Greetings Vintage Drum Lovers!
First, a very Happy 2017 to all!!
Last year's Vintage Happiness drum sets focused on the Ludwig drums in my collection. For 2017 I will feature some of the other great American Drum manufacturers of the 20th century as well as more Ludwig drums. Starting off this year is a set that I feel extremely privileged to have gotten. This was my first great find from Steve Maxwell Vintage Drums. Leedy drums were a brand I was already familiar with from a previous find here in Southern CA. This set is a 1958 Leedy Shelly Manne Outfit No. 11 in the rare Gretsch finish of Starlight Sparkle. This is from the era when Slingerland owned Leedy drums. 1956-1965.
This is taken from Steve’s description of the kit on his website:
"This is one of the rarest Leedy sets you'll ever see. This set is from 1958 and consists of 9x13, 16x16, 14x22, 5.5x14 snare drum. Those wonderful mahogany/poplar/mahogany 3 ply shells with rounded bearing edges. And the set is finished in Starlight Sparkle! As some of you may know, SS was a finish in the Gretsch line from the late 50s until circa 1962. It was exclusive to Gretsch, however, I have had one original Slingerland kit in this finish, and now we have this Leedy kit. In all probability, a customer may have requested this finish and the drum shop or Leedy called the finish manufacturer or called Gretsch and asked if they could use it for a kit. Starlight Sparkle is a finish that looks silver/gray until it is under the lights and then it looks lavender. It’s a beautiful finish. I believe Leedy referred to this as "smoky pearl". Harry Cangany did an article about this set for Modern Drummer in Feb 2011. It is one of the rarest finishes for Gretsch and it is insanely rare on any other drum set. The wrap is in great shape and the chrome is nice as well. This is an extremely rare set and it sounds wonderful”
The 2 videos Steve did on the set were great. It was the video where he actually played the kit that got me interested. They sounded amazing. Fast forward and I am back in NYC for the holidays. After actually inspecting & playing the set in Steve’s Manhattan store, I was sold. The drums really did sound amazing and those shells are incredibly warm and full of tone. It was an all around fantastic vintage drum buying experience. Steve’s staff was more than accommodating and took the time to answer any and all my questions. The drums arrived in CA safely with the best drum set packing job I had ever seen. I also purchased from Steve his era correct replica tom holder as the original had seen better days and this kit is in my rotation for live gigs.
The set is also a matched kit dated April 17 1958. The very cool thing is the floor tom and the bass drum have an additional date stamp of April 9th 1958 (bass drum) and April 10th 1958 (floor tom). I have never seen 2 date stamps in one drum before. As mentioned above, the drums were featured in a write up by the great Harry Cangany in the Feb 2011 of Modern Drummer. As for the finish, the lavender color really does come out in natural light but the set can even look gun metallic grey to me depending on the lighting at the venue. I like the fact it does look different at times. I also found out there is a Ludwig Transition Badge kit from 1958 also in Starlight Sparkle owned by the very cool Mr. Mike Layton
I have used this set on several big shows already and I am happy to report that this kit is an amazing live kit that really projects well and looks very classy.
Leedys are great vintage kits and I am now a BIG fan!
Until next time, PLAY those drums!