It's November already, and it's the month to express our thanks. I am thankful for my family, my church, and my drums. I am also thankful for this great country I live in. It's not perfect, but what is? My five year old grandson told me, "nothing is perfect except Jesus." I agree with that, and speaking of "perfect," not in the absolute sense, I have a perfect little drum set to share with you this month. It is a very handy size and sounds great. It is not flawless by any means, in fact, I almost never use the term "mint" when describing vintage drums. People say to me all the time, "That set of yours is mint." The reason I don't use that term much is because when I tell you it's mint, I mean it is just like the day it came out of the store new. There are not many many vintage sets that were bought, put up without use, and stored in a dark , cool and dry environment for decades. I will say this set is in very good condition for a 1960s set. There is no date stamp inside the drums, so either it has been rubbed out over the years or as Mr. Ludwig told me, "we might have been out of ink on the ink stamp pad that week."
This is a Ludwig Downbeat drum set first offered in 1959. Downbeat sets came with 20X14 bass drum, 14X14 floor tom, and a 12X8 mounted tom. The bass drum on this set has two sets of disappearing spurs. Maybe they added the second set to keep Joe Morello's bass drum from creeping off during his solos! :-) The bass drum has a shell mounted cymbal holder anda rail consolette tom holder. The snare drum is a Chrome over Brass from 1962. Some Downbeat sets before 1967 came with a small wood shell snare 14X4. The finish on the set is Oyster Blue Pearl. The color is still vibrant, but like most pearl finishes, some fading has taken place. The brown streaks in the finish are actually clear spots on the wrap and the mahogany outer ply shows through. The shells are the three ply with reinforcement rings and Resa-Cote white paint inside. The small Keystone badges with serial numbers are present on the drums.
Ringo made the Downbeat set famous when he chose to start out with this size kit with the Beatles. He later changed to the larger Super Classic sizes when the crowds got louder and the guitar amps bigger. Ringo's set was wrapped in Oyster Black Pearl which looks very much like the Oyster Blue. The slight blue color swirls makes the difference. It was of interest to me to learn that Pete Best, who was replaced by Ringo bought an Oyster Blue Ludwig set just about the time Ringo bought the Oyster Black. Whichever drummer played on Ed Sullivan on that fateful night would have been on Ludwigs and the results would have been the same.
I bought this set from a seller on E-Bay several years ago. He had parted them out and was hoping to make more selling the drums individually rather than as a set. I contacted him and urged him to sell me the drums as a set. He agreed it would be good to keep them together and made me a price on the three drums. It wasn't cheap, but I really wanted them so, as Bill Pace always says, "It's only money." I paid his price and I haven't regretted buying these for one minute. I take these out from time to time for gigs and always get very positive feedback. Happy Thanksgiving , everyone.