In the early 20th century, the trap (contraptions) kit was becoming very popular and so the drum kit as we know it today was taking shape. Check out this earlier BLOG to read more.
But we still didn’t have a hi-hat. Having discussed the bass drum pedal in a previous BLOG, we know the impact that Ludwig & Ludwig were having on the drum kit was significant. Their early bass drum pedals had already begun to look at utilising cymbal sounds by using an extension arm coming from the bass drum beater. This arm struck a small cymbal known as a clanger. Now the bass drum and clanger could be played simultaneously with the foot. However, they could only be played together and this wasn’t always desirable.
Snow Shoe on left and clanger attached to bass drum
Moving on from this primitive effort, we came to the Snow Shoe or Charleston Pedal. This brought the left foot into play by attaching two cymbals to the end of wooden boards. A hinge was added at one end and the foot attached to the top board via a loop. Now when the drummer lifted and dropped his left foot, the cymbals clashed together in a similar manner to our hi-hats in the 21st Century. Four limb independence was underway.
Then advancing from that we found find the Low-boy. This carried on the idea of two cymbals clashing together but here we see them raised several inches from the floor by way of a metal tube. Still just a percussive voice played with the foot then, unless a very short person was playing them!
And then it happened! The big moment came. It was in the 1920s that someone looked at the low boy and realised that with slightly longer tubing, the cymbals could be raised to the height of the drummer’s hands and therefore open up many new possibilities. And at the forefront of this new design was the company Walberg & Auge.
It is with this evolution that we can also see why the drummers began to cross their hands. With a majority of players being right handed, it makes sense that they would cross their dominant hand over to play on this newly available hi-hat.
The modern drum kit as we know it today was nearly born, but there was one more step. One more element was to be created by a famous drummer of the day.