Wednesday, January 13, 2010

RIP Ed Thigpen December 28, 1930 - January 13, 2010

It's with sadness that I write that one of the most inspirational drummers of an era has passed away at a young 79. Ed's web site has a brief bio and discography of "Mr. Taste" who was renown as a brush master and a key to the Oscar Peterson Trio. He was the son of Ben Thigpen, a highly respected drummer in his own right.

Insights into Ed can be easily discerned by his demeanor and skill on The Essence of Brushes, an instructional (and performance) DVD that showcased Ed's teaching style as well as him in performance demonstrating techniques.

Here is Ed in action (with sticks):

With Oscar Peterson

Vintage Drum Resources

The best (in my opinion) vintage drum resource in the web is Vintage Drum Guide. Also Vintage Drum Forum, which is a forum dedicated to vintage drum collectors. It's axiomatic that one bookmarks Not So Modern Drummer. Another good source is the Vintage topic area on DFO, which has some real experts, among them Mike Curotto, Bun E. Carlos and others.

Of course, these two books are essential for anyone interested in vintage drums:

  1. Mike Curotto's Vintage Snare Drums - The Curotto Collection: Volume 1: Rare American-Made 1900s to 1940s
  2. John Aldridge's Guide to Vintage Drums. Also check out John's engraving services (he does Ludwig's special edition engraving)
For folks who are collecting a specific brand or brands, these books are excellent resources:

Ludwig: The Ludwig Book - A Business History and Dating Guide Book and The Making of a Drum Company: The Autobiography of William E. Ludwig II. Also check out History of The Ludwig Drum Company for purely historical information about the company.
Rogers: The Rogers Book
Slingerland: The Slingerland Book
Leedy: The Complete History Of The Leedy Drum Company
Gretsch: Gretsch Drums: The Legacy of That Great Gretsch Sound

First Things First: In Memory of Someone Special

I want to take a moment to remember someone very special. The memory is of Bruce Felter, Feb. 23, 1947 - Dec. 20, 2007.

Bruce was many things: a Rogers collector of some renown (Rob Cook devoted a few pages to his collection in The Rogers Book, and an incredible drummer who can be heard on Cathy Sings (his wife is the vocalist on this album.) Bruce's brush playing on the album, in particular, is inspiring to me.

However, Bruce was much more than a drum collector or even a drummer: he was one of those rare spirits who went out of his way to provide advice and guidance to anyone, and who was, well, nice. His [too short] life touched a lot of people, especially those who got to know him on Drum Forum Dot Org, a.k.a. DFO, where Bruce went under the username of Longroll. Do a search of DFO and you will see more than one thread that was a tribute to Bruce's memory, but more importantly, the posts by Bruce himself where his eagerness to impart knowledge and help is manifestly evident.

Here are a few pictures of Bruce and a link to a site in his memory. I, for one, was deeply touched by his approach to life and want to do my part in keeping his memory alive.

In Memoriam: Bruce Wayne Felter.

1930s Leedy Broadway Parallel 6.5x14

I traded my recently acquired Barry Snare Drum for what is probably my best metal snare drum: a 6.5x14 1930s Leedy Broadway Parallel model.

This is one heavy, great sounding snare drum that is made from the same heavy, two-piece shell as the coveted Ludwig Black Beauty (Leedy apparently sourced these shells from Ludwig.)

The person with whom I traded is a collector, but interestingly, his percussionist daughter has quite a collection of Barry snare drums, so the one I traded is going to a good home. I believe we are both happy with the deal. I was never going to play the Barry because it had original heads that I did not want to mar, but this Leedy is definitely a snare drum I will play (and have more than a few hours on her already.)

It came with the original cable snare assembly, but I also received a set of specially made Puresound wires that I can swap in for a more modern sound. I like it as is, though, so will set the Puresounds aside. It also came with a weathered and beaten original bag, but as ratty as it looks, that is the drum's home. I will be getting a hard case to store the drum inside the original bag.

Showing the Puresound Snare Wires next to the cable snares

Original Bag

Cable End Piece Detail

Ludwig & Ludwig Nickel Over Brass 1920s

This is the heavy shell version in 4x14. It has what looks like the original gut snares over a Remo Emperor snare side, and a calf batter that was tucked inside out with a few moleskin patches. It sounds great out of the box! I'll probably leave the heads as are, and perhaps the snares too (someone did a great job stringing them!)

Vintage Kent Snare Drum

I traded a cymbal for this excellent example of a second tier American snare drum - a Kent from the E. W. Kent Manufacturing Company of Kenmore, New York. This one has the single tension lugs and crappy throw, but also has original heads and snares. The finish is stunning and called Bombay Mahogany. I need to swap out the plastic-sounding heads for something else because I consider seriously playing it, but for a collector I think it was a nice catch getting one in such pristine and original condition:

Ludwig 100th Anniversary Black Magic

This is the 5.5x14 model that I swore I would never get. However, they will not be making them forever, so I succumbed to the collector compulsion and grabbed it.

First, there is virtually no difference between this snare drum and a Worldmax Dawg except the Ludwig engraving. The S9 strainer is identical to the Dawg, the bearing edges and the seam look to be near identical, and even the vent behind the strainer is the same.

What is different, besides the laser engraving and the 100th Anniversary batter head, is the snares that ship with this appear to be the high-end Worldmax German steel variety instead of the very low end wires that shipped with my Dawg.

Oh, and the die cast hoops that came with the 100th Anniversary model are interesting. They are thinner and lighter than Ludwig's regular die cast hoops and - amazingly - are stick chopper style. I swapped the Ludwig hoops to my Worldmax Pup (the 4x14 model) and put the Pup's single flanged hoops with clips on the Black Magic. I also swapped out the 100th Anniversary head for a Remo Skyntone I had laying around so I can preserve the special anniversary head in case I ever want to sell the Black Magic.

She tunes up beautifully, and the brass shell on this baby makes her sing.

Rogers Luxor: 6 Lug Student Model

If you've read through most of my entries you will know that I love 6-lug snare drums, and I am a big fan of black diamond pearl (BDP) finishes. So this new addition to my menagerie is perfect (and, yes, I am a big Rogers fan too!):

Very nice sounding snare drum, with that open sound characteristic of 6-lug snare drums that make them so ideal for brushwork and shuffles.