Yamaha Drums is a subsidiary of the Yamaha Corporation founded in 1967. The company manufactures acoustic and electronic drum kits as well as percussion instruments, marching band equipment, and drum hardware.
Most of Yamaha's drums are manufactured at two different locations in Asia. Their factory in Osaka produces their high-end professional drums as well as all of their marching percussion. The research and development of new products also takes place there. Marketing is managed from the Yamaha Corp. headquarters in Hamamatsu. The factory in China produced the entry-level GigMaker kit and the intermediate-kit Stage Custom Birch. Their factory in Indonesia produces the Tour Custom and the newly introduced Rock Tour series drums. The Indonesian factory uses the same machinery and techniques in their drum shells and all of the craftsmen working there are trained by Japanese craftsmen from the Osaka site. The only difference between these two plants is that the Osaka plant uses the more exclusive woods (maple, birch and oak)
Acquisition of Premier
In 1987, Yamaha acquired the Premier Percussion factory in England in an attempt to establish the Yamaha name in the tougher European market. Yamaha placed machinery and trained the Premier craftsmen in the "Yamaha-way" of making drums, resulting in Premier producing a large number of Yamaha drums "made in England". In 1992, Yamaha withdrew and sold their stock shares back to Premier.
Beginner and Semi-professional Lines
- Tour Custom - Introduced in the early 1980s, Tour Custom drums consisted of a mahogany/birch blend for a deeper fundamental tone. The line was re-introduced in 2006 as a semi-pro kit with 100% Maple shells and 60 degrees R2 bearing edges for a warm and round tone. They are finished in high-gloss lacquer, with three translucent and one solid finish. The current Tour Custom in maple was discontinued in 2011.
- Rock Tour - A new line of drums introduced in 2010 aimed for rock and metal drummers. Rock Tour was created drawing many features of the older professional Yamaha Rock Tour Custom series. The shells are made out of Big Leaf mahogany, which is used as a renewable resource, while their Textured Ash color palettes found on the PHX series features 2 outer plies of ash. Rock Tour drums features virgin kick drums (referred to as their "R-Version" kick drums), a new front head design (where the logo is on the top as opposed to the right side of the head unlike the other drums), and Remo Pinstripe heads on the toms.
- Stage Custom Birch - An intermediate-level kit made from 100% birch shells. The drums come in eight lacquer finishes and features standard YESS mounts. Succeeds the Stage Custom Advantage series. For 2011, a new bebop configuration was introduced to the line.
- GigMaker - Introduced in 2010, the GigMaker series is an entry-level kit made from basswood/poplar shells. The drums come in 5 sparkle wrap finishes and features standard YESS mounts and Yamaha 600-series hardware. Available in a Rock or Fusion configuration complete with hardware and cymbals.
Stage Custom made in Indonesia was introduced in 1996, then later incorporated the yess system for the mounts. The shells were made of a mix of different woods.
- Phoenix "PHX" Series - Introduced in 2009, the PHX is Yamaha's new flagship line made from eleven-ply hybrid shells crafted of jatoba, kapur, and maple (with a thin ply of burled ash as an outer ply in the "textured" finishes). PHX features the new Hook Lug and the improved YESS II mounting system. Artists that were invited to attend the final prototype testing of the PHX were told to bring their "best" Yamaha kit for a comparison. Carter Beauford (Dave Matthews Band) chose to forgo this new PHX series in favor of his old Recording Custom toms, perhaps due to thinner shells. He still uses a PHX bass drum however.
- Recording Custom - Yamaha's longest-running series of drums for more than 40 years. Made from birch and features a large, high-mass lug that extends the length of the shell. The series features a small, rectangular badge with rounded corners. They were available in 6 colors: Cherry Wood, Hot Red, Cobalt Blue, Stage White, Solid Black and Quartz Gray. A limited edition version of the Recording Custom series was introduced in 2011 for their 45th anniversary, featuring through-shell tom mounts and 60-degree bearing edges. The kits will be available in three vintage colors: Piano White, Mellow Yellow, and Hot Red, with 15 set produced for each color.
- Absolute Series - Drums made from either North American maple or Hokkaido birch or 100% beech (from Northern Japan). Starting in 2009, the Absolute Series also feature new YESS II mounts and optional Hook Lugs shared from the PHX line. Absolute drums are available in 24 finishes, including the new Luminous White Sparkle that glows in the dark.
- Oak Custom - Drums crafted from 100% Japanese White Oak wood which is a very dense hardwood and equipped with YESS mounts. The low fundamental and projection of oak makes it a favorite with rock drummers and the wide tuning and dynamic range makes it a top choice for jazz drummers as well. They are less expensive than their Absolute series counterparts, but are much more costly than either the Tour Custom, Rock Tour, Stage Custom or GigMaker lines. Oak Customs complement the player with outstanding volume and clarity. The tone of the Oak is in between of Maple and Birch with the warmth and attack. Yamaha is the only mass-production drum company that offers a 100% Oak kit mainly thanks to the Air-Seal shell technology.
- Club Custom - Reintroduced in 2011 by Steve Jordan during his visit to Japan based on popular request. The shells feature 100% Kapur wood from Indo-Malaysia and brought back to Japan to be worked. This line features YESS mounts with 60-degree R3 bearing edges combined with Kapur wood to give the sound of a Vintage Kit with warm and round tone. The Club Custom is the first line of drums from Yamaha to feature new lacquering techniques with swirls, which was previously only thought possible with wrap finishes. The line features 3 swirl lacquer finishes and 2 matte transparent lacquer finishes.
Past Drum Series
Tour Custom - A line of Yamaha drums in production from the mid 1980s to the mid 1990s. These drums featured a Mahogany/Birch hybrid shell. The shells were 6 ply. There were 5 finishes available for the Tour Customs including Cobalt Blue, Pure white, Solid Black, Mellow Yellow, and Red Wood; all in a high gloss lacquer. These drums featured chrome hardware. The Turbo Tour Customs were deeper in depth than most other tom's at this time.
Yamaha Rock Tour Custom - In production from the Early 1990s until the mid 1990s. Similar Birch/Mahogany construction to the Power Tour Custom range, but with 11ply Bass drums and floor toms, top coated with a thin phenolic resin layer, and 8 ply tom toms and snare drums. Rock Tour Custom drums also featured Yamaha's high tension lugs. Finishes available were Stage White, Piano Black, Mellow Yellow, Cobalt Blue, and Black Sparkle.
Signature Drum Lines
- Yamaha Hipgig - A series of compact drum kits with a variety of different configurations and finishes.
- Rick Marotta Signature - The original series of compact portable drum kits which comes in either a Cherry Wood lacquer finish and a White Marine Pearl wrap finish. This version initially was also available in the mellow yellow finish, similar to the signature Yamaha Yellow found throughout other Yamaha product lines. They feature Birch, Philippine Mahogany and maple wood shells.
- Al Foster Signature - A larger version of the original Hipgig drum kit which features a special "Jaguar" finish as well as White Marine Pearl and Gold Marine Pearl wrap finishes. They feature Birch and Philippine Mahogany wood shells.
- Manu Katche Signature - A smaller version of the original Hipgig drum kit featuring new Black and Silver lacquer finishes. The feature 3% Philippine Mahogany wood shells.
- Steve Jordan Signature - A cocktail drum kit which features a standard cocktail snare, a secondary 8" snare drum as an option, a tom drum and the choice of two sparkle finishes. They feature Birch and Philippine Mahogany wood shells.
Acoustic Drum Accessories
- Yamaha Subkick - A reverse wired speaker mounted inside a drum shell used as a microphone to pick up low frequencies. It is commonly used in conjunction with a normal internal microphone to mic kick drums. Although similar devices have been used by recording engineers for decades, the development of Yamaha's version is credited to Russ Miller.
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