Often referred to as the “Salesman Sample” finish, this drum first appeared at auction through a Goodwill branch in Iowa City. After bouncing around a few hands of resellers, the drum landed a permanent spot in the Three On The Floor collection.
The common misconception is that salesmen used this finish back in the 50s and 60s to demonstrate the finishes offered by Ludwig and WFL. This was an explanation created by a Ludwig rep leading up to Ludwig’s issuance of this multi colored option titled Salesman Sparkle in 2011. This finish was first introduced to the public by drummer Patrick Carney during a performance by The Black Keys on Saturday Night Live.
(editor’s note – In 2012 Patrick and Black Keys guitarist/singer Dan Auerbach bought a vintage salesman bass and toms from Fork’s Drum Closet and a matching pristine snare drum from me to use in their Nashville recording studio – thus the inspiration for Patrick’s request to Ludwig to make him a modern set in the same finish. Their vintage set was featured in the Winter 2012 print issue of Not So Modern Drummer)
The actual drums that were used to feature all of the finish offerings by WFL at this time were titled Dealer Display. This option was made available to dealers beginning in the 1949 catalog in which all seven of the pearl finishes were featured vertically on each panel of a 12” x 15” field drum.
Bun E. Carlos questioned William F. Ludwig II about a photo of an early Ludwig drum kit featuring all of these horizontally striped sparkles back in the 90s and Mr. Ludwig labeled this finish Banded Pearl. This was likely a custom order or short run as only five complete drum kits are known to exist. The only evidence of multi colored sparkle options began much later in the 1960s Ludwig catalog showing a special order option for Multi-Sparkle finishes. This allowed dealers to select two finishes to run horizontally across the shell, resulting in a single color center band and outer bands of a second color.
In the 1950s, the Ray McKinley split lug and Concert models were the only standard cataloged options for a 6.5” depth snare drum. It is noted in the 1951 WFL catalog that a 6.5” x 14” model snare may be special ordered through the Buddy Rich Super Classic outfits which featured a single centered bowtie lug. This size was most likely used on this drum to accommodate for the extra depth required to include all of the sparkle bands. The drum is equipped with the original chrome fittings including the streamlined strainer, chrome over brass triple flanged hoops and famous bowtie lugs.
More photos of the WFL Banded Pearl drum may be seen at www.threeonthefloor.com
A special thanks to Bun E. Carlos for info contributions!