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Whalen Kits
#1 Posted : 8/4/2016 1:02:04 AM

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Hello everyone!

I’ve decided to pop in and add some information regarding some of the Whalen painted kits from the 1980’s. I’ve been in touch with Brian and explained most of this stuff but others have contacted me for info so I decided to put it here. Some people have speculated that a few of the Whalen kits wound up in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I can confirm that and I’ll explain the story.

From 1980 to 1989 I worked at Al Nalli Music running the drum department. Nalli Music was an early dealer for Tama drums and eventually became a pretty big account for Tama Drums and Ibanez Guitars. As a result we enjoyed a pretty close relationship with Hoshino, Inc. and they were always very supportive. I owned quite a few Tama drum kits over those years and, since I got to know Tommy Kato pretty well, I had a couple of custom few Tama kits made for me including a beautiful Artstar in Bird’s Eye Maple in standard sizes. Sadly those kits have long been sold off.

We hosted many Tama Drum clinics, Billy Cobham, Simon Phillips, Kenny Aronoff, Dom Famularo, etc. and Tama was great about giving product for door prizes and even loaning us prototype product to display during our annual sales event. I remember a pair of remote bass drum pedals that enabled up to fly two bass drums up on Power Tower and play them with via the cable pedals. Ahhhh, the 80’s!

At one point I loaned a personal snare drum to Tama for evaluation. That drum, an Eames Master Model, became the blueprint for the Gibraltar snare Tama produced. 15 plies of birch. . yikes!

And now, about the Whalen kits. . .

In 1984 the Percussive Arts Society (PAS) held their convention in Ann Arbor on the campus of the University of Michigan. Tama contacted us a few weeks before the show, they couldn’t get the space they needed and would we be interested in finding a suitable space to host a “Tama Days” event during PAS. Since this was not a sancioned PAS event we were likely to upset a few people in the industry (and we did) but that didn’t really occur to us then. So, we secured the Michigan Theater just off campus and Tama sent an 18-foot truck filled with drums, hardware, cymbals, risers, staging etc. Basically, their NAMM show exhibit. Many Whalen drums were included in that display.

The show was a huge success with clinic performances by Cobham, Aronoff, Famularo along with Denny Carmassi and Lenny White. At the end of the show Ken Hoshino asked if we would be interested in purchasing all of the stuff they trucking in from Bensalem (!!!) and, with the exception of a few odd pieces, we bought the entire show. Our basement storage area was packed with drums, piles of hardware, staging, banners, Techstar kits, etc. If only I had that stuff now! The Neil Peart banners are worth some bucks all by themselves and we had a bunch of them,

The Whalen kits I remember having (and most of them are in the Modern Drummer ad that ran then) are the massive flamed painted Artstar kit, the Superstar kits with the blue/red grid graphic, the grey graffitti graphic and the industrial numbers graphic. All of these kits were sold locally. I owned the Artstar kit for a short while but sold it off when I realized I didn’t need or have space for a kit that size. The grey graffitti kit and the industrial numbers kit sold to local drummers but I can’t remember where the blue/red grid kit went.

The other Whalen kit we handled was the kit Brian did for Kenny Aronoff that dupicated the corduroy material. Tama sent us that kit to use as a door prize for one of our sales. The kit was well worn by then and I recall that the drums had been Vibrafibed and the lining was coming loose on some drums. Again, this kit would up with a local drummer who won the drawing.

It’s probable that most of those drum kits are still floating around the area around the southeast Michigan area. Over the years I’ve done some Internet searching for them but nothing has ever popped up but someone with more diligence can probably use Facebook, Craigslist, etc. to shake the bushes and find one or more of them.
3 users thanked A2D for this useful post.
treetopclimber on 8/4/2016(UTC), pontiyak on 8/4/2016(UTC), Yoshinya on 8/10/2016(UTC)
#2 Posted : 8/4/2016 11:54:40 AM

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Very cool story…

I remember seeing an Artstar Birdseye Maple kit in standard depth sizes for sale in NYC craigslist… maybe 6 months to a year ago…

I forget how much they wanted… I was tempted as hell to pull the trigger…But I didn't… Doh

The long lugs are part of the deal breaker for me as well…

Anyway, thanks for sharing the story...Clap
#3 Posted : 8/4/2016 1:54:55 PM

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Those could have been my old kit. I remember shipping them to the east coast. If I remember correctly my kit was 16x22, 14x16,12x14,9z13,8x12 & 8x10. I kept the matching snare and sold it to a friend a few years ago.

I ordered my kit shortly after I saw this one: http://i23.servimg.com/u/f23/12/23/66/78/billya10.jpg

I asked them to duplicate that set and it tool forever for it to arrive. One of those "wish I kept it" kits.
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pontiyak on 8/4/2016(UTC)
#4 Posted : 8/4/2016 5:57:21 PM

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Cool info...
I've seen a listing or 2 lately looking for Whalen kits and info.
Who would have thought that some of the kits would end up in Ann Arbor ; but then again Detroit was big in the rock scene decades ago.
Sounds like Al Nalli music was a great music / drum store (not many of those left).

Some forum members (past and present) have good knowledge of Whalen kits.
Maybe they will chime in here eventually...

#5 Posted : 8/4/2016 11:48:02 PM

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A2D: That is some great historical info...
There are more than a few of us here on the forum that are into
collecting and restoring vintage kits. Although not at the level
of the Whalen kits.
Thanks for sharing some more of Tama's past with us.

1974 Imperialstars Bop kit 24/14/16 (undergoing restoration).
1978 ImperialStar Saturn 12+1 Kit in Midnight blue.(outfit #8993).
1978 ImperialStar Mars 9 kit in Hairline chrome.(outfit #8909),plus 6/8/10/12 concert toms.
1979 SuperStar Super Sunburst kit 22/12/13/14/16 & 6.5" snare
1983 Superstars in Super Mahogany X-tra deep series 22/22/10/11/12/13/14/16/18. 6.5"snare & 8" split lug snare.
1976 Superstars in Custom Black 13/14/16/22X15 (restored)
1982/83 Superstars X-tra deep series in Cherrywine 22/12/13 (restored)
A plethora of snares, 1974-2013. vintage & custom.
Paiste Innovations series cymbals. Tama stands and pedals.
Tama life is on hold. Majorly bummed. Selling and hating it.
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