, and the other was an alarming yellow Starclassic kit with red stripes that belonged to Ronald Bruner Jr., drummer to Stanley Clarke.


Not to be out-done by anyone, Pearl had on display what was quite possibly the largest drum set we’ve ever seen – no joke!

This behemoth “Phoenix Blue” masterworks kit had custom pin striping done by  “Nub” of Orange County Choppers fame.

There were also an abundance of boutique drum manufacturers that specialized in custom drum fabrication. These builders aren’t concerned with massive drum production but cater to those drummers looking for something special, unique and custom tailored to their own specs.

A few standouts at the show were Orange County Drum and Percussion (OCDP), Trick, SJC, Ford, and Spaun. OCDP, a long time player in the custom drum market had a wall of snare drums that showed off some of their special finishes, lugs, and venting/porting options. Quite possibly one the most unique drum sets we’ve ever seen was the highly customize creation OCDP had on display in their both.

This kit was made for Lou Dog, the drummer for hip-hop group Kottonmouth Kings. Lou’s kit is built around an actual working tricycle that he rides out on stage to join the rest of the drums. The green paint is a special heat sensitive paint that changes color depending on the temperature. That’s just one great example of what these smaller custom shops are capable of creating.

Mapex was showing off some hot new finishes on many new kits in the Orion and Saturn lines. We loved this bright red orange flamed finish.

Innovation was abundant in the drum pedal arena. We covered Drumnetics in last year’s NAMM write-up as well as a full product review of their single bass pedal last year. At this year’s show, Drumnetics had a prototype of their double-bass pedal. Although the pedal is still in development, Mike Van Dyk (owner and creator) allowed us to try out the pedal and our initial impression was positive. We look forward to reviewing the final product when it’s ready.

Trick Percussion also had an equally innovative drum pedal in their Pro 1-V. Their kick pedal uses an internally housed compression spring, and the feel is smooth and precise. The pedal also comes in a double-bass configuration that was getting a lot of attention from REO Speedwagon drummer Bryan Hitt (pictured, right).

B-Band, more commonly known for their guitar and string instrument pickups, was demoing a new line of microphones called the UKKO Drum Contact Mics. Available for snare, tom, and bass drums, these mics are mounted internally near the batter head with an adhesive backing. In case you’re skeptical, bear in mind that Terrio Bozzio uses these mics in his piccolo toms. He’s somewhat picky.

Hey, this guy look familiar? Well, he should. That’s Living Colour’s Will Calhoun throwing down some wicked rudiments on a snare drum at the Ford Drums (no relation to the motor company) booth. Shortly after taking this picture Will sat down at one of the Ford drum sets and was very quickly surrounded by a large crowd of on-lookers. As if that wasn’t a big-enough treat, expect a new Living Colour CD sometime in 2008 or 2009!

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