I love to see innovation and in the musical instrument business there’s plenty of it. I come across new innovations almost daily, whether it’s a reworking of an existing idea or something completely new, a flash of inspiration that changes the game.
ToneAlly is the latter. Like all great innovations, at heart, it’s pretty simple idea with a simple goal. ToneAlly is an educational drumming tool that trains novice drummers the correct drumstick trajectory from the outset. For drummers, getting stick technique right from the start of their career will enable them to progress much more quickly and quite possibly save years of pain, undoing bad habits. It’s a common problem for drummers and one which I spent many years working on. In fact, I still do.
Creator Tony McNally is a drummer and educator. If he’s a familiar face it’s because he appeared on Dragons Den (series 18 episode 12) seeking to secure additional funding for his invention, to allow him to go into full production.
“Getting stick technique right from the start of their career will enable drummers to progress much more quickly and quite possibly save them years of pain”
Tony kindly sent me a ToneAlly to try. It arrived flat packed and initially I was a little disappointed to discover that it wasn’t actually a pizza. Putting the kit together is dead simple. There is a triangular base plate with curved back and a small rubber practice pad set into front. The underside is rubber backed to prevent slippage. Six, roughly drumstick sized holes are ranged three left and three right, into which slot six 30cm long rods (they look like cut off drum sticks. I imagine that in the prototype that’s exactly what they were) roughly the diameter of a 5B, above which sits a curved top plate holding them in place. Also provided are two small inserts that can be placed in between the rods to help control your stick height and stick-on measures which you position along the innermost rods.
The assembly is very logical. The rods fit into the holes top and bottom. If you plan to keep your ToneAlly permanently assembled you could glue the rods into place but they actually fit so snuggly that I didn’t bother. It means that if I’m travelling, I can easily pack my ToneAlly in flat pack form in my suit case. It could be that over time repetitive assembling and dismantling means the holes could widen and the fit loosen but out of the box it works just fine.
Once assembled the ToneAlly looks pretty impressive. It’s solidly made and the materials and finish are great quality. There’s real care gone into the products manufacture and the detail of the design.
Using the ToneAlly is also very straight forward. Place the assembled kit on a flat surface, a table or snare drum (the ToneAlly will also fit on a snare stand independently) with the wide end facing you. You then simply play between the rods. Which rods, depends on which grip you’re using. The Matched or German Timpani grip means you play in the spaces between the first inner rods. Traditional grip dictates you play in the next space along with your open hand (depending on which hand is dominant) with your dominant hand remaining in the same place. French Timpani grip is best played with both sticks in the very central space. Adjusting the inserts up or down controls the height of the stick and develops control. And that’s it!
“I’ve had mine on the kit less than an hour and already I LOVE it.”
Using ToneAlly when brushing up your rudiments is a revelation. Unfortunately for me it revealed just how poor my hand positioning has become. I have always prided myself on my stick technique but ToneAlly immediately showed me some gaping holes in my own method. I am now working on correcting my years of bad habits which have most likely held me back.
Whether you want to get your technique right from the very beginning or, like me, correct your bad habits you’ll find ToneAlly a pretty indispensable tool. And once you start to see the results coming through into your playing it’s genuinely rewarding.
ToneAlly can be purchased directly from their website (see below). The standard kit is £49.99 with the new Deluxe 5 edition currently on special offer at £99.99 (RRP £124.99). Check the website for offers and other models.
Note – Prices may vary but were correct as at 24/06/2021.
In February I had the pleasure of speaking to Gilson Lavis for the forthcoming Shufflewire podcast (watch this space!). Inevitably we got on to the subject of drums and specifically his choice of drums. Gilson plays Cambridge Drums and anyone who has seen him play on Later, Hootenanny or indeed live will surely have noticed the stunningly beautiful Cambridge kits he plays.
Most of us drummers have much in common. We’re looking for new sounds. We love a gadget. And we’re looking for ways to have both without lugging around more gear. If that’s you too, you’re in luck. Zikit Drums from Isreal have introduced a new product that means you can now play three snares on your kit from one drum shell.
Like many musicians I’m a bit of a collector. As a drummer my house if full of drums, cymbals, percussion, cases, accessories and bits of drums I picked up along the way. The truth is, I would probably have a far larger collection if money, space and spouse allowed!
What is Shufflewire?
Shufflewire is a completely free-to-access directory and network with a key focus on the needs of anyone who works in the music industry. You can also post classified ads where you can promote your upcoming gigs, sell gear and equipment, as well as post jobs.