Not So Vintage. Why am I writing about a modern drum set? ….Back around the winter of 2011 the band I had spent the last 13 years with was slowing down and only doing the occasional gig. Because I have always considered myself a true working musician, I knew that I had to start looking for a new band that was motivated and working on a regular basis. I like all kinds of music and knew that I just wanted to play music with people that were good. One ad on Craigslist that caught my attention was one for a top 40 country band that seemed to have a momentum going and a full schedule ahead of them. I was also interested because of all the music genres I have played, country was not one of them. It also did not hurt that my wife likes country a lot and more and more people seemed to like to go out, dance and listen to country music. After an audition with this band and the acceptance into my new gig, I started to wonder about the size of the drum set I wanted to take out. My 2003 gold sparkle classic maple set seemed to be the right fit for the job but I was also growing slightly tired of this set as it had a few features to it that I had always wished I could change and the idea of being in a new band gave me the feeling that I wanted something new and fresh. I decided I would sell the gold set and order a brand new Ludwig classic maple set specifically for this band so I could get things exactly how I wanted them.
In January 2012 I went to the music store and placed my order for a classic maple set with a 14x22 bass drum, 9x13 tom, 16x16 floor tom and 5x14 eight lug snare drum. I went with Ludwig’s modern version of the rail mount, classic brackets, blue olive badges and a cymbal off the bass drum (which I had installed at the store to ensure it was mounted right where I wanted it). I also ordered a canister throne as I have always loved canister thrones, had many of them, vintage and new, and found that they work great for me. I thought long and hard about a color as well. I wanted something that stood out yet was durable enough to withstand a lot of gigs. I also wanted a lighter color as a lot of the gigs the band does in the summer are outside where the sun beats right down on the band for several hours at a time. I had also heard that drum wrap was being made now with a UV protecting film to keep colors from fading so that was a comforting thought. I had my color choices narrowed down to silver sparkle, green sparkle or champagne sparkle and, in the end, I went with champagne as it is a classy color and it looks great under the lights. The sparkle wraps are also thicker than pearl wraps so I figured my chances would be better using a sparkle in case of any issues with bubbling or shrinking. Ludwig uses a process called wrap-tite to high bond the wrap to the shell so between that process and the thick sparkle I figured I would be safe. My last touch was to order the set with blue/olive badges all around to complete a seventies look.
After about a 5 month wait the set was finally ready for pick up and I made the hour drive over to the music store to go get them. There is nothing like opening a box with a new drum inside wrapped in plastic. The finish glistened along with the chrome and the blue/olive badges against the champagne sparkle wrap gave the set a real vintage vibe. The canister throne was on back order and would not arrive until much later and I found out that it was actually the last throne Ludwig ever made as they were discontinuing that item. The cymbal arm mount was drilled in the workshop of the store and off I went with my new drums. After some tweaking to the heads and a proper 70’s block logo was added to the bass drum I was ready for my first gig with them in June of 2012. We were playing in a big old theater and I was excited to try them out for the first time. I have to be honest when I say that they did not sound quite what I expected and at first they felt very foreign and uncomfortable to me. It almost seemed like I was having trouble getting them dialed in and my first thoughts were that I made a terrible mistake when I sold off the gold set as they sounded so good. Still, I was determined to work with these new drums and figure out what I was having problems with. I would say after a solid month of using them something clicked with them and it reminded me of breaking in a new baseball glove. They really started to sound great and they were quickly becoming MY drum set. I have played vintage drums for many years but the one problem with a set that is pre-owned is that I am always playing a set of drums that was someone else’s. This set was ordered by me and is MY set which is a nice feeling to me.
The band is still active today and I am still gigging these drums. I added a 14x14 floor tom in 2015 and it was nice to see that there was no difference in the shade of the color anywhere from the original set to the added floor tom. It’s easy to say that something is UV protected but it’s kind of hard to know until you have put it to the test. The set passed with flying colors and at this point I have probably done over 300 plus gigs with them. They have been inside, outside, on big stages, out in fields, in direct sun and outside on chilly nights. They even got soaked when a freak rain storm came out of nowhere and hit the stage we were playing with no warning. Everything got wet and after a good towel dry all was good again. These have been some of the best drums I have ever owned and I rely on them for about 95% of my gigs unless we have a really small stage and I need a more compact set. It’s also cool because the serial numbers on the 22,13,16,5x14 are all sequential which is kind of rare.
Why am I writing about a modern set of drums? Because I am one of those people that puts my faith in a product that is used time and time again. I know that they will sound great at every gig and I can count on them to do what I need them to do. They still look as nice as the day as they came home with me and best of all they have shared a lot of gigs, late nights and long car rides with me. I plan on using these for a long time and when I am old and not playing much, these “vintage” drums will have a rich history behind them much like some of the vintage drums I own currently. Hopefully someone else will take care of my drums and keep them in good shape for future generations as I imagine that these drums should far outlive me.