Archive for the ‘Pads’ Category

Rainy day business

Sunday, August 15th, 2010

Some might remember the green kit I purchased on Ebay at the beginning of June. Basically the condition was ok: No major damages such as cracks or tears. The yellowed polycarbonate surfaces had been pasted over with an ugly rubber layer. Some screws were missing and the aluminium frames demanded some polishing.

the original Ebay picture taken by the seller


Polishing the rims with metal/chrome polish


Polishing the shell: once with acryl polish, once with polish for old car lacquers


After the new surface sticks tight to the plywood underground, the protection foil can be removed. Reflecting like a mirror!


Assembling all parts again


bassdrum pad waiting for the new surface. This is a bit tricky as this pad needs to be completely disassembled for a surface replacement. The XLR connector is the reason


The XLR connection must be removed and soldered again for surface replacement


Drowning the soldering points in hot glue (after testing…of course)


a brand new XLR connector


Bright and shiny again


Sunday afternoon in the garden

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

Sunday is supposed to be a family day. But what happens if none of the jobs get done during the week? 3 weeks ago I got 4 white Musicaid pads from my Simmons buddy Sibi to restore. Well, why not combine work and family life?

So here are some impressions of today’s day:

one of the old surfaces removed with the help of a hair dryer

the table on the terrace. Interesting: The shells are mounted to the plywood with rubber fittings, they are not screwed! First time I saw that.

a crack fixed with two component glue (and later with a layer of white lacquer…)

although there is still a tray for the speaker, this pad already features a piezo … but not in the center?!

polishing the new surface with plastic cleaner

Everything cleaned and assembled again.. Johanna drawing in her book.

not everybody is interested in what I am doing

Girls often don’t take me seriously 🙂

Photo shooting (Part 2)

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

Part 2 of the great day in the photo atelier. Please note that these snapshots as well as the ones in my former post are only taken with my cheap 70 Euro camera. The high resolution pictures, taken by the actual photographer, will follow somewhere in the future. These will be definetely even much better.

These snapshots are supposed to replace some very old pictures on my site.

The uncertainty of Simmons value performance

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

During the last month I had to swallow more than once when I noticed certain Ebay prices. In most cases the auctions seemed pretty high-price to me, but sometimes also very low. For almost 7 years I have followed quite all international Simmons auctions, basically to complete my collection, but also because of personal interest. For sure the prices depend on more than the actual gear that is to be sold: When does the auction end? Pick-up only? (Inter-)national shipping? Shipping costs? The seller’s feedback? The seller’s origin country? To be honest, I am still glad that I invested my money in Simmons synthesizers rather than in stocks although not every piece of my collection has been a real bargain. I talked to an editor of a recording magazine who proved that thesis. He owns some rarities like vintage Moogs’n stuff. He told me that all of his vintage gear that he bought 10 years ago has a double value today.
Anyway I decided to start tracking all these auctions from now on to give people an idea about the actual current value of gear or it’s value development and progress. Further more it will be possible to measure the number of appearances of a certain item over the time.
I remember the period when SDSV consoles appeared in average only once a quarter year. But during the last 6 weeks I have seen 5 of them! Very strange.
I am confident that tracking these auctions will at least answer my question when it’s time to start drawing my pension.

The evolution of the SDSV pads

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

The idea of hexagonal shaped pads was probably the vital key why electronic drums could be established on the market and the media … until today and in the future. Particularly the mother of all subsequent Simmons pads, the SDSV pads had passed several evolution stages. What some might not know: The very first hex pads ever built, in a quantity of about 20 kits, had been made of wood. I was lucky to get one of these mammoths:

That’s what the Complete Simmons Drum Book says:

… In the beginning these pads were cut out of two pieces of Rockboard (a very dense chipboard), and sandwiched together with a loudspeaker in between … The speakers they used as pickups proved themselves to be unreliable, so after a while were replaced by Piezo buzzers … From the embrionic stage, the pads advanced very rapidly…

These wooden pads are the ones that you can see in the original SDSV catalogue:

Another particular feature is that Simmons used high professional pearl tom mounts made of casting metal (instead of the later one-piece plastic mounts fitting on the poor “King” stands).

The step to acrylic shells

The change to acrylic plastic shells is not documented in the drum book (or I haven’t found it so far…), but I assume that for weight and effort (=money) reasons the Rockboard variant changed to acryl. Acryl is pretty easy to form (at least into this hexagonal shape) if you have a stove which is large enough for the raw sheets (I know that because I already experimented with the original material, but I’m afraid my stove is too small). Another advantage of acryl is that it is clear and transparent. And it could be easily laquered on the inside. As far as I am told the first shells had been manufactured separately by hand. My Musicaid SDSV pads seem to prove this thesis:

The edges of the shells are not as sharp as the ones later produced at Abbey Mill, and the surface is not as smooth. But you need to come very close to see the difference.

Still they feature the loudspeakers for the trigger pulse:

There is a round tray countersunk into the wooden board to fit the speaker into it:

The Pearl tom mount seems to be adjusted with accessories provided by heating fitters 🙂 However: It works

Serial production at Abbey Mill

After all these experiments the experiences led to the final version of SDSV pads: Mark I. Although visually similar, the pads were now different in almost every detail. The only features kept from the early versions were the aluminium edging and the Polycarbonate surfaces:

Until the end of SDSV’s life cycle, the tom mounts had been made from a single piece of plastic, adjusted with 4 screws. The solder joints on the XLR socket and on the Piezo buzzer had been drowned by hot-glue to avoid the wiring falling off by vibrations while playing.

Still the SDSV pads are (from my point of view) the sexiest pads ever designed and built. I foreseeably won’t change my mind

Vintage meets modern

Friday, November 27th, 2009

Since I deal with electronic drums, I search for the perfect electronic drum set. For sure Simmons never built the perfect drum kit, especially not from today’s point of view. But what is the perfect drum kit? First of all it should be unique and full of character. This at least fits to the look of the SDSV pads, in my opinion the sexiest pads ever designed. Unfortunately the stick impact is absolutely out of the question concerning both noise and playability. And the dynamics cannot keep up with todays high tech pads made by Roland, Hart, Yamaha etc… On the other hand today’s pads look rather boring. They try to imitate real acustic drums what I think is the wrong way. So why not take the best aspects of both worlds and join them into generation of pads which look great and don’t hide that they are electronic but with great playability and dynamics? When I planned this project I already owned enough SDSV pads to built a prototype kit at a reasonable budget. In the meantime I was asked a couple of times to report about this. So here you are:

The ingredients for one drum:

  • 10″ tom (foil, not lacquered). The cheapest you can get will do it. Mine cost 29 Euro
  • 1 transducer (Ebay: 2 Euro)
  • 6 tap boots M5 (DIY store: 2 Euro)
  • 10″ Mesh head (double layer: 20 Euro)
  • 1 self-adhesive felt pad (those you would use to keep the doorhandle from a wall. DIY store: 2 Euro)
  • 1 6.3mm mono jack
  • 1 SDSV pad


  • tuning key
  • several screwdrivers
  • fine saw
  • drill (8mm driller)
  • hammer

First I ripped all hardware and foil off the tom:

Than I cutted a 4cm ring from the top and the bottom side (as you can imagine we can convert two pads from only one tom). To estimate the right thickness I layed the drum head and rim onto the drum for line-marking.

Than we can go on dismantling the SDSV pad and place the tap boots, transducer and the jack:

Now it’s time to assemble the pad again:

Then I simply put the ring on the riot shield and fill it with rubber foam. I sticked the felt on the transducer in order to protect it against
direct hits and to dampen the trigger pulses. The transducer does not need to be fixed. This is simply done by the pressure of rubber foam, felt and mesh head

Last but not least I mounted the head and “tuned” the drum. That’s it

And the entire kit:

The dynamics are really great although the components did not cost much more than 30 Euro per pad. Of course this project can be realized with any wooden subsurface. So what about converting your desktop into a mesh pad?

And that’s the kit in action:

The sounds are from Toontrack Superior 2. Pretty close to perfect….

Simmons HiHat Controllers

Friday, November 20th, 2009

Have you ever looked inside a common HiHat controller? The technology inside is just as simple as expected: If you step onto the pedal, a curcuit is being closed and the inner resistance is immediately set from infinite to zero. So the drum brain only needs to messure the remaining current in order to decide whether an open or closed HiHat sound is supposed to be played back. Modern controllers which can even map half open states probaly provide a variable conductance between open and closed, more or less linearly depending on the angle of the plate. And Simmons? Please correct me, but I suppose the SDSV HiHat pedal was the first of its kind. So it should be justified that Dave Simmons is the inventor of it. But it was differnt. It was based on a light barrier. The source of light was permanently powerd by the brain (15V). When the pedal was closed, a metal tongue interrupted the beam of light, the sellenium cell opposite to the source could not send anymore current to the brain which triggered the “decay killer” (this expression comes from the SDS3).

By the way: Always keep in mind that if you connect a HiHat controller other than the original to an SDSV brain: You might damage your pedal!

But Dave Simmons not only invented the open/close Hihat pedal. One of the trailblazing innovations of the SDX was that the first time an electronic HiHat provided more than open/closed/closing but also half open. This was realized by pessure. The pedal had the same FSR foil built in as the pads did have. Depending on how strong you kicked the pedal down the inner resistance could be modulated.

Simmons and the plagiarisms II

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

A couple of posts ago I reported about polish copies of Mark III pads. This time I “found” a pair of russian copies made by a company called LELL:

The playing surface is very much like Mark III type

The surface of the backside has an imitation leather stamping

the tom mount is not Pearl compatible but is similar to the first generation of Dynacord Percuter Pads. The connection is a midi socket

It’s funny to imagine how Simmons fought against those copies coming from western countries while beyond the iron fence the eastern countries unobservedly copied everything. But as I know from my Simmons buddy from eastern Germany: During the cold war a Simmons was a Simmons and everything else was a copy.

The legendary Simmons head kit

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

When Simmons started producing the SDSV, a sculptor named Coleman Saunders, friend of Dave Simmons, built a handfull of custom shaped drum pads compatible with the SDSV. Basically it was intended to attract the crowd for the whole Simmons product line. It was never intended to become a mass product like the SDSV. A picture of this headkit was printed on the backside of the one and only SDSV catalogue:

This headkit was recently made a subject of a discussion in the Simmons newsgroup. Reason enough for me to sum up the scanty documentation about these kits. Bob Henrit wrote in the Complete Simmons Drum Book:

“…The shapes which epitomise the possibilities of Simmons customising, have to be the ones which resembled ‘human heads’. (They were actually made as a publicity stunt, to sell more than one regular sets.) They were modelled in fibreglass, by an artist friend of Dave’s named Coleman Saunders, and were evidently inspirde by the Presidents heads at Mount Rushmore. Two clay ‘masters’ were made from which a pair of rubber moulds were fashioned which ultimately went on to produce something like ten sets. They were available in red, blue and yellow upon which Dave simmons did a great deal of airbrush work and fitted with cut-glass eyes. Evidently they all turned out to be slightly different. The top of the cranium was sliced through to fit the wood and ‘riot shield’ playing surfaces. These of course needed to be fitted as usual with aluminium edging strip which was no mean feat. (The shape of human head is not particularly regular as I’m sure you’re aware!)…”

At least two music videos are known to feature a Simmons head kit. First is Landscapes ‘Einstein A Gogo’:

Second is Felony’s ‘The Fanatic’ (although the drum sound definetely comes from acoustic drums ;-)):

Finally a small anecdote that Baz Watts, former keyman of Simmons Electronic Drums, told me: When they took the photo of the head kit for the SDSV flyer, they did not have a working fog machine. On the spot they set the paper bin on fire. So what you see in the picture is no fog but real smoke coming from a burning paper bin…

How to store your pads right

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

Have you noticed that the playing surfaces of most SDS9 pads sunk into the pad? The reason is simple. The SDS9 pads (Mark IV) had so called floating playing surfaces. This means the outer rubber was stuck to the edge and a thin piece of wood was glued on the bottom side without any contact to the edge. So this wooden plate was fixed only by some glue and the tension of the rubber. But over the years this rubber material becomes streched by it’s own weight with the result of a sagging surface. This phenomenon already happens if you keep your kit set up over a long period like a couple of years. The worst thing you can do is to pile your pads one upon the other because the weight affecting the rubber is even multiplied. So what is the best way to store your pads over a long time?

  1. If you have enough space, lay them down on a plane ground with the playing surface to the bottom.
  2. If you don’t have enough space: Put the pads vertically one next to the other:

How about other Simmons pads?
The SDX pads react similarly, although they don’t have this “floating playing surface”, but in this case the grey rubber will even completely come of if you store them with the rubber surface to the bottom (which is ok for the Mark IV pads). It is very important that this does not happen because otherwise the FSR foil will oxidate faster. So the best ways to store SDX pads are

  1. If you have enough space, lay them down on a plane ground with the playing surface to the top.
  2. If you don’t have enough space: Put the pads vertically one next to the other

Mark IV and SDX are the critical pads. The SDSV pads really don’t care how you store them. They are tough enough to pile even up to 10 pads one upon the other

The same with SDS8 and early SDS7 (Mark III) pads though it’s not that easy to pile those because of the unfortunate position of the screws.

Hopefully these words help to keep some more pads in a good shape over the next years, Good night….