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Percussion

The Rhythm Wolf analog drum machine and bass synth from Akai

Solo musicians looking to generate their own backing tracks or DJs wanting to lay down some beats can seek out software solutions, but those who really want to get their hands dirty may prefer to opt for rhythm machines like the recently-announced Electron Rytm or Roland's Aira TB-3. Such things can prove expensive choices though, which makes Akai's vintage-inspired Rhythm Wolf analog drum machine and bass synth with built-in sequencing quite a compelling piece of kit. And yes, it comes with a sonic howl feature.  Read More

Jason Barnes and Professor Gil Weinberg demonstrate the robotic prosthesis

In 2012, Jason Barnes lost the lower part of his right arm after being electrocuted. Though he could have pursued his dream of becoming a professional drummer using only his remaining limb (like Def Leppard's Rick Allen, for example), he decided to build his own stick-wielding prosthesis. The attachment certainly allowed him to make some noise, but it wasn't flexible enough to give the speed or bounce control he was looking for. Now, thanks to the work of Georgia Tech's Professor Gil Weinberg, Barnes is preparing for a gig later this month where a novel robot drumming prosthetic arm will help him pound out precision rhythms with a live band.  Read More

The Beatbuddy guitar pedal drum machine from David Packouz

Though noodling is a whole lot of fun, and fingertip calluses certainly need regular workouts, there are times when it would be good to have your very own John Bonham or Mitch Mitchell to provide a rock-steady beat. Playing along to backing tracks or engaging the help of loopers, drum machines or rhythm boxes can work to some degree, but there's little or no room for improvisation or creativity unless you take your hands away from the guitar to mix things up a bit. Billed as the first guitar pedal drum machine, the Beatbuddy from David Packouz puts control of the beat at your feet, leaving your hands free to get on with some serious shredding.  Read More

Roland's most versatile and powerful HandSonic digital hand percussion instrument to date,...

Through many of us may kitchen-top-finger-tap or office-desk-thumb-drum out of impatience or boredom, folks like Jeremy Ellis and Wilhelm Grahsl have turned it into an impressive art form, with a little help from some digital friends. The latest version of the latter's hand percussion weapon of choice has now been released, the Roland HandSonic HPD-20.  Read More

Moritz Simon Geist has built a huge mechanical homage to Roland's iconic TR-808 drum machi...

If you're a fan of 1980s music, then there's a very good chance that you'll already be familiar with the electronic beats provided by what's widely regarded as the drum machine that started it all, Roland's TR-808. It set the mood for Marvin Gaye's Sexual Healing, fired shots at David Byrne in the concert movie Stop Making Sense and was the inspiration for the naming of the band 808 State. In his own homage to the iconic device, electronic music tinkerer Moritz Simon Geist has mechanically reproduced 11 of its key sounds using real instruments played by robots within the supersized, wall-filling frame of the stunning MR-808.  Read More

The DUBE is a specially-constructed wooden box that serves as a percussive musical instrum...

If you’re getting weary of trying to wrap your head around things like smartphones that answer questions, self-driving cars or microscopic machines, perhaps this might be more to your liking ... a wooden box. Well OK, the DUBE isn’t just a wooden box. It’s actually a percussive musical instrument, that caught our eyes and ears last week at NAMM.  Read More

Z-Stik demo at Winter NAMM 2012 (Photo: Gizmag)

Debuted at the aural Aladdin's cave that was Winter NAMM 2012, the Z-Stik is a wooden zigzag-shaped multi-use percussive instrument that its creator says "combines the most intriguing elements of a rhythm stick, a shaker, a fingertip drum, and a rain stick." The Z-Stik can be tapped and patted in various ways to achieve nice, organic-sounding percussive hits, and shaken to, well, sound like a shaker. "You can get tones from deep bass drum all the way up to bongo drums and everything in between clean or snare," says creator Greg Dahl.  Read More

Andy Graham demonstrating the SLAPEROO at NAMM

Eight years ago, California musician Andy Graham had a fateful meeting with a shipping crate. The container had a tightly-wound steel strap wrapped around it, and was slightly dented at the top, creating a small gap beneath the strap. By slapping that strap against the crate, Graham discovered that he could make all sorts of interesting noises. That experience motivated him to create the SLAPEROO, a unique musical instrument that we spied last week at NAMM 2012.  Read More

When attached below the picking area of an acoustic guitar, the Pik'N Board offers players...

For many of us, washing clothes by hand is no longer a necessity. Yet the simple ridged device used before the advent of washing machines is still in production today and continues to be used all over the world. Leaving soapy water well behind, the washboard found a new life in the hands of musicians playing everything from skiffle to dixieland, and jazz to blues. Solo guitar players can now provide their own inexpensive snare-like percussive accompaniment, by attaching a Pik'N Board to their instrument. The mini-washboard is positioned below the picking area of an acoustic guitar, with players extending the pick stroke to tap out a latin beat or scrape in some cajun spice.  Read More

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