• Specs Powell's first challenge to me was to create a bracket for mounting bongos on a stand. Now, I had watched the percussionists at the Latin dance hall and knew that they put the bongos between their legs, not on a stand. Specs explained that often, while playing a gig, he quickly had to switch from vibes to bongos and that there was no time to put the bongos between his legs. Having the bongos already attached to a stand with a bracket would alleviate this problem. This made perfect sense to me, so I set about devising one. My efforts resulted in the creation of the first bracket, which would enable the bongo owner to install the bracket on a bongo and then attach it to a stand with a 3/8-inch diameter rod attached to it.

  • LP's Original Fiberglass Congas were 30 inches tall. One day somewhere around 1970 the molder delivered a shipment of drum shells and upon close inspection they were found to be two inches shorter than usual. When I complained to the owner of the molding facility, I was told that I had better accept the drums or they would stop doing business with me. Much to my surprise and delight, these shorter drums proved to be more comfortable for the seated player. From that day on 28 inches became the standard for Latin dance bands. Bands of all types followed.
    It wasn't until dance band conga drummers began using stands that a 30 inch tall drum found acceptance in this arena.

  • When we released the LP Patato Model Congas around 1977, Patato asked for a 30 inch tall drum. Being  a very short man, Patato would fold up the padded conga bag(s) to bring him to a height suitable for playing these taller drums. The Galaxy Model conga is of the same profile as the Patato. Galaxy has added shell thickness in the highest stressed areas, with the addition of Kevlar reinforcement, 3/8 inch tuning screws versus the 5/16 inch of the Patato Model.

  • LP Blast Blocks were derived from a napkin holder in Thailand.

  • LP Afuche®/Cabasa was inspired by the texture used to cover the walls of elevators in New York.

  • The first bata drums sold by LP were of fiberglass and OVERSIZED due to Patato giving me the wrong dimensions. The dimensions were communicated to me by pencil marks on a piece of paper and outstretched hands. It wasn't until John Amira, a percussionist/educator from New York, prepared full scaled patterns of the drums that LP came up with it's winning model. In defense of his error, Patato said at least they sounded good. Listen to the interview with Patato to hear in his own voice his view on these oversized fiberglass batas.

  • Until 1966, clavés were solid wood dowels made from various materials and had a high pitched sound. I invented African Claves to provide a deeper, more resonant sound. I sold the first pair that I made to Specs Powell, the drummer with the Ed Sullivan show. The next pair wound up in the hands of George Castro who that same year played them on the Eddie Palmieri/Cal Tjader collaboration, El Sonido Nuevo.

  • Shortly after developing the LP African Clavés, I had to develop a market amongst the Latin players.  One evening I put about 6 pair of rosewood clavés in an attache case and headed from New Jersey to New York City's Greenwich Village and the Village Gate where Willie Colon was performing. I met Nicky Marrero on the corner of Bleeker and Thompson streets and while proping up my case on a fire hydrant, began to show Nicky my new stuff. Just then a policeman happened by, took one look in my case and demanded an immediate explanation as to what kind of weapons I was carrying. A fast demo of this new invention convinced the heat that they weren't weapons and I was able to continue my pitch to Nicky. God knows how I would have fared in Giuliani's New York in 1999.

  • LP Vibra-Slap was my first inventing challenge. I was asked to create an unbreakable substitute for the fragile jawbone of an ass. Within the space of a week, Vibra-Slap was created in the basement of my house in Maywood, NJ using a Diacro bender, drill press, vise, hack saw and some simple wood working tools. I am proud to say that the geometry of the original model has remained unsurpassed in providing optimum sustain and ease of use.

  • >The plastic bottoms on our caxixi's is a direct result of insect infestation with the original ones we used to carry. In spite of fumigation, the larvae from the insects would grow while the products were on the shelves, turning a good instrument into a pile of dust. The plastic molded bottoms solved this problem, created a sound with more definition than the original and with the built-in cap, the shaker material could be varied to meet individual requirements.

  • Starting with the Jam Blocks, LP has assigned names to the plastic material chosen to meet the demanding challenges of taking a pounding and delivering great sound every time. Believe it or not, these plastic names came from my dogs. First was Jenigor-named for my Yorkie, Jennie and Dobermann,  Igor. Blast Blocks followed with Bellastic plastic named for my favorite of all dogs, Bella.

  • LP received a request from Patato for extra reinforced LP Cradle Stands. When Ray Enhoffer, our Product Development Manager dug deeper to find out why these beefy stands would need extra reinforcement, we found that Patato was going to be dancing on top of these drums, playing the patterns with his feet. He was past age 60 at the time.

  • LP Jingle Stick was created not as an instrument but as a means for demonstrating to percussion master Paulinho Da Costa, the sound of a variety of experimental jingles that were created for the patented Cyclops tambourine. It quickly became apparent however that what was created was a versatile percussion instrument that lent itself to being played against cymbals, drum heads in addition to being struck against each other.

  • Around 1962, while still working a full time day job I was also working on developing a cowbell line. One of the first bells that I produced was the LP Black Beauty Cowbell which was meant for use in playing the cha cha rhythm. None of the cowbells that were commercially available at that time were suitable for playing serious Latin music. The cowbells used by the "happening" bands of the day were either derived from farm bells or hand made. I took my first prototype to a place called Bason Street East to have Jimmy Sabatier, who was working with the Joe Cuba Sextet, to have him try out. I gave him my  bell to play for the set and he let me hang on to his cowbell. When the set was over I tried to get to Jimmy to exchange bells and get his evaluation. The bouncers at the club didn't want to hear my story and with my further insistence at collecting my bell, they beat the stuffing out of me. I left with the club with some bruises,  a torn suit, $55 in compensation for my damaged attire and a great deal of embarrassment for having gotten myself into this mess. No Pain, No Gain-I suppose.


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