Happy new year to all you vintage and custom drum lovers. I hope you are looking forward to a great new year filled with opportunities to play and collect some wonderful drums. Lets face it, drums make us happy, so why deny our self a little joy. If done in moderation, collecting is not harmful. Sometimes my wife doesn't agree, but even she allows me to enjoy my drums, because she can justify a lot of shopping by pointing at my drums.
I want to feature a 1960s Zim Gar stencil set from my collection this month. Most of you know these sets were made in Japan. Sometimes you will see them listed as MIJ drums. They were made at the Pearl and Star (Tama) factories and imported in to the United States as a cheaper alternative to the great American drums. The stencil sets (copy sets) look like American drums. This Zim Gar set looks like a Slingerland set. I guess the Japanese didn't have to worry about copy right laws to prohibit duplicating American products. These drums were imported with many different names. Zim Gar was one of the several names used to market these sets. The American Musical Instrument Corporation Brooklyn, New York owned by Larry Zimmerman imported these drums and other musical instruments from Japan in the 1960s. I figure the "Zim" is from his name and possibly the Gar was from his wife's maiden name. Some of you might know where the "Gar" comes from. (Editor's note; Gar was short for Garfield, Zimmerman's partner in the Garfield Zimmerman Music company, a music distributor business in NY.)
The sizes of the drums are: bass drum 20"x 14", floor tom 14" x 14" mounted toms 13" x 9" and 12" x 8". The matching snare is 14" x 5". The wood shells are made of luan wood (also spelled lauan) with the wood grain running vertical (rim to rim). Some call this wood Philippine mahogany. They have thin shells with no reinforcement rings. The hardware is lightweight and thin, but it is functional and looks good. This set is very well kept and clean. The blue sparkle finish on this sets still looks very good. Many of the MIJ drums had sparkle finishes. The heads are original to the set. This kit is a very good un-restored survivor, so that is one reason I wanted them for my collection.
Another reason I wanted to add this set to my collection is I am reminded of my youth when I look at them. This kind of set was the first drum set for many young drummers in the 1960s. When Ringo made us all want to be a drummer we started begging our parents for a drum set. When our parents went to the music store they found that the American made drum sets were very expensive. The stencil sets like these Zim Gars were much cheaper, and looked nice. These were what we got. I had friends who had Norma, Whitehall, and Apollo sets. We were just excited to have a set of drums. One of my friends took a marker and put "LUDWIG" on the front head of his MIJ drum set. It was very "cool". Leave a comment if you had a MIJ set or if you are still playing one of these sets.
Have a great new year, and keep looking for a great looking new old stock MIJ set for your collection.