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The Evolution of Drum Harnesses


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#21 SoundmanG

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Posted 05 November 2011 - 06:26 AM

SCV was the first snare line to use fiberglass harnesses (under the tunic) in 1979.

Blue Devils also used fiberglass under their uniforms in 79 as well.

The first time I saw a snare harness was with the Argonauts from Salem Oregon in 1976 when they carried double snares.
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#22 HornsUp

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Posted 06 November 2011 - 10:11 PM

Not positive, but I'm pretty sure Vanguard's '74 tenor harnesses were plexiglass rather than fiberglass. Kilts had a tenor player who was molding them ...


They were custom molded to each player. A hole for the player's head was cut into each sheet of plexi.

Then the whole tenor line went to a pizzeria, after hours. And waited for the ovens to cool down. At a suitable temperature, the plexi sheets were put in to soften (but not melt).

Meanwhile, the players donned heavy jackets. When the soft plastic sheets came out of the oven, they were set over the drummers' shoulders to cool right into a form fit.

#23 pearlsnaredrummer77

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Posted 06 November 2011 - 10:21 PM

They were custom molded to each player. A hole for the player's head was cut into each sheet of plexi.

Then the whole tenor line went to a pizzeria, after hours. And waited for the ovens to cool down. At a suitable temperature, the plexi sheets were put in to soften (but not melt).

Meanwhile, the players donned heavy jackets. When the soft plastic sheets came out of the oven, they were set over the drummers' shoulders to cool right into a form fit.


The Finleyville Royal Crusaders used a similar type plexiglass harness with j-hooks. You could wear the clear harness over your uniform and as they were body shaped you could also wear them under. I believe that I heard a parent had fabricated them. I would imagine they were using these by the late 70s.

Edited by pearlsnaredrummer77, 06 November 2011 - 10:22 PM.

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#24 esch

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Posted 08 November 2011 - 08:57 AM

I know SCV had them for the tenors in 1973 and perhaps earlier. Have no idea why we didnít think to use them for the snare and bass drums until much later?

I know Lou Avilla was making them in his garage in the 70ís for SCV. Maybe he got the specs from Menke? Iíll have to ask him.

Lou Avilla made the first ones for SCV in his garage in late 1970-early'71 when they went from straight tenor to trios.

#25 JonW

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Posted 10 November 2011 - 05:25 PM

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Adding a photo simply because I could. hehe!
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#26 DLMillard

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Posted 13 November 2011 - 01:29 PM

Harnesses were a Godsend, especially for snare drummers. With a sling my right shoulder would go numb at times because the weight wasn't equally distributed. Combine that with a leg rest (what a misnomer) and you have a recipe for physical soreness.


Oh how right you are about that! Even 30+ years later, my right shoulder still gives me problems.

Alberta All Girls (snare line 1975-1978)


#27 DLMillard

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Posted 13 November 2011 - 01:43 PM

As a former drum major of 7 years, I had seen many a parade and watched the drummers. They'd rarely complain but I could see their pain. That's why this topic interests me. Thanks for starting it Keith. I went through hundreds of AAG photos and tried to find a chronological. Thanks to those that submitted posts to date; inventions in garages, harnesses weighing more than drums and the need for lighter drums seems likely. Please continue to contribute to this thread for historical purposes.

And what a drum major you were LindaP. :worthy: So good to 'see' you, it's been a long time.:smile: I remember the pain very well, even tried putting a folded up towel on my right shoulder under the strap during our long rehearsals, but nothing helped. Sometimes it hurt so bad I wanted to cry. That's why we snare drummers looked so mean in those days! Hehehehe.

I had the privelege of speaking with a member at the reunion in 2006, she had carried the big tympany through parades and many shows in the early to mid-seventies, she remembered how painful that was for her too.

Alberta All Girls (snare line 1975-1978)


#28 lindap

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Posted 13 November 2011 - 10:33 PM

And what a drum major you were LindaP. :worthy: So good to 'see' you, it's been a long time.:smile: I remember the pain very well, even tried putting a folded up towel on my right shoulder under the strap during our long rehearsals, but nothing helped. Sometimes it hurt so bad I wanted to cry. That's why we snare drummers looked so mean in those days! Hehehehe.

I had the privelege of speaking with a member at the reunion in 2006, she had carried the big tympany through parades and many shows in the early to mid-seventies, she remembered how painful that was for her too.

Thanks for your kind words, Deb. Pam was also our DM in 77, her first year and my fifth year as DM. I couldnít have done it without Pamís support. Over the years, I enjoyed conducting Something in 73, Marche Slav in 74 and genuinely enjoyed conducting the entire repertoire from 77 AAG especially our tribute to Glenn Miller. I also loved our drum solo in 77. Thanks so much. I checked our roster today. Did you know our 6 person snare line (which included you) had 26 years of collective experience that year? Kudos to you, to the drum line and to our 1977 drum corps.

I also viewed photos of my other corps the other day, 1972 Seneca Princemen. The triples (tri-toms, multi-toms) and snares had straps. Our bass drummers had padded harnesses and the tymps had metal tube harnesses with J hooks. Iíve been trying to piece together the history of all the corps I marched with. Thanks for being on DCP Deb. Iíll need your help. 2 more posts; gotta go and get ready for a busy week!
Scarborough Firefighters 68-71 Seneca Princemen 72-75 Etobicoke Oakland Crusaders 76 Alberta All Girls 77-91 Alberta Winter Guard Association 79-88 Alberta Girls Showcase Society 92-04 as a winter and summer guard member, drum major, winter and summer marching and guard instructor, judge, board of directors member or fundraiser

#29 lindap

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Posted 13 November 2011 - 10:36 PM

2 from 74; at the Lilac Festival and Worldís Fair, Spokane 1974, waiting for a parade; a mix of straps and metal harnesses; looks to me that one advantage of the metal harness was the ease of getting the drums on and off. The harness had a curve. All girl drum corps needed curved harnesses as they got older ;-) if you catch my drift lol.

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Scarborough Firefighters 68-71 Seneca Princemen 72-75 Etobicoke Oakland Crusaders 76 Alberta All Girls 77-91 Alberta Winter Guard Association 79-88 Alberta Girls Showcase Society 92-04 as a winter and summer guard member, drum major, winter and summer marching and guard instructor, judge, board of directors member or fundraiser

#30 lindap

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Posted 13 November 2011 - 10:37 PM

A parade in Spokane, May 1974; looks to me the new metal harnesses also allowed for better body alignment while marching. Balancing the weight of the drum, structure and flexibility of the harness, health of the drummer without compromising the sound may have continued to evolve in years to come.

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Scarborough Firefighters 68-71 Seneca Princemen 72-75 Etobicoke Oakland Crusaders 76 Alberta All Girls 77-91 Alberta Winter Guard Association 79-88 Alberta Girls Showcase Society 92-04 as a winter and summer guard member, drum major, winter and summer marching and guard instructor, judge, board of directors member or fundraiser




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