Extreme restoring of an almost lost SDSV pad

October 21st, 2016

Some time ago I got a request by a Simmons mate. He purchased a set of SDSV pads and requested some restauration hints. I offered him to send the pads for a more precise analysis. But what I got was more a bio hazard rather than a set of SDSV pads. Ready for the junk yard? Never!

My first impression was that the pads did not look that bad, but because they simply didn’t work I had to open them. What I found was a bacterial disaster.

Only open with breathing mask!

Transducers after 30 years in the fenland

spare parts and counterpoisons

Removing the original lacquer with circuit board cleaner (looses the lacquer but does not damage the acryl!)

This might work as a salad bowl, too

Fighting the mould

Drying and sanding

Polished rims

Stainless steel screws for another 30 years

Test lacquering on an acrylic plate. Do not use Polyurethan lacquer! It will damage the shell! Actually I used paint for model-making.

Water based Acryl lacquer

Once I was a piezo

The shell is ready

My brother Mr. Perfect: I collect drums, he collects tools πŸ˜€

The mounting socket: Before and after

Cutting new playing surfaces. Today we choose … black

Rubber seals from the plumber department. And new stainless steel screws as well

The mounting socket screwed to the plywood board

New 35mm piezo, new XLR socket

Assembling the shell to the board

This pad was born in 1983. 007’s Octopussy as well

The PVC plate is being glued to the board. Virginally shining under the protection foil

Mounting the rim – checked

sweet πŸ™‚

Beta Testing

To be honest: I am sure that it didn’t look much better 30 years ago in the retailers showroom

It was more effort than it might look like. And this is the first pad of a total of five. Still it was worth doing that

Pioneers of electronic drums: Kraftwerk

October 9th, 2015

Here is a Youtube finding of a Kraftwerk performance from 1973 in the German culture magazine “Aspekte” with Wolfgang FlΓΌr playing his self-built electronic drum kit. Later this kit was also played on the record “Autobahn”

Before the piezo triggered the sound…

July 2nd, 2015

Although piezo elements had already been available, the very first SDSV pads, particularly those (or most) built in 1981, used a speaker to generate the electric pulse for the brain.

While a speaker normaly converts alternating magnitism into mechanical oscillation, it cann also act vicy versa: Converting mechanical pulses into (electro-)magnetic pulses. The advantage of the piezos ist that they respond more exact. You have less trouble with cross talk and better dynamic response. And they are cheap and lighter. They can easily be glued on the plywood instead of intricately screwing them underneath the playing surface. Here is an original sketch ow Dave Simmons adviced his technicians how to convert SDSV pads to piezo trigger:

How can I see if my SDSV pads have a speaker or a piezo inside?

These indicators point to speakers inside:

  • You have a Simmons logo under the riot shield playing surface
  • The tom mount is die cast and made by Pearl
  • The acrylic shells are hand made (the edges are less sharp) or even solid wood

These indicators point to a piezo inside:

  • The tom mount is made of plastic
  • The acrylic shells are series production

The amp: SDC 200

June 24th, 2015

First I have to apologize for not posting for such a long time. In fact there would have been enough to post and I will try to catch up with all those nice topics during the last year. This time I have some pictures from an SDC 200 restauration project. This amp had been designed especially for Simmons drum kits. It has separate channels for kick, snare, toms, hihat and cymbals. 200 Watts amplification, a 12″ mid/bass speaker (ILP 312S, 12″ 8 Ohm) plus an Audiotech HF 200A piezo tweeter. The power is ok for personal monitoring, but at least I have heard about many blown speakers and I was adviced to change it for something stronger once it got broken.
However, it’s a rare collectable and I am glad that I got one about 1 year ago. As all SDS 200s I’ve seen before, the foam panel as well as the light blue hexagon disppeared over the years. The artificial leather coat got gray and dusty. Fortunately all knobs are still in place and the amp works pretty good. So all restauration jobs are cosmetical. Simmons used many parts from supplier Adam Hall like the edges, the black coat, wheels and the panel foam. These parts are still available!


This is the amp as I actually got it. I did some testing, took a look inside:

For the cosmetical issues I removed the amp part from the chassis and removed the protection edges to clean and fresh up the artificial leather:

The most interesting part is making a new front panel. I cut a frame from thin wood strips and stapled them to a frame. Afterwards I stapled the panel foam as well as the hook-and-pile tape to the wood stripsx:

Finally I cut some piece of light blue rubber foam to a hexagon and stuck it to the panel:

And here we are! It’s no rocket science and I am glad to have saved one of those amps. I doubt that more than a “handfull” of SDC200s are still in use and working. I would estimate that Simmons built around 500. Anecdote: After carrying this monster back in the basement storey I got a bad back for 3 days πŸ™‚

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Sibi Siebert & Ufo Walter performing @Drummer-Meeting Salzgitter

January 10th, 2014

Here is the video I brought from the Drummer-Meeting Salzgitter last September: Sibi performing on his vintage SDSV accompanied by the fabulous bass player Ufo Walter who acts almost as a one man band with his loopers, effects and chaos pads…. enjoy!


1981 Suitcase Kit Replica

July 5th, 2013

Two weeks ago a friend of mine sent me a link to an old black plastic toolbox: “Hey, doesn’t this box have about the size as a Suitcase kit?” Indeed! It had! So he bought 2 boxes, I got one. We ordered all ingredients:

  • rubber foam (40mm and 20mm)
  • XLR connectors
  • 20mm plywood
  • black PVC
  • wire
  • transducers
  • 1 kOhm resistors
  • red felt
  • foam glue spray

The parts cost about 50 Euro. Assembling the suitcase takes a couple of hours. It is pure fun and worth every minute. Fortunately I already had an original Suitcase which I restored a couple of years ago. So I already roughly knew what to do…

Cutting the pads

…and the surfaces

assembling the pads

transducers on the backside

the slot for the connectors

those connectors haven’t changed in 4 decades

cutting the foam

soldering pad by pad. The resistors soften the signal


the bottom layer of foam

The plan



adhering the felt onto the top foam layer


cutiing the trays for the pads

the closed case

Finished, connected and ready to play

and here is a little video demo:

This Replica works very good. I don’t have any crosstalk problems and I am also looking forward to play my VST system. As we still have enough material and as I get the dimensions of Saga’s original Briefcase I am looking forward to clone this one, too.

Hex goes Mesh

June 20th, 2013

Thanks to Michael (Buchner) for this documentation:

Nobody made sexier pads but Simmons. What would David Simmons do in these times? I don’t know. A plasma pad? With warp drive? One could expect that. But I for myself decided to convert an ordinary SDS 9/1000 pad into a proper mesh head pad. And I kept the construction as simple as possible.
First I disassembled the original pad as shown in pic.1. A mesh head fitting in size was a 16″, as to be seen in pic 2. It was mounted on an old acoustic tom and tensioned as desired later on the pad (pic 3).
Now I built a plywood frame as shown on pic 4 and 5. It has to slide into the main frame easy like on pic 6. A little black paint and a good german beer ended the day with pic 7 and pic 8.
Now the sensational simple next step: The frame was glued with wood glue directly onto the pre-tensioned mesh head on the stand tom (pic 9) and was allowed to dry for one day. Yes, sad, but true: You don’t have the possibility to adjust the tension of the mesh later, but you don’t have to build constructions with rims and lugs: No risk, no fun. After drying, the head was cut out around the edge and the stand tom was free to work again as usual.
I wanted to have the head piezo exactly in the middle, so I cutted away some mainframe plastic (pic 10) and attached a wooden subframe (pic 11). This is not necessarily important. See the wiring of the 2 piezos on pic 12, don’t forget to wire the rim piezo out of phase for Roland use. You don’t need a big piezo for the rim, the small one as showed on the pic avoids gain reduction in your brain (in your ELECTRONIC DRUM brain, sorry) The foam trigger cone is an airplane earplug (pic 13), because these do the BEST job and they are FREE. Sorry if I ruin some companies business now πŸ™‚
You can see the 6 screws around the frame: This makes it possible to remove the frame with the glued-on head to check the electronics and improve the triggers. They don’t have anything to do with the heads tension. The corresponding nuts are glued under the main frame. You never have to remove the back lid again, this means, that no plastic tongues can break away anymore.
Yes, and, as expected, it works and LOOKS great (pic 14). I am not a heavy hitter and so I don’t expect to have the head changed one time. But this would be possible with warm water and starting over at pic 9!

Pic 1

Pic 2

Pic 3

Pic 4

Pic 5

Pic 6

Pic 7

Pic 8

Pic 9

Pic 10

Pic 11

Pic 12

Pic 13

Pic 14

A new chassis for an SDSV

June 9th, 2013

Many SDSV are missing the outer black casing box. Their owners removed them in order to fit the brain into a standard 19″ rack. So if your SDSV brain demands a case, it is rather easy to make one yourself. all you need are two sheet metals, about 0.5mm thick (shouldn’t be much thicker or thinner), width x height = 600x300mm and an appropriate amount of “speaker skin”.

This is my Musicaid SDSV frame serial number #71 when I got it in 2010. Click here to read more about the restoration of the electronics.

I got the metal sheets (made of stainless steel) from a local metalworker. He also bended the sheets for me. This picture shows an experimental stage with blue pushbuttons and the blank stainless steel case screwed to the brain.

Cutting the skin. It should protude about 5-10mm on every side because it will be wrapped around the sheet edges

glueing the skin onto the sheets. Take care that there are no air or glue bubbles under the skin

the top of the case. Both parts have the same size

The holes which had been drilled into the sheets before. After the skin is glued I burned the holes with an old soldering iron through the plastic

now both parts are screwed to the frame. Doesn’t look too bad?!

the bottom brain has an original case, the top one is the self made. The parts for the case cost about 25-50 Euro. And today, after 3 years, my old fubar Musicaid brain looks like a new one again

Suitcase restoration

June 9th, 2013

What is a suitcase kit? As the sound of a Simmons kit is being generated in the brain and not in the pads Dave Simmons had the idea of doing a portable set of triggers, all hosted in a suitcase. The seven “pads” inside could trigger all modules of a fully loaded SDSV.

As every Suitcase I’ve seen in the past the main problem ist the disappearing rubber foam inside. No wonder after 30 years. And I have seen quite a few. Still I am lucky enough that I got one in 2005, accidently, by a second hand dealer somewhere in the U.K.. In the meantime I’ve been told that only a hand full had been produced, all by hand, probably around 15 to 20. Before I got mine I didn’t even know about it’s existence and there was no information at all in the internet. Some have been hosted in a plastic suitcase, some in a flight case. The most famous owners were Saga (a briefcase) or New Order.

So here are a couple of pictures from Suitcase. Fortunately it is absolutely no rocket science and anybody can even build his own one from scratch without any electronic skills. A metric plan of the arrangement of pads can be downloaded here

This is the Suitcase when I got it. The original rubber foam is dark grey, on top there is a layer of red felt-like cloth, originally glued on the foam. Actually there are two blocks of foam. The top one should be just as thick as the wood pads which is about 20mm. The bottom block is about 40mm thick.

First of all I removed all the old foam as well as the felt from the inside.

Now you can check the wiring, replace transducers (I recommend these), cable or connectors if necessary. All in all the pads are only miniature SDSV pads: Just the same construction.

Cutting. I chose white foam because it’s the easiest base for red lacquer (which I preferred nstead of glueing new felt). Many owners just ripped the felt off. It was bothering anyway.

fitting the bottom block into the suitcase

a paper template to cut the hexagons out of the top block.


ready for testing

first connection after more than 20 years

The top block has been painted red. I also replaced the playing surfaces with brand new Polycarbonate. So after this cure my Suitcase looks just like a new one.