Cocktail drum

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Cocktail drum.jpg

Cocktail drums are a type of portable drum kit which combines bass drum and snare drum sounds in a single drum.


Cocktail drums were first put into production in the 1940s with the Carlton combo kit, consisting of a vertical 20 inch bass drum, a snare drum, cymbal and other assorted percussion.

In some episodes of I Love Lucy (1951-57), Ricky Ricardo's band featured a man playing one (according to cocktail drummer Billy Conway).[1]

Eventually the companies Slingerland, Ludwig-Musser and Gretsch began producing cocktail drums that are more similar to what is used today; the typical drum consisted of a floor tom that was 14 inches in diameter and 24 to 26 inches tall, with both top and bottom drumheads. The bottom head was struck via a foot-pedal-operated beater and tuned to achieve a bass drum sound; the top head was struck with sticks. The top head is also fitted with a snare underneath to achieve a snare drum sound; the drum's height would normally require the musician to play it standing upright with one foot operating the pedal and one foot bearing the weight of the musician's body (as opposed to a trap set that is played sitting down). This made the drum quite easy to move from place to place, as opposed to moving a snare drum, stand for the snare drum, stool and bass drum for a trap set; however the tradeoff for this ease of transportation is the practice and balance required to play the instrument that is unnecessary when playing a trap set.

Modern use[edit]

Use of cocktail sets in modern music remains relatively rare but does remain a viable alternative for drummers looking to maximize portability and/or minimize stage space normally taken by the drum set, it is also useful as an alternative to a traditional drum set for providing a "retro" or "off-beat" appearance to a group.

Some more modern cocktail drums are fitted with a baffle; the baffle is of a non-resonant material to prevent the bottom head's vibration from interacting with and "buzzing" the snare, which creates a sound much closer to that of two separate drums. Others use a small snare drum that is clamped or mounted in some fashion to the cocktail drum; this leaves the top head free to be used as a tom with the snares removed. The clamp provides the musician with a secure place for the snare drum without the added inconvenience of using a snare drum stand. Using two separate drums in this manner makes both drums easier to tune and provides much more consistent sound.

Holders for cymbals, tom drums, cowbells and other various percussion instruments can be mounted to the cocktail drum depending on the musicians' needs; this makes the instrument very personal and few cocktail drums today are alike.

Notable players[edit]


  1. ^ Oermann, Robert K. (June 25, 1989). "Treat Her Right wants to be heard". The Tennessean.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-10-18. Retrieved 2010-03-09.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

External links[edit]