When I think back to the time when I was first getting into drums seriously, I can recall myself referencing albums for their drum sounds and wondering why in the hell my drums sounded nothing like what I was hearing on my favorite recordings. It was frustrating to hear the resonance of my drums ringing out of phase and creating
this unpleasant sound to my ears. So to remedy this issue I went out and bought two products. The first being Remo Pinstripe drum heads and the second being Moongels. Now bear in mind, 20 years ago, the only way to diminish resonance was gaffers tape, RemO Tone Control Rings, thick drum heads or Moongels, at least to my knowledge. So with these new products, I replaced the stock heads on my Pearl Export drum set with the new Pinstripes and applied Moongels and viola! All of the resonance was eliminated leaving me with dead sounding drums but to my ears it was better than what I had going on previously.
Fast forward nearly 20 years; I play a much better drum kit, I am much better with tuning and I have an actual preference on head selection, and with all of that being said, I have been playing wide open tuning for quite a while. Although the thought still crosses my mind, "can these sounds be altered or improved upon without diminishing the resonance, tone or response?" Well, after seeing many testimonials and having a basic understanding of the Drumtacs product, I figured I would give this product a try and see for myself what all the fuss is about.
I think it is worth mentioning that I don't mind "ring" at all and in some cases I like it a lot, depending on the music I am playing. I sometimes find some ring can make the drums more expressive and suits my approach and style to playing. So I was kind of leery about the Drumtacs diminishing the character of "my sound" and make no mistake, I had NO issues with how my gear was sounding.
So what did I think? Well, in short, it is unlike any drum dampening I have ever used. What the Drumtacs seem to do is focus the resonance more harmoniously to create an even resonance and a more focused attack and tone. My drums are still singing too, no deadening. So, the product works, simply put. I would recommend this product to anyone that is trying to dial in their sound. The added bonus is that the Drumtacs will adhere to the resonant head as well as cymbals, so their uses are vast and exceptional for people who wish to experiment with different applications.
Beyond the product, we have the people behind the product and the community that uses Drumtacs. Let me be very clear about this....the gentlemen behind Drumtacs are regular dudes that had a dream. The sacrifice, risk, knowledge, and patience that went into making these polymer dots with a neoprene top possible is legendary. Reading the responses to both Cris and J.C.'s questions, put a big smile on my face. These men are ruthless for success and it is absolutely inspiring to read about the development of this product and brand.
In this article we will be taking a look at both sides of the Tac. Cristian Beaulieu is who developed the polymer technology, designed the machine to laser etch each Drumtac, and manufacturers the product as you know it. J.C. Clifford is the man who shakes the hands and brings the product to market. Together they are a powerhouse team and they are taking the drumming community by storm. So lets get into get into it with my friends Cristian and J.C.
DG: What is the science behind Drumtacs?
CB: The dual densities of the polymer and neoprene layering are really key to the performance. I tuned the size of the tacs and the thickness and densities until I was affecting the frequencies I wished to target. I worked on the serious adhesion first because I could hear Moongel corners buzzing in my feed and in recordings. I then studied soft polymers and went to work. Several hundred colossal failures and most of my life savings did the trick. The final trial of adhering the neoprene in just the right amount to the polymer left me speechless. I fired them all over my Gretsch kit and played for hours. By the way, I'm also a fan of open sounds on my drums.
DG: Was the development of the polymer by accident or was it intentional?
CB: Intentional. The material Drumtacs is made of is now used in other areas for sound and vibration control but they were developed explicitly for drums because I didn't like the choices in the marketplace. By a drummer for drummers.
DG: How are Drumtacs manufactured?
CB: They are manufactured using several proprietary processes using machines I've developed. The polymer itself starts as raw chemical components shipped to me in fairly large quantities. They are a serious headache to work with. They dislike moisture and cannot be exposed to our atmosphere for very long. I use a lot of nitrogen gas to keep the air from harming them. They react very quickly and give the user less than three minutes to deliver the compound to its final shape ect. once combined. It's stressful but I've managed to develop the system to make it repeatable and reliable and stable. Plus messing with automation and machines is just plain good fun
DG: Besides this polymer, are there other materials or products that you have invented in the past?
CB: Yes. And one will hopefully be patented soon and introduced to market next year. Fingers crossed. It's a dooozie. It's development is more expensive than Drumtacs so it's introduction will be much later. All I can say about it now is that it is for drums but is mechanical in nature. Not chemical.
DG: Now that you have developed the polymer and Drumtacs are proving to be successful, are you exploring other practical uses for this technology that could be used to create new products?
CB: Yes. The polymer is being tested in many other markets and being tweaked to accommodate many other uses. It has been sold under the trade name 'hushpuks' and was used to quiet and stabilize hunting and target archery bows. Several worlds records were broken with the polymer on the shooter's bows. Also, I'm constantly testing and trying to improve Drumtacs. I want to make them tougher and usable in drum corps/ marching areas.
DG: Between yourself and JC Clifford, how are the duties and roles split between you guys?
CB: I make them, pack them and ship them to the distribution and JC does everything else. By now you already know how great a guy he is. The way Drumtacs hit the market organically and with such personal connection was his doing. We both wanted it that way and he made it happen. He is a huge part of the success of Drumtacs. Also he is my great friend and I love him dearly.
DG: What do Drumtacs mean to you personally?
CB: Wow. Hmmmm. So much. Tough question. I think the Drumtacs story proves that dreams are achievable. Even by regular guys. Those who succeed do so because they just keep going. Getting kicked in the teeth a hundred times just pushes them on. I'm immensely proud of Drumtacs and how they with JC's help have created an astounding community of drummers and friends. I think the latter is the part the means the most to me.
DG: What is Polymeric Control?
JC: The control of vibration through a non gel polymer that allows some of the vibration to be absorbed to create unlimited possibilities of sonic control on any percussive surface.
DG: What kind of experience can a player expect from using Drumtacs?
JC: The beauty of using Drumtacs is that it is far from being just a dampener. Each drummer can experiment and find any variety of tone control on drums (reso or batter heads), cymbals to shorten the length of the note without losing feel of strike and any percussive surface can be manipulated to enhance sound due to variables such as temperature and room size and space. You can also cut a Drumtac in half to decrease the footprint and clean with warm water and dish soap to reactivate the polymer when it becomes dirty (average life span of a Drumtac is approximately 12-16 months with proper cleaning and following the directions on the back of the package).
DG: Recently I have seen Drumtacs with custom phrases or artists’ names laser engraved onto the neoprene face of the Drumtacs. Is there a limited run with these or is this something offered to customers year round?
JC: The Signature Series was Cristian's idea when he figured out how to overwrite the code on the laser engraver that he built. It is not cost effective yet to do in volume (each individual signature must be retooled into the code and refitted to the Tac for sizing). So for now it will be once or twice a year as a custom one off available to any drummer endorsing Drumtacs!
DG: Prior to your involvement with Drumtacs you had not been exposed to the drumming community. Since then, what has been your impression on the community?
JC: I can enthusiastically say that in all my years of being around musicians there is no group that can even compare to the fellowship and comradery that the drum community has. It has been my pleasure to be accepted and proud to say my drum lessons are paying off and one day I may even surprise myself and start gigging on the side!
DG: Explain a scenario where you and Cristian knew you had a product that had the potential to change face of drum dampening forever.
JC: Our first experience in Fullerton, California with Ed Udhus (Zebrahead) and Nate Walker (LIT) when they tried out the prototypes at their studio and the actual look on their faces. It sincerely sent shivers down my spine. The best comment was when Ed looked at us and said "Holy shit dude!", with this shit eating grin on his face. It was at that point that we knew we had something. The day we knew it was viable is when Thomas Lang called me from a studio in LA and purchased 5 packs to take on his Austrian clinic tour!
DG: What do you believe is the single most important factor to Drumtacs’ success?
JC: Allowing all drummers to be held at the same level regardless of how far they are on the path (from gigging weekend warriors to session / pro touring gigs). We Do Not Endorse Drummers by giving them free product in exchange for their using our product and promoting us. Rather we reward drummers that positively promote and endorse Drumtacs through their social media and word of mouth!
DG: Where can people find Drumtacs?
JC: Drumtacs are exclusively distributed by Big Bang Distribution in California and are available through Sam Ash Music Stores, Amazon, AmazonUK, Sweetwater, Reverb, Drumeo, Canadian Drum Gear, Long and McQuade, BR Distribution London, Sleishman Drum Company Australia, Gold Music Italy and most 5 Star drum shops. To have your local shop order inventory email Bob@bigbangdist.com or email@example.com.
DG: What do Drumtacs mean to you personally?
JC: Drumtacs has been the total experience of being me being introduced into the drumming community and watching total organic growth take us from manufacturing in our basements to a commercial lab in Harrisburg, PA with International distribution throughout 72 countries. The doors to my marketing and management company where opened by the networking of the very drummers using our product!
Innovation, persistence, belief and positive public response is the full circle here. If one of these components were removed from the equation, I believe Drumtacs wouldn't have the continued success that it proves to have. Time and time again I see companies trying desperately to make their mark in the drumming community. Not for nothing, but some people get it and some people don't. There HAS to be a NEED for a NEW product. Innovation is absolutely paramount in order to elevate an idea and product to success.
Drumtacs' polymer is patented and not used by ANY OTHER company. This is the ONLY product that works the way it does and lemme tell you this....it WORKS fantastically! I only wish that more companies would look for new ways to improve upon an idea and separate themselves by the physical product, rather than simply selling us the idea of a better product through clever and effective marketing. This is why I am writing an article on Drumtacs. They deserve all of the success. They paid their dues developing this product, waiting patiently for the Moongels patent to wear off so they could introduce their product and then strike with all the force in the world. Cris and JC are smart people. Congratulations gentlemen on your success so far and I hope this product continues on its fruitful path and that more drummers ASSUME CONTROL!