I recently had the opportunity to try out Obilab’s set of portable cardboard drums. Yup, an entire drumkit made totally out of cardboard and fiberglass, that packs up into a cute little backpack.
The kit caught me at the perfect time. I live in Barcelona, Catalunya, a small city where walls are thin and essentially overlapping; meaning drumming at home is done on an electronic drumkit or… well actually, that’s it. Out of desperation for more time to practice, I had been surfing for used electronic drumkits for the past few days (against the pleading of my beloved and stylish housemate who, understandably so, finds them incredibly ugly and space consuming).
And then this little number stumbled upon me.
Through work contacts I had been put in touch with two of Obilab’s bubbly, French creators. After helping them with some writing and translation, I revealed I was a drummer myself and immediately got to sit down and give the kit a shot.
Here’s my thoughts:
Does it sounds like an actual drumkit?
The ‘snare’ and ‘high hat’ are filled with rice, which gives it a magical prrrrruppp similar to a traditional snare. The white markings all over the kit, which are fiberglass, have nice bounce and ping to them. You can play every single part of the drum and each has different depths and notage (listen here). There’s even a pedal for the kick-drum and the stool (which is the outer backpack) doubles as a cajon. But, I wouldn’t sit down at this kit and expect it to reproduce the sounds of a traditional drumkit. My guess is, replication is not quite the point because different types of drums should sound differently.
Is it loud?
When it’s hit a bit harder, it’s easily loud enough to be heard in an acoustic set. And played normal it’s loud enough to be audible by you, and people around, but not neighbors or even folks a few rooms over. There’s a lot of volume control depending on the sticks you use (the set comes with light, bamboo sticks) and your physical force. And the kit feels surprisingly sturdy, so I wasn’t shy about hitting hard.
Is it really portable?
So, so, so portable. One of my favorite parts of this little baby is how easy it is to construct and deconstruct. It sits pretty in the corner of my room (yes, I got myself one) until I’m ready to play. In 2 minutes I have it set up and I’m sitting behind it.
An important note would be that the drum layout takes a few minutes to adjust to, as it’s not exactly the same as a traditional drumkit. But the pieces are made so you can move and change them to what feels best.
I imagine it being a really great tool for professional drummers who are constantly on the road and want something quick and easy to set up in their hotel rooms to run through their music. Or for those more street-savvy than myself, a cool, eye-grabbing tool for making street music on the fly.
What will I use it for?
Practicing, learning, creating, making music, basically everything. I regularly use the kit to practice at home. I’ve also used the kit in my kid music classes as a way to introduce the idea of a drumkit in a less intimidating way and prove that music can come from anywhere. And I’ve lent the kit to friends who want something different when it comes to recording.
Besides the kit being really fun to play. Obilab’s states that their philosophy centers around making music more accessible to everyone. The kit is their first endeavor to find a way to make an instrument that is typically expensive, cumbersome, and generally intimidating much more manageable. Which is pretty perfect for parent, school, beginner, and pro usage in workshops, classrooms, homes, and everywhere else. I personally dig the idea of people constantly redefining what an instrument can look like and finding new ways to make playing possible for everyone.
Where do I get one?
Obilab just began their first ever Kickstarter filled with a bunch of swag and different drumkit models. Plus, they’ve started making an adorable miniature version, the DrumKID for little rock-stars, and have an electronic compatible version in the works.
There’s lots more info on their Kickstarter, including sound samples, measurements, and a video with a drumming cameo by yours truly.