Roland TAIKO-1 Brings Portability, User Sample Support To Traditional Japanese Drum

Roland has introduced the TAIKO-1 Electronic Taiko Percussion, a portable electronic version of the traditional Japanese taiko drum.

Roland says that The TAIKO-1 combines the taiko experience with the benefits of modern music technology:

Born and made in Japan, the groundbreaking TAIKO-1 electronic percussion instrument infuses the classic taiko experience with the many benefits of modern music technology, making playing Japanese percussion more fun and accessible than ever before.

Backed by decades of development knowledge behind leading products like V-Drums and the ELCajon EC-10, TAIKO-1 brings the power and convenience of Roland electronic percussion to taiko enthusiasts everywhere.

The TAIKO-1 can be used as a portable taiko, but also has a variety of features that let it go far beyond traditional roles. It has 100 drum kits; users can import custom sounds, with sounds up to 24 minutes long; it supports MIDI and audio over Bluetooth; and you can play it quietly over headphones.

The TAIKO-1 can also be quickly disassembled, making it easy to carry. You can play for up to five hours on eight AA rechargeable Ni-MH batteries.

Pricing and Availability

The Roland TAIKO-1 is expected to be available in July 2020 for $1,500 USD.

18 thoughts on “Roland TAIKO-1 Brings Portability, User Sample Support To Traditional Japanese Drum

  1. Very interesting. I wonder what the underlying technology is. I love my wavedrum, but the drum itself is loud, and unless I crank the volume up quite high or use headphones, the main thing you hear is me hitting the drum skin. The blurb says this is different…

    1. I had a similar issue when I used to play trap. Had to cover the heads with towels and wear headphones to just hear the program material. Good for daily practice.

      1. I first had an image of drug addicts with towels over their heads singing songs about pyrex bowls and such. But now I understand that’s not what you meant. lol.

    2. Wavedrum is awesome, but it’s a bummer that it’s basically unusable outside a studio with headphones. Any decent pa that has a strong bottom just causes so much feedback. Thought about getting an Aframe but soooo expensive… but $1500 for this thing is kinda nuts…

  2. kudos to them showing how sensitive and quiet it can get. How intriguing and unexpected! Not something ill be buying but still neat to see.

  3. I performed with St. Louis Osuwa Taiko for two years and have mixed feelings here. They are cool, but:

    — Taiko has a lot of tradition behind it. Nobody wants to go to a Japanese festival and watch people play electronic drums. Maybe these are okay for a street parade, Eisa etc.

    — Part of what makes taiko taiko is the choreography and form. This thing takes the shape of a katsugi okedo (shoulder-worn rope-tuned drum). That’s one class of drum, of which there are three other important types. Can you even place these on a stand? Because if not they’re basically worthless for practicing any part that isn’t a katsugi part. Imagine an orchestra where everyone’s playing violins, but some of them sound like cellos or oboes or French horns. It’s just wrong.

    — The chu-daiko sounds in this (e.g. the first one that came in) sounded fake to me. The shime-daiko (second part) was okayish. The chappa part (hand cymbals played on a drum, ugh) sounded like bad samples.

    — $1500 is not much cheaper than a full-sized, real chu-daiko made in the traditional style. If this was $500 or $300 or whatever, performers could use them as practice instruments for katsugi style anyway, and Eisa groups could use them.

    Taiko students often practice using a plastic trash can with the bottom covered in multiple layers of packing tape, even though it sounds like crap, because it’s affordable and a lot more accurate to the shape and size of a chu-daiko than this is.

    1. …and also taiko is a very visceral, physical thing. You feel it throughout your whole body, especially your chest cavity. In a group practice you’re supposed to wear hearing protection (many of us didn’t). Are these going to be loud enough and deep enough for that? I’m not seeing a big subwoofer built in…

      With chu-daiko and oodaiko, you play with force and momentum that come from your own arms and the leverage of long heavy bachi (sticks). It’s very different physically from the relatively light tapping you do with the much less solidly built okedo. I don’t thnk it’s going to translate to a good experience for the player, or a properly expressive performance, even leaving out all the choreography issues.

      1. Thanks for the detailed critique. The Taiko tradition is very important. I found these as a neat innovative twist on the instrument not an advance on the art in anyway.

    2. Pure electronic music is not about emulating long standing traditions. It is about establishing new traditions. Controllers like this merely supply a familiar interface for doing so. Your post is literally like saying “Pressing white and black keys on a keyboard has a long tradition behind it… no one wants to go to a concert and see people play white and black keys and not hear the sound of a Steinway Grand Piano…” – we know this is wrong. The white and black keys are merely the interface. The first thing I would do with these is design impossible percussion sounds drenched in effects that have no relation to ‘traditional’ Japanese taiko drums. Electronic Music is about learning all of the rules, and then creatively breaking them.

      1. Your statement underestimates the importance of japanese tradition to japanese and folks that enjoy japanese culture. I can’t critique the product, but I won’t critique the tradition. It’s a personal thing for everyone.

  4. I think there is room for a middle ground between Starthief’s and Anatomie’s views. I’m a taiko player AND a synthesist, and I appreciate the traditions and histories of both. Clearly the TAIKO-1 would be quite out of place in any traditional taiko ensemble that performs on real taiko drums. And I personally have no interest in playing this drum under any musical context. But, what the Roland taiko might be ideal for are taiko groups/artists hired to play big stadium shows or gigs where all the other instruments are amplified, and the music may be described as a bit more “fusion” or cross-cultural, and maybe the drummer can participate in a few more pieces because now they can change the drum sound but still display their katsugi drumming skills. There are many instances where my taiko group has been part of shows alongside keyboardists, drum kits, and other amplified instruments and the natural volume of the taiko, even with multiple drums, is really off-balance. And because taiko players move their drums around a lot from song to song, it’s extremely difficult to mic them. We may well see this Roland taiko in a Cirque du Soleil show, for example, and that would be fitting for what they do. No one can stop musical traditions from transforming and evolving, and there will always be purists and there will always be experimentalists. Music will always be bigger than any one of our own views on how “tradition” should be maintained. Again, the TAIKO-1seems a bit of an odd thing to me personally, but I can also see its uses and advantages in today’s performance/entertainment contexts.

  5. The demo video shows how this device can be used to play traditional taiko sounds, but what Roland should really emphasize (imho) is how people with taiko skills can use it to play non-traditional (e.g. electronic) sounds. In an ensemble, this could be used to add new sounds.

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