Yesterday, I attended the 2011 National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) show in Anaheim, CA. It was good to catch up with friends and see some of the new products in the percussion world. While I didn’t get to see everything on the show floor, there are a couple of products I would like to review for our community.

In my opinion, the biggest percussion release at NAMM was Zildjian’s Gen16’s, the AE (Acoustic Electric) Cymbal. While hanging out in the Yamaha booth, I was fortunate enough to hear Tom Brechtlein perform on the Gen16s. According to the Yamaha reps, this was the first live performance of these cymbals. As you will see in this photo, the cymbal design has been maintained, but there are hunders of wholes in the cymbal which allow the cymbal to be much softer than a “traditional” cymbal. According to, “Unlike most existing electronic percussion systems, the AE Cymbal is not a sample trigger device. Instead, it’s an actual cymbal, and plays like one, but at reduced volume levels, utilizing a unique dual microphone and DSP engine to amplify and model the cymbal’s output.” At first, I thought the cymbal was triggering an electronic sound. But after visiting the Zildjian booth, I found out that there is a dual microphone system under the bell of the cymbal, located in the black area above the blue light. These cymbals are a great addition to the electronic world of percussion and can also be used for quiet practicing. While at the Zildjian booth, I was able to try the cymbals. They are very responsive and feel like “real cymbals” as apposed to the rubber pads on most electronic drum sets. I am looking forward to seeing how these cymbals are adopted in the percussion community. Check out Zildjian’s Gen16 website for more information.

While not new at the NAMM show, I was able to check out Remo’s Tablatone. According to, “The Tablatone Frame Drum utilizes “loaded head” technology found in the Tabla drums of India. Skyndeep® drumheads, Acousticon® drum shells, and the unique Tablatone Dot deliver warm and focused fundamental tones and crisp edge tones.” They have two models of the Tablatone: Red Radial (pictured) and Fish Skin. I preferred the fish skin because of the dark tone of the drum head. This unique frame drum will be a welcome addition to the line of Remo frame drums.

Along with these instruments, there were other new releases from Toca, Vic Firth, Alesis, and Roland. Toca introduced the Jingle Side Kick, a 6″ tunable-head tambourine with a mounting bracket. Vic Firth introduced new signature drum sticks, including the new Peter Erskine Big Band Stick, the M36 Stefon Harris vibraphone mallet and more. For a complete listing, visit Vic Firth’s website. Alesis and Roland introduced new electronic drum kits and percussion controllers.

And finally, at the Drum Workshop booth, I was able to see Neil Peart’s new drum set. Check out the photos below. The drum kit included straight cymbal stands, a MalletKat controller, a Roland V-Drum Kit and painted cymbals. This drum set will be featured on the upcoming Rush tour. It was the center of attention and one of the most talked about items at NAMM.

The NAMM show is always an experience. It is a trade show and is not open to the general public, although it seems like most people do not have trouble getting into the show. The show is a sensory overload and it is almost impossible to visit every booth. Did anyone else attend NAMM? What were your thoughts and impressions? What was your favorite new percussion product? Leave your comments below.

Originally posted on on January 14, 2011 by Dave Gerhart.

Dave Gerhart

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