The WalkaBout in Houses of Worship

We’re seeing the WalkaBout Drum being used more and more in houses of worship. From small church sanctuaries to mega-church stages, we’re finding that the WalkaBout can have a significant role in worship. And there are a number of good reasons why.

The WalkaBout Drum vs. the Cajon. In many worship venues, the cajon (a box-shaped percussion instrument you sit on) has become the de facto alternative to the drum set. But the WalkaBout is superior to the cajon in practically every way. The WalkaBout has a greater number of sounds and expression than the cajon. The WalkaBout doesn’t need to be mic’d. A WalkaBout drummer requires a smaller stage footprint but has greater stage presence. For many churches, the WalkaBout Drum just makes sense. Here’s a video comparing the cajon to a WalkaBout. Check it out.

Drummers Take a Stand! In worship settings, it is often more expressive to stand and play rather than sit. Rather than be stuck inside a plexiglass drum cage, the WalkaBout allows the percussionist to step into the worship experience, rather than sit behind it. Here’s a video of top worship artists, We The Kingdom, performing with the WalkaBout as their primary drum. We think they rock!

Church Acoustics. Often times, using a drum kit in a church service is problematic. Sometimes the room size doesn’t lend itself to a drum set. Sometimes the simple act of micing a drum set introduces feedback issues and requires elaborate drum shields or cages. Sometimes a full drum set is just a little much for older congregations. While some churches have opted for an expensive electronic set, we’re seeing more worship teams adopt the WalkaBout. It is easily amplified with a single instrument cable, it blends easily with many worship styles, it takes little room on the platform, and doesn’t visually intimidate like a drum set.

Doing Church Online. As of the writing of this blog post, churches around the country have been limited to online services due to the corona pandemic. For months now, many worship teams have consisted of a guitar or two played in homes or bare stages. But there are a few churches who have discovered the WalkaBout to be the perfect option for adding percussion to their online worship experiences. With it’s small visual footprint and single output, it’s an easy way to add energy to your livestream service. Here’s a short video of my church doing a Facebook Live worship song.

https://www.facebook.com/ohcfolsom/videos/476617529884617/

Have you incorporated a WalkaBout into your house of worship experience? Please share your videos with us on our social media.

Two New SounDots: Tamb and Riqq

Announcing two brand new attachments for your WalkaBout Drum—The SounDot Tamb and SounDot Riqq!

Both of these SounDots are patent-pending, magnetic accessories that slip easily into your WalkaBout (similar to the Snare). We think you’ll love the added versatility that this will bring to your playing.

SounDot Tamb

The tambourine offers one of the most distinctive percussion sounds, and can be found in rock, latin, folk, and many other musical styles. The SounDot Tamb quickly gives your WalkaBout Drum a tambourine sound. Two high-quality brass jingles mounted on a non-magnetic post provide that characteristic “chick” sound that cuts through a mix. Hear it played here (we suggest headphones).

SounDot Riqq

The riqq is a traditional hand percussion instrument used in Arabic and Turkish music, and features a sound similar to a tambourine but has jingles that are typically darker and more full-bodied. The SounDot Riqq is more than a nod to this beautiful instrument. Two high-quality white copper jingles mounted on a non-magnetic post provide a distinctive “shing” sound that cuts through a mix. Hear it played here (we suggest headphones).

Limited SounDot Pricing!

You can order the Tamb or Riqq now exclusively at our online store for $14.99 each. OR, you can order the entire line of SounDots (Tamb, Riqq, and Fan) right now for the ridiculous price of $34.99. Add the entire SounDot family!

Fun With Patents!

The WalkaBout Drum is covered by two U.S. patents—so far. You may ask, what exactly does that mean? I’m glad you asked! We learned a lot in the process of applying—and receiving—these two patents. Here’s a quick overview of our patent journey.

Basically, a patent provides legal rights and protection for intellectual property, such as an invention, a process, or an idea. Being issued a patent in the United States is typically an arduous and complicated affair. You have to prove, in legal terms, such things as novelty (or uniqueness), usefulness (it has a specific purpose), and non-obviousness (it’s not something that everyone has already thought of). It’s not easy to get a patent.

In the United States, there are two kinds of patents—utility and design. A utility patent is for the invention of something that didn’t exist before, while a design patent is for the new look of an existing product. As an example, a utility patent may be granted to you if you invented the wrist watch. A design patent may be issued to you if you made the wrist watch look different than all other wrist watches. The WalkaBout is covered by one of each.

In general terms, our utility patent was awarded because we created a percussion instrument that is comprised of one enclosed space that produces multiple tones and is amplified. That’s a mouthful! It’s also very cool. Our design patent was awarded because no one had created a percussion instrument in the shape of a guitar body.

Some folks might think that all we did was rip the neck of a guitar off and call it good. Actually, we took that shape—an intuitive, ergonomic and recognizable shape—and created an entirely different instrument. For example, the WalkaBout has a different internal bracing structure to make it more resonant and to make different tones over the face and side surfaces of the instrument. An acoustic guitar needs loads of interior bracing to mitigate the tension of the strings and avoid warping the top surface. When there are no strings (and, therefore, no tension), the need for bracing is reduced considerably, and less bracing means more vibration and resonance.

If you look inside a WalkaBout, you’ll see that our design has a single cross brace, which serves to separate the WalkaBout top surface into several tonal zones. The large internal space at the bottom of the WalkaBout (a.k.a., the lower bout) makes lower tones and the smaller internal top space (a.k.a., the upper bout) makes higher tones. The middle region (a.k.a., the waist) makes a third set of tones. Of course, everywhere you play the WalkaBout—even the sides and back—you discover different tones.

There are a lot of other innovations to the WalkaBout, including our sound hole Star, the amplification system, and our SounDot accessories (including the Snare, the Fan, and the soon to be released Tamb and Riqq, which are all patent pending). We’re committed to innovation and craftsmanship, so you can make music in new and fresh ways. Rhythm for the Journey!

Why Is It Called A WalkaBout?

We’ve heard it referred to as a guitar drum or a strap-worn cajon. Where does the WalkaBout name come from? What’s behind the name?

WalkaBout was not the first name choice. For a year, co-inventors, Manuel and Bob called it a Tabre or Taber or something else cool like that. And there were other possibilities they entertained, eventually settling on the WalkaBout Drum for mostly nerdy, word-play reasons. They both like the art of words. Both Manuel and Bob are published authors and self-confessed book nerds. So, the name WalkaBout tickled their funny bones. Here are a few reasons why:

  1. The term comes first from the Aborigine culture of Australia and it describes a spiritual journey, a time of wandering and self-discovery in the outback. (As a side note, that’s why our motto is Rhythm for the Journey.)
  2. The second reason they liked it is because it describes one of its unique features—this strap-worn percussion instrument allows the player to walk about.
  3. The third—and most obscure reason for the name—is found in the words used to describe the parts of an acoustic guitar. The narrow middle of a guitar is called the waist. The upper part (what would correspond to the shoulders) and the lower part (what would correspond to the hips) are called respectively the upper bout and the lower bout. That’s why the “B” in WalkaBout is capitalized: Walk a Bout. The rhythmist…walking about…playing bouts…keeping the rhythm for the journey… on his WalkaBout.

[Note: WalkaBout™ is a trademark of our parent company, INNOVA Music LLC. Photo by Sammie Vasquez on Unsplash.]

Why The Funny Shaped Sound Hole?

When people see the WalkaBout for the first time,  the second thing that strikes them is the shape of the sound hole. (The first thing is, of course, the fact that it looks like a guitar with the neck chopped off.) Believe it or not, the sound hole’s look is not a random shape plucked from our vivid imaginations. It actually has some logic behind it. Here are several of the things that contributed to its creation.

  1. With the star-shaped sound hole, the WalkaBout has more playable surface area than if the sound hole was round. The sound hole Star actually delineates two different playable zones on the upper bout of the front face.
  2. The 3-inch diameter of the valleys between the points of the Star is the same diameter as the SounDot Snare accessories that magnetically snap inside the WalkaBout. With a round sound hole, the snare would block the sound hole and show slightly. SounDots nestle in perfectly into the Star design. (We tried to think it all through.)
  3. The name of the instrument—the WalkaBout—refers to the name given to a spiritual journey in the Australian outback. The sound hole represents the star that guides you on your journey in the night. We call it the WalkaBout Star.
  4. And yes, the distinctive shape helps to distinguish the WalkaBout from a guitar with the neck chopped off (and from any guitar, for that matter.)

There you have it! The sound hole star is both functional and aesthetic, what we would describe as elegant. And if you’re interested, you can read here why we call the instrument the WalkaBout (with a capital B).

Notes Along the Journey: Part 4

Lessons Learned From A Musical Instrument Start-Up Company.

This is the fourth in a series of five blog posts reflecting on the beginning years of INNOVA Music, the parent company which produces the WalkaBout Drum. Our CEO, Andrew Kilpatrick, reflects on the last two years and also look to the future. Click the links to read Part 1, Part 2, or Part 3 of Notes Along The Journey.

Lesson 4  Step By Step (Three Things That Kept Us Going). 

There are tough days when you’re starting any business, but when you’re inventing a new product, the highs are higher and the lows are lower. Everything is outbound. The phone rings one time for every hundred calls out. You can trace the origin of every sale. There’s no roadmap, which sounds like fun until you realize that without a map you have no idea where you’re headed or if the things you’re doing are going to get you there, wherever there is.

Regardless of how difficult things got, we did three things that helped fill the tank when we were on empty.

  1. First, we always had our weekly team meeting. Even if there wasn’t a lot to discuss we had the discipline to meet. This allowed us to stay connected as a team as well as keeping us focused on just doing the next thing, which is the second thing that kept us going.
  2. We focused on the next step. No matter how large our ambitions or how discouraging our current circumstances, we would define the next step that had to be taken and we did that thing.
  3. Finally, we continually looked back at our progress. It’s easy to look at where you want to go and how far away it is from where you are, but it’s important to look back at how far you’ve come. When it felt like we were straining against the oars but staying still, it helped to look back at where we started from and realize how fortunate we were to be doing what we were doing.

Guitar Player Habits for Percussionists

by Bob Kilpatrick

The WalkaBout Drum has changed the way percussionists relate to the sound system in some pretty cool ways. You don’t have to set up a microphone and stand still in front of it to be heard. You can jump, dance, and groove anywhere you want—as long as you’re plugged in. However, plugging in is a new concept for many drummers and percussionists. So, I thought I’d share some pointers for making the most of these cool changes.

  1. First, plug your WalkaBout in! It sounds good acoustically, but it sounds great plugged into a sound system or full-range amp. If you’re not wireless, I recommend that you loop the instrument cable around your strap once before plugging in. One of our artists in London accidentally unplugged when she danced away at the end of her cable. This will keep you plugged in and rocking the house.
  2. Remember that you have volume and mix controls (on the Odyssey model) that you will want to adjust. I suggest turning the volume all the way down before you plug in and then bring it up gradually afterwards. (The best sound is at full volume.) Then adjust the mix so that you’re getting about 3/4 microphone and 1/4 pickup. After that, adjust to taste.
  3. Unplug the WalkaBout after you’re done. There’s a battery inside that automatically turns on when you plug in and turns off when you unplug. Battery life will be considerably increased if you unplug between sets.
  4. If you play in a high volume stage setting you might want to pop the SoundCap into the sound hole. It will reduce feedback considerably. Of course, if you’re using in-ears or low volume wedges, you probably won’t need it. But it’s there just in case. Also, your position in relation to the monitor speakers will reduce or increase feedback. Simply turning the WalkaBout slightly away from the monitor will almost always stop it.
  5. When you’re done with your set, turn the volume off (on the Odyssey) so it doesn’t ring or feedback on the stand.

Welcome to the world of amplification!

Notes Along the Journey: Part 3

Lessons Learned From A Musical Instrument Start-Up Company.

This is the third in a series of five blog posts reflecting on the beginning years of INNOVA Music, the parent company which produces the WalkaBout Drum. From developing and patenting a brand new musical instrument, to starting a company, to introducing the WalkaBout Drum to the world, it’s been quite the ride. Our CEO, Andrew Kilpatrick, reflects on the last two years and also look to the future. For Part 1 of Notes Along The Journey, please click the link here, and for Part 2, please click the link here.

Lesson 3  Haters Gonna Hate, But Listen To Feedback (or Increasing Your Signal to Noise).

If you want to change something, people are going to hate on you. I don’t know why this is human nature, but I can attest that it is. The internet has given everyone a megaphone and an identity shield which makes comment boards toxic and counterproductive to good feedback.

Our team says it this way: “The signal to noise ratio is low on the internet.”

So how do we go about finding out what is working and what needs improvement? How do we increase our signal to noise ratio? First, we start with those closest to our product who also listen with a professional ear. Our endorsing artists have provided some of the most valuable feedback on our early prototypes, and they continue to suggest improvements and innovations.

Second, we talk to those in our community.* People like you. Don’t be surprised to get a message from us asking for your input. We love the people we serve and are always looking for ways to serve you better. We engage in comments online. Behind most of the idiotic or destructive comments online, there is someone who just wants to be heard and feel important. Sometimes they just need to know there’s someone real on the other side of the comments.

Lastly, we acknowledge that our product line is not for everyone. If a person doesn’t ‘get it,’ that’s okay; we may just not be for you. We don’t waste time trying to convert the unconvertible. Our time is better spent making better things for those we seek to serve. Please don’t hesitate to tell us how we can do that better.

[*Note: If you’d like to be a part of the WalkaBout Community (and receive occasional emails and other informative pieces), please let us know by emailing us at inquiries@walkaboutdrum.com. You can also stay in touch via Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.]

Notes Along the Journey: Part 2

Lessons Learned From A Musical Instrument Start-Up Company.

As we begin our third year as a company, there’s a lot to reflect on. From developing a brand new instrument, to starting a company, to introducing the WalkaBout Drum to the world, it’s been a wild ride. We asked our CEO, Andrew Kilpatrick, to reflect on the last two years and also look to the future, and this is what he shared. Here is Part 2 of Notes Along The Journey. For Part 1, please click the link here.

Lesson 2  Don’t Major in the Minors.

We were anxious about our first NAMM* Show experience (way back in 2018!). We had just launched our first product, the WalkaBout, and were still testing market fit. We knew we needed to have a presence at NAMM, so we reserved a booth. Between the four of us, we had a total of zero years experience as an exhibitor, and here we were, at the largest musical trade show in the world. It must have been obviously oblivious during our move-in time to the show.

We were bootstrapping our company at the time, so we had a step-and-repeat printed on 11 X 17 paper which we glued to some plywood and propped up behind our booth. You couldn’t tell it was held together with chewing gum and baling wire unless you were up close, so we arranged our booth to ensure nobody came too close. The night before opening day, we inspected the booth to make sure everything was ready only to find our backdrop had bubbled and curled. The humidity in the room had affected the paper and it became like hair in Florida. We were at risk of everything falling off, leaving us standing in front of a couple of sheets of plywood. We didn’t have time to start over and we couldn’t do anything to fix it so we went home. I agonized over the inevitable humiliation that awaited us the next day. When we arrived the next morning the paper was laying down flat and smooth and beautiful. Apparently during the night the humidity in the room dropped and our background settled down.

NAMM opened and our small booth was overrun with people, all of whom wanted to try out the WalkaBout and none of whom even mentioned our booth. We obsessed over every detail of our instrument—its sound, the electronics, the accessories, the purfling, the strap and gig bag—and it showed. I am sure we’ll look back on the photos of our first NAMM and feel a mix of nostalgia and sheepishness at where we started but the takeaway lesson was to focus on the most important things and let the rest work itself out.

[*NAMM stands for the National Association of Music Merchants. For Part 3 of this series, please stay tuned!]

Notes Along the Journey: Part 1

Lessons Learned From A Musical Instrument Start-Up Company.

INNOVA Music is beginning our third year as a company, and a lot has happened. We’ve released two WalkaBout Drum models, won a NAMM Best in Show, been granted multiple patents, and made a lot of music. Through it all, some of you have been asking us, “how is it going?” This is a much bigger question than they realize. It has been a magnanimous task not only creating a new musical instrument, but to manufacture it, market it, ship it, and continue to believe that people like you will love playing it. We asked our CEO, Andrew Kilpatrick, to reflect on the last two years and also look to the future, and this is what he shared. Here is Part 1 of Notes Along The Journey.

Lesson 1:  You Serve Where You Love.

Whether “All You Need is Love” or “What’s Love Got To Do With It,” whether “Love Stinks” or you “Let Love Rule,” the central theme of music is often love. We happen to love music: the tools, the process, the performance, the joy, the connection and inspiration listening can bring. When we started the journey of taking the WalkaBout from an idea to reality, our guiding principle was to serve the artists, craftsman, and makers of music. Whether you’re beating it out in some garage or stepping onto the big stage, our goal is to give you new and better ways of making music.

As more and more artists are using the WalkaBout to create, we have grown increasingly grateful to serve this community of musicians. Growing up, I loved going to the Hard Rock Cafes in the various cities my family traveled to. Their motto was always prominently displayed above the door or on the wall: Love All, Serve All. At the time I didn’t understand what that had to do with music but now I do—after all, you’ve got to serve something.

[For Part 2 of this series, hit the link here.]