About Farmer Musical Instrument Co.
The Birth of the Farmer Musical Instrument Company
The Farmer Foot Drum Deluxe was first conceived while I was listening to John Lee Hooker in my woodshop back in 2003. In some of his songs I could hear his feet tapping wonderful rhythmic beats to accompany his guitar and voice - it sounded as if he had a drummer playing right next to him. Wanting to do the same, but with a more full and rounded drum kit sound, I dreamed up a drum kit that was acoustic, simple for your feet to play, and looked classic.
Using portability, great sound, and durability as the guiding principals in design, I eventually constructed a crude contraption out of my envisioned instrument. After the original Foot Drum's rather slapdash beginnings, I decided to officially start up my own business in the fall of 2005 after hearing too many folks asking to buy it out from under my feet. As a full time high school history teacher with a little rented single car garage and student loans up the yazoo, I knew it was going to be a slog if I was going to advance the concept of a foot played drum kit with shakers, tambourines, snare, bass and more. But enlivened with the passion to creatively work with my hands and the encouragement from strangers, family, and friends I developed the production model Foot Drum to the point where I could open them up for sale in early 2006.
However, having spent too many late nights alone in a cold overcrowded single car garage I came to realize that I would need some help to round out my business and manufacturing education to make this venture really succeed - enter Kerry Carlson of Innovative Manufacturing. A former tap handle builder for all the major microbreweries in the US (before China pulled the rug out), Kerry unveiled a whole world of parts, machines, jigs, catalogs, and contraptions that would ultimately help me to make a better product that produced less waste and took less time. It is these savings, innovations, and great acoustics that I (we) have passed on to you, my bread and butter, my customer.
Today, I work in a modern shop with all the tools that make working a joy. I play music as often as I can, straddling what it means to be a multi instrumentalist or one man band, and a manufacturer of musical instruments that I can't help but want to play. At least the quality control part of my duties means I am not slacking off too much!
So please know that if and when you decide to buy a Farmer Musical Instrument, I will be on the other end of the line ready to answer your comments, concerns, and questions in person! I take pride in the products I put out, and I wholeheartedly care for the customers that play them. Until I hear from you in the near future, Keep Up the Beat!
Foot Percussion History
Foot Percussion - the Reinvention of a Timeless Musical Pursuit.
Some of the earlier forms of foot percussion have been unearthed by archaeologists in the form of 'foot drums' found in several southwestern and central-Californian US Native American archaeological sites inhabited, or formally inhabited, by the Maidu, Miwok, Aztec, and Hope Indian tribes. These drums were often semicircle cross-sectioned hollow logs laid over wood covered 'resonating' pits positioned according to custom in kivas or dance houses. The foot drums were played by stomping on top of the hollow log with the structure's poles used for steadying.
Modern foot played percussion had a renaissance of sorts in the early-20th century, especially in jazz and dance hall music popular at the time. It was also during this time that the term "trap set" came into use, being short for "contraption" and meant to summarize the array of mechanical setups used by a drummer of this era. The photos below offer just a taste of the instruments used in the early years of mass production and innovation. They were manufactured by companies Sonor, Max Flemming, Duplex and Viktoria. The low boy or snow shoe by the Walberg company (middle photo with cymbals) was one of the few instruments that survived due to the 21st century, albeit in an evolved form. One will recognize it today as the hi-hat.
Other traditional forms of foot percussion are more rudimentarily seen in clogging. It's roots are in traditional European, early African American,and traditional Cherokee dancing. These dancer's often had various styles of particular footwear that were used musically by striking the heel, the toe, or both in unison against a floor or each other to create percussive rhythms. These moves were sometimes accompanied by the dancer playing a fiddle, guitar or banjo. Clogging later became a social dance in the Appalachia Mountains as early as the 18th century and is gaining popularity today in the folk revival of the 21st century. Depending on cultural variances, clogging is also known as flat footing, foot stomping, buck dancing, jigging, or other terms. What united these styles is the emphasis on the downbeat of the music.
When I started the business of manufacturing and innovating foot played percussion in 2005, I had no luck in finding anything acoustic and pedal played that was designed to be played by a guitar player. As I delved deeper into the research, I saw that there was a strong and growing enthusiasm in the 1950s and 60s from folks who wanted to express their inner beat; as seen with Jesse Fuller, Joe Hill Louis, or Hasil Adkins with hi hats, bass drums, and other mechanical contraptions. I also soon learned that there were many folks out there today who were like me and thought: 'how can I make more compelling rhythmic music?' While many musicians have resorted to the foot played electric stompbox, or plugged in a porchboard bass to add beats to their songs,
others have come up with DIY percussion setups, simply stomp their foot, or rely on preprogrammed beats or loop machines. However, none of those tools felt to me to be honest, flexible, or dependable in the real world. While the old standby of finding a reliable drummer to haul his or her gear around is still the most dynamic means to add percussion to your music, it is not always feasible and/or ideal if you seek creativity in playing music when you want, and how you want. Playing your own foot percussion means that you have much more control over their practice time (no more flaky drummers), can change their tempos, and are able to improvise with ease. But perhaps the biggest bonus to playing foot percussion is you have MORE FUN and connection with the music your into!
While some people claim they are 'slow learners', adding foot percussion is actually an easy instinctual thing to do. Often times it is the beat that is the backbone that drives a song and the key sound that prompts even the least musically inclined person to be able to follow your music. If you think that tapping your foot to the beat is difficult, ask yourself how it is we are able to: dance to music with arms, legs, feet, and hands in closely synchronized movements; or why we are asked by music teachers to tap our foot at the earliest stages of music education; or how on earth anyone could learn to actually play something as complicated as a guitar with 6 different stings over 20 or more frets using the coordination of all ten fingers AT ONCE! If the idea of becoming a 'one man band' or 'multi intrumentalist' seems like a turn off to you, consider this: Bob Dylan is considered a multi instrumentalist with a harmonica wired to his mouth and guitar in his hands to accompany his voice. Musical instrument additions such as these are so common now, you don't give them a second thought. Bottom line, the acoustics and looks of a Farmer Musical Instrument are timeless, intuitively designed, and as well made as your Made in America Fender or Martin guitar - so try one out, I guarantee you'll get a thrill out of the possibilities of being your own percussionist!
NOTE: If you are curious about the other instrumentations commonly used by a typical "one man band" or multi instrumentalist, you will be able to refer to the Book of One Man Bands published by Dave Harris of Victoria British Colombia, Canada. His exhaustive research will feature the multitudes on instrumentals and DIYs foot played percussion and more from across the world. They are too many past and present musicians to list here. BUY NOW
About Pete Farmer
I first learned to play music and as a trumpet player in elementary school. My feet were engaged early on by my band teacher's insistence to "keep that time and tap that foot to the beat!" For that, I give thanks to Mrs. McCune and Mr. Cory. It wasn't until much later that I saved up enough cash to buy an old classical guitar from a pawn shop and enter into the world of what some call "the one man band". After graduating from school and laboring for enough cash, a buddy of mine refurbished an old VW van and hit the road to go where the warm sun lay. That year spent poking around the US from end to end and taking in the sights, sounds, and smells of our vast continent was a priceless education that proved to sow the seeds of my future musical instrument creations. That trip let me have the time to hone into, and appreciate more deeply, a taste for that older bluesy roots Americana music - esspecially the kind that induces one to either slap a hand or stomp one's feet to that great American Beat.
- Pete! I used the tambo with the DownBeat Pedal all summer on my solo acoustic tour with Jack Johnson. It was a great addition to my rig and my feets sounded like a freight train running! It really added to my show and I can't thank you enough....
Your Deluxe Foot Drum is a true piece of art that will inspire you to play in way you never thought of before. I don't think I've ever had more fun playing a musical instrument as I've had playing these Foot Drums.
JJ Grey and Mofro
The sound of the Stomp Bass Drum and the DownBeat tambourine pedal are a huge upgrade to what I've been playing. I believe this new combo is going to take me to a whole other level. It's certainly going to make my one-man act more user friendly: much less midrange "whap" on the kick now; just a nice steady "THUMP".
The equipment is truly a work of art.
Adam Gussow: Satan and Adam
Oxford Mississippi, USA
I totally fell in love with these Foot Drums and I think it might be the best instrument I have ever bought (and I buy quite a few!) Thanks again for the uncomplicated buying experience.
- I thoroughly tested out the Stomp FootBass and DownBeat Pedal with tambourine ring add-on at rehearsal today, and they more than lived up to my expectations. They were the perfect solution for my foot percussion needs. Not to mention great sounding and aesthetically pleasing to boot!...
- Just wanted to let you know my new FootDrum arrived in fine shape.It's a lovely piece of engineering, beautifully realized and an absolute ball to play.Thanks for sharing your passion!