This extraordinary piece of kit is essentially a small tambourine effect made up of four pairs of silver coloured jingles separated by metal plates for increased volume which sits on the hi-hat rod. It was a tight fit to the hi-hat rod and the rubber grommet duly popped out of the centre of the jingle. We decided that the only way to remedy this was to fix the grommet to the hi-hat separately and then place the Mad Hatter on top, which would also allow a quick removal of the effect when required. The Mad Hatter produces a very subtle Tambor effect and we could see it in a variety of settings, from experimental jazz through to latin and world. And for those without a hi-hat the Mad Hatter can also be played with sticks. For more go to www.musicshipping.co.uk

Nowadays djembes come in all shapes, sizes and materials: from traditional carved wood shells with goatskin heads and rope tuning to the latest synthetic shells, plastic heads and key tuning. Remo were among the first to introduce non-traditional djembes over 12 years ago when they launched the Key-Tuned djembe with Acousticon shells and Mondo synthetic heads. Now the company has taken the design a step further with the Apex djembe that has a lightweight ABS plastic shell moulded in a traditional shape with a steel plated counter hoop, eight tuning brackets and a synthetic Skyndeep Black Goat Stripe head. The Apex has a 12-inch head diameter, stands 23 inches tall and is aimed at recreational players through to professionals looking for a second drum. Tuning is a breeze with the supplied ratchet and the tuning brackets are rounded with recessed screws that, like the counter hoop, are shaped for comfort. The drum produces bright responsive open tones, cutting slaps and ringing edge tones, but has a dryer centre bass tone without the really deep bass oomph of heavier wood or Acousticon shells. Priced at £125 the Apex is light, very durable and perfect for playing on the move and comes with a bracket for belt or shoulder strap. (JN)

For more go to remo.com

Now owned by the Sabian cymbal company Gon Bops is one of the oldest Latin percussion companies in the world, founded by Mariano Bobadilla in Los Angeles in 1954. Gon Bops are renowned as some of the best sounding congas and bongos available and now counts Alex Acuna as a key endorsee and co-designer of two of the company’s conga ranges. Last year Gon Bops celebrated its 55th anniversary with a special California Series conga range made from Red Appalachian Oak, and this year sees the re-introduction of the Mariano Series congas and bongos, named after the founder’s original conga line. Manufactured from plantation harvested Siam Oak, these are based on the original design and shape with traditional style rims, tuning rods and side plates as well as three reinforcing hoops around the shell, all finished in black. The combination of the traditional styling, vintage natural wood and the black hardware finish gives a distinctive retro look, but with a subtle contemporary twist. Natural heads and Gon Bops’ superb build quality gives a full bodied, authentic sound, from cutting slaps to big, resonant bass tones. The Mariano Series come in four sizes: 10.75in Quinto; 11.5in Conga; 12.25in Tumba; 13.25in Super Tumba as well as a pair of 7in and 8.5in bongos. Distributed in the UK by Westside Distribution.

For more go to www.gonbops.com

Now owned by the Sabian cymbal company Gon Bops is one of the oldest Latin percussion companies in the world, founded by Mariano Bobadilla in Los Angeles in 1954. Gon Bops are renowned as some of the best sounding congas and bongos available and now counts Alex Acuna as a key endorsee and co-designer of two of the company’s conga ranges. Last year Gon Bops celebrated its 55th anniversary with a special California Series conga range made from Red Appalachian Oak, and this year sees the re-introduction of the Mariano Series congas and bongos, named after the founder’s original conga line. Manufactured from plantation harvested Siam Oak, these are based on the original design and shape with traditional style rims, tuning rods and side plates as well as three reinforcing hoops around the shell, all finished in black. The combination of the traditional styling, vintage natural wood and the black hardware finish gives a distinctive retro look, but with a subtle contemporary twist. Natural heads and Gon Bops’ superb build quality gives a full bodied, authentic sound, from cutting slaps to big, resonant bass tones. The Mariano Series come in four sizes: 10.75in Quinto; 11.5in Conga; 12.25in Tumba; 13.25in Super Tumba as well as a pair of 7in and 8.5in bongos. Distributed in the UK by Westside Distribution. (JN) For more go to www.gonbops.com

Meinl has launched a new range of djembes that offers the kind of superior build quality, sound and looks not always found on handmade traditional style models. Though of African origin these Professional African Style Djembes are made in Indonesia and come in two solid mahogany models with different carved finishes. Standing 24in tall with a 12in head diameter, each drum is carved from a solid piece of plantation grown mahogany and comes in a choice of ‘village’ carved shell or traditional hewn shell, both with polished finishes. The drum is fitted with a high quality goatskin head and the bearing edge is smoothly sanded with a soft deep roll that is decidedly hand friendly. Both drums have the traditional Mali-weave tuning system with thirty vertical runners, all made from prestretched 5mm HTP black nylon rope, that keeps the head properly balanced. Straight from the box and correctly tensioned at the factory these drums immediately impress with a bright cutting slap, a deep resonant bass tone in the centre and clean open tones. The tone and fullness of sound is amongst the best I’ve tried in traditional djembes, with a broad spectrum that goes from firecracker rim slaps to a deep bass that really projects and is a testament to the high quality heads and the accuracy of the tuning system – often weak points on most cheaper models. Priced at £226 and £198 respectively they come with a tuning instruction booklet and rope strap. (JN) For more go to www.meinlpercussion.com

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