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date: 22 October 2019

Simmons Electronic Drumslocked

  • Hugh Davies
  • , revised by Anne Beetem Acker


A pioneering range of electronic percussion instruments developed by the drummer Dave Simmons and manufactured by Simmons Electronics of St Albans, Hertfordshire, from 1980 to 1999. Starting with the Clap Trap, a hand-clap synthesizer, the company produced other electronic drums, notably the very successful Simmons SDSV (SDS5) Electronic Drum Kit (1981), the first fully electronic drumkit. The SDSV was developed with input from Richard James Burgess, drummer with the band Landscape. Exposure from Burgess playing the SDSV on Tops of the Pops spurred considerable interest among many other performers in the 1980s. The SDSV has large, hexagonal, coloured perspex drum pads that trigger digitally stored recordings of drums (including bass drum, the pad for which is played with a pedal), cymbals, and bells; each pad has an associated memory in which recordings of up to four percussion instruments or other sounds can be stored.

In 1983 the SDS6 sequencer unit was produced, to expand the capabilities of the SDSV. That same year, the SDS7 and SDS8 were introduced. The SDS7 used digital erasable programmable read-only memories (EPROMS) with sampled drum sounds, but they proved problematic for live performance. The SDS8 was a less expensive, somewhat simpler version of the SDSV. A further series of small, very simple models—the SDS1, SDS 200, SDS 400, and SDS 800—was introduced in ...

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