So I ended up with this pretty little Slingerland set in a trade. It's a practically brand new, beautiful little Studio King set from the early 2000s. Now, even though that's less than twenty years old, it's still a vintage kit because all Slingerland drums are out of production. Our rule of thumb here at NSMD is once it's out of production, it's vintage! Well, this kit has the last badge Slingerland used, the Conway Arkansas badge, which is a controversial subject. Gibson moved the machinery from Nashville, where immaculate sets were produced in the nineties by Sam Bacco and Patrick Foley, to Conway where the piano builders and woodworkers had little drum building experience and made lots of mistakes. Eventually the production was brought up to par and they produced some good instruments toward the end, but the poor marketing and over pricing by Gibson doomed the whole brand to fail. Early sets from the Conway factory had some issues, especially with the gluing of wrap - maybe they were using the wrong kind of glue? -lots of reports of seams lifting and wrap bubbling. Mine has a silver sparkle finish that has ginger aled and bubbled on the top bass drum piece.
This particular drum set was found in some cases last year in a Gibson warehouse in Nashville when an employee was instructed to "get rid of those old empty drum cases". A friend of mine, Danny Bean, was called and asked if he wanted the drum cases for free. Well, not only was the Studio King set in those cases, but also a Slingerland Buddy Rich Signature set that had never been touched! Literally in mint condition, which is a term I rarely, rarely use, and with a Radio King snare drum! He kept the Rich kit and I traded for the Studio Kings. It's a nice little kit: 20x16 virgin bass drum, 8x12 mounted tom, 14x14 floor tom and a 5.x14 snare drum, with die cast hoops on the snare and toms. It sounds every bit as good as the Studio Kings made in Nashville so, besides the wrap problem, I don't think there were any of the other early Conway manufacturing woodworking and alignment issues that the piano builders over there had. I am guessing that this one was made toward the latter days of the Conway production after those problems had been worked out. There were some real dogs that came out of there in the beginning, but this ain't one of them. :-) The bubbling ginger aled wrap is not a problem for me, I can re-install a new sheet of silver sparkle wrap easily enough. I'm pretty sure this was a kit being kept in Nashville for use by Slingerland endorsing artists. The heads had been played and it wasn't sparkly brand new, but had very little use. The Rich kit was probably a display set for a trade show. It literally had not been touched. The only issue was some seam shrinkage from age that I fixed for my friend. Soooo..... I'm pretty sure I now have one of the last Slingerland kits ever made, and it's a good one, and I didn't have to pay Slingerland's ridiculous exorbitant prices for it. I've used it on several gigs recently and they just sound great. You may touch me now. :-) Or, just come over to my place and I'll let you play them.