History of the Drumset: Part 2

1890 – Ragtime


With the explosive popularity of Ragtime, drummers begin to improvise more freely with the rudiments. At the same time, record numbers of immigrants arrive into the United States from all over the world, bringing their ethnic instruments with them. Early drum set players adapt many of these “contraptions” into their basic set up, giving way to the term “traps.” Trap drummers would play an important role in the evolution of Vaudeville, silent movies, and radio.


This photo shows one of the earliest photos of an overhang pedal in use!

The overhang pedal played the bass drum and cymbal at the same time.

Close up view at the overhang pedal — father of today’s modern bass drum pedals.

The late 1800s and early 1900s saw a flood of immigrants coming into the Untied States.

Immigrants brought with them their own culture, including their music! Many of their instruments would become integrated into the drum set.

Immigrant instruments became popularized and integrated into a drummer’s set up.

One of the earliest trap tables, featuring many immigrant-influenced instruments.

Chinese Tom

Chinese toms were the first tonal drums to become integrated into the drum set.

Avedis Zildjian made cymbals for the early trap sets. This is one of the first Zildjian advertisements!

An early shot of the Zildjian factory. The Zildjian Company moved to their family business to the United States in 1929.


1963 The Vic Firth Company is Founded

Vic Firth launches his company with some of the most popular sticks and mallets in production today: the T1 General Timpani Mallet and SD1 General Snare Drum Stick. Committed to producing the highest quality products, these iconic sticks and mallets are still the world’s best sellers over 60 years later!

1983 Signature Series

Vic Firth launches the Steve Gadd signature model and becomes the first company to produce signature drumsticks that reflect the true musical requirements of the artist. To this day, each model is conceived through extensive research with the world’s top players.

1994 Stone Grinding

Vic begins producing sticks in center-less stone grinders rather than traditional lathes. A first for the industry, stone grinding increases quality, consistency, and allows for more complex design elements such as unique tip shapes and tapers.

2002 Injection Molded Nylon Tips

Vic solves the age old problem of nylon tips flying off by developing an injection molding system whereby the stick and the tip become one! For the first time in drumstick history, nylon tips mirror the shape and profile of their wood counterparts!


For nearly 60 years, we at the Vic Firth Company have focused on developing and manufacturing what has become the world’s most popular drumsticks, mallets, alternative implements, and accessories… with the best durability, feel, and sound options, across the widest variety of genres and styles.

Scroll to Top