Manual Kabuki Drop Systems

There are several ways to build a manual Kabuki Drop, each with a different set-up and system. However, all manual systems are activated by some kind of wire cable or rope that releases the cloth from the drop points. In this case, a human manually pulls the trigger.

The benefits of manual Kabuki Drops are that they are generally reliable with fewer points of failure if set up is done correctly. They are also inexpensive compared to electronic systems. Depending on the system, the materials used to build the Kabuki Drop and the width of the curtain drop, it can cost as little as $50 to put together (excluding the cost of the curtain). A professionally-made manual system will generally cost below $500 (depending on the width of the curtain drop).

While some people like the tactile activation of the curtain drop, some prefer a more technology-based system that electronic systems offer. Manual Kabuki Drops also cannot be triggered remotely. The trigger mechanism (pull cord) must be next to or behind the stage, otherwise the running of pull cables at different angles and for long distances can complicate the system unnecessarily.

This article outlines four methods for manual Kabuki Drops.

It would be best to first be familiar with the Basic Components of the Kabuki Drop to better understand the systems explored below.

“Shake & Drop” Kabuki Drop or “Rolling Pole” Kabuki Drop

At the heart of this method, it is essentially the same concept as the traditional Kabuki Drop system using the rotating bamboo pole as described HERE.

The curtain is held up by a pole that has pegs attached to it. The pole is suspended on the flying bars by ropes in such a way that it can freely rotate. When the pole rotates forward curtain slips off the pegs and onto the floor to effect the Kabuki Drop.

Bamboo Kabuki Side View

Image Credit: Magic Kabuki Drop

Updated versions make use of modern materials as well as hardware components not available in the past.

Instead of using bamboo poles with prongs attached to it, you can make a “rolling pole” with 1.5” aluminum or stainless steel round tubing. The drop points (pegs or prongs) can be welded onto the round tubing or bolts can be threaded through the round tubing and secured in place with nuts.

Pipe-holding brackets, available at good hardware stores, can be used to hold the round tubing in place but provide a loose fit so that the round tubing can freely rotate within the brackets. The pipe-holding brackets can be secured to the flying bar in a variety of ways depending on the design of the specific bracket you use.

Kabuki Drop Pipe Bracket 2 Kabuki Drop Pipe Bracket
Examples of Pipe Holding Brackets

The trigger mechanism can be built using a latch that holds the pole at a specific angle so that the drop points are facing up. Upon release, gravity causes the pole to rotate forward, allowing the curtain to slip off the drop points and drop to the ground.

 Kabuki Drop Spring Gate LatchKabuki Drop Eyebolt Catch
Examples of Spring Latches

An example of a trigger mechanism using a spring-loaded latch can be viewed in the video below. It was shared by user “cforand” in the Control Booth forum who also provided a PDF for an updated design HERE (although updated with an electronic trigger)

A spring-loaded gate latch is used as the connection point and is released by a pull cord that runs behind the flying bars to the back of the stage.

An alternative design (with more details and measurements) for this method is detailed in “DIY Kabuki Drops”. It features a simplified spring-loaded trigger mechanism and the pull rope runs off to the side of the stage instead of behind it


“Poor Man’s” Kabuki Drop

Also called a “Tearaway”, the “Poor Man’s” Kabuki Drop is predominantly used for budget-conscious users. However, this curtain drop might also just be all you need in certain situations. Sometimes, you do not need a complicated system if a simple one will suffice.

The “Poor Man’s” Kabuki Drop uses Velcro as the main attachment to the flying bar. To “drop” the curtain, the curtain is manually pulled away from the Velcro when needed.

The general rule of thumb for the “Poor Man’s” Kabuki Drop is that it is not used for dramatic reveals, but more as a masking piece. However, with creativity, it is possible to create a visually-pleasing reveal with talent onstage performers and choreography.

The “Poor Man’s Kabuki Drop can be made in the following way:

Sew a non-adhesive Velcro strip across the entire top edge of the curtain. It is important to sew the hook side (hard side) of the Velcro onto the curtain instead of the loop side (soft side). The reason is that the loop side of the Velcro wears out over time and needs to be replaced. It is much easier to replace when it is not sewn down onto the curtain which is delicate.

The curtain will be attached to a header that will be secured to the flying bar.

The header is made from 3” nylon webbing and runs the entire width of the cloth. The bottom 1” has a length of Velcro sewn onto the entire length of the header. 1” Grommets are attached to the top 2” of the header, evenly spaced apart.

Curtain with Header

With this method, the curtain is attached to the header via the Velcro strips and the header is then secured to the flying bar using cable ties threaded through the grommets.

See Basic Components of the Kabuki Drop for a comprehensive view of the curtain preparation, header and grommets.

“Pins & Loops” Kabuki Drop

This is another relatively simple manual Kabuki Drop system that can be built with items that can bought from a good hardware store.

Kabuki Drop Pins and Loops

Photo Credit: David Buckley (As posted in the Blue Room forum)

It is called the “Pins & Loops” Kabuki Drop because the system uses a pin and two loops for each drop point.

In this system, the drop points are mounted on a wooden backboard that is secured to the flying bar with clamps or cable ties. Each drop point is made up of two eye screws.

The curtain is prepared with split rings on the grommets. Each split ring is placed between each pair of screw eyes and a pin is placed through the split ring and screw eyes. This holds up the curtain on the backboard.

A pull cord is attached to all the pins and when pulled, causes all the pins to be pulled free from the screw eyes. This releases the split rings and allows the curtain to drop to the floor.

Kabuki Drop Pins & Loops

Image Credit: Magic Kabuki Drop

Kabuki Drop Pins & Loops 2

Image Credit: Magic Kabuki Drop

The pull cord is threaded through additional screw eyes attached to the backboard so that the pins and cord do not fall to the floor when it is pulled.

Design plans with measurements of this system are detailed in the book “Ultimate Kabuki Drop Resource: Includes 6 DIY Kabuki Drop Design Plans”.


“Pins & Sleeve” Kabuki Drop

This method is similar to the “Pins & Loops” Kabuki Drop except the pins are permanently attached to a central main shaft.

The main shaft is made from metal round tubing or rod and the pins are bent metal rods cut to size and welded in a straight line onto the main shaft.

The main shaft with pins sit in a “sleeve” or housing such as a larger metal or PVC round tubing. There are short narrow slots in the base of the housing, just large enough for the pins to extend out of the housing. The main shaft remains sitting in the housing. The slots are also just long enough for the pins to move back a couple of inches.

The curtain is prepared with split rings on the grommets. Each split ring is placed onto each pin extending under the housing.

When the pull cord is pulled, the main shaft moves back. The pins that extend out of slots in the house will also move back with the main shaft. This causes the split rings on the grommets/ curtain to fall off the pins, allowing the curtain to fall to the floor

Magicians will recognize that this system is similar to Al Koran’s pencil gimmick used in his Himber Ring routine.

Kabuki Drop Pins & Sleeve

Image Credit: Magic Kabuki Drop

Check out this website for instructions to build a DIY “Pins & Sleeve” Kabuki Drop by John Fromarran HERE.

Kabuki Drop Pins Sleeve

Photo Credit: John Fromarran


Disclaimer: This is a free resource site for educational purposes. To better illustrate points made in the articles, images have been used to accompany the information. Photo credits and links to the source material are given where applicable.

If you are a copyright holder for any of the images and do not want your image used in this resource site, please contact us at info(a)magickabukidrop.com and we will remove the image within 24 hours.
The authors accepts no responsibility for damages or injuries resulting from the fabrication or performance of any of the Kabuki Drop methods described in this website.

J C Sum

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 2 comments
Components of the Kabuki Drop | Magic Kabuki Drop - 5th November 2016

[…] Manual Kabuki Drop Systems […]

Spencer Novich - 22nd September 2018


I am interested in purchasing a manual double pro kabuki drop system – do you have any videos of the effect in stage conditions?

I’ve only ever seen solenoid systems in effect – would love to see if the effect is similar before I buy.

Thank you!



Leave a Reply: