1934-35 Slingerland Broadcaster

By Mike Curotto

Hi all,

Here's another one cleaned up and entered into the collection. I got this snare drum at the 2011 Chicago Show from our good friend and fellow collector, Mark Cooper of Cooper's Vintage Drums.

1934-35 SLINGERLAND 6.5 x 14 SPARKLING GREEN/ARTGOLD *BROADCASTER MODEL

*The Broadcaster Model was very short-lived so for those of you that may not be familiar with this model here is a short history and background data regarding the Slingerland Broadcaster Model. The following is from Rob Cook's Slingerland Book (first edition): "The Broadcaster was evidently a forerunner of the Radio King, the strainer is a very early Radio King style strainer and the lugs do not have inserts. (The tension rods thread directly into the lugs.) The muffler was the single-pad style Harold R. Dodd muffler." Thanks again to Rob Cook. I have also read that Slingerland was legally forced to discontinue using the word "Broadcaster" (with a "c") as the Fred Gretsch Co. had been using the name "Broadkaster" (with a "k") on their drums way before Slingerland and therefore the court ruled in favor of Gretsch that Slingerland's Broadcaster was too close sounding/looking to Gretsch's Broadkaster.

The Shell: The Sparkling Green wrap was in pretty good shape with very few of those black "cancer" spots that usually show up on these older Green Sparkle drums. I was able to get a few layers of age off of the wrap with my Maguire's cleaning/polishing regime and the Sparkling Green finish came back to life. The solid maple shell interior was also in good shape and only needed a very light cleaning. The cloud badge was tight and weathered the last 75+ years pretty well.

The Hardware: I'll call it Slingerland Artgold but the hardware finish on this snare drum really resembles the Ludwig & Ludwig Classic Gold (brass plating with gold lacquer) finish that L&L used on their early-mid 1930s Black Beauties. There was a lot of Artgold present but an equal amount of age and tarnish. I haven't figured out how to duplicate the Classic Gold finish yet so the decision was to leave the hardware as is and just do a simple cleaning with a light coat of gold lacquer to seal everything to prevent any further tarnishing. The 16 tension rods were not correct so I went to my stash and found the correct tension rods but these had to be brass plated, antiqued and lacquered. Thanks again to Les and Brian Hadnagy of Avenue Plating for the brass plating and antiquing. The threaded snare gates have the letter "A" stamped on the inside (not seen) part of the rim and gates. This is called a "manufacturer's cartouche", thanks to Slingerland expert Dr. Carl Wenk for that information. I'd love to know if those type of markings are under the riveted snare gates, feel free to send photos. The Slingerland Broadcaster engraving on the top rim is pretty faint but it is there. All in all, the "carpet matches the curtains" pretty well on this drum.

Of-the-era calf heads and extension wires rounded out this cleaning/restoration.

Enjoy!

 

1960s Leedy Shelly Manne Set

I really like Leedy drums. I know some of you share my passion for these fine American made drums. I just love the history of this company, and besides, the drums are high quality and beautiful. When I was a young boy there was a sign artist that lived next door to us. He painted signs for businesses and such, and he was a very good painter. On day I went over to his shop and there was a drum head he was painting for a local band. They were called The Wild Cherries. I remember the look of the letters on the head and what stuck out the most was the Leedy logo on the head. I had seen the Ludwig logo on Ringo's drum head and I was not as dumb as some people to think it was part of the band's name. I had never heard of Leedy drums and so I guess I was dumb at first to think the band's name was Leedy the Wild Cherries. I soon started learning information about Leedy drums from another drummer who told me they were the same as Ludwigs. That information wasn't exactly right even though Ludwig and Leedy were owned by the same company for many years, and Leedy and Ludwig were even combined for a few years in the early 1950s. Then I had a friend who had a set similar to the set I'm featuring from my collection this month. He told me Leedy was not just like Ludwigs they were just like Slingerland drums. He was also somewhat right, because Slingerland bought Leedy from Conn in the late 50s and basically made what some people call "Slingerleedys". This drum set from my collection is a Slingerland built Leedy set from the early 1960s.

Leedy drums from this era (1956-1965) are very similar in every way to Slingerland drums with the exception of the lugs and badges. This set is a 22", 16", 13" set in standard depths. The lugs are Beavertail Leedy Lugs. You will hear the expression "Art Decco Design" when referring to these sleek modern looking lugs. The blue oval Leedy badges have Chicago 48, ILL. USA on them. This will date them 1960's. The first Leedy badge Slingerland made was a brass oval that dates drums mid 50s. The first blue oval badge '57-'58 didn't have the 48 after Chicago. The rims are "Stick Savers just like Slingerland drums. The Finish is yellowed white marine pearl. The set looks almost butterscotch. The yellowing is not consistent over the whole set. Something interesting to notice in the photos are the unfaded areas on the kick drum. The set had a cloth muffler across the batter head with excess cloth covering an area on the shell. Where the cloth shaded the shell the finish is still white. There is another white area where the front calf head was not tensioned equally. The place where the head covered the shell is still gleaming white. There was also a small sticker on the bass drum shell by the badge, and on the floor tom shell that covered a small spot. If the drums had been kept covered by a sheet when not in use they would probably be a lot whiter than they are now after 55 years. Any way, I still love that vintage "vibe" these drums have. They are beautiful to me.

I always share my adventures in collecting, because it is a lot of fun and exciting to score a great drum set. I buy some drums on E-Bay and I am not at all knocking that method of acquiring vintage drums, although It is like fishing in a barrel. It's more fun, and you really feel like you have scored when you find drums at good prices from owners or unlikely places. I realize that's more difficult now and it's becoming more difficult all the time. These drums were owned by my great friend Butch Braddy. I've told you before that he has helped me get a lot of drums over the years. He is the sales manager of the drum department at a large music store in a local city. He gets the opportunity to pass on or buy a lot of great vintage drums. I am so glad he's my friend. If he is letting something go or thinning his collection, I get a call. I try to keep some cash ready for just such an emergency. He called me recently to tell me about this Leedy set that he was parting with. I was there to lift his burden as soon as I could get to him. Thanks, Butch for this great set. Until next time, always peek into those dumpsters. You never know when someone has tossed out a Leedy Black Elite snare drum.

 

1932-34 Slingerland 5x14 Artist DuAll Model (“Pulley” Version)

By Mike Curotto

Hi All,

A few years ago I was contacted by drummer/educator Ed Soph who wanted some information about this drum. I told him what I knew and after a few months I was able to purchase the drum from Ed. Over the years I have discovered three versions of the Slingerland DuAll mechanism: 1. A center post very similar to if not a direct copy of the Super-Ludwig center post (usually equipped with a Tone Flange). 2. An interior “pulley” type mechanism instead of a center post (no Tone Flange). 3. No center post and no “pulley” mechanism (no Tone Flange). This snare drum has the “pulley” mechanism

The Shell: Green Sparkle from the 1930s is notorious for having black “cancer” spots. Fortunately this drum is cancer free. The finish had the normal years of accumulated schmutz but everything cleaned up and polished up nicely. The interior of the solid maple shell was very clean with no re-ring separation other than a 2” section, no big deal. The shell has normal bearing edges top (no Tone Flange) and bottom . The cloud badge is very clean with a tight grommet. Lastly, a nice factory pre-assembly artifact was found on the interior of the shell...”Nickle DuAll”.

The Hardware: The nickel hardware was in great shape and was very easy to clean and polish. There were a few errant tension rods but I had the era-correct replacements in my parts stash.

The internal DuAll “pulley” mechanism is clean, well built and looks kind of artsy. The mechanism is smooth, works well but is not as solid as the center pole version that brought on the patent lawsuit by Ludwig & Ludwig. I’ve included interior and exterior photos of this version of the DuAll mechanism. The reader will clearly see the similarities to the already patented L & L Super-Ludwig mechanism of the same era. The manufacturer’s cartouche markings on the snare gates are “L” and “LL”.

The Slingerland Artist DuAll Model was only in production for approximately two years and due to this very limited production run Slingerland DuAlls are extremely rare. As far as my snare drum collection goes, my un-scientific guesstimate based on the number of Slingerland DuAlls I own vs. the number of L & L Super-Ludwigs I own is about 15:1 meaning for every DuAll I own there are 15 Super-Ludwigs that I own. If we look at the more realistic bigger picture out there in the collecting world my guestimate is more like 100:1. That’s just my very un-scientific observation. As always, feel free to weigh-in on the subject as I look forward to your comments and added information.

A nice Frank’s Drum Shop calf batter head, Slingerland slunk head and the original snares rounded out this cleaning/restoration.

Enjoy! Mike Curotto

 

1940 Radio Kings - A Family Tradition

I was scrolling through a vintage drummer Facebook group one day, and I came across a post from Joe Ciucci. Rather, I came across an open-mouth drool worthy video of his 1940 restored Slingerland Radio Kings…. Joe was just the guy attached to the post! I sent a message to Joe, and we struck up a conversation. Joe turned out to be as nice as his drums, and I offered to showcase the drums in Not So Modern Drummer. He took me up on the offer, and here we are today. Joe was instrumental in setting up our Nashville Drum Show trip to ATL Drum Collective, and if you came to the Nashville show, you couldn't have missed the Radio Kings in the vintage drum museum.

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From Basket Case to Beautiful

1929 Lavender Pearl Slingerland Artist Model

Restoring vintage drums can be challenging and reversing decades of use and abuse sometimes proves nearly impossible. I’d like to tell the story of a recent restoration I performed that nearly ended in disaster. In 2012, I purchased a 1920’s Slingerland Artist Model snare drum that was in terrible condition. The drum was missing many hard to find parts and the shell had been painted over with multiple coats of thick black paint, even over the badge! Since the drum did have several valuable parts, I was planning to use the drum as a “donor” for other Slingerland projects. Due to the condition of the drum shell, I even considered disposing of it, once the remaining parts and badge were removed. Before doing anything drastic, I decided to apply a small amount of paint remover in order to see if there was a pearl finish under all that paint. After a few minutes, I wiped away the paint remover and a bit of color began to appear. Assuming that the finish was probably just common white marine pearl that had faded to yellow, I did not feel it was worth the trouble to attempt to completely remove the paint.

But out of curiosity, I continued to wipe away the layers of black, sticky paint and I realized that the exposed finish had a decidedly “pink” color to it. Pink? That could only mean one thing…..Lavender Pearl!

Lavender Pearl is one of Slingerland’s most rare finishes. First introduced in 1929, this beautiful Pyralin (pearl) finish was only offered for about two years. Realizing that I had a potentially very special snare drum in front of me, I began to proceed with caution by applying a citrus based paint stripper to small areas at a time. The black paint was very stubborn and required several applications just to break through to the lavender. It became a case of “Catch 22” in that a lot of chemical stripper was required to remove the paint, but that also exposed the lavender pearl to its caustic affects. Nitro-Cellulose based Pyralin is somewhat fragile and can melt if exposed to strong solvents for more than a few minutes. At times, the pearl did became very soft and dull and I was beginning to think this was a hopeless case. The more paint I removed, the worse it looked. More than once I nearly catapulted the drum out the window. However, since there were no windows close by, I persevered. After nearly twenty applications of the paint remover, most of the black paint was gone. Unfortunately, the once gorgeous Lavender Pearl had turned to a lumpy, ugly, pink mess.

Failure! After several days of a very messy, frustrating, paint-covered operation, I was beginning to think that this drum would indeed end up being a “parts donor”. This once magnificent looking, eighty-five year old Lavender Pearl snare drum now looked absolutely horrible. Since I had nothing to lose, I began experimenting with “wet sanding”, a technique used primarily on automotive paint. Normally, I would not attempt to sand a drum’s finish but drastic measures were needed. My plan was to start with a relatively coarse 600 grit sandpaper, gradually working my way up to 1500. To my surprise, the sandpaper was smoothing out the very rough looking pearl, giving it a much more uniform appearance. After sanding, an automotive rubbing compound was applied, followed by a polishing compound which brought the finish up to a very nice luster. There were still a few black paint remnants that stubbornly refused to come off, but given the condition of the drum when I started, the difference was remarkable. This was starting to look like a drum!

With the finish looking its best, I turned to the task of finding and installing the correct hardware. This 1929 Artist Model snare drum originally was equipped with imitation gold hardware known as “Artgold”. But because the remaining parts were in such poor condition, I decided to use Artgold parts that I already had in my collection. The golden toned hardware really contrasts nicely with the Lavender Pearl.

The last step of this restoration was the installation of the Tone Flange, calf heads, and heavy brass double flanged hoops. The Tone Flange is a round metal device that resembles a hubcap. It rests on a metal ring and several flat wood screws, which are screwed into the top bearing edge. Slingerland’s Tone Flange was first introduced in 1928 and was supposed to improve tonal quality by reducing overtones and increasing projection.  Special oversize calf heads are required to fit over the flange. Whether or not the Tone Flanges improved the sound of Slingerland’s snare drums is open to debate but by the mid 1930’s, very few Tone Flange drums were being produced. They were however, still listed as an option in the 1936 Slingerland catalog.

The Slingerland Lavender Pearl Artist Model snare drum was definitely the most difficult, frustrating and challenging drum restoration I have ever undertaken. However, I am delighted with the results and feel great satisfaction in knowing that a nearly discarded relic from the past was saved. So the next time you encounter an old drum whose finish has been painted over, it might be a good idea to look closely. You never know what’s hiding under that paint!