Tour Timps

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A set of three Tour Timps recently serviced and modernised for a customer.

I invented Tour Timps as a very compact, portable and affordable alternative to normal timpani or Kettle Drums.

Pedal Timpani are very bulky and expensive and I felt that for amateur, semi-professional and educational uses there was a clear need for a radical new design of timpani. Tour Timps have everything you need from a pedal timpani: chromatic foot pedal tuning, a tuning gauge to indicate what pitch has been set, normal size timpani heads (from 18″ to 40″!) and a good resonant tone. I always compare Tour Timps vs normal timpani with Upright Pianos vs Concert Grand Pianos: a Grand is the correct instrument for professional musicians, but an upright piano is a fine instrument for homes, schools and smaller concerts, and Tour Timps are equivalent to Upright Pianos.

Tour Timps won awards and praise from press and customers and very soon I went from being an unemployed musician and inventor to running a timpani business with customers around the world. I made about 100 on my own in London then teamed up with a friend in USA who financed an expansion and tooling up for volume production. After various problems things went well and we manufactured nearly 1,000 before an idiot at the spinning company in Texas managed to break the massive, hugely expensive and virtually indestructible production die which made the shells and the hoops. At this point my partner decided that he would take his long-awaited retirement and we ceased all production, but we are negotiating with other people to try to re-start production. The number of enquiries from around the world is bigger than ever, so clearly there is a keen market for them.

Used Tour Timps do occasionally appear for sale, e.g. on eBay, but often fetch higher prices than we charged for new ones!


6 thoughts on “

    • Dear Nancy. I wish I could help but sadly Tour Timps are not currently in production. I made the first 100 or so here in London, then teamed up with a friend in Dallas to produce them in bigger quantities. We spent a huge sum of money on getting massive spinning formers made to produce accurate shells and hoops very quickly. We commissioned a spinning company in Tx to make the formers for their machines and it cost about $40,000.

      Once all was set up we made about 1,000 in Plano and were just starting to pay off our investment and getting ever-increasing sales and enquiries….and then an untrained idiot at the spinning company managed to break the former even though it was virtually unbreakable!

      We asked them to replace it as it was their fault. They refused. We demanded, they refused, finally we got a lawyer in, but their lawyer’s reply made it clear that they are part of a big corporation who do work for top US industries and organisations and they could happily stall indefinitely until we ran out of money. Thanks, guys!

      At that point my friend/partner felt his retirement was long over-due, but together we tried to sell the company to others but so far without any real luck. We still hope that we will be able to start up again, but nothing definite yet.

      Sadly demand is still high, and the few which do come up for sale often sell for more than we charged for new ones.


      Marcus de Mowbray

  1. Hi, I see that in 2014 your Tour Timps were not available for purchase. Has anything changed? These drums would be so useful in general music classrooms! This would be a great Kickstarter project– I know I would donate to starting the business up again!

    • Hello Lila and thanks for your comments. I made the first 100 or so by hand in London, then teamed up with a friend in Texas who had the finance to invest in a massive die to allow the shells and hoops to be spun, a much faster, more accurate and cheaper way to make them than I had done by hand. The spinning company in Fort Worth made the very expensive die, and we then made and sold about 1,000 and had just about repaid the investment, but then the company allowed an untrained idiot to use the machinery and the die was wrecked.

      We tried legal action but the company was part of a huge corporation and stalled, finally our lawyers advised us that pursuing them would bankrupt us and leave them unscathed so we wound up the company. My friend also wanted to take long-overdue retirement so we have been looking for a new partner to re-start it, and hopefully this now could be on the cards.

      It is a huge shame because we get enquiries from around the world almost daily, and used ones sometimes sell for more than we charged for new ones.


      Marcus de Mowbray. UK.

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