The Syndrums

Lately I have been obsessed with watching YouTube videos of The Little River Band. I forgot how great hits like “Lady,” “The Lonesome Loser” and “Reminiscing” are. I’m really impressed with the tasteful drumming of Derek Pellicci. One thing that stood out to me was the electronic drums he mounted on the right side of his kit. According to Modern Drummer:

Pellicci was one of the first people to use Joe Pollard’s Syndrum synthesizer drums. He’s tried other electronic drums, but says, “Nothing felt like a drum. A lot of the drums I tried were solid, hard rubber pads and that’s so diverse to the kit you play. You’re playing on a set of acoustic, combustible drums with an air resonating factor. Then, all of a sudden, you come off those drums and hit a piece of hard, solid rubber. It’s just not natural. That’s why Syndrums were such an innovative thing. You can tune them to the feel of the kit and it doesn’t affect the sound of them. “There’s a way of using Syndrums, a way of adopting them. A guy will play a really fast single stroke roll down them and they break up all over the place. They have a very short delayed signal in them. There’s a real art in getting used to them. The more you lay off them, the better they sound. I use them to fatten things up. I usually like to double my snare with them.”

Joe Pollard was a drummer for the Beach Boys and a studio drummer. He had been seeking someone to build him a set of electronic drums for over ten years. He met Mark Barton who was an engineer at the Tycobrahe Sound company. Joe’s theory was that guitarists had pedals and effects, keyboard players had synthesizers, but drummers were still limited to beating on skins. Mark engineered some working prototypes which were previewed to some prominent drummers. They were received well. Mark and Donald Stone incorporated Pollard Industries and starting selling Syndrums. The company released two models (single drum 177 and four drum 477) but they were a financial failure.

Pollard, Inc. wound up selling its assets to Research Development Systems, Inc. which manufactured the Syndrum CM and a couple of other slightly updated models. There were 3 major types: The Syndrum 1, the Syndrum TwinDrum, and the Syndrum Quad. These were used by many prominent drummers like Terry Bozzio, Vinnie Colaiuta, Jeff Porcaro, Roger Taylor and of course Pellicci. Although the Syndrum was capable of many different sounds, the one that caught on was that descending “dooooooom”. That sound is still sampled by DJs today. There is a Syndrum patch available in almost every synthesizer sold today.


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