Greetings fellow Vintage Drum Fans!
This installment of Vintage Happiness is featuring a set that I really enjoy gigging out with & very happy to have in my collection. 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. From my knowledge it was in production for a short amount of time. I have read that this was from 1966-69 however I have also read of kits before this period & mine is one of them. Sizes of Downbeat sets are 14x20 bass drum, 8x12 tom & 14x14 floor tom.
This set is almost a “matched” set. So for the folks (like myself) who love the numbers here they are: The bass drum & floor tom are dated April 26 1965 while the tom is dated May 26 1965. The Pioneer snare drum is dated March 22 but year is unreadable. The serial numbers are BD (164631) FT (165170) Tom (164616). The snare is 279808, which tells me this is most likely March 22 1966. All interiors are painted Resocoat white & all hardware is free of any rust or pitting. All white felt P-4067 tone controls present. The set is in overall remarkable shape with just a few minor marks in the wrap. It just need a very good cleaning. The Burgundy color is still very vibrant & really looks beautiful whether in the sun or under stage lights. “Root Beer Sparkle” is one of those colors you don’t see much of in the vintage sparkle sets.
One of the reasons I enjoy gigging with this kit is the way it sounds. Very BIG for little drums. The shells are the usual wonderful 60’s 3-ply mahogany/poplar/mahogany. Heads are Remo Vintage Coated Ambassadors on batter & original Ludwig heads on bottom. Bass drum has original front reso head & Remo Powerstroke 3 on batter with one felt strip. The snare is coated A on batter & Ludwig thin on snare side. These drums project extremely well & it really amazes me on just how loud they can really sound. A recent summer concert where I played the kit before being wired up to the PA had the sound guy amazed as well as myself. I must note that I used the year correct Supraphonic as the snare drum however!
If you have a chance to pick up a vintage Ludwig Downbeat set I highly recommend these extremely versatile sized drums no matter what the color. They can be tuned for a variety of music and are easy to travel with logistically. This set was bought from a fellow local drummer who gigged out with this kit quite a bit. I plan on continuing the tradition & keeping this kit working as it did before.
Until next time, PLAY those drums!