Cobham's yellow kit

sacco

Senior Member
Lately I have been watching a few Billy Cobham videos, and I saw once again that beautiful kit he used around 1974 (https://youtu.be/ixmrWWcF6tg). I always thought it was a Gretsch kit, but it actually isn't, as Mr Cobham himself told me after a workshop a couple of years ago. Sadly, in that occasion there was quite a lot of people around him, and I did not get what that kit was. I remember he mentioned a kind of custom shop in New York, but I was unable to understand more than that. Tom holders seem to be Slingerland, and that's almost all I can recognise.

Does anybody have more infos about that kit?

P.S.: I did search the web and this site, but could not get any infos. Additionally, I could have posted this in the Drummers section, but I guess this section gets more views, so ...
 
M

Matt Bo Eder

Guest
Sorry man, I couldn't get past the trombone or guitar solos. What the heck was that?
 
D

drumming sort of person

Guest
Those drums were custom made for him in New York. I'm not sure what lugs they used, but they look like either Slingerland or Gretsch.

That is definitely not a Fibes kit. He played a clear Fibes kit with Mahavishnu Orchestra though.
 

sacco

Senior Member
Great memories, I was there actually!

There's Michael & Randy Brecker, John Abercrombie, Milcho Leviev, Alex Blake & Glenn Ferris.
Hi Alain, lucky you! I also saw him a couple of times around that era, but never with that yellow kit.

P.S.: I guess you don't remember me, but I lived in Geneva for quite a long time and I remember you and your playing very well! Great work with Frank Gambale!
 
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sacco

Senior Member
Sorry for coming back to this old thread, but now Drummerworld has published a video where that famous yellow kit can be seen in all its beauty: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNyYzfkn4yc.
Effectively lugs and floor tom legs look like Gretsch and tom holders like Slingerland. On their side, the shells could well be done of some kind of synthetic material. Still, nobody knows anything really precise about the kit!
Drumming sort of person confirmed what I understood from Mr. Cobham himself, i.e. that those drums were custom made for him in New York, but it would be nice if somebody had some more infos.
 

DRB

Member
Lately I have been watching a few Billy Cobham videos, and I saw once again that beautiful kit he used around 1974 (https://youtu.be/ixmrWWcF6tg). I always thought it was a Gretsch kit, but it actually isn't, as Mr Cobham himself told me after a workshop a couple of years ago. Sadly, in that occasion there was quite a lot of people around him, and I did not get what that kit was. I remember he mentioned a kind of custom shop in New York, but I was unable to understand more than that. Tom holders seem to be Slingerland, and that's almost all I can recognise.

Does anybody have more infos about that kit?

P.S.: I did search the web and this site, but could not get any infos. Additionally, I could have posted this in the Drummers section, but I guess this section gets more views, so ...
That, according to Billy in an interview, says that that kit was made by Fred Hinger of Hinger Drums. The shells were made out of compressed recycled paper with a polyurethane coating (inside and out). and it had Gretsch Lugs, Slingerland double tom mount just like his Fibes kit had.. It also had a cast steel or something like that, snare drum that weighed 35 lbs. I think he used that kit on Crosswinds, and he used it on Shabazz too. He sold the kit so I don't know who has it, but some lucky individual..
 

sacco

Senior Member
That, according to Billy in an interview, says that that kit was made by Fred Hinger of Hinger Drums. The shells were made out of compressed recycled paper with a polyurethane coating (inside and out). and it had Gretsch Lugs, Slingerland double tom mount just like his Fibes kit had.. It also had a cast steel or something like that, snare drum that weighed 35 lbs. I think he used that kit on Crosswinds, and he used it on Shabazz too. He sold the kit so I don't know who has it, but some lucky individual..
Finally an answer, thank you so much! I thought Hinger only made snare drums, so I am quite surprised to hear that the whole kit was made by Hinger! Actually when I spoke to Mr Cobham some years ago I also understood these drums were made out of some recycled paper, and now you confirm that information. Thanks again, I always loved that kit and it would be nice to know where it is now!
 

Alain Rieder

Silver Member
Hi Alain, lucky you! I also saw him a couple of times around that era, but never with that yellow kit.

P.S.: I guess you don't remember me, but I lived in Geneva for quite a long time and I remember you and your playing very well! Great work with Frank Gambale!
Hey! Sorry for not having read this message from a few years ago! I have to admit that I don’t know who you are, but maybe if I’d see your face, and if you’d tell me a little more !?
 

DRB

Member
Finally an answer, thank you so much! I thought Hinger only made snare drums, so I am quite surprised to hear that the whole kit was made by Hinger! Actually when I spoke to Mr Cobham some years ago I also understood these drums were made out of some recycled paper, and now you confirm that information. Thanks again, I always loved that kit and it would be nice to know where it is now!
no, problem. The snare drum he used was made out of a sewer pipe. There's a photo of one on the internet somewhere. Just Google Hinger, Sewer Pipe snare. I will say one thing. It's about the ugliest, and crudest snare drum I've ever seen. It's not well made at all. I was surprised. In fact, all of the snares I've seen photos of weren't that well made. I've never played one, but I'm just going by photos and I'm looking fit and finish.

Yes, I just watched the interview where he discussed it. He said he sold the kit, I'm just wondering who has it and what it's worth. :cool:

Yes, Hinger typically made snare drums, tympani. I believe he also made the 2 Gong Drums that Billy had as well.
 

DRB

Member
Finally an answer, thank you so much! I thought Hinger only made snare drums, so I am quite surprised to hear that the whole kit was made by Hinger! Actually when I spoke to Mr Cobham some years ago I also understood these drums were made out of some recycled paper, and now you confirm that information. Thanks again, I always loved that kit and it would be nice to know where it is now!
I saw Cobham in Half Moon Bay with Pete and Sheila Escovedo in 1977ish. They had just released an album called Side Two. It's hard to find as I don't think it got released in a digital format..

He did a clinic during the day time and a concert at night. Cobham was comical. He talked about his past in New York as a session player and that he was the hand claps on the old famous Certs commercials. then he went on to talk about him being able to hambone and then he demonstrated it. OH.. MY…. GOD.. I've seen people hambone before, but when Cobham does it, it's done on a whole other level. He used both hands, both feet, and does it at speeds BEYOND anyone else… he did essentially double bass ham boning at Cobham speed. What do you expect from him? I wish I had a video of it. It definitely would have went viral on YouTube. and it was funny.

He had some kit that someone made him that was VERY strange. I only saw it once at that clinic and concert, but never again. He described the kit briefly. The shells were made out of rosewood. And the 4 mounted toms looked basically like double headed Octabans, so the four mounted toms were quite long. but I think they were also slightly larger diameter. 8 or maybe 10in diameter, but I can't remember exactly. and I think the bass drum and floor toms were also a little longer than normal. I could be off, but it was definitely a weird kit.. he didn't have it miked up since the place was small with a small audience and I don't remember him needing microphones. It was more like someone playing in a. large living room with a VERY small audience.. I don't remember if he mentioned the drum builder. This was In 1977ish and I think Cobham live in the SF Bay Area at the time, so it might have been someone local..I wish I could find the photos of them and post, but it's been like 40 so odd years since the clinic. I wish someone could ask him about that kit.
 

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
no, problem. The snare drum he used was made out of a sewer pipe. There's a photo of one on the internet somewhere. Just Google Hinger, Sewer Pipe snare. I will say one thing. It's about the ugliest, and crudest snare drum I've ever seen. It's not well made at all. I was surprised. In fact, all of the snares I've seen photos of weren't that well made.

Yes, Hinger typically made snare drums, tympani. I believe he also made the 2 Gong Drums that Billy had as well.
To be fair, I think all of those sewer pipe drums were really just prototypes. They never went into actual “production”, in any real sense. The regular Hinger snare drums are beautiful instruments, they are highly sought-after. As are the timpani.
 

DRB

Member
That china to his left looks like it’s 34” or something.
I believe Cobham typically used 22inch Zildjian Swish cymbals before he switched to Sabian, but 22inch is typically what he would use. I think Simon Phillips has a 24inch, but that's the largest Swish cymbal I've ever seen from any cymbal mfg. I believe it's a special order cymbal.. But I have seen 30inch Ride cymbals from Zildjian, Narada Micheal Walden used to use them during the Mahavishnu days before he switched to Paiste. BTW, he used to crack the 30inch ride cymbals and they were fairly thick. I used to take private lessons from him back in '78. He had at least 2 or 3 cracked 30inch Ride cymbals on the wall. :) I don't know if Zildjian still offers 30inch ride cymbals or if they are available by special order. You would have to contact them. They would be expensive, for sure.

There's another small boutique cymbal mfg. in Italy that made large cymbals, but they are VERY expensive and hard to get. The company, or should I say, individual was Roberto Spizzichino, but he passed away in 2011, so I think whatever cymbals he's made are already out there, but I think he made a lot of 24inch ride cymbals.. You can certainly look them up. He made something like 3500 cymbals during his life. They are VERY much along the lines of the old K ZIldjians, but the price for these Spizz cymbals is VERY expensive. I saw a 22inch ride going on eBay for almost $3000. Hardly something most people can afford. Roberto used to work for Ufip.
 

DRB

Member
To be fair, I think all of those sewer pipe drums were really just prototypes. They never went into actual “production”, in any real sense. The regular Hinger snare drums are beautiful instruments, they are highly sought-after. As are the timpani.
Yeah, Hinger only put a couple of drums on the market, but he was a one man shop and he didn't really have the capabilities to go into production.

Prototypes or custom one off's. Yeah, But still. They were VERY crude for sure.

I actually made a couple of shells, two out of stainless steel that were 1/4in thick. The shell by itself was 20lbs, and then I made a Carbon steel shell that was also 20lbs and 1/4" thick without hardware. I was trying to make my own hoops, which was going to be needed, but unfortunately I never finished it due to complications with the casting company and I ran out of money to put into that project. I wish I had finished it, but in order to sell them and make a reasonable amount of profit to pay the bills, I would have had to sell them for at least $4000+ and not that many people will shell out that much money. I'm sure I could have cut the costs down if I just casted my own shells so they wouldn't need as much time on the lathe. I was trying to think of ways to actually put them into a limited production level, but not everyone wants a 35lb snare drum. It's too heavy for the average drummer to have to lug around. I actually thought of putting some handles on the shell so you could have two people to pick it up and rest on the snare stand otherwise a lot of drummers might have thrown out their backs lifting it and using it as a gigging snare drum. -)

The problems is that to get a shell to be 13 7/8" diameter, you have to start with a thicker cylinder. There are pipe mfg. that make 20' pipes that are oversized to a typical snare drum and they can be 1/2in thick, so to get it down to the right diameter and a thickness that makes sense, you have to put them on a lathe and it takes a LONG time to get them to the right size and to get a nice smooth surface that esthetically looks like it would be a sellable production unit. Finishing them is another level of lathing process and it can cost an outrageous amount of money just to put a smooth surface on a hard metal. There have been some small companies that make 1/4inch thick steel or stainless steel shells, but they are limited production and I've seen some companies go out of business because they just can't produce them and sell for a profit. Definitely a custom/prototype/limited production type of instrument. Jeff Ocheltree used to make some thick bronze or steel snare drums, but I don't think they were 1/4inch thick. He made the Paste cymbal drums that Paiste marketed, but they were limited production and relatively expensive. Ocheltree came out with another company making cast bronze shells and rims, but he only made a small handful, but they were beautfiul drums. He made a snare drum for Billy Cobham, Lenny White and Steve Smith, but again, the amount of money it costs to make them and to actually put on the market and sell makes them too expensive for people to afford. DW recently put out a bronze snare drum, but it's MSRP is something like $4200 and they only made 75 of them. But they are beautiful. But the Hinger were crude, his lugs were crude, his hoops were crude looking, etc. So if he was going to make everything with a high quality finish, it would have made them much more expensive. Not many drummers will shell out $4000 to $6000 for a snare drum regardless of how good it looks, etc. It's more for the collector market. and back in the 70's, Hinger was a small one man shop and he focused more on tympani and he had essentially no money to market them, so it was definitely word of mouth. But still, Hinger should have made them look more 'polished' even being a prototype..
 
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