Drum Kit History


On the right Roy Knapp's 1920's drum set.


Out of all the modern day instruments, none has a

longer history than the drum. The drums are known

to have existed since 6000 bc from all over the world.

The first drum sets were put together in the late

1800s sometime after the invention of the bass

drum pedal. This invention made it possible for

one person to play several percussion instruments

(snare drum, bass drum, and cymbals) at one time.

The set developed as it was used to accompany

jazz musicians in New Orleans during the 1920s.

 Since that time the drums have served as the

driving force behind such music as jazz, blues, R&B,

rock and modern pop music.


Early drum kits were known as traps (from contraption). Though this term is now uncommon, it survives in the term trap case still given to a case used to transport stands, pedals, sticks, and miscellaneous percussion instruments, still commonly called "traps."

The first drums were made differently from those that are made today. The rims of the first drums were made of wood. Later, some people started to make metal rims. Instead of drum stands, the drums were all attached to a large bass drum on metal racks. This rack also often contained a small platform for holding head bolt instruments, a precursor to today's trap table.


The first drums used calfskins for the drum heads, but they easily went out of tune when subjected to adverse weather conditions. Marion Evans invented the first plastic head in the mid-1950s, an endeavor which later spawned the Evans drumhead company. In 1957, Remo Belli and Sam Muchnick together developed a plastic head, leading to the development of the Remo drumhead company.


Cymbals were introduced to the drum set when people found a way to hang them above the drum set. The first cymbals that people used were cheap, small, and were suspended from curtain cords. When Zildjian cymbals began to be produced in the United States in 1929, higher quality and larger cymbals were available, but they were still suspended from curtain cords. Gene Krupa, a famous drummer, finally invented a stand for the cymbals because the curtain cords could not hold the larger cymbals properly.