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A cluster of four home made octobans. Octobans.jpg
A cluster of four home made octobans.

Octobans, also known as tube toms, are deep, small diameter, single-head tom-toms. Octobans were originally grouped in melodically-tuned sets of eight, hence the name, in reference to octave and from octo meaning "eight".

Tom-tom drum

A tom-tom drum is a cylindrical drum with no snares, named from the Anglo-Indian and Sinhala language. It was added to the drum kit in the early part of the 20th century. Most toms range in size between 6 and 20 inches in diameter, though floor toms can go as large as 24 inches (61 cm). It is not to be confused with a tam-tam, a Gong. The Tom-tom is popular and used by players worldwide.

In music, an octave or perfect octave is the interval between one musical pitch and another with double its frequency. The octave relationship is a natural phenomenon that has been referred to as the "basic miracle of music", the use of which is "common in most musical systems". The interval between the first and second harmonics of the harmonic series is an octave.


Part sets of two or four drums or an individual drum or octo are common additions to a drum kit.

Drum kit collection of drums and other percussion instruments

A drum kit — also called a drum set, trap set, or simply drums — is a collection of drums and other percussion instruments, typically cymbals, which are set up on stands to be played by a single player, with drumsticks held in both hands, and the feet operating pedals that control the hi-hat cymbal and the beater for the bass drum. A drum kit consists of a mix of drums and idiophones – most significantly cymbals, but can also include the woodblock and cowbell. In the 2000s, some kits also include electronic instruments. Also, both hybrid and entirely electronic kits are used.

Complete and half sets of octobans are commonly mounted in clusters of four, in a square pattern. Mounts for four drums in a straight line, dual mounts for two drums, and individual mounts are all also reasonably common. In a drum kit, octobans are most commonly placed to the left of a right-handed drummer, above the hi-hats.


Octobans were introduced by Tama Drums in 1978, and endorsed by Billy Cobham, at that time one of the most popular drummers who had switched to Tama drums. Tama octobans were made with fiberglass using a patented molding process. The naked shells were then painted in black lacquer (the raw color is something close to light brown, visible inside the shell where not completely painted). Since they were designed as rack small toms the attachment was different from the regular tom toms, it was basically the same one used for the concert toms. The rims were conveniently shaped in order to offer the maximum area available for the stick, 6" being quite hard to hit. The lugs (4) were the same model used for the Swingstar series drum kits of the same period. The shell was a 6" diameter, (150 mm on outside diameter), thickness was 5 mm despite the very first series may have been 4 mm as advertised. A variation was produced in late '70 using plexiglas instead of fiberglass for the shell construction. This material was considerably more fragile than fiberglass. The Tama production line offered, in the 78-84 period, the complete 8 piece set or, for those who did not need the whole set, two sub sets, of four pieces each, the low pitch (the longest) set and the high pitch set. The most famous drummers used the low pitch set, such as Stewart Copeland for the whole Police period. The dimensions of the low pitch set of shells were the following (length mm, edge to edge): 810, 733, 667, 607. The high pitch set was instead dimensioned as follows: 552, 498, 455, 411 mm. Diameter = 6 inch. In 1985 Tama changed its program of production and modified the octobans by reducing the length of the shells, basically, the low pitch set was discontinued, because it was too difficult to transport on stage. The lengths available from then on and even today are the following: 600, 536, 472, 443, 390, 343, 301, 280 (mm). The only difference with the original model is the lug and the batter skin is still clear but without the black dot. The different lengths of the cylinders give each drum its distinct tone. [1]

Tama Drums, is a brand of drum kits and hardware manufactured and marketed by the Japanese musical instrument company, Hoshino Gakki. Tama's research and development of products, along with production of its professional and most expensive drums, is done in Seto, Japan, while its hardware and less expensive drums are manufactured in Guangzhou, China. Hoshino has several offices around the world for marketing and wholesale distribution. Drums destined for the U.S. market are assembled and stocked at Hoshino (U.S.A.) in Bensalem, Pennsylvania. The U.S. subsidiary also contributes to Tama's market research and development.

Billy Cobham American jazz drummer

William Emanuel Cobham Jr. is a Panamanian-American jazz drummer who came to prominence in the late 1960s and early 1970s with trumpeter Miles Davis and then with the Mahavishnu Orchestra. According to AllMusic's reviewer, Cobham is "generally acclaimed as fusion's greatest drummer".

Stewart Copeland American musician; drummer of The Police

Stewart Armstrong Copeland is an American musician and composer. He was the drummer for the British rock band the Police, has produced film and video game soundtracks and written various pieces of music for ballet, opera and orchestra. According to MusicRadar, Copeland's "distinctive drum sound and uniqueness of style has made him one of the most popular drummers to ever get behind a drumset."

The term octoban has since become a generic trademark used to refer to such sets of smaller diameter tube drums. [2]

Generic trademark trademark or brand name that has become the generic name for a class of product or service, sometimes resulting in loss of legal protection

A generic trademark, also known as a genericized trademark or proprietary eponym, is a trademark or brand name that, due to its popularity or significance, has become the generic name for, or synonymous with, a general class of product or service, usually against the intentions of the trademark's holder. The process of a product's name becoming genericized is known as genericide.

Other makers

6" diameter:

Pearl Drums company

Pearl Musical Instrument Company, simply known as Pearl, is a multinational corporation based in Japan with a wide range of products, predominantly percussion instruments.

Drum Workshop company

Drum Workshop is an American drum kit and hardware manufacturing company based in Oxnard, California.

ddrum is an American based Swedish company, currently a division of Armadillo Enterprises, Inc. that manufactures acoustic drum sets, electronic drum sets, and Electronic Triggers.

Other diameters:

Octoban drum shells from other manufacturers are of varying lengths, and made from materials like fiberglass, acrylic, aluminum, and wood. Some people build their own octobans out of PVC or similar commercial tubing. [7]

Fiberglass (US) or fibreglass (UK) is a common type of fiber-reinforced plastic using glass fiber. The fibers may be randomly arranged, flattened into a sheet, or woven into a fabric. The plastic matrix may be a thermoset polymer matrix—most often based on thermosetting polymers such as epoxy, polyester resin, or vinylester—or a thermoplastic.

Wood fibrous material from trees or other plants

Wood is a porous and fibrous structural tissue found in the stems and roots of trees and other woody plants. It is an organic material, a natural composite of cellulose fibers that are strong in tension and embedded in a matrix of lignin that resists compression. Wood is sometimes defined as only the secondary xylem in the stems of trees, or it is defined more broadly to include the same type of tissue elsewhere such as in the roots of trees or shrubs. In a living tree it performs a support function, enabling woody plants to grow large or to stand up by themselves. It also conveys water and nutrients between the leaves, other growing tissues, and the roots. Wood may also refer to other plant materials with comparable properties, and to material engineered from wood, or wood chips or fiber.

Notable octoban users

Related Research Articles

Snare drum type of drum

A snare drum or side drum is a percussion instrument that produces a sharp staccato sound when the head is struck with a drum stick, due to the use of a series of stiff wires held under tension against the lower skin. Snare drums are often used in orchestras, concert bands, marching bands, parades, drumlines, drum corps, and more. It is one of the central pieces in a drum set, a collection of percussion instruments designed to be played by a seated drummer and used in many genres of music.

Timbales shallow single-headed drums with a metal casing

Timbales or pailas are shallow single-headed drums with metal casing. They are shallower than single-headed tom-toms, and usually tuned much higher, especially for their size. The player uses a variety of stick strokes, rim shots, and rolls to produce a wide range of percussive expression during solos and at transitional sections of music, and usually plays the shells of the drum or auxiliary percussion such as a cowbell or cymbal to keep time in other parts of the song.

Floor tom

A floor tom or low tom is a double-headed tom-tom drum which usually stands on the floor on three legs. However, they can also be attached to a cymbal stand with a drum clamp, or supported by a rim mount. It is a cylindrical drum without snare wires, and tend to produce a booming, resonant sound which can vary in pitch.


The Rototom is a drum developed by Al Payson, Robert Grass, and Michael Colgrass, that has no shell and is tuned by rotating. A rototom consists of a single head in a die-cast zinc or aluminum frame. Unlike most other drums, this type has a variable definite pitch. Composers are known to write for them as tuned instruments, demanding specific pitches. Rototoms are often used to extend the tom range of a standard drum kit. They were commercialized by the drumhead company Remo Inc., of North Hollywood, California.

Shannon Larkin American musician

James Shannon Larkin, is a musician best known as the drummer for rock band Godsmack. He replaced the previous drummer Tommy Stewart in June 2002. Prior to Godsmack, his previous bands were Amen, Candlebox, Ugly Kid Joe, and Souls at Zero.

Brann Dailor American musician

Brann Timothy Dailor is an American drummer/singer best known as a member of the Atlanta, Georgia metal band Mastodon, in which he is both the drummer and shares vocal duties. Dailor first started playing in a band called Evisceration from 1991 to 1993, when the band broke up. Dailor was also a founding member of mathcore band Lethargy, and the progressive rock/funk metal band Gaylord and played with Today Is the Day.

Thomas Lang Austrian drummer, multi-instrumentalist, composer and record producer

Thomas Lang is an Austrian drummer, multi-instrumentalist, composer and record producer. He is the founding member of the Los Angeles-based progressive/avant garde metal band stOrk and is known for his international session work on a wide variety of genres such as rock, pop, jazz, and heavy metal with artists such as Robert Fripp, Peter Gabriel, Robbie Williams and Sugababes, among many others. He is married to music publicist, Elizabeth Lang.

Dave Mackintosh British drummer, best known for being the former drummer of DragonForce.

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Gong bass drum

A gong bass drum is a musical instrument in the percussion family. It is a type of drum that uses a single large drumhead in order to create a loud, resonant sound when struck. The head can be tuned as loose as possible to avoid any sense of pitch in the sound, or tensioned more tightly to produce timpani-like tones.

Drum hardware parts of a drum kit

Drum hardware refers to the parts of a drum or drum kit that are used to tension, position, and otherwise support the instruments themselves.

José Pasillas American musician

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This is the musical equipment used by the members of the hard rock/blues rock band ZZ Top.

Matt Garstka American drummer

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  1. Tama Original Percussion
  2. Tama History
  3. http://www.pearldrum.com/Artists/Drumset-Artists.aspx?id=16 retrieved 28 February 2012: Joey Jordison, Slipknot ...6x12 quarter tom, 6x15 quarter tom, 6x18 quarter tom, 6x21 quarter tom...
  4. http://www.dwdrums.com/drums/collectors/specialty.asp retrieved 28 February 2012:Rata Toms are 6" diameter single-headed effect drums...
  5. http://www.ddrum.com/deccabons.php retrieved 28 February 2012:6" in diameter and in lengths from 6" to 24"
  6. http://meinlpercussion.com/no_cache/percussion/meinl-percussion/timbales/action/show/Product/1323/#item1323 Archived 2013-01-22 at Archive.today retrieved 28 February 2012: a pair of 8” diameter timbale shells with a depth of 9” and 11” respectively... 8" x 9", 8" x 11"
  7. Building Tube Toms, Roger Arrick