Greetings Vintage Drum Lovers!
I was going to write this month's Vintage Happiness article on another kit, but this week is pretty special as just a couple of days ago a drum arrived I’ve been after for quite some time. Years actually. I am so happy to have this drum finally that I am writing this months article on it! This snare drum is considered by many to be one of the best sounding snares of all time as well as one of the most collectible. And with good reason. They sound phenomenal and there aren’t many of them out there.
This snare drum is a 1950s WFL COB No.400. For those unfamiliar, COB is chrome over brass. What makes this drum so special is this drum is the earliest version with the WFL badge. You don’t see many with this badge as very few were produced. It is the first metal snare drum cataloged by the Ludwig Company after the family purchased the name back from Conn in 1955. I have read that this snare drum was seen as early as 1956 but introduced somewhere between 1957 to 1958. It is called the “Super Ludwig” and can be seen in the 1959 catalog included in the pictures below.
The earliest models from Ludwig came in a 5” depth version with chrome-plated brass No. 400 (as here) or the even rarer lacquered brass version No. 401.
In 1959 the 6.5x14 versions are offered in the No. 402 COB and the super rare No. 403 lacquered brass. These lacquered brass snares are some of the rarest drums in the vintage drum world.
My drum is equipped with the first version of the P-83 strainer. It has the WFL stamp and slotted protrusion on the left side as well as the WFL logo butt end.
This drum features chrome over brass hoops, the early version of the Imperial lugs, crimped snare beds, ¾” round knob internal dampener and the vertical weld seam inside the drum. “The shell construction is a solid piece of brass, beaded in the center and flanged inwards at the edges for triple strength” It sounds fantastic, very responsive and I’ll be using for everything from country to jazz.
One of the best things about this drum is now my 1956 WFL Buddy Rich Outfit now has the matching era correct snare drum. It’s a very rare drum and a great addition to my collection. I’m looking forward to many gigs with this drum and happy to cross it off my vintage drum bucket list. This drum defines Vintage Happiness!
Until next time, PLAY those drums!