I recently had an idea after looking at some old black and white vintage drummer photos. What I wanted to do was set up a photo shoot with one of my vintage kits and pose like the old drummers did in those cool promotional photos.Read More
The floor tom is the real story with this set. I don't know the history concerning this set first hand, so I am going to put forth a guess as to why the floor tom is a matching Slingerland made Leedy drum. We all know that Bud Slingerland bought Leedy from Conn at the same time William F. Ludwig bought the Ludwig brand from Conn. This was in the mid 1950s. I believe someone had purchased this Leedy and Ludwig set in 1954 as a three piece set. That was not uncommon at all in those days. He later went back to the music store, maybe in 1956 and asked if he could purchase a matching floor tom for his set. By this time Slingerland was able to fill the order for the store to sell to the customer.Read More
I'm pretty sure I now have one of the last Slingerland kits ever made, and it's a good one, and I didn't have to pay Slingerland's ridiculous exorbitant prices for it.Read More
Slingerland drums are very cool drums. The set I am showing you this month was owned by the original owner since they were brand new, and I fell in love with this five piece set the first time I saw them.Read More
By Mike Curotto
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.
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.
By Mike Curotto
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
A very brief history for those that may not know the history of the Ludwig Super vs. Slingerland DuAll battle: Ludwig & Ludwig had the patent (1924) for their parallel (Super-Ludwig) mechanism. Along comes Slingerland with their version of a parallel mechanism that they called the DuAll model. Ludwig felt that Slingerland’s DuAll mechanism was infringing on their Super-Ludwig mechanism so they sued Slingerland and won. The court ordered Slingerland to discontinue their DuAll model and I seem to remember reading that Slingerland had to pay L & L the money that was made on their sales of the DuAll models. DuAlls were in production for less than two years so these snare drums are extremely rare.Read More
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.Read More
We found Joe Ciucci on Facebook a few months ago sharing pictures of his grandfather's one-owner 1940s Slingerland Radio Kings. These drums were masterfully restored by ATL Drum Collective in Atlanta, GA. We're going to run a feature article and interview with Joe in the coming months, stay tuned for more information and history, pictures of the full kit, and audio/video too!
Drum Companies throughout the decades have gone to great lengths to build "the perfect Snare Drum." Different shells, different snare strainers, and different snare wires and heads have all been used in the quest for the perfect sound. Slingerland, Ludwig, Gretsch, Rogers,Camco, Premier---- all have taken a whack at it. Some of these ideas have worked, others have not.
In 1979, the Slingerland Drum Company gave customers a look at the Slingerland SpitfireSnare Drum. This drum was offered in two sizes, 5 1/2 x 14 and 6 1/2 x 14. It came with either gut or wire snares and you had a choice of a wood shell, a chrome-plated brass shell, or a lacquered brass shell. It also came with brass hoops and the TDR snare strainer, whichSlingerland introduced in 1976.
As one can see in the photo, the drum had the unusual arrangement of off set lugs, with 12 for the batter head and 6 for the snare head. This was supposed to give added sensitivity and clarity to the drum. Whether this was the case was debatable.
Slingerland had offered offset lug snare drums in the early 70's. The 1973 catalog shows a 4 x 14 Buddy Rich model, but both heads had an equal number of lugs. The Spitfire was a different animal entirely. This particular drum is unusual because it's a wood shell covered with chrome wrap. It's a good drum, but it's not better than the Slingerland Radio King.
In any case, the drum was a failure. It lasted one year and then simply faded away.. I'm sure there were Slingerland endorsers who used the drum, but I've never seen any. The history of Drum Companies is filled with many success stories. Unfortunately, this is not one of them.
Editor's note - Bobby Colomby, drummer for Blood, Sweat and Tears, owned a Spitfire with a natural wood finish. He let me use it on a recording session for an album by Pages in 1979. Great sounding drum. (Bobby, I don't have your drum. :)
I found this pic and article here.
David Klockau sends us this great collection... "[He's got] a silver 60's Ludwig Symphonic model; an early 60's Rogers Luxor; in red sparkle; (sorry, brass tube lugs are incorrect), a late 40's Slingerland Radio King in white pearl, and a 60's Gretsch Max Roach model in blue sparkle. The [photo below] has all of the above, except the Ludwig."
"Red, White, and Blue: An American Drum Legacy."
Thanks David! Do you have something to share? We'd love to see it! Send pictures and information to email@example.com.
Can you identify this drum? If you've got some info, leave us a comment below.
This month we're featuring a 1950s Slingerland one-ply steam bent Radio King, 6.5 x 14 with clamshell strainer and stick chopper hoops. Courtesy of the Mell Csiscila collection.
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!
Well, one of my “Holy Grail” snare drums was finally located and has entered the Curotto Collection. This is the only one that I have ever seen or heard of. The only reference that I am aware of is on page 4 of the 1934 Slingerland Drum Company catalog. The DUALL “RADIO” MODEL All Metal Drum was offered in a “5 x 14 or 6.5 x 14 shell depth, chromium or nickel plate finish, engraved black metal shell with chromium fittings or engraved black metal shell with Art Gold fittings”. The drum that I was fortunate to locate is catalog No. 43, "engraved black metal shell with Art Gold fittings."
This drum was found on a shelf in a middle school art classroom. The seller’s girlfriend alerted the seller who then made the deal with the school. The seller had originally contacted my good friend and fellow collector Steve Maxwell who then contacted me. Steve was gracious enough to allow me to contact the seller personally and the rest is history. So special thanks goes out to Steve Maxwell, to the seller Steven Gouty, to Mark Cooper (more on Mark later) and to Dave Brown of the UK who was cheering me on all the way through this deal. A final twist to this story is the fact that only three weeks earlier at the 2013 Chicago Vintage Show, Mark Cooper, Dave Brown and I were all wishing out loud how cool it would be if an engraved/Art Gold DUALL showed up at The Chicago Show!
1932-34 SLINGERLAND 5 x 14 ENGRAVED/ART GOLD DUALL “RADIO” MODEL
THE SHELL: So much for the good news...the shell was completely painted in white enamel, white lacquer or white something that took about two hours out of my life to strip. I was able to completely strip all of the white paint off of the shell and after a thorough cleaning and polishing I took the shell to Brian at Avenue Plating for a final lacquer clear coat. There were a few minor dents but nothing that I couldn’t take care of myself. The white paint actually protected the black nickel and the engraving. The shell is the lighter weight brass shell that Slingerland used on their 1928-32 nickel plated Artist Models and Artist Model Black Beauties, probably similar to the 1930s single piece shells that Ludwig & Ludwig used but definitely lighter than the 1919-29 L & L heavier two-piece brass shells.
I found a pair of calf heads that sat high enough on the shell so all of us can see the full engraving pattern.
THE HARDWARE: A lot going on here. The drum was missing 16 tension rods/washers, 16 collar hooks, the extension lever/thumbscrew, some assorted DUALL mechanism parts, the DUALL wires and the Harold Todd tone control. The existing double-flanged rims, 10 tube lugs and DUALL mechanism were pretty rough in that the Art Gold was almost all gone. I had a Todd tone control in my parts stash that I almost sold a few weeks earlier. Enter my good friend and fellow collector Mark Cooper of Cooper’s Vintage Drums. Mark was kind enough (I know I’ll pay for this someday) to sell me an intact Gold Sparkle/Art Gold DUALL Model that I was able to use as a “donor” drum for this important project. In order to make my drum function properly I had to do a little swapping out of the DUALL mechanisms. A few of these parts needed special attention so my machinist/welder Abe Abello of Weld-Tec was able to do the final tweaking and he was able to save the original parts. Abe is worth his weight in gold! The DUALL stamp is located in an unusual place at the bottom of one of the snare guards and the usual “manufacturer’s cartouche” markings on the snare guards are “6” and “66”. The Art Gold hardware from the "donor" drum needed a little cleaning and restoring but everything turned out great and all of the Art Gold hardware still looks age-appropriate.
- The engraving pattern on this DUALL Model is more ornate than the engraving pattern Slingerland used on their earlier Artist Model Black Beauties. This is in contrast to Ludwig & Ludwig’s more sparse 6 + 4 flower engraving pattern that they were using as they were winding down the production of their Black Beauty Models of the same era.
- It is interesting that Slingerland called this drum the “Radio” Model even before the Broadcaster and Radio King Models were introduced.
- The DUALL mechanism on this metal drum is different from the wood DUALLs that I own (and have seen) in that there is no internal connecting rod running across the diameter of the shell. The DUALL mechanism simply engages/disengages the wires from the lever side but not as much from the butt side. This has become a mystery for me (and some friends) as we have tried to figure out how the DUALL mechanism on this drum differs (works) from the wood shell DUALL Models. You can clearly see at the butt plate side that there is no upper linkage but only the lower external DUALL mechanism. The hole above the butt side mechanism does not line up with that mechanism so this tells me that it is the factory air hole which is in the exact same place as my nickel plated 10 lug Artist Model of the same era (see photo). What I need here is an example of a DUALL “RADIO” MODEL All Metal Drum so I can physically see what's going on. I am asking anyone out there that has this model to please contact me.
In the meantime, the mystery continues...
Enjoy! Mike Curotto
(editor's note - See Mark Cooper's new column in this issue)
Here’s a new one that just entered the collection (thank you Ebay). I always thought that Slingerland manufactured the parts for various drum companies including the Liberty Musical Instrument Corporation. But alas, I was mistaken. Check this out:
LIBERTY MUSICAL INSTRUMENT CORPORATION: Chicago, IL company founded in 1926 from the joining of two Boston firms--NOKES & NICOLAI, and JOSEPH PACHECO with the Liberty Rawhide Company, a major Chicago supplier of banjo and drum heads from 1920. Contemporary articles state that Liberty had purchased the "stock and good will" of the other two companies, and moved the stock in trade and equipment to new quarters in Chicago; each man was to have responsibility for his own end of the business, while John W. Placko, president of Liberty, was to supervise the manufacture of the drum and banjos heads. Within a year the new company had failed and was sold at auction, in August, 1927; since the factory and most of the machinery were new, there was great competition for the assets, which were finally purchased by Slingerland.
1926-27 5 x 14 LIBERTY SNARE DRUM Nothing earth-shattering here but I do like the history involved with this snare drum. I am not even sure what the model name is so any Liberty catalog photos will be welcomed. The shell is aluminum, the rims are steel, there are 8 double-tension lugs, 16 screw-type tension rods, calf heads top and bottom, 12 silk-wound snare wires and the flip-down strainer is pretty primitive . The Liberty badge is quite different than the Liberty badges that are on my other Liberty snare drums. Those badges are more like the brass oval badges that Ludwig & Ludwig used in the mid-1920s to the early 1930s. The batter head has some signatures from yesteryear and it looks like M. J. D’Arcy was possibly the original owner of this drum. That’s about it, feel free to weigh-in with any other information.
Enjoy! Mike Curotto