The bock-a-da-bock was invented by orchestral percussionistBilly Gladstone. He shaped the discs such that they were 8 centimetres (3.1 in) in diameter and slightly domed. These discs were then mounted on sprung tongs which could be held by the drummer playing the instrument.
Sometimes the bock-a-da-bock was used to substitute a drum kit. Due to the recording limitations of the 1920s, drums were not always practical to be included in a recording.
The instrument is played with a stick in one hand, while the other hand (usually the left) controls the grip. The two metal discs are then pushed together to create a sound similar to that of a milk bottle being hit.