Greeting fellow vintage drum lovers!
This month we are getting on board the way back machine to the year 1947 for the oldest set in my collection. These drums are unique and are super fun to play and look really cool.
This set is a 1947 WFL Big Time kit with the sizes 14x26-16x16-9x13-6.5x14. This kit is what I would consider to be a player’s kit, and a mighty fine one indeed! It was originally the classic blue & silver two-tone duco finish. Now we all know time is not particularly kind to the duco finishes and this kit was no exception. The years had taken its toll on the paint so the owner before me had the paint removed and the outer ply lacquered by a woodworker friend.
When I made the initial call & was informed of this, I was a bit hesitant. I like my drums to be all original. However, I was told I really needed to see the entire kit in person. So off to the hills of LA I went.
When I arrived, I was quite pleased with what I saw so dealing with the LA traffic had paid off. The guy did an incredible job. I was sold. The set was just basically sanded down, lacquered & all the original hardware put back on. The grain on the shells is extremely beautiful and the drum hardware has the very real dull fade of time.
The other 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. It has stick chopper hoops and came with the original Speed Master pedal, detachable bass drum spurs, muffler, and the cowbell and tom holders that mounted on the bass drum rim. Using the tom mount was not an option for me so I use a vintage snare stand.
How do they sound? Huge. There are no internal mufflers on the drums so the drums have open tones, great projection, and that FAT sound we all love. Vintage Coated Ambassadors work well and I use a felt strip on the bass drum. I always try to remember that in this point in time, drummers really had to project out to the audience over sometimes very loud bands without amplification. The big bass drums were standard back then and I think the kit is well named. You can see a picture of the set on page 278 of The Ludwig Book by Rob Cook.
This kit looks OLD and I like that. I get A LOT of compliments on the drums when I gig out with it. Most folks say "really?" when I tell them how old the set is. I consider this kit a tribute to the big band & country drummer of the era. If you ever have a chance to acquire an older set that looks bad, remember to never judge a book by its cover.
Until next time, PLAY those drums!