I was at a loss to find any of the previous owners prior to Bun E. I keep wondering who was the drummer who bought and played this drum almost 90 years ago. I wish I knew…Read More
Here’s another snare drum to enter the collection. I got this drum in May from a very nice gentleman named Mark Hamon. For those of you that are old Not So Modern Drummer subscribers you will recognize Mark as the photographer of all of those great NSMD cover shots. A thank you goes out to Bill Wanser for helping me to date this drum.Read More
But what about all the vintage and rare drums that have been modified with extra holes, unoriginal parts etc.? What about those red headed bastard stepchildren?
It is my theory that they will become more and more desirable as the herd is thinned over the coming decades. What made me realize this was one particular seller at the Chicago Drum Show who asked me if there were going to be a lot of “hipsters” at my Nashville Drum Show. He said that in Austin, where there are hundreds and hundreds of working drummers in that busy music scene, they are buying “player" vintage kits and snares, not the collector level drums. They are buying them for the sound, not the collectability. It made me realize just how much the vintage drum world has grown and how the less than perfect old drums need to be preserved too.Read More
I just got this 1928-30 5 x 14 Ludwig & Ludwig “Rainbow Pearl”/DeLuxe Standard Model snare drum from my good friend and fellow collector Donn Bennett of Donn Bennett Drum Studios in Belleview, WA. The drum needed no cleaning or restoring. The solid maple shell interior is clean with a tight grommet/badge and the “finish” is very clean. There is no tone control, tone controls show up in the L & L catalog around 1932 hence the 1928-30 dating. The DeLuxe hardware was restored by Adrian Kirchler of AK Drums in Italy. The only thing I added was of-the-era top and bottom Ludwig & Ludwig calf heads and Ludwig & Ludwig Snappi-type wires.
The real story is in the identification of the finish that is on this drum. I’ll try to explain as best as I can but there are definite inconsistencies that I will site along the way. The finish on this drum (and on the only other drum like this that I have ever seen) has been referred to as “Rainbow Pearl”. I have included a comparison photo of both drums. Ludwig & Ludwig never had a cataloged finish called Rainbow Pearl but they did have the Rainbow Outfit but the drums were finished in Lavender Pearl (1928-35). Leedy introduced Rainbow Pearl in 1930 and it has been suggested that the finish on this drum was taken from the “Leedy side” of the building as Leedy and Ludwig & Ludwig were literally built across the way from each other as they were both owned by the C. G. Conn Co. at that time but the Leedy Rainbow Pearl snare that I own does not look at all like the “Rainbow Pearl” drum in this article. I have also included a comparison photo of the Leedy drum and this drum so the reader can see what I am talking about.
Another theory is that this could be a variation of a “run” of 1928-30 Peacock Pearl. More photos are available on page 153 of The Ludwig Book by Rob Cook, this is a nice presentation of Peacock Pearl I and Peacock Pearl II. Please note that at the top of page 153 Rob lists Peacock Pearl version I (1928-30) and Peacock version II (1930-32) but reverses the the order in the photos; the top photos should be labeled Peacock Pearl II and the bottom photos should be labeled Peacock Pearl I and be aware that the drum in the lower left is the “other” Rainbow Pearl drum that I mentioned earlier. Having fun yet, are you still with me? So what are we going to call this finish...Rainbow Pearl, Peacock Pearl I, a variation of Peacock Pearl I, a one-off run of an un-cataloged finish, a one-off special order, frog in a blender, Walt Disney threw up?
No matter what we call it I have come to really enjoy collecting this finish even though, as my good friend John Aldridge says, “that finish is as ugly as home made soap!” As always I welcome your comments, observations, information AND photos if you own a drum like this or if you have seen or heard of another drum like this one.
Enjoy! Mike Curotto
Here’s another snare drum to enter into the collection. This one came from Ebay a few months ago. The seller was kind enough to end the auction early for me.
1919-1922 LUDWIG & LUDWIG 5x14 6 LUG, FANCY SCROLL ENGRAVED DeLUXE STANDARD MODEL
Most of the scroll engraved DeLuxes that I have seen and own from the 6 lug era (1919-1922) all have the simple scroll/wave engraving pattern. This shell has a much fancier scroll pattern that I have never seen before on a 6 lug DeLuxe although noted Black Beauty expert John Aldridge told me that he has seen another one like this. I do have two 8 lug scroll DeLuxes with the fancy scroll engraving but these are 1923 or later. See photos. I have also included a photo of a later (single-flanged rims and Artgold hardware) simple scroll 6 lug DeLuxe that is in my cleaning/restoration queue. The overall condition of the black nickel shell and the original factory lacquer clear coat is pretty good but the engraving on the majority of the panels of this drum have darkened over the years but not in a tarnished manner so I decided to just clean and polish the shell and leave it as is. The only other alternative would have been to send the shell to Adrian Kirchler of AK Drums, my gut said “keep this one rustic.”
From what I have been told there were three L & L engravers during the DeLuxe/Black Beauty era so the question is: did one of these engravers get a special order to enhance the typical scroll/wave engraving on this drum or was there a fourth “scratcher” in their midst? Thanks to Bill Wanser for helping date this drum from 1919-1922. In 1923 L & L went to an 8 lug shell and single flanged rims on their Professional Models. The seller informed me that the original owner was a dentist in the Midwest named Dr. Donald R. Skillen. You can see where he had the drum personalized but unfortunately (or fortunately) the engraving except for the date is covered up by the top head. Still a nice artifact from the era.
Bonus time...from the eBay photos my hunch was correct, the hardware is gold plated. The single band rims are in round with a strong oval Ludwig & Ludwig stamp on the top rim. All of the hardware still had a good amount of gold plating so I just cleaned everything with some 3-In-One oil. As always the steel tension rods needed more attention so after cleaning them I gave them a few coats of clear lacquer to prevent any rust from occurring in the future. Someone added a metal “bar” covering two holes in the strainer gut piece and the snare cord was attached to this. I am guessing that the owner thought this was a better way to attach the snare cord. I also decided to leave it as is...another cool artifact that came with the drum.
Of-the-era top and bottom calf heads and James Snappi Snares rounded out this cleaning /restoration.
The Ludwig & Ludwig New-Era Sensitive DeLuxe Model is extremely rare. There are only 4 known examples as of this writing. These 4 known examples are all accounted for: The first example is in the University of Mississippi Museum, the second example is in a private collection in the eastern part of this country, the third example resides in my collection and the 4th and most recent example known to exist in now in the Robert Campbell Collection.
I first heard of this drum from my good friend John Aldridge. Aside from being a vintage drum historian, a world class engraver and an all around plethora of knowledge, John is also the drum tech for the previous owner of this drum, Bryan Hitt of REO Speedwagon. The drum was definitely “ridden hard and put up wet” but it was still a diamond in the rough. I already have one of these drums but I couldn’t stand the thought of letting this drum fall by the wayside so the “drum rescuer” in me set out to bring this drum back to life. Robert Campbell buys high end snare drums so I presented the idea of getting this drum restored and getting it into Robert’s collection. It was a pretty easy sell as I truly feel that this drum was worth the effort.
This model never made it to a Ludwig & Ludwig catalog and the only mention of the New-Era Sensitive model is in the Fall 1929 Ludwig Drummer Magazine.
1929-30 LUDWIG & LUDWIG 5 x 14 NEW-ERA SENSITIVE DeLUXE (BLACK BEAUTY) MODEL
The engraving is the 1929-only 10-point flat-top double-leaf floral pattern. The shell was in good shape with no major digs or dents but the original clear coat lacquer was in bad shape so I stripped the original lacquer down to the black nickel. After cleaning and polishing the black nickel I took the shell to Brian at Avenue Plating for a new lacquer clear coat. The shell came out great, looks clean but still looks its age. At some point there was a heater/light fixture right below the factory air hole...all together now 1, 2, 3: “why didn’t the owner of yesteryear simply use the existing air hole?" I was able to use some of my older heater/light fixture parts so the after-market heater/light fixture looks authentic.
Ninety-five percent of the L & L DeLuxe Art Gold lacquer finish was long gone and there was a significant amount of tarnish present so I needed strip the remaining lacquer or what was left of it. There was enough of the original copper plating left to work with but I needed Les at Avenue Plating to clean the tarnish down to the original copper plating. Les came through like a champ and I was then able to polish up the copper and then gold lacquer everything. The hardware turned out great but like the shell, still looks age-appropriate.
Even though this is not one of my personal drums that would have been added to my collection I still felt that this very rare drum needed to be restored for another collector to enjoy.