The History of Yamaha Drums
Yamaha drums—50 years in the pursuit of
sound and performance perfection
In 2017 Yamaha drums celebrates 50 years of drum craftsmanship and innovation since the release of our inaugural D20 and D30 kits. Inspired by a desire to be the first choice of artists, we have consistently utilized unique concepts and technologies suited to each era and musical genre, and are proud to have created classic kits that have supported so many customers in their musical endeavors over the decades. Going forward, we will continue as always to pursue sound and performance perfection, and work towards delivering new values and experiences to our customers.
Introducing drums products that offer a guide to the history of Yamaha drums.
1970 - 1979
1980 - 1989
2000 - 2009
Yamaha Drums 50th Anniversary Limited Model
Based on Yamaha's renowned Absolute Hybrid Maple kit, the 50th anniversary model features shells with outer plies made from two varieties of beautiful exotic wood, and gold hook lugs that recall the revered Maple Custom set of yesteryear. Specially processed badges and front heads add to the luxurious feel of this limited release of fifty unique, five-piece kits.
Gold Hook Lugs
The same lustrous gold-colored hooks used for the Maple Custom.
Special Bass Drum Head
A bass drum head emblazoned with Yamaha's unique Chinese phoenix design.
An aluminum and wood badge crafted with laser-based wood processing techniques similar to those used to create luxury vehicle interiors.
Exotic Maple on Hybrid Maple Shell
Exquisite shells crafted from birdseye maple and curly maple, with a transparent varnish coating that accentuates the beautiful wood grain beneath.
Comments from musicians across the world in honor of the 50th anniversary of Yamaha drums.
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Yamaha drum production begins: D20 and D30
The first models were produced at Yamaha's Niitsu factory in Hamamatsu, Japan, and later at our Miyatake factory as well. Many drummers who are familiar with Yamaha today believe that Sakae Rhythm was the original Yamaha production facility, but in fact production was started at Yamaha's own factories. Another common misconception is that our Air Seal System was developed at Sakae Rhythm, but it was actually developed and introduced right from the first models that were produced at our own factories. One of the earliest Yamaha drum brochures shows the original Yamaha production facility and describes Air Seal System technology, a Yamaha innovation that is a vital part of our identity as a drum manufacturer to this day.
"Air Seal System" Technology
At Yamaha, the process of manufacturing drum shells begins with the selection of the materials. Select woods are cut into sheets with precision cut diagonal ends. The plies are fit into a form and hammered into place by a highly skilled craftsman. The angled ends allow the craftsman to finely adjust the ply length, thus maintaining proper tension. Ply joints are staggered by 120-degrees and hammered into place in the same manner. An air bag placed inside of the shell and inflated at high-pressure puts even pressure on the shell's inner surface creating a perfectly round shell with uniform thickness and excellent durability.
This is the Air Seal System, a process that has been in use at Yamaha for over 50 years.
The YD-700 was released as a high-end model. It featured rims made from thick machined steel, which gained it a great deal of attention, and a double tom mount.
Yamaha "System Drum" concept
Shell mounting hardware had been different for each series and model up until this time. The system drum concept brought about the unification of all drum mounting hardware so that drums and hardware from any series could be mixed and combined as required.
Hexagonal rods and holder bases of the same specifications were used for all models, and the diameter of all stand hardware piping and holders was fixed at 22mm to allow total system flexibility and freedom.
Although this approach is commonplace among today's drum manufacturers, it was a revolutionary concept at the time. Just one of Yamaha's many innovations that have become standards.
Another Yamaha hardware innovation worthy of mention is the hide-away boom stand. It was patented at the time, but as soon as the patent expired all of our competitors began copying our design. Today it has become another "standard" feature.
Yamaha Ball Clamp
This continuously adjustable ball clamp made it possible to position toms up, down, left, or right, to any position required with one quick action. The current design allows toms to be flipped over for convenient bottom-head tuning ... a feature that is greatly appreciated by both drummers and drum technicians. Like the hexagonal mounting rod, the ball clamp has become a symbol of Yamaha hardware superiority.
High Tension Lug
Yamaha's one-piece high-tension lugs are precision-machined to allow severe, high tension tuning.
YD9000 "Recording Custom"
This model featured 100% birch shells, one-piece lugs, and a gorgeous sprayed finish. Maple was the most popular material for drum shells at the time, following the trend set by jazz drums from the U.S.A. Through our own research related to pianos and wind instruments, we had realized that birch would be an ideal material for drum shells. We were also the first to apply piano finishing techniques to drums, eschewing the veneer covering that was common at the time. The full force of Yamaha technology was applied to the production of this landmark product.
The use of one-piece lugs to enhance the natural hardness of the birch shells resulted in a tight, well-defined sound that was enthusiastically adopted by many top artists of the day, including Steve Gadd and Cozy Powell. The sound was so well suited to recording that the YD9000 has become the most recorded drum set in history. The name was later changed to "Recording Custom," a model that is still widely used today.
The YD7000 was intended for professional use like the YD9000. This kit featured shells made of agathis wrapped in birch, as well as separate lugs, and produced a milder sound than the sharper, more solid tones of the YD9000.
Aimed at medium to advanced-level drummers, the YD5000 offered the superb playability and durability of the YD9000/7000 kits. It featured an all-agathis construction with separate lugs. The YD5000 could be upgraded to use the same pipe and rod clamps as higher-end kits.
Release of the lacquer-finish YD-9000R.
The YD9000RD was released with an ultra-deep body.
Tour Custom is the professional model that took over from the YD7000. This kit featured shells made of agathis wrapped in birch with an improved finish. The appearance of the separate lugs was improved to a TC original design. The Tour Custom had a uniquely fat sound.
Yamaha 100th Anniversary Model
This memorial model features a laminated, rare Ziricote wood from Latin America and a Birch shell. It also featured gold parts complemented by hardware with a black finish, adding a luxurious flair. For the snare drum, along with the world's first carbon shell model, a Sapele and Birdseye maple model were also released.
The Power V kit was manufactured in the United Kingdom, and offered superb quality despite its very reasonable pricing.
Rock Tour Custom
The Rock Tour Custom debuted as a kit intended to offer all the qualities demanded of rock drums.
The Birch and Meranti shells were also laminated with Phenol.
Although there were
The idea of using small lugs mounted so that they don't dampen shell resonance was quickly adopted by other manufacturers as well.
Throughout the 90's Yamaha maintained an active, aggressive approach to product development. The Stage Custom model introduced in 1996 was one result. This series offered the same type of birch shell that was being used in the popular RC series, with the same one-piece lugs and a beautiful sprayed finish, at a surprisingly affordable price.
The Maple Absolute series took the philosophy of achieving the richest possible shell resonance to the next level. In the same year new beech shells were introduced alongside the existing birch shells in the Absolute series.
An original idea from Rick Marotta results in the unique Hipgig compact drum kit.
Two tom toms and the snare all fit snug into the two-piece bass drum which fits into a soft case. The hardware fits in the the drum case (HG15DC) that doubles as a throne. The entire set packs up compact for easy transport.
Yamaha has long believed that professional quality shells must be made from the same quality wood materials. In keeping with that tradition, Yamaha's Beech Custom series joins the Maple custom and Recording Custom series to form a powerful trio of professional quality drums.
Using 100% beech wood plies, the Beech Custom series produces a drum sound of professional quality that parallels Yamaha's drum-making philosophy. This new series incorporate traditional style chromes plated lugs and YESS mounts on both toms and floor toms. Its sharp and well-centered tone lies between the soft full tone of maple and the hard, sharp tone of birch. Tuning is easily performed and allows for use in a wide range of musical styles.
Birch Custom Absolute
The second kit in the Absolute Series, the Birth Customer Absolute was intended to offer a next-generation birch sound. It was characterized by sustained mids and lows, and a solid high end.
Other specifications were shared with the Maple Custom Absolute, allowing users to experiment with combinations such as a maple bass drum with birch toms.
Although other manufacturers had avoided using oak in drums because it is extremely difficult to work with, Yamaha succeeded in forming this very hard wood into drum shells using our Air Seal System technology. The result was impressive response and huge bass that has made this model a standard in the Yamaha lineup.
The Absolute series evolves
Pushing Yamaha finishing technology to the limit, a lineup of almost 50 colors was developed for the Absolute series. The revolutionary detachable Nouveau lugs were developed to further reduce shell damping while at the same time making head replacement easier than ever.
Yamaha Drum 40th
Yamaha celebrated 40 years since the release of the D20 in 1964.
40th Anniversary Kit "Washi" model
This was a limited-edition model commemorating 40 years of Yamaha drums. It feature the same all-birch shells and high-tension lugs as the famed YD9000, with the shells wrapped in traditional Japanese washi paper to give them a unique resonance.
Along with this silver finish kit, we also released a gold finished set based on the YD 9000.
Years of drum manufacturing experience and accumulated technological know-how, plus in-depth reassessment of every critical aspect of drum design and production, all came together to bring about a profound evolution in the form of the hybrid shell: the key to delivering unprecedented tone and power. The lugs took another evolutionary leap too. Going beyond the concept of minimizing shell damping, lug design and mounting now plays an active role in creating and controlling the sound of the drums by suppressing unwanted harmonics. Tom mounting has advanced as well, resulting in unprecedented tone and consistent playability.
YESSII, Hook Lug
The YESS2 mount and new hook lugs developed for the PHX series have now been implemented in the Absolute series as well, contributing to even clearer, richer sound. A newly developed textured finish has been applied in the Rock Tour series, significantly enhancing visual impact. Kapur was discovered and used for its excellent tonal qualities in the PHX series drums and is now used as the sole tone wood for the sound of the Club Custom drums.
Absolute Series Renewal
With YAMAHA's Absolute Series you can create the ideal drum kit by choosing your favorite elements from our highest-quality materials and components.
The YESSII-m used in the Absolute series employs a metal plate to elicit optimum resonance from thin shells.
Inspired by some of the great vintage drums in history, Club Custom gives vintage drum buffs the warm tone and controlled sustain they are used to, with the advantages of modern manufacturing techniques for consistency and better projection. The Swirl finish process pays homage to some of the great finishes of yesterday by creating the effect in lacquer for less restriction to shell vibration.
Live Custom series is designed with a greater focus on playing in live situations using 1.2mm oak plies that are 10% thicker than those used on our Oak Custom drums. Bass drum shells are comprised of eight-ply designs while tom, floor tom, and snare shells are constructed with six. The Live Custom delivers a sound with greater strength and depth, provides rich expressive power that exceeds your imagination, and features hardware designed with some new, innovative ideas that delivers incredible stability and reliability even in the demanding environment of the stage. Oak's sound is clear and well defined with a powerful low-end that shakes your soul. On stage, and in the studio as well, Live Custom delivers a fat, rich tone with awe-inspiring presence.
Absolute Hybrid Maple
The Absolute Hybrid Maple inherits the hybrid shell technology found on our flagship PHX Series.
On Absolute Hybrid shells, the design consists of a core ply of wenge a very hard and heavy wood native to Africa, sandwiched between plies of maple, well known for its clear tone.
This hybrid design delivers a drum tone that plays rich and clear across the full dynamic range, from pianissimo to fortissimo.
YESS III Tom Mount
An evolutionary step up from our YESS II tom mount, the YESS III reduces acoustic dampening even further than its predecessors. Allowing the shell to vibrate more freely, the YESS III mount brings out more of the shell's natural sustain and volume.
Recording Custom (Current)
Working with the legendary Artist Steve Gadd, Yamaha has elevated the iconic Recording Custom Series with new design elements, producing a refined focused sound with enhanced rounded and deeper tone. All North American Birch 6 Ply shells with 30 Degree Bearing Edges are complimented by the re-designed Hi Tension Lug that is weighted to enhance lower frequencies. The result is an easy-to-use and easy-to-tune drum set that re-defines the classic signature sound. Suitable for any style of drumming in all situations.