Photo of San Marcos High School from Santa Barbara, Calif., courtesy of Tama Drums
Tama Drums, a Japanese-based set drum brand, is moving into the world of marching percussion. Drum Corps International Hall of Famer Tom Float helped develop the new drums from the ground up during the last nine years.
“I had ideas that I wanted to incorporate, problems that I have seen in drums forever and wanted to fix, and improvements to the drums that I wanted to see happen,” Float says. “We ran through everything that had ever bothered me about a drum or carrier.”
The Tama Marching Drums introduce many new features that emphasize comfort for all body types, safety and ease of tuning. “If they already had preexisting drums, and we tried to go in and add these features, you couldn’t do it because it’s a whole concept,” Float says. “One thing affects another thing.”
Snare drums feature the Detachable Gut Frame, which allows the guts to be removed quickly without changing the tension or mute position; “Buzz Killer Mutes,” making tape on the individually adjustable or removable guts unnecessary; and the High Position Strainer, which allows players of all sizes to easily reach and turn off the guts.
The tenor drums include detachable legs that allow drums to be set down for tuning or rehearsal. The position of the toms is easily adjustable to fit each player. The bass drums have specially-engineered tension rods and lugs that stay perfectly aligned and a noiseless joint locking system—instead of hooks and eye bolts—to attach to the carriers.
Tama also makes its own Perfect Fit Carriers and will debut a line of drum stands, currently awaiting patent. Four high schools (Ayala from Chino Hills, Calif., James Logan of Union City, Calif., Foothill from Henderson, Nev., and San Marcos from Santa Barbara, Calif.) have tested the Tama Marching Drums.
Float believes that the added safety features will increase the longevity of the drums. “The average life of marching drums is a few years, but we think these are going to last quite a while,” Float says. “If I had had these drums when I was teaching The Blue Devils, I would have been a lot happier because they make tuning so easy.”
Tama’s marching drums will be made out of a bubinga and birch wood combination and are also available in maple. Chrome fixtures will be standard on all the drums. The new drums will officially be available in January, with pre-orders accepted beforehand. Float hopes they will be a game-changer in the marching percussion community.
“There aren’t very many things that I would ask for in a drum that we haven’t already taken care of,” Float says. “Anybody who understands drums is going to get it.” Check www.tama.com/marching for more information.