1960 English Rogers Set

It is hard for me to believe we are already in to February. Where did January go? My Mother told me when I was young and wishing for my birthday, Christmas, or school to be out that time would go a lot faster when I grew up. She was right, as always, and time now really get away in a hurry. I am looking forward, but not wishing my life away, to some great drum shows this year. I hope you can attend one in your area this year. Keep watching for the places and dates to be listed here in the magazine. Getting together with other vintage and custom drum collectors and players is always fun and educational. I am constantly learning information about vintage drums from my drum collector friends. A lot of my contacts and friends were made at drum shows.

I decided to feature a set this month for your enjoyment that I recently acquired. It's an early 1960s English Rogers set in rare Madi Gras finish. I have wanted a Rogers or Slingerland set in Madi Gras finish for years. I just love that finish. By the way, Madi Gras is this month in New Orleans. I've never been to Madi Gras, but I have that trip on my bucket list, but back to my desire for a Madi Gras drum set. I have been looking for a Madi Gras set to add to my collection, and as I was searching E-Bay a few weeks ago a set was there for sale. I really wanted them and had decided to place a bid when the end of the sale came around. I usually wait to bid until the end of the sale. I have jumped in right at the beginning, but usually I wait. Maybe you could leave a comment and share your E-Bay bidding strategy. The Madi Gras set on E-Bay was a Rogers set and that was fine with me. It's no secret to my readers that I love Rogers drums. While I was watching that set, another Rogers Madi Gras set showed up on Facebook. The set for sale on Facebook was the English Rogers set I am showing you. Yes, I made a deal with the seller and he shipped them to me from Canada. I am so excited about them.

English Rogers drums were made in the 1960s at the Boosey & Hawkes drum factory in London. They had Ajax three ply shells with reinforcement rings. The interiors are clear coated not painted like American Rogers. The lugs are Bread and Butter style, and the mounts are Swivomatic style, but they are different from the USA parts. The Madi Gras finish is also different from the American version, not as busy. The script logo badges also look different. The sizes of this set are: bass drum 20"X15", floor tom 16"X16", mounted tom is 12"X8", and the matching snare is 14"X5". Many of you know that Dave Clark of the Dave Clark Five played English Rogers drums. English Rogers drums were not a huge success, but they are very cool drums. Many collectors want to have a replica of John Bonham's set or a Ringo's set. I would like to have a red sparkle English Rogers set with a Dave Clark logo head. He was one of my greatest influences.

My set was owned by a member of the Toronto Symphony who brought them from England. When he returned to England to retire he left the set in Canada with a new owner. There is a cool Drum City London sticker on the bass drum. I was tempted to try to finish removing it. It looks like someone started to take it off but didn't go through with it. I have decided to leave it. It has been there fifty years, and it adds to the story of the drums, so for now the sticker stays. The man who helped me buy these drums from the owner who acquired them from the symphony percussionist was a super guy. He did a great job handling the sale and shipping the drums from Canada to my door. I want to thank him again for the great job he did. Leave a comment if you have an English Rogers set or if you liked Dave Clark Five. Keep looking in those unusual places for a great old drum.


Late 60s AJAX "Nu Sound" Kit

Manufactured by Boosey & Hawkes in Edgeware, London, Ajax drums were much like any other English drum set in the 1960’s; standard 20,12,16 configurations, birch shells with teardrop lugs, die cast hoops and glitter finishes. Don’t get me wrong, these were great sounding drums but for me Ajax peaked with the introduction of their ‘Nu Sound’ kits in 1966. Design-wise, these drums stood out from the English drum crowd as much as Hayman did. Unfortunately, this was Boosey & Hawkes’ last attempt to keep the Ajax brand alive and by 1970 they’d disappeared.

As for the tone of these drums, I find them warm and responsive to play.

The drums featured straight grain shell construction, giving these drums a deep resonant tone and despite birch being standard, I have come across sets in mahogany.  As for the tone of these drums, I find them warm and responsive to play; A 20,12,14 set with the toms tuned high gives that classic bop sound, while a 22,13,16 in mahogany gives a good low end thud, with plenty of growl to the bass drum and floor tom.

All drums of this period feature internal reinforcement hoops top and bottom, and steel triple flange hoops.  The hardware on the shells is really quirky and very different to anything else of that era, except maybe the Trixon/Vox kits that came out of Germany.  Single lugs top and bottom were embossed with the letter ‘A’.  A lovely design detail is that the tension rods enter the top or bottom of the ‘A’ according to their position on the shell.

The lugs themselves are very thin metal, which are prone to splitting where the tension rod enters the insert; most I’ve taken off kits are filled with foam/sponge to stop the springs rattling. I’ve also found that the mounting holes are prone to snapping off too, when dismantling kits for cleaning, so do take care with these lugs! Don’t let this put you off though, these kits are real eye candy, and sound stunning too.

Other hardware highlights include the lovely 'A' brackets for floor tom and bass drum legs, cymbal holder and tom brackets (which were non-slip). The badges were metal with Ajax printed in bright blue, cut in the shape of the name, held on with 2 pins.

Three kit configurations appeared in the 1966 catalogue; 'Allegro' - 22 x12, 13 x 9,16 x 16; ‘Staccato’  - 20x14, 12x8, 14x14;  ‘Forte’ – 22x12, 12x8, 13x9, 16x16.  Most common in the burgundy ripple finish (often referred to as ‘raspberry ripple’). Occasionally you’ll come across a set in grey ripple, or white, black or red pearl. The catalogue also lists Mahogany wood finish, but I’ve never seen a set. As always, there are quirky kits that came out of the factory - one of the kits that came through my shop had 10 lugs on the bass drum, another was finished in ‘Blue Streak’ (a Rogers colour, although Boosey & Hawkes manufactured the ‘English Rogers’ drums in the 60’s, so there’s the link). If you ever see a set in a plain colour, it’s been recovered.

To complement the kit there was a choice of two snare drums, both 14x5”; the wooden shell  in a colour matching the kit, or the steel shell ‘Metasonic ‘ finished in ‘Sonic Chrome’ plating. Both drums were fitted with a round snare throw with ‘A’ embossed on it, not dis-similar to the Rogers clock face strainer.  Both the wood and metal snare are fairly rare in good condition.

A lovely set of drums in any of the above configurations that will turn heads if kept in good condition. It’s amazing how most of these kits that turn up are still in really good, original condition, with no modern hardware additions or extra holes (pleasantly surprising, given that the spares are fairly difficult to source.)