Rogers Drums

Rogers drums were the first to feature memory lock clamps for easy setup duplication.

The Rogers company was started in 1849 by an Irish immigrant from Dublin named Joseph Rogers. Rogers came to the United States and started crafting drum-heads. Rogers began making drums in the mid 1930s from a Farmingdale, New Jersey location. The first Rogers drums were assembled from shells and hardware of other manufacturers, but mounted with Rogers heads.

In 1953, Joseph Rogers’ grandson, Cleveland, who had no heirs, sold the Rogers drum company to Henry Grossman. Grossman moved the company to Cavington, Ohio, and under his management Rogers was propelled to the forefront of American drum making for the next 10 years. Under Grossman’s watch, design engineer Joe Thompson and marketing guru Ben Strauss, were instrumental to Rogers’ impending success.

Rogers drum hardware included many innovations that became industry standards. Prominent among those was the revolutionary Swiv-O-Matic tom mounting system, which came out in 1957. The Swiv-O-Matic had an egg-shaped ball connected to a steel rod, whose hexagonal shape prevented rotational slipping. The ball facilitated the tom’s swivel, and was tightened to a socket with a drum key.

In the early 1960s Rogers finished fixing all its major hardware problems, and some soom came to considered Rogers the best American drum manufacturer well into the late 1970s.

In 1966 the Rogers drum company was sold to CBS, which in addition to its media empire was also in the musical instrument manufacturing business. Under CBS, Rogers continued to introduce important innovations throughout the 1970s.

In the mid 1970s, Rogers came out with the MemriLoc hardware, which keeps its mark in all modern drum sets until today. The MemriLoc replaced the hexagonal rods with 1-inch-diameter round tubes. To prevent the slipping of the round tubes, the MemriLoc introduced drum key adjustable clamps. These clamps had the wanted effect of locking how far a rod could be inserted, therefore enabling an easy duplication of a prior setup. Thus the memory lock, a feature quite ubiquitous in modern drum kits, was born.

Despite its success in innovative drum hardware, Rogers succumbed to Japanese competition and unfavorable market conditions, and by the early 1980s its operations have nearly vanished. Nonetheless, Rogers drums are a hallmark of American drum set development, and Rogers vintage drums are among the most sought after.

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