Martin O‘Neill

Martin O'Neill

The MONss is the result of a five years cooperation development between Martin O´Neill and myself.


You can find more information about Martin O´Neill on his website: 

MONss detail


  • 35x15cm
  • DRAGONSkinspicy, no spine, very even
  • Compressor tuning system with 6 hidden tuning wheels, isolatHED
  • Concave frame frame with grey/black sunburst finish
  • Black nylon ribbon, enough friction to prevent unintentional tuning of drum, but allows intentional drum turning.
  • Price: 505 EUR incl. VAT


The MON signature series Bodhrán is exclusively available through Martin´s website:


The MON ‘Signature Series’ is the result of a 5 year collaboration with bodhrán maker Christian Hedwitschak. 
I first met Christian in Edinburgh in 2007, at a workshop where I was teaching and he was displaying his bodhráns. We started chatting about drums. He was curious to know why I was playing such a small drum at the time (12” bodhrán). So I explained about the sound I’m looking for and the advantages harmonically of the smaller drum. After exchanging a few emails, he sent me a 12” LLD (LightLine Deep) to try out with one of his DRAGONSkin’s as an experiment. I instantly took to it. The sound was much more mellow than I was used to, but it had a lovely warm tone. Since then I’ve played many of Christian’s drums and they’ve never let me down. Most recently, I’ve been using the 13″ ‘MOF’ model in various guises –  TwinSkin, DRAGONSkin (Classic and Spicy), with and without concave frame, and most recently, with the new compressor tuning system.

I’ve worked with Christian giving feedback on the different drums and carried out studio tests comparing the different sounds. Most importantly for me is the ‘road test’, putting the drums through their paces night after night on tour.



When it came to designing this signature line, I knew exactly what I was looking for in one drum particularly after having had the opportunity to test out and give feedback on all of these drums.
But achieving what I wanted was no small feat. I wanted a drum that sounded completely balanced across the frequency range and responsive whether tuned low or high. As my playing is a hybrid of ‘bottom end’ and ‘top end’ style, I wanted something that was a ‘one stop shop’. It’s important to have a drum that can respond musically to whatever is required, especially for studio work. Over the past 15 years or so, I’ve played all different sizes of bodhráns but in the past few years I seem to be most comfortable on the smaller frame. My style of playing lends itself towards having a clear tone and few harmonics. The tape around the rim, which has been popular with drum makers for several years now, helps control unwanted overtones/harmonics. 
However, to my ears, with the smaller frame you get much more of the fundamental frequency and it is very precise. This is extremely useful when playing bass lines etc. but also in an ensemble setting where it takes up less of the spectrum. 
However, I realised that I wanted this drum to be slightly bigger than the one I had been using. This is because of my posture when playing.
My approach has always been about being as relaxed as possible when playing, though I’ve found with the 12” & 13″ drums I tend to be more hunched over the drum.
This is something that concerned me a lot, as I was becoming aware of the stresses on my back and shoulders. 
So here was the next challenge. Increase the diameter without losing any of the benefits of the smaller shell. After discussing it with Christian, we decided to try 35cm (14”), and for the depth to remain at 15cm (6”) and we’d use the ‘DRAGONSkinSpicy’ to achieve the sound I was looking for. The skins chosen for this drum reflect my own playing preference.
I apply a lot of pressure to the skin when playing and therefore turn the drum constantly to prevent excessive wear on one area and to keep the tuning even.
For this reason, I prefer the skin to be consistent all over and without the thicker part from the spine/backbone that can be quite common on bodhráns.

I also wanted this to be lightweight and comfortable to play.
We decided to go with a concave frame and use the new compressor tuning system. The concave frame not only helps stabilize the drum, it keeps it light. It also greatly enhances the aesthetic of the drum, which is no bad thing.
With the black nylon ribbon around the frame I get the right amount of friction whilst still able to turn the drum whilst playing.

The compressor tuning system recently developed by Christian and Rolf Wagels, with support from Jim Higgins, helps to achieve a balanced frequency response in the lower register and is especially useful both in the studio and on stage.
Furthermore, it provides the clarity and definition I always associated with the smaller frame on a larger drum.
It also makes for a more comfortable playing experience and with the angle of the rim you can bend notes with ease.



When deciding on the finished look of this bodhrán, I wanted something that was understated.
Something which reflected my own personality.
We settled on a sunburst finish, from grey to black, which really draws you in to the concave shape of the frame. Rather than continuing this finish to the inside, we felt that the natural beech interior complemented this and worked well together.



Die Entwicklung eines Singature Line Modells für Martin O´Neill ist eines meiner persönlichen Highlights meiner Trommelbauerkarriere. Ich selbst bin ein großer Bewunderer und Verehrer seines Bodhránspiels.

Die gesamte Entwicklungsphase der MONss ist in ihrer Komplexität und Fundiertheit lediglich mit der Entwicklung der RolfWagelsEdition ("RWE") zu vergleichen.

Rolf Wagels hat auch bei der MONss Entwicklung einen erheblichen Anteil geleistet, da das verwendete Kompressorstimmsystem eine Entwicklung ist, die mit Rolf Wagels und Jim Higgins entstanden ist.


Martins Spielstil lässt sich als sehr melodiös und "perfect in tune" beschreiben. Die Trommel, die Martin spielt, muss ein riesiges Klangspektrum haben, jedoch gleichmäßig präsent über alle Frequenzbereiche.

Um die Trommel möglichst stimmstabil zu spielen und gleichmäßig zu bespielen dreht Martin die Trommel immer wieder während des Spielens.

Dementsprechend ist das Herzstück der MON signature series Bodhrán ein extrem homogen ausgewähltes DRAGONSkinspicy ohne Wirbelsäule.


Nach einer sehr ins Detail gehenden Entwicklungsphase, zahlreichen Studiotests, Frequenzanalysen und jeder Menge Praxiserfahrung kamen wir zu dem endgültigen MON Modell.


FAQ:"What is the big (sound) difference between the MON and the MHTF as the skin and dimensions seem to be the same ?"

- the MON is fitted with the compressor tuning system and the DRAGONSkinspicy skin is selected to be very even and without a spine, while the MHTF comes with classic tuning system and has a spine at 2/3 of the playing area.

This means the MON has the more defined, even, mellow, melodious and 'dryer' sound while the sound of the typical MHTF can be described as more brisk, more percussive and with the extra attack on the spine area.

So the main difference between both drum models is that the MON can be turned during playing (as Martin does) while the MHTF is beeing meant to be played always in the same position. 


"Can I get the MON in a different color/diameter/depth...?"

- no. The MON is engineered and constructed very carefully in each single detail. Over 10 prototypes have been made until we agreed to the final design/features of this drum model.

Many sound analyses have been made to ensure an equal quality from drum to drum. This means any little change of this drum would just adulterate the result.

In this case we decided not to offer any variation of this drum. The MON is the MON. The second reason is that we wanted to keep the MON as low priced as possible. This only can be ensured with a series produced drum model.

A custom made drum of the same features would be about 200 EUR more expensive.


"How long is the delivery time for the MON ?"

- we try to keep the MON in stock at Martin´s place in Dublin.
Depending on the demand this might be not always be possible but we will try to keep the delivery time as short as possible. 

Martin O‘Neill
Martin O‘Neill
Martin O‘Neill