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Drum giant Pearl strikes a coronavirus beat pumping hand sanitizer

Tokyo — These are tough times for the music business. Outdoor concerts and music festivals are in hiatus, and prospects for a return to live entertainment venues and arena performances seem ever more remote. In Japan, nightclubs have become virtual no-go zones since a live performance house in Osaka became the center of a large coronavirus outbreak.

Contemplating this bleak landscape, the 100-plus employees of the Pearl Musical Instrument Company could be forgiven for singing the blues. Like many other firms here, they were anxious to lend a helping hand in the fight against COVID-19. Some companies have converted assembly lines to manufacture masks, gowns and face shields. But for the 70-year-old global powerhouse of percussion instruments based outside Tokyo, nothing seemed quite in tune with their line of work.

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The solution appeared out of the blue in May, via viral tweet. As hand sanitizer bottles become ubiquitous outside stores, offices and even homes, a whimsical snapshot began to circulate — someone had come up with the idea of rigging up a drum kit's hi-hat cymbal stand to dispense hand sanitizer, creating an eye-catching and usefully hands-free disinfection stand just outside their front door. 

Twitter thought it was hilarious. Pearl found it brilliant.

Technicians got to work, removing the cymbals from a hi-hat stand and adding a small table for the cleanser bottle. Instead of cymbals smashing together, stomping on the pedal depresses the pump on a disinfectant bottle, delivering a dose of virus-killing liquid. As an integral part of drum sets, the pedals are built for rugged use, easy to set up and portable.

At 15,000 Yen (about $138), the "drum set disinfection stand" was priced below cost, and meant to be a one-off gesture.

パール 「消毒液」スタンド 使用方法のご案内 by パール楽器製造株式会社 on YouTube

"We planned a limited run," Pearl's planning manager, Masahiko Ohtomo, told CBS News. "But we ended up selling out in just two days." The hi-hat disinfection model, the company decided, would remain in the catalog. Ohtomo declined to provide sales figures. 

Medical device companies offer hands-free dispensers, Ohtomo noted, but none, he avers, carry the panache of a hi-hat stand.

"Lots of people have never had the chance to play the drums," he said. "It wouldn't be cool if it wasn't a hi-hat stand."

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