So here is one I hope you all can dig and my latest addition to the collection: An immaculate 1952 WFL Porto-Pak Outfit No. 986P in Sparkling Red Pearl with era correct additional floor tom ordered with set. This was an estate sale treasure find!
This set is without a doubt the cleanest and nicest "duco" kit I've ever seen. We all know that the hands of time are not kind to these 2 tone paint finishes and every set I've encountered has had numerous paint chipping, flaking, spider webbing etc. Basically killing the appearance. I was truly in awe. So a BIG THANK YOU to Chris Hawthorne at Hawthorne Drum Shop out of Pittsburgh PA for answering my million questions and sending ALL those pics!
These non mass-produced drums sets were made by the company that provided the metal hardware and hardware designs for the big drum companies in the 1900's. Based in Worcester MA, Walberg and Auge is considered to be, "the biggest unknown name in the history of twentieth-century American percussion" Check out the unique mix of hardware. This drum kit was hand built to 'Perfection' by Robert George Bernard (RGB) in December 1968. The shells are the early 60's 6 ply Gretsch Jasper shells with the COOLEST MIX of Gretsch, Ludwig, Rogers and W&A hardware. Whatever RGB had near him when he decided to build a set. So unique and one of a kind.
As you can imagine, these drums sing! This is by far, my personal favorite era of Ludwig Drums. These are the shells of greatness. These mahogany shells have amazing tone, warmth & projection. Making this set even more special is the fact that the Transition Badge was used for such a short period of time (58-60) and the incredible optional 14x14 floor tom was ordered, as this kit is a born together set. All the drums match perfectly with zero flaws in the wrap.
This is a 1965 Swingtime Outfit in the not so often seen Wine Red Ripple Pearl.
It’s a bit of a tongue twister to say indeed! I have learned (thanks to many of the Rogers experts online) that this is one of the rarest wraps Rogers produced and was not a particular big seller. To me it seems that most vintage drum companies “Pink” drums did not sell well when they were first introduced to the public all those years ago. And that low number of kits makes for quite a treasure hunt today.
This installment of Vintage Happiness is on my first Leedy love. This was the first Leedy set in my collection and the one that made me buy several more Leedy sets!
I became a big fan of the art deco lugs and T-rods from this era. This is the era that many collectors refer to as the “Slingerleedy” period when Slingerland owned Leedy and manufactured these drums as well as Slingerlands from 1955 through 1966. This is a 1965 Leedy Shelly Manne Outfit No. 11 in Sparkling Champagne Pearl.
The set consists of a 14x20 bass drum, 9x13 tom, 16x16 floor tom, and the fantastic 5.5x14 Shelly Manne snare with the Broadway throw off. The drums also have the “chocolate milk” interiors, which is consistent with Slingerland manufacturing.
This set is a 1961/62 Slingerland Modern Jazz Outfit in Capri Pearl finish, which very hard to find in good shape. This time I finally found one. This really is some finish. I’ve not had much experience with this wrap in GOOD shape so I am now going to say it is my current favorite vintage drum finish. Just wow.
These high quality 'Perfection' drum sets were built using shells supplied by Gretsch and Keller with a variety of Gretsch, Rogers, Slingerland & Ludwig hoops, lugs and W&A hardware. W&A received the shells from hardware trades and barters. These particular shells are the 6 ply Jasper Gretsch round badge shells. So basically a 1960 RB Gretsch kit in a very rare finish
The set really has a unique look to it. I was unfamiliar with the wrap and when I was first sent the photos, I was immediately interested in the set. Further findings led me to see the Rogers version called Black Onyx. The drums were bought from a fellow vintage collector Butch Carlson who owns American Vintage out of Los Angeles. We had met at The Hollywood Drum Show years earlier and he also has provided me with the exceptional 1968 Ludwig Lemon Strata kit I wrote about in March 2016. Thanks again Butch!
This month’s installment of Vintage Happiness highlights a set I had been after for some time. There are many white marine pearl kits out there. It’s a fantastic wrap and it’s classy no matter what drum kit it’s on. But I had a specific kit in mind for my WMP. It HAD to be a Ludwig Transition Badge Era Buddy Rich Model No. 980P Super Classic Outfit. The reason: The sound. I had played a kit many years ago and was just blown away. They were some of the best sounding drums I have ever played and the 50’s are my favorite era for Ludwig drums.
This month’s installment of Vintage Happiness is on a drum that has a great history as well as a bright future. About 2 years ago, my youngest brother made the rank of Chief in the US Navy. I wanted to congratulate him for his commitment to our great country in a special way, as he is also a drummer. And what better way than with a drum that was once owned by the United States Navy.
In the aftermath of WWII, which had totally disrupted Conn's drum divisions, it was decided to combine Ludwig & Ludwig with Leedy, creating the Leedy & Ludwig drum company. This new division became operational in 1951. Conn decided to discontinue the unprofitable Leedy & Ludwig division four years later in 1955."
This is my very first Gretsch set and I finally own a kit made in NYC - Brooklyn, as a matter of fact, during the heyday of round badge Gretsch drum manufacturing. This is one of the most beautiful drum sets I have ever seen. The kit can look yellow, gold, red and orange depending on the lighting. I personally think it looks best in plain daylight.
This snare drum is a 1950s WFL COB No.400. For those unfamiliar, COB is chrome over brass. What makes this drum so special is this drum is the earliest version with the WFL badge. You don’t see many with this badge as very few were produced. It is the first metal snare drum cataloged by the Ludwig Company after the family purchased the name back from Conn in 1955. I have read that this snare drum was seen as early as 1956 but introduced somewhere between 1957 to 1958. It is called the “Super Ludwig” and can be seen in the 1959 catalog included in the pictures below.
The set has the 3-ply Jasper shells and flat bearing edges, which were originally designed for calfskin heads. I have read that, starting in 1963, Rogers switched to Keller shells and a new sharper bearing edge. Another cool thing on this set is that both the floor tom and tom have “tall boy” hoops which were also designed for calfskin heads.
"This is one of the rarest Leedy sets you'll ever see. This set is from 1958 and consists of 9x13, 16x16, 14x22, 5.5x14 snare drum. Those wonderful mahogany/poplar/mahogany 3 ply shells with rounded bearing edges. And the set is finished in Starlight Sparkle! As some of you may know, SS was a finish in the Gretsch line from the late 50s until circa 1962. It was exclusive to Gretsch, however, I have had one original Slingerland kit in this finish, and now we have this Leedy kit. In all probability, a customer may have requested this finish and the drum shop or Leedy called the finish manufacturer or called Gretsch and asked if they could use it for a kit. Starlight Sparkle is a finish that looks silver/gray until it is under the lights and then it looks lavender. It’s a beautiful finish. I believe Leedy referred to this as "smoky pearl". Harry Cangany did an article about this set for Modern Drummer in Feb 2011. It is one of the rarest finishes for Gretsch and it is insanely rare on any other drum set. The wrap is in great shape and the chrome is nice as well. This is an extremely rare set and it sounds wonderful”
This is the earliest known set in existence of the finish made famous by the Beatles Ringo Starr, 8 years before Beatlemania hit in 1964. This finish first appears into the Ludwig catalog in 1959 where it can be seen on the Las Vegas Stand Up cocktail outfit. In 1956 WFL Drums biggest star endorser was the one and only Buddy Rich.
The Superbeat is an uncataloged set consisting of the optional 20” kick with the Super Classic 13” tom and 16” floor tom. So, 20/13/16. This set appears to be a special order set as well as both the floor tom and the tom have dual mufflers, one for the top and one for the bottom heads. The bass drum also has dual front and rear sets of spurs. All these options were available when you ordered a kit back then.
Black Panther wrap was introduced in 1968 along with the mod wraps. It first appeared in the 1970 Ludwig catalog and was offered throughout the 70s. It’s really a one of a kind wrap. It has this fake leather look to it and, personally, it reminds me of the old Marshall amplifiers which is why I like it. It is a thin material that is unlike any other wrap used by Ludwig. The most famous drummer who used this early on was Mitch Mitchell of the Jimi Hendrix Experience.
I had mentioned above that this was a floor model at the Ludwig factory. I found this to be quite interesting to be able to buy back then as such. But when I took the kit apart to smell the interiors (wink ;-) and check the date stamps, I discovered the initials BL in the drums. I could not help myself, so I reached out to Bill Ludwig III and explained what I had and the story.
Vintage Ludwig Downbeats are extremely versatile sized drums no matter what the color you end up with. These kits can be tuned for a variety of music and are real easy to travel with logistically. The entire kit fits in the backseat of VW Golf! (with the seats up, NOT down).
This is a 1965 Ludwig Downbeat set in Sparkling Burgundy Pearl. Burgundy Sparkle or “Root Beer Sparkle” (as it is sometimes called) is a finish that is not very common. So it falls under the “rare” category from a collector’s standpoint.
This set is a 1947 WFL Big Time kit with the sizes 14x26-16x16-9x13-6.5x14. One cool and unique factor was this kit had all working, no issues, original WFL Zephyr lugs - even offset version lugs on the tom. Most of the time these old lugs have issues with the threading. Fortunately for me there are no issues.
This month's kit is a beautiful Ludwig Club Date from 1964. As you can see, it's Sparkling Red Pearl which is fitting for Valentine's Day. This kit came to me from a great vintage drum dealer out of the Midwest - Randy Houck Vintage Drums. He has amazing kits from all manufacturers and was a pleasure to do business with.
This is one of those kits that you dream of finding and it actually found me. I run an ad on the local Craig’s List looking for vintage drums. One day I get an email from an older gentleman telling me about this kit he may want to sell......