The folks at One Beat Better have come up with a versatile new sound for the marching percussionist:  The Timbre Jam!  After contacting One Beat Beater’s Erik Nelton to learn more about this clever innovation, I received a box full of “Jams” to try out for myself.  Based on combining the principle designs of the traditional wood block and a practice pad, the Timbre Jam adds additional color to the percussive voice in any ensemble while doubling as a practice pad.

All models are available in a variety of select hardwoods to offer different shades in tone.  Maple, birch, walnut and poplar woods are currently available and each produce rich, penetrating tones.  The premise is that of a basic idiophone, very much resembling a large, square woodblock in appearance.

With the hard foam insert placed in the sound opening located directly under the playing surface, the patented Timbre Jam offers the modern percussionist a handy practice pad that comes complete with an impressive, tight rebound.  The action of the hard rubber impact pad is perfectly conducive to anyone from a seasoned rudimental drummer to a beginning enthusiast.

With the sound dampening foam removed, The Timbre Jam becomes a warm, yet penetrating wood sound that emulates an earthy, higher-pitched tribal vibe.  The sound is tight and controlled enough to articulate through today’s tight and fast rhythmic passages.  The sound falls somewhere between a tongue drum, temple blocks and a traditional wood block. Different percussive implements will yield yet additional layers of sound.

By varying the size of the sound opening under the playing surface, different pitches are realized.  Currently, the Timbre Jam comes in three different pitches which can be combined to create a multi-tonal percussion instrument.  The order in which you set them up can greatly influence how you play the instrument, opening up multiple rhythmic and musical possibilities.  Stick strikes on the edge of the block, just off the rubber pad surface, produce a sharp “rim-shot” effect that adds a nice punch to any passage, easily expanding the musical palette as does a traditional drum.  Mix-matching the different woods with the different models will also influence the over-all musical tone of a set of Jams.

Timbre Jams can be played sitting on a table, your lap, a drum top, or by mounting on a traditional cymbal stand via the patent pending Magne-Mount System.  The Magne-Mount itself screws on to the threaded top of the cymbal stand and incorporates a series of heavy-duty magnets that attach directly to a sturdy metal tray. There are three sizes of trays to accommodate one, two, or all three pitches of Jams.  Inside each Timbre Jam is a series of heavy-duty magnets.  You need not worry your Jams might fall off during playing as these really are heavy-duty magnets, made to take the abuse of a heavy handed drummer!

Ideal for the marching or pit percussionist of any level, Timbre Jams will bring a new and powerful voice to a variety of musical situations.  One Beat Better’s Research and Development team is currently experimenting with different applications for attaching the Jams to a variety of marching apparatus and drums.  But, for the moment, they have proved quite effective mounted in the Pits and on the side-lines, allowing members of the Battery to come forward and exhibit tonal and visual effects.  Applying the Jam as a mounted practice pad allows drum line instructors to ply their craft under a much reduced noise floor, creating clarity and a much needed break on the ears.

Pound-for-pound, Timbre Jam provides a nice two-in-one punch for the traveling or mobile musician.  Applications for this well thought-out gadget seem to seem keeping giving.  With a Jam in tow, you always have a great practice pad hiding in the same space you keep your great new percussion toy.  Is it an instrument?  A practice pad?  You decide.  Check ‘em out at

Brian Hill (Lancaster, PA ) – Thoughts From The Shop