The drum kit is an all-American invention. When brass bands moved indoors it was impractical to have one drummer for each drum. Once snare stands and drum pedals were invented drum kits evolved to meet the needs of musical groups from jazz to rock. Scroll down to witness the evolution of the modern drum in action.
“Double drumming” (one person playing more than one drum) became popular.
German immigrant Friedrich Gretsch founds Gretsch Company in Brooklyn, New York, to make banjos, drums, and tambourines.
Earliest drum pedals are developed.
U.G. Leedy opens Leedy-Cooley Mfg. Co. in Indianapolis, Indiana.
The Ludwig brothers found Ludwig & Ludwig Drum Company. They design a foot pedal capable of faster tempos that remains a standard today. Ludwig is now part of Selmer.
Henry Heanon Slingerland opens Slingerland Drum Company in Chicago, Illinois. Now owned by Gibson, Slingerland is a renowned maker of jazz drums.
The first standard drum kits take shape. Gene Krupa is credited with helping to set the standard for equipment and drum sizes that are still often used today in jazz.
Jazz legend Louie Bellson, sketches a double bass drum kit for an art class that Gretsch eventually builds.
Smaller kits become popular with be bop drummers who focus on the ride cymbal.
Clair Omar Musser at Northwestern University creates the first drum machine.
George Way Drum Company formed. He designed the unique round “turret” tuning lugs that are used on DW Drums today.
Remo Belli founds Remo to make heads from Mylar, a synthetic, inexpensive, weather-resistant material.
Drummer Herb Brochstein founds ProMark, the first American drumstick company to successfully market sustainable Japanese oak drumsticks.
Joe Calato founds Regal Tip, which revolutionized the drumstick industry with its nylon tip drumsticks.
Drum kits begin to expand to accommodate rock music.
The Percussive Arts Society forms to promote drumming, drums, and percussion.
Boston Symphony timpanist Vic Firth begins producing high quality paired drumsticks.
Don Lombardi founds Drum Workshop (DW) school in Santa Monica, California, then moves to a production facility in 1978
to build drums.
Graeme Edge of The Moody Blues and Sussex University Professor Brian Groves create the first electronic drum kit and use it in the song “Procession.”
John Stayton Simonton, Jr. creates the first user-programmable rhythm machine.
Drum makers Simmons, Yamaha, Pearl, Roland, and others, begin releasing full electronic drum kits to the market.
DW introduces first double pedal.
Roland releases Octapad, the first drum pad controller.
The Vater Family officially establishes Vater Percussion in Boston, Massachusetts, though they had been hand-turning drumsticks since the 1950s.
Roland introduces the TD-10 V-Drum Kit, greatly improving sound quality and playability of electronic drums.