The Weirdest Kick Drum In The World Reviewed
In today’s article, we are reviewing a very special drumset, the Vox Telstar. Kindly sponsored by City Music, the Vox Telstar has a long history since the 60s. The Telstar drumset’s unique design has received lots of hype in the 60s and following its relaunch last year, owing to its unique shape of the kick drum. Based on our research and understanding, the shape of Telstar is indeed functional and not just for aesthetic purposes. We will be discussing further the history of the drums and our review of this unique drumset along with Jian Liang from Verta Collective
Right out of the box, the thing that enchants most is the fantastic faux crocodile skin finish. The unique finish gives it a fantastic look, coupled with its vintage hardware.
Besides the weirdly shaped kick drum, the Telstar comprises of two toms, snare, and dedicated vintage flat-based stands. The flat-based – though lighter and skinnier than standard stands – has excellent advantages. Because of the flat base, they can slide through underneath all sorts of places and prove to be an asset when playing in confined places. It’s lightweight also allows you to bring out the stands at ease without having to lug tons of equipment around for your show/recordings.
However, one downside of this is that they are not as secure as standard stands, so hard hitters beware.
The Tom sizes for the Telstar are
- Rack Tom (13 x 7.5)
- Floor Tom (16 x 15.5)
- Snare (14 x 5)
And are made up of Alderwood. The kick drum is 18″ plus 12″, with a depth of 13″, and made of Russian Birch.
The Unique Shape – Functionality?
The idea behind the kick drum’s shape is to have two unique kick drum sounds in one single kick. One exciting thing that you can note right out of the box is that you are not supposed to mount the kick pedal right smack in the middle like most conventional kick drums. There is a lug right in the middle of the kick, and you have to choose a side.
After playing around with the kit and tuning, we discovered many ways that this kit could play out. You could tune both sides of the kick to a much similar tuning or tune both sides to the extreme to maximize the size difference. Either way, it produces a pretty impressive sound.
We decided to mount two different kick pedals and see what we could do creatively with this setup since this is the only kick drum capable of doing this. Stay tuned to our next release for the demo of this stunning kit.
History of Telstar
Telstar originated from a drum company called Trixon Drum Co. Started in 1947 by Karl-Heinz Weimer, Trixon had a rich and complex history before being sold to Vox re-released. Trixon has been popular in its era for weirdly shaped drums, most notably the tear-dropped shaped kick drum that we know as Vox Telstar today (was known as the Trixon Speedfire back then), and a conical shaped drum know as the Trixon Telstar (I know right?), but later known as the Vox Fanjet. We prepared a timeline made from various sources along with images in case you are interested.
1947 – Karl-Heinz Weimer founded Trixon Drum Co.
1956 – Trixon factory Bramfeld, Hamburg opened.
Offered snare drums, toms and bass drums in various sizes and colour options. Furthermore, it manufactured a complete line of hardware, stands and ethnic and mallet percussion instruments.
1955 – Weimer opened Music City, Steindamm, Hamburg
– ‘Speedfire’ set was introduced
1957 – Trixon line was introduced to the U.K. by Ivor Arbiter, the owner of Drum City, giving Premier and Ajax some competition.
Arbiter was the exclusive agent and importer for Trixon drums in the U.K.
1958 – ‘Telstar’ kit was introduced.
Named after the Telstar satellite launched into space by the U.S.
1965 – Trixon factory Bramfeld, Hamburg closed.
1966 – Trixon factory Reinbeck, Hamburg opened to cater to high demand in the U.S.
1967 – Trixon was sold under the “Vox” label.
– Trixon factory opened under the name of Trixon Ltd, in cooperation with Irish piano company Rippen Ltd. at Shannon Airport, Ireland.
St. Louis Music Supply Co., the licensed importer of Trixon drums for the U.S., leased Vox from the Thomas Organ Co.. Renamed the majority of their Trixon imports “Vox.”
1977 – Trixon company ceased drum set production after the fall of Rippen Ltd and faced intense competition from Japanese drum manufacturers. Weimer continued to manage Music City in Hamburg.
1997 – Weimer died.
– Arthur Oeschger, Weimer’s longtime associate, attempted to revive the Trixon Drum Co..
1998 – The entire inventory in Hamburg was destroyed by a fire.
2000 – Oeschger died.
– Jim Laabs, Oeschger’s business partner and financier before the factory fire, took control of Trixon Drum.
2007 – Laab begun production at new Trixon Drum Factory.
After playing on the kit for a couple of hours, it is evident that this kit is for jazz playing. With the coated resonant head (unlike most modern kit with clear single-ply resonant heads), the Telstar gives a perfect ring and articulation, especially when tuned high.
With the right tuning and heads, however, this kit can pre pretty versatile as well. Check out this video from our friend @ridwanjohari where he plays a more modern tuning in this collaborative shoot with SEA drummers.
Sound aside; the Telstar makes a good display piece with its beautiful finish. Given its limited run and rich history, we recommend buying a set for collection purposes.
The two kick drum concept is one of a kind and stands through the many different drum kits on the market. However, concept drums like these might not be the kind of kit you want to bring out for shows (unless you are looking for that particular sound). It will, however, be a kit that could expand your creativity due to its unique sound. It’s vintage flat-based stands, however, are an asset that you want to have. If you have some spare cash lying around, we recommend you to get a set of these.
If your interested to get yourself the Telstar DrumSet, it is now available at City Music for $1743