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What the heck IS that thing?

When I'm out playing a show with The Zendrum, that question pops up more often than my frequently most asked question; "are you single?" The answer to THAT question is "Yes, but happilly taken."

The answer to "what the heck IS that thing?" is a bit more involved.

"That Thing" is what is known as a Zendrum.

In my never too humble opinion, the Zendrum is one of the coolest instruments ever made by the hand of man! An interesting yet somewhat dilusional fellow named David Haney had this idea, that if he could find a way to compress the essential elements of electronic drums into an area small enough to wear like a guitar, he would be able to get out from behind the drum set, and into the spotlight where he could sing, and front the band.

Haney had a working understanding of electronics, and he was a veteran electronic musician so he had that end of that battle taken care of. He enlisted the help of fellow drummer and master wood worker Kim Daniel and they got to work on creating a "post prototype" that could actually be mass produced. It is important to mention that the concept of a wearable electronic drum set wasn't entirely new, in fact the drummer in the band "Bella Fleck & the Flecktones" was already amazing audiences with his one of a kind "Synthaxe Drumitar". There was also a rather quirky instrument made in Germany by Dynacord called the "Rythm Stick". The rythm stick was ill-conceived and nearly impossible to play and sound like anything but a train wreck on steroids. These instruments that were "Pre-Zendrum" were either impossible to play, or impossible to own, take your pick.

So Haney and Daniel had this idea, and ideas like this usually get shot down because it's hard to invent an instrument, nearly impossible to get them into production and once you overcome those milestones you have to add to the mix that you have to get people to take it seriously enough to actually learn to PLAY the thing. Then we have the trouble of getting the band members to let you leave your drums home. I feel that what the inventors of this instrument had to overcome were nearly insurmountable odds. Lucky for them, they had a great idea.

Word got out that these guys were working on this instrument and I received a call from A.J.Altieri, the head drum guy at Thoroughbred Music in Tampa, Florida and he told me about "these two nutcases that were going to make the instrument of my dreams" and that if I hurried, I could buy one because he was placing an order based on the concept. A.J. knew me because I was already a bit of a rogue percussionist and I spent a fair deal of my annual income on musical instruments.

I decided to buy one; then the waiting began. I waited what seemed like forever, and A.J. stopped taking my phone calls when I called to ask about it. I ended up calling Zendrum and that's when I first spoke with Haney and he pretty much admitted the instrument wasn't actually in production yet. Long story short, I ended up getting my instrument shipped directly from Zendrum when it was ready.

Was it hard to learn? Not really, it took some getting used to and I think if I wasn't a drummer in the first place, and already set in my ways and counting on my feet to play the bass drum parts, it may have been even easier. The instrument is really great, and very intuitive once it has been set up to put the drum sounds where I want them. If you are a drummer or percussionist, and you don't have one of these, you're missing a great opportunity to have the world at your fingertips.

Want to know more? Visit the ZenDrum web site at Zendrum.Com.

Without music, life would be a mistake.

Friedrich Nietzsche

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