Dear Bill and MMDers,
In the MMDigest of June 30, 2010, Bill Clark asks about snare drum
beaters for a band organ.
> How do I go from a MIDI snare drum music line that has one output
> to making two beaters "roll" on a snare drum? Do I need vacuum?
> Where can I buy or get plans to make a beater mechanism?
I'm sure others can offer better detail, but just to get you started:
Some band organs used two separate signals for the two snare drum
beaters and others used only one. When one signal was used, the
two beaters were constructed so that when a hole in the music sheet
was encountered, beater #1 struck the drum and beater #2 retracted.
When the hole ended, beater #1 retracted and beater #2 struck.
A series of holes would provide alternate beats for a drum "roll".
Most band organs used pressure to blow pipes and therefore used
pressure to operate percussion instruments. Most orchestrions used
vacuum to operate everything, including percussion, unless they had
pipes in which case a separate pressure pump was provided. Some
band organs, notably Wurlitzer, used vacuum but it was primarily for
reading the tracker bar and operating controls. As far as I know,
all the pipes were blown with pressure and percussion was operated
with pressure as well. From the above, it is apparent that either
pressure or vacuum could be used to operate the percussion in a
At one time, the Vestal Press offered plans which I think might have
included beaters for drums or xylophones. I don't know if anyone is
offering these for sale or not. Maybe someone has a copy that they
would be willing to part with. Also, a design for a beater mechanism
is in the Wurlitzer plans offered by Bob Stanoszek:
I don't have a set so I don't know if those plans include the actual
percussion devices. I'm sure some other folks will have additional
suggestions to help get you started. Good luck with the project.