This month’s installment of Vintage Happiness highlights a set I had been after for some time. There are many white marine pearl kits out there. It’s a fantastic wrap and it’s classy no matter what drum kit it’s on. But I had a specific kit in mind for my WMP. It HAD to be a Ludwig Transition Badge Era Buddy Rich Model No. 980P Super Classic Outfit. The reason: The sound. I had played a kit many years ago and was just blown away. They were some of the best sounding drums I have ever played and the 50’s are my favorite era for Ludwig drums.
In the world of vintage drums, there are those rare instances where an almost century-old premium drum kit survives the ages intact. Here is the story of one such time capsule, a stunning 1928 Ludwig Drum Kit with all of the cymbals, traps, drumsticks, banjo-style drum key, early 1900’s set list, and an enviably beautiful 6.5 X 14” engraved Black Beauty in De Luxe finish. This drum kit was handed down from grandfather to mother to grandson. What makes this kit so special is not just that it survived, but that we are able to hear the tale about the original owner and how it came to arrive one day at Jim Pettit’s Memphis Drum Shop. Craig Grotzky, grandson of Adolf Grotzky, was kind enough to share this classic American tale of survival through the terrible Depression Era as well as the important part this Ludwig drum kit played in their lives.
“I have an interesting snare drum: it is 5" x 14" bare brass shell and hoops. It was made in 1970's in Poland by Polmuz - government owned musical instruments manufacturer. Best to my knowledge it is a prototype drum. I got it from a guy who used work for Polmuz as a brass wind instruments maker. He acquired it when they were closing in 1990's. As you can see the lugs look similar to Ludwig Imperial lugs. Hoops look like a copy of Slingerland hoops. I've never seen a drum like this before - being a user of Polmuz in 1970 myself. No Polmuz stamp/markings on the drum - that again makes me think it was a prototype drum. The condition is very good. It still has original Ever Play /Premier/ made in England heads and New Era made in England wires. Polmuz was working with Premier back than. Let me know if a piece of rock hardware from behind the Iron Curtain will be of interest to you. The full name of the company is Polmuz Warsaw Wind and Percussion Instruments Factory founded 1953 Made in Poland. Best regards, Marek Piotrowski”
The late 1960s was the psychedelic era. Without trying to explain what psychedelic means I will just present the finish on this drum set to illustrate it. Wild and weird colors became part of what it was all about. Ludwig Drum Company produced three drum finishes that were truly wild and weird looking. The three were Psychedelic Red, Mod Orange, and Citrus Mod. This kit is a good example of Citrus Mod, the rarest of the three finishes.
This is a directory of over 700 brands of drums from all over the world, past and present. Along with the brand name is the era of the brand, the country of origin, and the official or unofficial websites or book titles for a reference. It is not a reading book but a reference list.
The wood Super-Sensitive with the decals that resemble inlays is an extremely rare drum. Back in 1985 I sent a picture of my drum like that to William F. Ludwig II and he called to give me some info on it. Those drums were made in 1929 when the Sensitive strainer was introduced. Supposedly, only 29 were made with the decals. Yours makes only the fourth one I've seen in all the years that I've been interested in vintage drums. That one is worth around $1500-$2000 but given your particular genre of playing, I would assume it's more valuable to you as an instrument. Just in case you ever need them, Mike Curotto has reproduced the internal (upper) snares for that strainer.
During Slingerland’s pinnacle time of manufacturing a drummer could actually request a special color order that they envisioned. Some of these orders produced were for a "mono" or one solid color lacquered painted finish. These unique finishes were much more uncommon to find on Slingerland drums of this vintage era. Here are four examples of Slingerland Radio King snare drums produced with "Solid" lacquer colored finishes.
This is quite likely a one-of-a-kind drum. Produced by the C.G. Conn Company as a special order/special occasion drum and/or a presentation drum purchased by, given to, or presented to H.M. Loomis at the time of the World’s Fair in 1893. How this drum was acquired by H. M. Loomis is unknown but the rest of the provenance is engraved on the shell of the drum: “H.M. LOOMIS WORLDS FAIR 1893.”
in the summer of 1982 my world changed when a group of kids that were 3-5 years older than me had a band and they played on the back of a trailer at the park. As I sat watching these guys play things I had never heard before like AC/DC, Aerosmith and Van Halen I was totally sucked in to each band member feeling connected to what was going on. I knew my small hands would never be comfortable with a guitar or bass and I also knew I would never have enough confidence to stand out front of a stage and sing. What really caught my attention were the drums! The drummer was only three years older than me and I will never forget seeing that 1973 maple cortex set of Ludwigs with the shiny hardware and hollow logo Zildjians. I wondered how this kid knew what to hit, where and when and how he knew how to make them sound the way they did.
I came across your website while searching information on an old drum and I thought maybe you could help us finding out information about it. There is no label on the drum. I would like to find out when this drum was made, possible by which company. Since it came to us from a good friend, we would like to to get to know about it...I attached some pictures.
Difficult to date precisely, but this model appears in a 1885 catalog, and a patent of 1887 represents a perforated snare drum... This model must date from the late XIXth, circa 1897... Nickel-plated metal drum shell, 15'' x 5,5'' for dimensions, with 12 skeleton rods (as Boulanger called them... His patent which revolutionized drum history), with very fine tension rods in 5/16 ... This snare drum was made for street bands… This ultra rare snare is more than 110 years old, but after restoration it remains a pure jewel !!
‘The Slingerland All-Metal Separate Tension Snare Drum is guaranteed to maintain its rigidity and its tenseness. It is unyielding to rough usage, due to the specially treated metal and its construction. One-piece shell and no solder used at any point.’
Here’s another unique snare drum that has just entered the collection. A special thanks goes to my good friend Bill Wanser of Olympic Drums & Percussion (Portland, Oregon) for making me a very fair deal on this snare drum and for his expert shell restoration. This drum was “ridden hard and put up wet” and needed a lot of work but I think that the finished product was well worth everyone’s efforts.
This month’s installment of Vintage Happiness is on a drum that has a great history as well as a bright future. About 2 years ago, my youngest brother made the rank of Chief in the US Navy. I wanted to congratulate him for his commitment to our great country in a special way, as he is also a drummer. And what better way than with a drum that was once owned by the United States Navy.
There isn’t a surplus of information concerning these elusive Butterscotch drums. There are only two complete kits known to exist and possible just a hand full of snare drums as of this writing. A theory is that Ludwig received a bad batch of Black Diamond Pearl wrap and proceeded to use the wrap regardless of the discolorations. The finish was later coined “Butterscotch” by collectors.
Whether we are willing to admit it or not, I think perhaps most of us at some point in time, have ruined a drum. With some, it was long before it was vintage. The need to make something playable, to fix something that was broken, to add something we needed at the time. Adding a mount, but not bothering to sufficiently plan out its placement, and in so doing created something that not only did not work, but, by its very nature, put an undue burden on the set. Changing mounts with “other” parts, drilling extra holes, making changes that for the moment, made the drum usable. However, at the same time, marring a beautiful drum with ugliness.
My good friend and local drum collector Jimmy Sisson found this gem of a drum in a little “Ma & Pa” store in San Jose, CA. Jimmy called me and wanted to show me his new find so I said “come on by”. After seeing the drum and complimenting him on his new acquisition I went into my drum collector mode and I asked him if he wanted to sell the drum to me. Although Jimmy really wanted me to see the drum he also knew that I would want to buy it...he was right! We made a great deal and here we are. This is a good ending for everyone; the store owner got the drum for a low price, Jimmy got it for a great price and I was able to double his money plus 200.00.
The set in this article that I own is a special set for several reasons. It has a lot green present, it was made on Dec 12th 1968 (which still falls in the psychedelic years) and it is a catalog correct Rock Duo from the Ludwig catalog. Ludwig offered two factory catalog double bass sets; The Blue Note consisting of two 22" bass drums, 12,13,16,18 toms, matching jazzfest snare, canister throne and bongos. The Rock Duo is the smaller cousin featuring two 20” bass drums, 12,13,16 toms and a supraphonic 400 snare drum.
This is an awesome drum find. It is really amazing to find a survivor drum like this in original unmolested condition. Everything is there. The tension rods, washers, even the snare wires are original. This is truly a work of percussion art. It is a 1930s black nickle over brass 6.5"X14" engraved shell Leedy Broadway parallel with gold plated engraved hoops and hardware. I can't even imagine how beautiful this drum must have been when it was brand new almost 90 years ago.
Rogers is back. Maxwell's Drum Shop is now taking orders for the new Rogers Dyna-Sonic. As the decals and brochure give us to know, Rogers intends to once again become a leader in the industry. At the beginning of the year when the RogersDrumsUSA.com website was “prematurely” launched for a few hours, the buzz it created on the Facebook groups was unprecedented. Hundreds of comments, dozens of threads, and reactions spanning everything from “Oh No!” to ecstatic elation. I was with the latter grouping of people.
In the aftermath of WWII, which had totally disrupted Conn's drum divisions, it was decided to combine Ludwig & Ludwig with Leedy, creating the Leedy & Ludwig drum company. This new division became operational in 1951. Conn decided to discontinue the unprofitable Leedy & Ludwig division four years later in 1955."
Sent in by Bill Smith of Lafayette, La. He wants some opinions on the value of these drums before he decides if he wants to sell them. I will post contact information if and when he decides to sell. Please post your opinions in the comments below or email me email@example.com. Jeremy Esposito at Walber & Auge has already passed on them because he has four of them already!
One reason for buying these drums with the 24" bass drum is because my wife told me I needed to start playing a larger bass drum at my shows. I was so impressed that she even thought about my drums and let alone was interested enough to make a comment about drum sizes. I had in recent years played a lot of 20" bass drums. She said I needed to move up to a 24" or maybe a 26." I finally asked her what prompted her to suggest I play a larger bass drum? Was it to get more "boom" in the music? She replied, "no, it's just that you are getting so fat you look like a bear on a tricycle behind that small bass drum." Good thing she lets me buy drums. I'll let that one slide. Keep looking for those great vintage drumsOne reason for buying these drums with the 24" bass drum is because my wife told me I needed to start playing a larger bass drum at my shows. I was so impressed that she even thought about my drums and let alone was interested enough to make a comment about drum sizes. I had in recent years played a lot of 20" bass drums. She said I needed to move up to a 24" or maybe a 26." I finally asked her what prompted her to suggest I play a larger bass drum? Was it to get more "boom" in the music? She replied, "no, it's just that you are getting so fat you look like a bear on a tricycle behind that small bass drum." Good thing she lets me buy drums. I'll let that one slide. Keep looking for those great vintage drums
This video was sent to us by Michael Outlaw of Outlaw Drums: On the Ropes with Brian Hill. Brian talks about Charles W Bonner, civil war drummer, and William S. Tompkins, drum maker. Brian is an expert in drum history. He is full of interesting anecdotes and facts on historical drums. If you love history, you need to check this video out. Brian Hill explains why he is so passionate about the drums he brings to the Museum Series On The Ropes.p
"My Dad's kit is stamped 1957 (snare); the added floor is stamped 1962 and is the only one with chrome plated hoops. It is really close to mint condition with original heads also in great shape. The other three pieces are in excellent condition as well - the sizes are so interesting. I found a 1957 WFL catalog and don't see the snare or tom sizes listed!Dad said his Dad took him to Biascos Music store for his 14th birthday. Dad was born in 43 so that adds up."
Lucas Aldridge and I finally got our hands on some Felt Tone Heads from Remo and they are the bomb. We put the FiberSkyn on the batter side and the hazy on the front, and used matching regular heads for comparison. Felts have been attached/glued to heads before. The difference here is that the felt is NOT adhered to the head but adhered to the plastic strip which holds it against the head. This plastic strip also continues on around the circumference of the head acting as a very narrow "zero Ring" similar to the Power Stroke heads.
In 1929 Ludwig & Ludwig offered four new snare drum models that can be found in the Fall 1929 Ludwig Drummer Magazine. The new models were the Super-Sensitive, New Era-Sensitive, Super-Power and the Standard-Sensitive Model, the drum in this article. From what I have researched it looks like the Super-Sensitive Model was around from 1929 through 1936, whereas the New Era-Sensitive, Super-Power and Standard-Sensitive Models only lasted for 1-2 years (1929-30). Super-Sensitive Models are very collectible and somewhat rare in certain instances but the other three Sensitive Models are extremely rare and, in my opinion, highly collectible.
I am always trying different heads on my modern and vintage snares, as this adds to the sound palette of each drum. I put a set of the Evans ’56 Calftone heads on my late 1990’s birch Premier Genista 5-piece kit (my primary gigging set-up)…and was not disappointed. It was like playing calfskin, but with a bit more focus, response and attack. I especially loved the low frequencies that came out of my 22” bass drum (EMAD Calftone) and 16” floor tom. I also put a 14” Evans ’56 Calftone on one of my 5 X 14”, 1920’s scroll-engraved Ludwig Black Beauties. I often get uneven responses across an old calfskin head. This was not the case with the Calftone; it was very consistent and sounded quite warm. So overall, I’m really digging these heads.
There are many great examples of Twin Strainer drums left in the world but the parts are extremely hard to find. WFL continued to offer many of the parts as replacements up until the early 50s but most of those drums then were considered dinosaurs compared to the current offerings. Finding the strainers is probably the toughest part as there is a right and left half of each version, chrome or nickel version, and a smaller size version for 5.5x14 drums. The second version of the throw-offs also have very fragile tips and many a drum can be found with the strainer tips broken off. Most of the drums were also outfitted with a 10 strand set of snares for one side and a set of six silk wound snares for the other side. Occasionally I have seen drums with gut snares as an option as well. Many of the twin snares I have come across are missing either one or both sets of snares and they can also be very hard to replace. Lots of things in the drumming world have changed since the late 30s/early 40s but these Twin Strainer drums bring a look, sound and a design that comes from an era of great invention. There are many great examples of Twin Strainer drums left in the world but the parts are extremely hard to find. WFL continued to offer many of the parts as replacements up until the early 50s but most of those drums then were considered dinosaurs compared to the current offerings. Finding the strainers is probably the toughest part as there is a right and left half of each version, chrome or nickel version, and a smaller size version for 5.5x14 drums. The second version of the throw-offs also have very fragile tips and many a drum can be found with the strainer tips broken off. Most of the drums were also outfitted with a 10 strand set of snares for one side and a set of six silk wound snares for the other side. Occasionally I have seen drums with gut snares as an option as well. Many of the twin snares I have come across are missing either one or both sets of snares and they can also be very hard to replace. Lots of things in the drumming world have changed since the late 30s/early 40s but these Twin Strainer drums bring a look, sound and a design that comes from an era of great invention.