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Hitting home: Roland’s Taiko1

Renowned Japanese manufacturer goes back to its roots

Roland's Taiko1 — a more portable and affordable alternative to the traditional Japanese drums.Roland's Taiko1 — a more portable and affordable alternative to the traditional Japanese drums.

Japan’s traditional taiko drums produce an instantly recognisable sound, but the instruments themselves are extremely bulky and difficult to transport, and represent a considerable financial commitment. In a move that invokes ancient Japanese cultural traditions and also harks back to the company's foundation as a company making affordable and accessible electronic versions of rhythm-related instruments, Roland are now releasing an electronic version of this ancient drum, the Taiko1. Produced in association with Japanese performing arts group Kodo, the Taiko1 can be powered by AA batteries, carried over the shoulder and swiftly disassembled. What’s more, as an electronic drum, it stores a huge range of taiko and other sounds, and can import user WAVs.

As with Roland’s V-Drums, practice can be undertaken without disturbing others, using headphones; the Taiko1’s mesh drum heads, dual-zone triggering surface and positional sensors generate very little acoustic noise. Traditional ji-uchi backing patterns are available to practice to, and backing tracks may also be streamed directly to the drum via its built-in Bluetooth functions.

The Taiko1 is due to be released later this year, retailing for $1500 in the US. Initial enquiries suggest it will be available to order on request this side of the Atlantic in limited quantities, and an official UK retail price has not yet been set. We’d certainly like to try one, though!

The Taiko1 in use.The Taiko1 in use.

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