CHANGING THE GAME

HOW ONE AMBITIOUS PERCUSSIONIST REVOLUTIONISED THE DRUM WORLD

Posted: 5 September 2018

Sometimes if you want things done properly you have to do it yourself and in 1958 that’s exactly what British percussionist Alan Sharp decided to do. Disappointed by the quality of percussion available to him, Alan began assembling his own instruments, sourcing all the component parts himself. Orders for his percussion came flooding in from students and contemporaries alike and in 1965 Natal Percussion Company was formed.

Natal, named after Alan and his wife Natalie, revolutionised percussion manufacturing. For the first time fibreglass was used for congas, offering greater volume and sound projection than the wooden congas of the time. Natal also pioneered the use of rounded hoops, later referred to as ‘comfort curve’ hoops, which were easier on the hands than the traditional rims. The company very quickly distinguished themselves from the rest of the pack and the brand’s popularity exploded. During their formative years they found favour with bands like Fleetwood Mac, The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin.

The following decades marked a period of growth for Natal, as they began to diversify their product range. Their first wooden congas, the Fusion Series, came in the early 90s, delivering the warm sounds of Ash. Cowbells, Cajon's and other small hand percussion began to hit the shelves just a few years later.

As Natal was making waves in the drumming world, Marshall was taking the amplification industry by storm. With similar beginnings and similar values it was inevitable that the paths of the two companies would eventually converge. This vision was realised in 2010 and it was announced at the Musikmesse trade show that Natal was joining the Marshall family. This move was particularly significant for Jim Marshall, who had begun his musical journey as a drummer and sold Natal percussion in his shop in 1962.

The announcement came with the unveiling of 28 new products which in turn signified the start of a new era for Natal. Natal branched into drum kits for the first time, offering premium drums built from Birch, Ash, Maple, Walnut and Bubinga. Sticking to their ethos of delivering quality products, all the drums featured the same hardware, sun lugs and wingnuts. Alongside the new kits, came hardware and snares, all finished in a stunning array of colours.

In the following years, Natal continued to expand their drum ranges, attracting young musicians like Jamie Morrison (Stereophonics), Dave Rawling (Mallory Knox) and Chris 'Woody' Wood (Bastille).