Rogers Drum Company
- Edmund A. Bowles
American firm of instrument makers. In 1849 Joseph Rogers, an Irish parchment-maker and musician, established a tannery (eventually located in Farmingdale, New Jersey) to manufacture high-quality animal skin for the fast-growing banjo and drum industry. For this purpose he used superior calfskin, and the best of his banjo heads became famous. The business prospered for several generations, but by the late 1930s the decline of the banjo’s popularity created a need to diversify the product line, so Rogers began to turn out drums and drum accessories. When Roger’s great-grandson, Cleveland Rogers, died without heirs in 1953, the firm was purchased by Henry Grossman and became a subsidiary of Grossman Music Co. of Cleveland, Ohio. Three years later Rogers moved to a new factory in Covington, Ohio; its range of products was expanded, but when plastic heads became the norm the manufacture of calfskin heads was discontinued. The student market, in particular, grew after Donald G. Canedy, an educator, bandmaster, and percussion expert, was retained as a consultant. The company’s centerpiece was the Dyna-Sonic snare drum, with a unique cradle in which the snares were supported, so that the wire and snare tensions could be adjusted separately and the drum played at both low and high dynamic levels. Other innovations included the Dualmatic High-Hat Clutch, designed for the player of twin trap-drums; the Memriloc hardware system, which allowed the drummer to set up his equipment in precisely the same position each time; and the Swiv-O-Matic pedals for bass drum and hi-hat. In 1966 CBS acquired the company and three years later moved the operation to Fullerton, California, as part of Fender, Rhodes, Squier, an affiliate of CBS Musical Instruments. In 1971 the Accu-Sonic pedal timpani were introduced (invented by Canedy, Thompson, and William H. Chaffee). These had shallow, hemispherical bowls made of acrylic instead of copper, and never became popular with professional timpanists; manufacturing ceased in 1983, along with the withdrawal of the entire drum product line. Rights to the Rogers name was bought by the Brooks Mays Corporation of Dallas, Texas, in the early 1990s. They positioned the brand as a low-cost but high-quality line of drums sold exclusively in the corporation’s chain of music stores. The company went bankrupt in 2006, after which the intellectual property rights to the old Rogers name were purchased by The Yamaha Corporation of America.