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.
My featured drum set this month is a Rogers Big R Londoner 5 set from the 1980s. It has all maple 8 ply shells with clear interiors and no reinforcement rings. These drums were called XP-8 series because of the shells. I copied the following information from a Rogers discussion forum, "XP-8s have 8-ply rock maple shells and were made from 1979 up until the demise of Rogers in 1984. They're excellent quality and comparable to modern day DWs but can be had at a fraction of the cost. The Memriloc hardware is strong and sturdy and ensures that they'll set up exactly the same every time - a real time saver. These sets are battleship tough and built to last. XP-8s are some of the best drums Rogers ever produced."
I will say this: if Buddy could have read music he may have enjoyed staying in one place and making big money while staying in town (NY or LA) and being the house drummer for one of those late night tv shows. But (lucky for us) he had to move his band around a lot to keep it working all the time. This gave everybody, everywhere a chance to hear and enjoy Buddy Rich. (...and then again he probably wouldn’t have had it any other way)
Dyna-Sonic serial number 1171. This drum was offered on the Rogers Drums Group II Facebook page. Condition was utterly deplorable. The shell was covered in grime, many years worth of grime. It displayed the absolute worst in neglect. It was however, fairly complete. The frame, of course was long gone. The tension rods were mostly a mix of unknowns that were themselves thirty to forty years old. The heads on the drum, I am pretty sure, were 70s era Remo. This drum had not been played for decadesDyna-Sonic serial number 1171. This drum was offered on the Rogers Drums Group II Facebook page. Condition was utterly deplorable. The shell was covered in grime, many years worth of grime. It displayed the absolute worst in neglect. It was however, fairly complete. The frame, of course was long gone. The tension rods were mostly a mix of unknowns that were themselves thirty to forty years old. The heads on the drum, I am pretty sure, were 70s era Remo. This drum had not been played for decades
So you think that state-of-the-art rack system you emptied your bank account for firmly puts you among the pinnacle of 22nd Century Drummers, right? After all, it is equipped with a remote cable Hi Hat, so it's the “Latest and Greatest.” Would you believe your great grandfather, the guy you got those drummin' genes from, beat you to the punch by nearly a hundred years?
Ludwig introduced the new Stipelgold finish in their 1926 catalog. “The New Ludwig “STIPELGOLD” finish is a special composition producing a marvelous *“Stippled” effect in a bright golden hue. It is hard and durable, adhering tenaciously to the shell of metal or of wood.” The 1927 catalog introduces the “New Ludwigold Iridescent Display Finish”. It looks like the Stipelgold finish was short-lived, maybe 1-2 years. Aside from the 1926 catalog, the only other reference to the Stipelgold finish is at the bottom of the first page of the 1927 catalog: “LUDWIGOLD or STIPELGOLD at the same price.” So as best as I can tell by researching the 1926, 1927 catalogs and Rob Cook’s DRUM COLORS THE REBEATS COLOR SWATCH BOOK; Stipelgold was only around for one year, 1926.
Selling is a part of what I do. It is bittersweet to sell a kit, but it gives me joy to see someone else get a cool vintage drum set that they really like. I was a little bit sad to let this sweet Ludwig drum set go today. I had owned this 1965 Ludwig Hollywood set for a long time. I had a buyer come over today, and he was trying to get a great drum set to put in a music room he was building. One of my close friends told him to check with me before buying a kit. He called me and asked if I had any drums for sale? I assured him I had several nice drum sets that would be perfect for his new music room. I told him there was nothing wrong with getting a new drum set, and they would work just fine, but a vintage set would be better. What do you guys and gals think, isn't vintage better?
This is my very first Gretsch set and I finally own a kit made in NYC - Brooklyn, as a matter of fact, during the heyday of round badge Gretsch drum manufacturing. This is one of the most beautiful drum sets I have ever seen. The kit can look yellow, gold, red and orange depending on the lighting. I personally think it looks best in plain daylight.
It was not until the mid-2000s that while surfing online I saw a pic of Vince Treanor (Former Doors road manager) pictured with the 14” floor tom that I knew was John’s. It was sometime in early 2016 when I learned that the drum had changed hands and was now in the hands of a new owner. I was able to contact that owner and was happy to find that he was very friendly and even happier when I realized that the drum was not terribly far from me and that I could go see it. Along with the owner, we were able to look at close up pics of John using the drum in the 60s and match up the color striations to authenticate it as the original drum.
Shortly after the launch of the XP8, eight ply, all North American Maple shell ply series of drums in 1979, the reissue of the Rogers wood snare drum brought to us the XP10 series of snare drums. The production list of snare drums from 1965 had over a half a dozen various models. The production list for 1975 had two, Dyna-Sonic and SuperTen being the only offerings from Rogers. Available in 5x14 and 6.5x14. Dyna-Sonic was COB, SuperTen was COS. Rogers had discontinued wood shell snare drums in 1972, primarily due to lack of sales. The late 70's and early 80's, however, wood shell snare drums steadilly gaining in popularity. Into this market, Rogers launched the XP10.
"Slingerland shells reached a new low in the early 1980s when they actually sold drums which were little more than cardboard tubes with pearl covering and some hardware slapped on. The tubes were sturdier than the mailing-tube type, as they were actually made from Sonatube. (Sonatube is used for telescopes and as forms for casting concrete pillars.) The basic material was nevertheless cardboard, and the bearing edges quickly lost their integrity."
I am not a drumset collector but when this drumset was offered to me -- a second time -- I went for it. I usually don’t buy snare drums as an investment, I love to collect them so if they are worth more money in the future that’s a good thing but if the value stays the same or goes down I honestly don’t care as it has always been more important to me to own the snare for the collection rather than worry if the drum will eventually be worth more money. This drumset was purchased as an investment, especially since the snare drum alone is worth as much as I paid for the entire drumset. Don’t misinterpret this, I paid Mike’s asking price and he was happy with our deal.
This snare drum is a 1950s WFL COB No.400. For those unfamiliar, COB is chrome over brass. What makes this drum so special is this drum is the earliest version with the WFL badge. You don’t see many with this badge as very few were produced. It is the first metal snare drum cataloged by the Ludwig Company after the family purchased the name back from Conn in 1955. I have read that this snare drum was seen as early as 1956 but introduced somewhere between 1957 to 1958. It is called the “Super Ludwig” and can be seen in the 1959 catalog included in the pictures below.
There is no badge or brand stamp on this snare, as often on the French snares, which are sometimes difficult to identify. This snare drum appears in Campanella catalog of 1932. The "Paramount" model snare of Campanella was a luxury snare drum in the thirties ! It cost 700 francs en 1932, that is to say 5 months of french average salary of the era or approximatively 500$ nowadays.