Drum Wagon

All things percussive

ZenEdit now powers the Zendrum Custom Shop, on zendrum.com!

This is a stripped down version of ZenEdit that runs in your browser and is used to design your very own custom ZX layout. The files that it generates are fully compatible with the full version of ZenEdit so you can hit the ground running when you receive your custom designed Zendrum!

Check out the Zendrum Custom Shop today!


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January 19th, 2013

Posted In: present, software, Zendrum, ZenEdit

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A brief tutorial describing how to work with projects within the ZenEdit interface.

September 9th, 2012

Posted In: how-to, software, Zendrum, ZenEdit

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Just posted some live recordings from a September 2011 winery gig with The Stormy Weathermen.

October 13th, 2011

Posted In: gigs, present, Zendrum

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Over the past couple years, I’ve tried a huge number of different sound sources with my Zendrum, trying to the find the “perfect” live rig to suit most situations.

I’ve tried small and simple, large and complex, dedicated hardware modules as well as VST hosts. None of them were quite “right”. With any one rig, I’d have to sacrifice a level of one feature to gain in another.

The key features of a live rig are (to me):

  • Portability. Ideally, it should be as light and small as possible. I’m willing to compromise on size in exchange for other considerations, though.
  • Quality of sounds. A Zendrum is not a drum kit, nor is it a replacement for hand percussion, orchestral percussion, etc. However, when I’m using my Zendrum live, I am trying to emulate these types of instruments and therefore I want the sounds and performance to be as life-like as possible. Not every Zendrummer may agree with this position, but it’s important to me. If I’m going to sacrifice sound quality, there has to be a huge payoff for doing so.
  • Quantity of sounds, ease of kit change. One of my biggest gripes with VSTs used to be how hard it was to switch kits on the fly and how long it would take. I’m coming to terms with this more though by:

    1. Realizing that hardware-based drum modules spoiled me into thinking this was a big deal.
    2. Realizing that I would never expect to be able to swap out my acoustic kit between songs outside of maybe the snare.
    3. Leveraging all the “instrument slots” of my VST to create massive kits of which I just use portions of at a time.
    4. Realizing that much like playing acoustics, changing from sticks to brushes, rods or mallets creates enough variation for one show, and leveraging my Zendrum’s ‘user setups’ to accomplish this rather than changing kits whole cloth.
  • Flexibility. In addition to supporting the Zendrum, a live rig optimally provides different routing options, inputs for click tracks and sequences, etc. In other words, it shouldn’t be a closed solution.
  • Tactileness. A huge deal to me and the purpose of this article. If something in the mix is not right, I need to be able to grab a knob or a slider and fix it — often on the fly and as I’m playing.


August 1st, 2011

Posted In: DAW, DIY, hardware, how-to, present, Zendrum

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Just posted some snippets from the Electric Mandolin Project (EMP) which I was involved in last summer.

April 16th, 2011

Posted In: present, Zendrum

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Latest maintenance release fixes a couple of annoyances, adds a few new features and makes everything a bit spiffier!

To obtain the latest version, select “Help > Check for Updates” from the main menu.

Full details here.

December 2nd, 2010

Posted In: present, software, Zendrum, ZenEdit

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I’d been working on refurbishing my old snare drum recently. Here’s a shot of the finished product.

The shell is from a vintage Duplex Tonecraft (Rogers) snare, from the 60’s. I first acquired it in the late 80’s at a flea market for $10.

Back then it was in blue sparkle wrap. The original hardware was in sad shape, the chrome pitted and peeling and with rust setting in. In the early 90’s I stripped the original wrap and replaced it with piano black. I also replaced the original lugs with the old “Pearl style” ones and sharpened the bearing edges. I also added a layer of satin polyurethane to the interior to help the shell project more.

Now for its second refurbishment, I’ve restripped the shell and sealed it with clear polyurethane. I’ve also replaced ALL the hardware this time, with newer Pearl “bridge” lugs and a modern throw off from Drum Foundry. I’ve also added a larger vent and custom Purecussion snares. This drum just plain sings now! I could not be happier with it.

To add to its personal historical and sentimental value, the rims it uses are now from my very first student snare drum from some 28 years ago. My drum teacher, Mrs. Horst, engraved our names on them so we students could tell them all apart. I’m flooded with memories whenever I remove this drum from its case 🙂

November 22nd, 2010

Posted In: acoustics, DIY, hardware, present

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I’ve added some found recordings from this time last year for a group called Lotus Dog. This was the first group I was in where I played nothing but Zendrum.

Lotus Dog tracks

October 26th, 2010

Posted In: present, Zendrum

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One of the best upgrades you can get for your Zendrum is the integrated wireless option. This adds an internal MIDIJet board along with a battery compartment for a single 9-volt that powers both the Zendrum board and the MIDIJet. I cannot say enough good things about this setup, it simply rocks. Once you’ve tried it you’ll wonder how you ever ;t by being tethered with a MIDI cable!

Of course keeping the option to go back to being wired is important too, if for nothing else than to have a “plan B” should things ; wrong. For instance you may have for;tten to bring or charge your batteries, or perhaps there is too much radio interference at the gig. Whatever the circumstances, it’s important to be able to ; back to using a wired connection at will.

Which brings us to the point of this article, because if you have one of the first crop of Z4 boards and utilize any Roland drum modules, you probably have discovered that a wired connection (i.e. not using the MIDIJet) simply no longer works! The Zendrum powers up fine, but no amount of banging on the triggers will register with the Roland unit. The official explanation for this that I’ve received from the Zendrum folks is that the Roland units expect just a slightly higher electrical current than the Z4 is providing at the MIDI port, even though the Z4 is adhering to the official MIDI specification.

One workaround for this that I stumbled on is to rectify the MIDI signal before it reaches the Roland unit, by doing a pass-through on another unit. In other words, by placing an additional MIDI device between the Zendrum and the Roland unit, the MIDI data signal is boosted to a level that Roland can pick up on. This would seem to contradict the notion that the Z4 board is operating correctly and that it’s the Roland unit that is at fault, but i can’t speak to that — I only know that using a middle-man approach here works. Of course that adds a bit of complexity to your rig, and it’s not always practical to drag around secondary MIDI devices, so it’s less than an ideal solution.

July 15th, 2010

Posted In: DIY, hardware, how-to, present, Zendrum

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Announcing the immediate availability of the foremost GUI editor for your Zendrum — ZenEdit!

ZenEdit takes the hassle out of programming and calibrating your Z4 based Zendrum. It also allows you access to features that you simply can’t get at any other way. Features such as programmable crossfade instruments and trigger level control over noise floor and response curves.

ZenEdit is now available for immediate download at:

Supported platforms are Windows(r), Mac OS and Linux(r).

Start unlocking the power of your Zendrum today, with ZenEdit!

July 12th, 2010

Posted In: present, software, Zendrum, ZenEdit

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