Archive for November, 2010

The earliest days of SDSV pads

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

1981: At a British Music Show in London the young Simmons/Musicaid company exhibited 3 hand-built kits. One was “heart shaped”, one was “bat shaped” and the last one had the classic hexagonal shape.

The Complete Simmons Drum says:

The purpose of these more exotic shapes was to demonstrate that anything was possible. But the company were more interested in popularising the ‘more classical’ six-sided shape. So, that became the standard kit, and ‘weird and wonderful’ shapes were really only available to special order.

After the show, a case maker and ex-drummer named Andy McCullough was contracted to produce enough of the six-sided blanks of wood, which were to become the pads, to make 20 sets. These were delivered in a rough form to St. Albans. Many happy hours would then be spent by any of the half-dozen employees available sanding, filling, under-coating and lacquering. It seems that whatever they were actually employed as, they still mucked-in and helped with manufacture in those early days. they had a spray-booth of sorts in the back of Musicaid made from pieces of discarded plywood and a fan from an old Ford Cortina, driven by a small motor to help extricate the fumes. Dave’s special forte was a sunburst finish applied with an airbrush.

Unfortunately they’d spray the pads and leave them to dry overnight, only to return the next day to find flies and other insects embedded in the paint. They would then be forced to start all over again! However, this situation did not last for long, and plastic pads were introduced when stocks of the wooden ones were used up…


back in 2010…

In the meantime I am in the lucky situation that extreme curiosities often find the way to me: A couple of weeks ago a guy contacted me in order to get some advice how to restore SDSV pads. I demanded some pictures to get an idea of the actual condition. But I saw exactly one of those rare early sets made of solid wood. I could not estimate any value as this was the first time I saw a kit like that (I already owned one of those pads from the Trevor Horn kit I picked up In London in May). I knew that the wooden pads were hard to play, above all 3 pads came without tom mounts (which are actually sawed off Pearl tubes). I was absolutely certain that it would be a fair deal for both sides to change that pad set for a set of my mint white pads with stands included. The owner agreed so we made the deal.

The pads really look like being 30 years old. I think I will only fix the missing tom mounts but leave the rest. Probably these pads are the greatest evidence of Simmons’ “happy times”

Howard Jones? THE Howard Jones? (part II)

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Yes, I followed Howard Jones’ invitation to join his show at Indigo2 in London. During this special concert he was supposed to play all 24 (!) songs of his first two albums “Humans Lib” and “Dream Into Action”. Some of these songs he had even never played before. Saturday night my wife and me went to the O2 arena and really: 2 V.I.P. tickets had been deposed at the box office. With these V.I.P. passes we were previleged to listen to a moderated sound check where Howard explained his gear, basically a Jupiter 8 and a Roland G8. He apologized that his Juno 60 disintegrated over the years. He even explained the story of the Simmons pads from “his friend Wolfgang from Germany” :-))))))

I met Steve Watts in the audience, a former Simmons employee. We had some amicable email conversation before and I recognized him from his Simmons jacket. It is absolutely fantastic when nice online relationships become “real persons”.

The concert itself was superb. Howard was accompanied by Jonathan Atkinson on drums (Roland TD-20 plus the two Simmons pads) and Robbie Bronnimann who controlled Howard’s vocal effects, master of the midi environment and Ableton. The sound was the best I have heard for a long long time. The venue was ideal, the sound programming, synths, TD-20, FX, everything was programmed with love and passion. Not to forget the songs which still worked after almost 3 decades. The show was rounded off by a multi media LCD show which run syncronous to the music. A very special experience.

After the concert we had access to the after show party for the meet and greet, but on the one hand we were tired and strung out by two and a half hours of standing, on the other hand about 150 hungry fans were waiting for a picture with the main artist so rather I preferred to wait for another occasion instead of an unpersonal handshake in passing.