Made in China - a different take


Platinum Member
Drum set history evolved from when someone realized if they could play multiple drums at once, then a band would just need one drummer, instead of one guy per drum as it was in marching bands.

Early drum sets often featured imported from china accessories, before American companies began makings toms. Early drum set toms were in fact, Chinese drums. Chinese temple blocks were often used before the concept of multiple toms. And Chinese cymbals were widely popular before Zildjian dominated the jazz cymbal set up.

An early Leedy ad, touting why you should add a Chinese drum:

"Baby" Dodds and with Chinese tom

Paul Barbarin with Chinese toms

Ray Bauduc with early Chinese tom and two Chinese temple blocks:

Chick Webb used Chinese temple blocks before having multiple toms became a thing:

As did Sonny Greer:

Buddy Rich as a kid, with a Chinese tom and Chinese cymbal.

Big Sid with a china cymbal:

Zutty Singleton with a made in china cymbal:

Eventually, American drum companies did make toms. It was the popularity of Gene Krupra who really pushed for toms to have both the top and bottom heads tunable. But even Gene would have a "made in china" cymbal in the early days:

Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich, with a "modern" American drum set, yet notice there is still a small Chinese tom next to the American tom:


Platinum Member
I've never heard a Chinese tom before - I wonder what they sound like.

Those old-time kits are really something else! They seem so foreign by today's standards.

I find the history of drums pretty fascinating; so many weird things used to exist. I imagine that in 50 - 60 years the kits we play today will be a real weird sight, too.


Gold Member
Those guys HAD to know how to play with dynamics. Using temple blocks and Chinese cymbals every single hard hit would have been painfully obvious to everybody in the room.

Very cool drum history, thank for posting.

Anon La Ply

Great shots and history, DED - thanks! The Leedy ad is hilarious.

Attached are ads from an old drum book with the "coconuts" (as a former singer used to affectionately call them).



Gold Member
"...And British"

What a great selling point. "Hey kids, its British so it must be good."

I guess todays equivalent would be "made in the USA"