Here is a Youtube finding of a Kraftwerk performance from 1973 in the German culture magazine “Aspekte” with Wolfgang Flür playing his self-built electronic drum kit. Later this kit was also played on the record “Autobahn”
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
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 🙂
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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!
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
- 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
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.
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 🙂
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!
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.
now both parts are screwed to the frame. Doesn’t look too bad?!
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.
All Simmons pads provide the classic hexagonal shape (exceptions: The Colman Saunders “Head Kit” and the prototype bat- and heart-shaped kits). Really all? Almost… there is one particular kit which was named the “lunchbox kit”. Seb Shelton, former drummer of Dexy’s Midnight Runners was working for the British magazine “Sounds” when he met Dave Simmons in his garden shed where Dave assembled the very first Musicaid kits back in early 1981/late 1980. He got SDSV #0004 with a set of the solid wood pads. Some time later he complained that there were 4 people necessary to move the heavy bassdrum on and off stage. So Dave Simmons took some parts and assembled a set of pads which were … quadrangular! The backside shells are ordinary plastic boxes, painted black and screwed to the wooden surface. Technically these pads are just the same as the wooden pads: speakers as trigger, the pearl tom mounts, even the aluminium profile rims have been simply rapped around this construction. Really no beauties but at least light and portable. Apart from one single TV show this kit has never been used and was about to be thrown away many many times in the past (so was the brain!). However I am lucky to have saved those pads from the electronic waste. Although Dave Simmons gainsays that it was him who did those pads I have no doubt about the truth of Seb’s story. All parts, the style of assembling… yes, it’s a Simmons :
A nice opportunity for a one-day trip to London and … St. Albans…
Some impressions from the journey:
3:20a.m. not a nice time to wake up
6:30a.m. somewhere in Belgium
7:45 boarding Eurotunnel
England – no wonder…
9:00 the fog has gone. I am a bit early. A nice opportunity to visit…
… [url=’http://blog.simmonsmuseum.com/?p=291′]St. Albans[/url] vorbeifahren :-)))))))
9:20 mission accomplished
The employee’s pub – still standing
Abbey Mill: The womb of the SDSV
10:30: London. Seb Shelton and his SDSV #0004 (bought by someone else but still not delivered)
…my Lunchbox Pads
12:00 On my way back home. The compulsary picture of a doubledecker bus