The company was founded in 1875 as a percussion manufacturer. One of the oldest existing models of drums manufactured by Sonor is a 1942 Johannes Link Parade Snare, a very heavy snare drum with an alumininum shell and thick tension rods.
Sonor invented the modern screw thread drum-construction and the metal snare drum in the early 20th century. William F. Ludwig got this idea in his early years back in Germany from Sonor and began to use it later in Chicago.
As the 1980s progressed, the market began to stray away from thick heavy shells and Sonor started slimming down its shells with a line called "Sonorlite" and "Hilite", a step away from the idea a drum shell should resonate like a violin or guitar body. The thinner the shell, the lower the fundamental tone.
Sonor drums have several design features, including under-sized shells (a similar concept to a violin bridge - designed to enhance response), and tension rods that are round and feature a slot instead of the traditional square style (though recently Sonor made square heads standard, with slotted heads available as an option). Recently, Sonor re-introduced the designer X-Ray Acrylic drums, the first time in 20 years Sonor offered acrylic drums. These shells are made from seamless, extruded acrylic and feature acrylic hoops.
In 1953, the Orff instruments were officially included in Sonor’s production plan. In close collaboration with Prof. Hans Bergese, a student of Carl Orff, Sonor developed a range of instruments. The basic idea was that the instruments should grow with the mental abilities and playing techniques of the child, thus encouraging active music making.