Wake Up Call - WFL vs. Ludwig

OK people, we need to be a bit more imaginative. I mean, if you have the bucks and money is no object, by all means just go for the high-end stuff. But if you are like me, and the bank account is limited, then a little effort is required. Yeah, I wish I could buy every Gladstone drum that came along like I did when no one knew what they were or who he was (well, practically no one). But with the escalating prices of vintage drums, I have to be more creative. Personally, I am in rapt ecstasy over the current price trend of vintage drums. I genuinely surprised and amused when I see vintage drum collectors whine and cry (sometimes belligerently) over these price trends. DUDE, your collection is going up in value. OK, you can think the $165,000 this and the $65,000 that is absurd, but the $50 this and $100 that, you bought 10 years ago is going up too.

Be that as it may (some people love to whine), if you are on the hunt don’t limit yourself. I’ll give you a recent example from my personal experience. I am far from being a Ludwig expert but if I have heard it said once that the COB Ludwig Supraphonic is the best sounding metal snare, I’ve heard it a thousand times. That coupled with the dilemma of determining if a vintage Ludwig metal snare is indeed brass, I was surprised to see one go for the “cheap” on eBay. Click here to see the auction page.

OK so I am also not a Ludwig collector (last NSMD article notwithstanding) but for a second, I considered jumping into the fray, if anything to see what all the hoopla was all about. Then I thought “BASTA” (enough!) stay focused Chet! But, there has to be someone out there who needs this drum and it was only a three-day auction. So, little ‘ol benevolent me thought “put this up on Facebook.” I have two Facebook accounts, my personal one and one I created for Billy Gladstone. Gladstone’s site has more friends than mine (I can’t understand why) so to get the word out I posted the eBay auction with the description “I am not a Ludwig expert, but aren’t these WFL era Supraphonic snares rare? And because it is that old, doesn’t that signify that it is the desired COB shell? A bit rough but it could be brought back. Better hurry…only 2 days left…” Good friend Todd Reemy commented “in my day I sold 150 or more COB Ludwig's...of that number just 2 were WFL...I've always said they were the best sounding of the bunch with Trans badge era being 2nd...” In his day, Todd went by “The Drum Detective” moniker when he was in the retail vintage drum business. And “Dective” he was. His posts in the “For Sale” section in NSMD made my mouth water. This of course, gave my assumption validity so I passed this information along to the seller.

Hey, what goes around comes around. I have had many a helping hand in my day. I knew he would receive “Buy It Now” offers so I wanted to warn him. The seller, who seemed a bit naïve by his eBay description of the drum, was most appreciative and posted my comments in the listing.

When I sent the message one day into the auction, the listing had a paltry $172.49 current bid (up from and opening $149.99 start bid) with only 7 bids and 149 views. The numbers subsequently went up, bids to 22 and a current bid of $701.99 the final day of the auction. I, feeling like the Good Samaritan, was curious where the auction would end… 538 views, 33 bids, with a winning bid of $1009.99. At first I thought “He did well.” Then I searched eBay for other COB Ludwig snares and found this Ludwig Supraphonic COB that went for $1300.

OK, it is pretty. Yes, “Minty”…god I hate that word…when is anyone going to learn the true definition of the word “mint”? read eBay’s take on the subject. My personal definition of mint and that of coin collectors is one word “Uncirculated.” That means untouched by human hands. So if it is still sealed in the original box, it is mint. “New old stock” is exactly that, unsold, new, but not mint. Be that as it may, Todd, whom I consider an expert, said, “in my day I sold 150 or more COB Ludwig's...of that number just 2 were WFL.” That puts the odds at 75 to one, no? OK, I’m not saying the “fair condition” WFL is worth $74,449.25 more than the “Original” Ludwig but less? I don’t think so.

Yes, Mr. WFL is  not cosmetically as nice as Mr. Ludwig, but therein is the answer. With a little imagination, read “elbow grease”, it is definitely 75 times the drum. Unless a drum is mint, I personally like to see patina. It gives the instrument character. It has been used, played, enjoyed. Patina does not include dirt and rust so some work is required here. Again, my personal call is less is more. I will not use a buffing wheel. If it cant be removed by hand, it is patina. The bent rim (being brass) could easily be straightened. Imagine what a little work will do for this drum.