J.C. Deagan, Inc.

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J.C. Deagan, Inc.
    • J.C. Deagan Musical Bells, Inc. (1880-1894)
    • J.C. Deagan Musical Bells (1894–1916)
    • J.C. Deagan Musical Bells, Inc. (1916–19)
    • J.C. Deagan, Inc. (1916–77)
    • J.C. Deagan Div. Slingerland Drum Co. (1977–84) [1]
TypePrivate (1880–1977)
Brand (1977–present)
IndustryMusical instruments
Founded1880 in St. Louis
FounderJohn Calhoun Deagan
FateCompany acquired by Slingerland in 1977, then sold to Yamaha
Headquarters1770 W Berteau Ave, ,
Area served
ProductsKeyboard percussion instruments

J.C. Deagan, Inc. is a former musical instrument manufacturing company that developed and produced instruments from the late 19th- to mid-20th century. It was founded in 1880 by John Calhoun Deagan and initially manufactured glockenspiels. It was noted for its development of the xylophone, vibraharp, organ chimes, aluminum chimes, aluminum harp, Swiss handbells, the marimba, orchestra bells, and marimbaphone. Church bells were revolutionized by Deagan through his design of tubular bells, and the NBC chimes were his creation.[2]

Its former headquarters, the tower of which still bears the company name, is a landmark in the Ravenswood neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois.[3]

Since 1984, Deagan is a brand owned by Yamaha, which distributes and sells products with the Deagan name.[4][5]


The company was founded by John Calhoun Deagan (1853–1934), a professional clarinetist, in 1880. The J.C. Deagan company originally headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, until it moved to Chicago, Illinois, in the early 20th century. Deagan was unsatisfied with the intonation of the glockenspiels used in theater orchestras, with which he had performed. He experimented with the instrument's acoustics and tuning, and developed the first "scientifically tuned" glockenspiel. On the Sensations of Tone by German physician and physicist Hermann von Helmholtz was a strong influence on Deagan's advances.[6]

In 1978 the Deagan company was sold to Slingerland Drum Company, which added the Deagan instruments to its products.[7]

Slingerland then sold the Deagan company to the "Sanlar Corporation", a corporation set up by Slingerland accountant Larry Gasp and his wife Sandra, in 1984.[1][6][8][9] Meanwhile, the Deagan division of Slingerland was sold to Yamaha.[9]


Former headquarters of J.C. Deagan, Inc., photographed in 2007

A 25 tubular bell set by Deagan is still in daily use at St. John Cantius Church of Chicago, using its original player rolls. It was originally at Laureldale Cemetery in Reading, Pennsylvania and relocated to St. John Cantius in 1999.[10]

The 97-bell carillon at the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park has the most bells of any tubular-bell carillon. It was installed there during the summer of 1958. Deagan craftsmen required more than a year to build the huge set of bells, perhaps the greatest single manufacturing project in the firm’s 78-year history.[11]

Notable employees[edit]


  1. ^ a b Deegan Archive on The Mallet Shop
  2. ^ "The National Cyclopedia of American Biography". 43: 391–392. Archived from the original on 2016-04-22. Retrieved 2015-05-31. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. ^ "Progress Building, AKA The Deagan Building". Ravenswood Lake View Historical Association.
  4. ^ Yamaha DC-9160B Deagan Chimes on Cosmo Music of Canada
  5. ^ Yamaha DG1590B Deagan Bell on Yamaha Music London
  6. ^ a b Hall of Fame: John Calhoun Deagan by James A. Strain on the Percussive Arts Society (archive), 4 Mar 2016
  7. ^ 1979 Slingerland catalog
  8. ^ Samuels, Rich. "The J.C. Deagan Company of Chicago". richsamuels.com. Retrieved 2016-01-09.
  9. ^ a b The Slingerland Book by Rob Cook
  10. ^ "Laureldale Cemetery & Rhoads Memorials | Reading, PA". www.laureldalecemeteryrhoadsmemorials.org. Retrieved 2020-09-06.
  11. ^ "Stephen Foster CSO - Carillon". www.stephenfostercso.org. Retrieved 2020-09-06.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°57′28″N 87°40′24″W / 41.9578964°N 87.6733299°W / 41.9578964; -87.6733299