When Richard Taninbaum went into The Power Station, one of New York’s most famous recording studios for a session with producer and engineer Bob Clearmountain, little did he know that he would leave with an idea that would revolutionize the world of percussion.
A full-time drummer and percussionist whose album credits include hits with such artists as Herbie Mann, Ben E. King, and Eddie Kendricks; Taninbaum explains, “I was laying down a tambourine track that was over 15 minutes long. After a couple of takes my arm got so tired that I couldn’t continue. I felt pretty bad but Bob (Clearmountain) told me that my problem was no different than any other percussionist’s. I was really determined to find a way to make a tambourine that didn’t feel as heavy and was easier to play … but still sounded good.”
Based on his years of experience, Taninbaum realized that the shape of the conventional, round tambourine was a flaw that had to be overcome. Since most tambourines used were headless – the round shape was no longer necessary. This round shape placed all the weight out in front, that made them uncomfortable and very tiring to play.
Taninbaum concluded that if he could hold the tambourine in the center of the circle, it would have better balance and be much easier to play even for long periods of time.
He then took the basic crescent shape design and turned the idea into a prototype that enhanced playing comfort even more with the addition of a cushioned grip. Before this, the only option for players was to hold a tambourine on the hard, outside edge.