Archive for the ‘Report’ Category

Clap Box – A clone of the Simmons Analog Clap Trap

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

yes, it’s 2012. I just stumbled over a clone of the old Simmons Analog Clap Trap. It’s an app made by Puremagnetik.

And here’s a pic of the original:

Mission SDS4

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Since I’ve been started my collection in 2003 I have missed half a dozen opportunities to get an SDS4. They were too expensive, too far away or both. When I recently noticed a pick-up only auction ending on an early Friday afternoon I scented my chance. I checked my war chest, prepared for a one-day ride to Hastings, south England. I calculated the travel costs and set my limit. And I was lucky! I think it was a real bargain if you know how much had been paid for this particular unit before and that this is one of about 100 units ever built by Dave Simmons himself. And the SDS4 closed the last gap in my Musicaid product portfolio.


still dark in Germany
still dark in Germany

must be the right way
must be the right way

Eurotunnel terminal
Eurotunnel terminal


after 400km
after 400km

it's dark inside the tunnel
it’s dark inside the tunnel


God save the Queen!
God save the Queen!

11am GET - arrival in Hastings
11am GET – arrival in Hastings

right before the big moment
right before the big moment

here we are....
here we are

And the winner is….

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Thanks to David Levine for providing those two rare Grammy ads from Simmons Group Centre:

Dave Levine worked for Simmons Group Centre for several years as the Advertising / Promotional Director. He was responsible for many of the Ads they produced themselves for Modern Drummer Magazine, Musician Magazine, et al. I am looking forward to (hopefully) meet him at this year’s booth in Frankfurt


Monday, October 24th, 2011

There are some events to celebrate: 30 years ago, at the beginning of 1981, Dave Simmons built (Musicaid) SDSV #1. Later, at the end of 1981, Simmons Electronic Drums Ltd. was founded. My way to say “Happy Birthday, Simmons”:

Next step would be a chromatic “Simmophone”?

Germany’s second Electronic Drummer Meeting

Monday, September 19th, 2011

After the success in 2010 we decided to organize a second edition of our electronic drum meeting. Once again the idea was to give electronic drums a focus and the enthusiasts a platform to present their DIY projects. Commercial providers were more than welcome. We are happy that companies like Alesis, Drum-Tec, 2Box, Korg, Wronka Drums and R-Drums proactively joined our event.

And once again we were lucky that we had great performers like Sibi on his Simmons SDSV with a spectacular oversized headphone-like monitor system custom-built by Föön Audio Systems (by far the coolest drum fill I have ever seen/heard…). We had Daniel Schild who demonstrated the Korg Wave Drum family and we had Marcel Bach who performed his cutting edge drum technique on an Alesis DM10 Pro kit. Last but not least R-Drums, provider for DIY parts (trigger mics, rubber foam cones, …) demonstrated the conversion of a cheap low-tec mono pad into a perfect working  stereo mesh head pad. (all videos made and edited by

Here are some impressions:


Sibi performing on his SDSV


Sibi performing on his SDSV


compact analog solution realised with a Nord Modular synth, Pearl DRX1 and Simmons SDS8


Jörg Remmer demonstrating his Modular kit


Daniel Schild explaning the Korg Wavedrum Family


very cool: compact power amplification specially designed for Wavedrum


compact Jobeky kit


Drum-Tec Diablo series with new finishes


Drum-Tec Pro series


2Box Drumit5. Probably the most realistic acoustic sound for the money


Acoustic kit equiped with DDrum triggers and Toontrack Superior


Acoustic kit equiped with R-Drums trigger systems


Alesis DM8 and DM10 Pro


DIY project


DIY project


“Drums Of Darkness” kit by Wronka Drums. Completely custom made … of metal


Analog BBQ 2

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

After Analog BBQ 1 in 2009, synth collector and musician Thomas P. Heckmann invited us (Michael Buchner, Oli Rubow and me) to combine a fine BBQ afternoon (with hex shaped slices of cucumber) with a guided tour through his forrest of vintage synthesizers. A really impressive conglomerate of electronics… It’s a pleasure to share some impressions:

hex shaped cucumber


Simmons salad


BBQ master Thomas “at work”


Simmons wall lamp


Oli trying a Syndrum


Thomas demonstrating one of his countless magic add-ons


Michael (can’t hide his true emotions)


Genesis’ SDSV


The “Simmons corner”


about 5% of Thomas’ Star Wars collection

For a more detailed gear list of Thomas’ synths please see
Thanks to Thomas and his girl friend Natasha who have been great hosts!

Pilgrim’s journey to England

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

If I’d say I have never been interested in meeting Dave Simmons, I would have lied. I didn’t take much effort contacting him though. However I did not refuse to contact him last year in association with the production of AD Reelmachines. Finally, after 8 years of collecting, we met personally at his house in England for an interview which is supposed to be published in a German drum magazine soon. I thought he felt quite blandished that there are still a couple of freaks who keep his gear at the surface of awareness. Furthermore he is still (or again) following the e-drum development with much interest.

It wasn’t very hard to convince my wife of this trip: “Darling. you wanna go shopping in London?” So I organized a nice 3 day trip:

  • Thursday: Travelling to Kings Lynn/Norfolk
  • Friday: Shopping in Kings Lynn, in the evening seeing Howard Jones performing on the Market Place, between soundcheck and concert: interview with Jonathan Atkinson, his drummer (Jonathan is actually the guy who’s taking two of my SDS9 pads on tour with Howard)
  • Saturday: Trip to London. Shopping, shopping, shopping, dropping wife at the Airport at the early evening
  • Sunday: Trip to Dave Simmons’ house

As usual the weather in England is perfect whenever I go there. A Howard Jones fan asked me to move there. The 800km are done in short 12 hours drive. In the early evening we arrived as Ramada Kings Lynn, a nice and very British hotel with great (and heavy) english breakfast. The next morning we went shopping downtown and I was abused as a living hallstand. I had to carry up to 25 pieces peak and I was glad when my wife asked me to bring her back to the hotel. Then I went back to the Market place where Jonathan was already setting up his eletronic drum kit: Today he used his own DDrum4 as a midi frontend (on tour he often uses a borrowed TD-20, but only for midi) triggering an ESX24 software sampler in his Mac Book. The samples are the original percussion sounds taken from Howard’s 2 inch tapes from the 80s. Funny enough that the original sequences are now played by a live drummer! Jonathan invited me to a local pub and we did a nice interview which will also be published later this year.
After the soundcheck I picked up my wife, we had lunch and enjoyed another concert by synthesizer legend Howard Jones afterwards.

Saturday. Again english breakfast. All diet efforts of the last 5 years for nothing. We are leaving for London. To my wife’s fret Oxford Street is devided by the currently running anual CSD parade 😛 It takes endless 30 minutes to “cross the street” through the underground and cross the street.

Again my destiny is to play the living hallstand… I can still feel the muscular soreness from yesterday. After this hard shopping day I bring my happy wife to the airport. For the last night I will stay on my own in a picturesque B&B near Stansted.

The next morning the sheep on the neighbouring meadow woke me up … at 4:45am. I use that time and start writing down the recording of Jonathan’s interview until breakfast is ready. Another cloudless sunny day.

At 8am I am leaving for Dave Simmons 300 year old farm. What a nice place! Master Dave is already waiting at the car park smiling (no, I wasn’t late). Beside the main house the farm features several barns which are partly developed. First I get a guided tour. Dave shows me the original workbenches where the last products of “Simmons Digital Music” had been manufactured until 1999.

Somewhere in the garden there’s a freight container with all remaining documents and parts from the Simmons era: circuit diagrams, endorsee correspondance and stuff like that. All on the way to rot…

Dave is showing me his small airplane which he built himself. “Where did you get all that knowledge from to built an airplane?”. He responds “I got myself a book” with a self-confident smile. What a guy…

We are doing the interview in the garden. We are talking about the beginning, Musicaid, how it was like to develop electronics at that time. What happened to the early prototypes; We are talking about endorsee policy, the rise and fall of Simmons Eletronic drums, the SDX and it’s huge number of innovations which have not been adopted in today’s electronic drum systems for whatever reason. We talk about Guitarcenter and Dave’s visions and plans.

Time runs much too fast… At the end I think we were both happy that we met. Dave Simmons is a very friendly, open minded gentleman genius. A short but intensive trip to England has ended much too early. I feel assured that my strange hobby is the best soeone can have 🙂

To be continued…

Musicaid SDSV

Monday, June 6th, 2011

Last week a guitar player told me about the unique opportunity to buy a Fender Stratocaster from the Pre-CBS area for a “tip amount” of only €3000-5000. That reminded me of the fact that the Simmons history was devided into the Musicaid- and the Simmons Electronics epoch. OK, probably this comparison is misleading, but still there are parallel aspects. I got my first (complete and mint) SDSV produced as Musicaid. There are some obvious differences (I have not opened it yet so there will be likely some more inside, specially concerning the modules):

  • The outer cover is made of imitation leather instead of bended sheet metal
  • The inner frame is not yet zinc-coated. That might lead to major rust occurence depending on the storage environment
  • The frame is slightly bigger so a sheet metal cover from a later device would not fit over a Musicaid SDSV frame
  • The knobs used for the modules and mixer section are a bit bigger and different to later SDSV devices
  • no rubber feat on the bottom for desktop use
  • the panels show “Musicaid EP” instead of “Simmons”
  • The pushbuttons are red instead of black

From the Complete Simmons Drum Book by Bob Henrit: “… At roughly the same time that Simmons products were becoming a force to be reckoned with, disaster struck. In November 1981 the Musicaid company collapsed. They were desperate for some development money so that SDS.5 could be produced in significant quantity, but were unable to raise the necessary funds from an associate investment company who already had a financial interest. The company was burdened with unwasted general music stock and eventually went into voluntary liquidation. Musicaid could have been saved for as little as £20.000 – a minute sum to secure the future of such a world-beating product, however at that time it was impossible to raise. They still had faith and hope, but precious little charity!
Dave Simmons understandably looks upon this time as being the most traumatic of his life. His workforce were on the dole and had a very lean Christmas at the end of 1981, and he not only had to deal with irate creditors, he had to try to sort out the future too. He was certain that SDS.5 was a world-beating product, but in the light of Musicaid’s demise, he not surprisingly found it extremely difficult to persuade people to invest in it. His only hope was his personal bank. Ultimately it was his wife Kirsty who was able to persuade the bankers to part with the £10.000 necessary to start a completely new comapny and go ahead with production. A company called ‘Clipfinch’ was bought ‘of the shelf’ for £100, and once things began to tick over nicely its name was duly changed to Simmons Electronics. …

Particularly this device was a guest of my museum in 2010 when the former owner asked me for an expertise. It had been originally delivered with the wooden pads I wrote about last year. At that time I changed a set of pure white and mint SDSV pads for these wooden collectibles. He wanted to keep the brain (or sell it for more money I was willing to give…) and recently sold it for no less than €1500. The buyer was desperately looking for an SDSV for years. He tried it with Roland mesh head pads but soon found out that the brain demands sharp trigger pulses from rock hard SDSV pads in order to avoid destorted sounds. So we made the deal that he gets one of my newer Simmons SDSV, 5 module standard version, with a higher serial number (#502), complete with pads, sands and cables and I get the Musicaid SDSV in mint condition. A good deal for both parties as far as I can estimate. What do we learn? Finally Simmons gear end up in my house…

Simmonizer – SDS3 clone

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

With only 100-200 units built, the SDS3 is one of the most sought-after drum synths. It is very hard to find a reliable working unit. After I got mine I forwarded it to Michael Buchner to let him do some repairs on it and to give him the opportunity to study and draw the (real) schematics. Obviously the original schematics had some errors. One of Michaels following projects was a one channel clone of SDS3. In early 2009 I had the pleasure to check a prototype which was more or less only a ball of wire, but it worked perfect and sounded like 100% SDS3.

In the following period Michael completed the project with a perfect board layout, perfect chassis and perfect design.

The target of this project was more or less fun. But short time later the German synth manufacturer Touched-By-Sound started to develop their own 5 channel clone. Michael shared his board layouts and during the 2011 Frankfurt music fair the Simmonizer SDS3 clone was shown for the first time.

I had the opportunity to check it although at this stage it is still a prototype. The Simmonizer provides 5 channels: 3 drum channels, one Hihat and an FX channel, for example for a crash sound. It can be triggered with midi or with pads. The filters and sound were pretty mouch SDS3 (that should be the minimum requirement of an SDS3 clone 🙂 ). Still it has some errors which are quite funny. For example if you turn the noise/tone to “tone”, you get the noise and vice versa. The filters did not work very well. To be honest: Regarding the simplicity and the fact that I have seen a perfect working clone at Michael’s, I would have expected more, particularly if you think about the price which is targeted 1599 Euro. Not really pocket money and even more than the most expensive original I have seen on Ebay in the past. Hopefully

Interview with Dave Simmons on Digital Drummer Mag

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

Allan Leibowitz, chief editor of Digital Drummer Mag, had one of the rare opportunities to make an interview with Dave Simmons. In a very open manner Dave reflects upon the “good times” back in the 80s, the “bad times”, Simmons’ influence on today’s electronic drums and also his conflicts with Guitarcenter.