Karl-Heinz Weimer (1917 – 1997)
Trixon Drums Founder
Karl-Heinz Weimer shared the fortunate recipe of many of the great pioneers. He had a large intellectual faculty, along with visionary ideas – his ideas and patents still being used today would also show us had the street smarts to get his ideas and products to the market. For his unique concepts, Weimer holds many patents including the Ellipsoid Shaped Drum, Conical Shaped Drum Shells (Telstar Drumset) and the disappearing tom mount. The disappearing tom mount, which had tubes penetrating both bass drum and tom toms, is the basis of Pearl mounting systems from the 80’s. The bass drum mounted disappearing cymbal stand with a rod passing through a clamped ball was resurrected by Sonar in the 90’s. In addition to running the Trixon Drum Company, Weimer was also the owner of Germany’s Famous Music City Music Store in the heart of Hamburg, Germany.
Hamburg, Germany, 1956 – Karl-Heinz Weimer starts the production of the first drum sets from a small warehouse in Hamburg and names the sets Trixon.
From the onset it was obvious that Weimer had something new to offer. One could also say he was a true man of his country, Germany, with the pride of producing the best products down to the last finishing detail. To give him even more credit, Germany was also recovering from a war with the entire world and was split into two individual countries. These were difficult times for all Germans. The Trixon Drums emblem, as seen on the first Luxus Series Drumsets, is the best indication of Weimer’s enthusiasm and direction for Trixon.
Immediately following the Luxus Series came the Telstar Conical shaped drums. These drums were Weimer’s idea of compression and decompression. As opposed to cylindrical shaped shells of standard drum design, the Telstar Bass Drum with conical bore pushed the sound to the back of the room (similar to the subwoofers of today). While the reverse conical of the toms pushed sound out, which made for handsomely deep, rich sounding toms – especially from such a small drumset.
Within a short period of about 2 years, came the Speedfire (Ellipsoid Bass Drum), which is Weimer’s most interesting and widely debated inventions. The premise behind the Speedfire was the idea of the “Two Different Bass Sounds from One Bass Shell.” Using two pedals (essence behind today’s double bass pedals), a player was able to get 2 sound pitches from the same drum. This idea further followed Weimer’s practical sense of getting a lot of sound out of a compact package.
By the mid 1960’s, Weimer’s Trixon Drumsets were widely popular across Western Germany and England. In 1964, Weimer dreamed of something bigger and wanted to introduce Trixon to the new western powerhouse of America. Jim Laabs, owner of Jim Laabs Music of Stevens Point, Wisconsin is chosen as a partner.
By 1965, the first Trixon Drumsets arrive in the US. Almost overnight the sets become a big success. By late 1965, Weimer builds a new factory building in Hamburg/Reinbek – 4 halls each 1000 qm (German: square meter) to keep up with demand. By 1967, Trixon was also sold under the Vox Label, a name synonymous with the most popular groups of the times.
By the early 1970’s, in the midst of a European downturn and recession and war abroad for the US, times had changed and cheaper drumsets from Japan put a crimp in the domestic and export business. Weimer tried to combat these forces by moving the factory manufacturing from Hamburg to Shannon Airport Ireland, but the efforts proved a little too late. The economic headwinds were simply too strong and Weimer was forced to cease production in 1974. Weimer, in turn, focused his efforts on Music City in Hamburg. Weimer continued his success with Music City until he died in 1997, and his legacy still lives on to this day and for decades to come.
In 1997, Arthur Oeschger, Weimer’s longtime associate, attempted to revive the Trixon Drum Company and with a supply of parts and molds, intended on beginning the production again in Germany. To finance the company, Oeschger seeked the help of the former American partner Jim Laabs. To discuss and finalize the deal, Oeschger flew to Stevens Point, Wisconsin to meet with Jim Laabs. Excited at the prospect of bringing this innovative icon back, Jim Laabs supplies the capitol and initial export orders to Arthur Oeschger. In 1998, an unfortunate fire at the plant in Hamburg destroyed the entire facility. With no insurance, Oeschger quickly sees his troubles and slips into obscurity and Jim Laabs can no longer contact him. Oeschger would later die in the year 2000.
With a dream unrealized and finances at stake, Jim Laabs takes control of Trixon in 2000. In late 2007, Jim Laabs begins production at a new Trixon Drum Factory. The factory is the most modern and state-of-the-art drum factory in the world. The Trixon Hamburg designs are at the production forefront and maple shells with an oversized shell thickness are the first Hamburg Elementary basic. Weimer believed as a drum aged or ripened, it was important that the stability of the structure realized the full gain from the aging wood. Since sound is created from the drum through tension on the shell, the oversized maple shell always makes sure the tension is upheld. To get rid of any unwanted overtones, all Trixon drums feature an Anti-Vibration System from the drum hoops to the lugs. The original Hamburg design gives a drumset the character which emphasizes the sound projection strength of the traditional American drumset along with the lyrical voice of European instruments. Luxus, Solist, Hamburg, and the Big Band Superset are the first introductions in the lineup. Based on over 50 years of tradition and excellence, the Trixon drumsets are second to none. Perfect in all construction and sound, the cornerstone of Trixon into the future.