Saturday, January 30, 2010

2010 Collecting Goals and Other Info

My collection goals for 2010 are narrow, which reflects the process of collection where one starts out collecting any specimen, then starts focusing on specifics.

My focus this year will be on early 1900s snare drums - nothing later than the mid 1930s. Here is what I will be looking for:

  • Ludwig & Ludwig wood "Tango" drum from the 19-teens through 20s. These drums have single tension lugs and wood hoops. The lugs are not attached to the shells.
  • 1920s Ludwig heavy, two-piece shell in 5x14 with either 6 or 8 lugs.
  • Leedy Elite engraved model. I have always wanted one and my timing has been off everytime one becomes available.
  • An early Leedy wood snare drum with the wood hoops, single tension, floating lugs and overall design similar to the Ludwig & Ludwig that tops this list.
On the custom side I am in the process of collaborating with Kevin Smee of Bowie Custom Drum on a project that will remain under wraps for now. I will hint that it will be based on an 8-ply Keller VSS maple shell, will have a gloss finish, mostly modern parts and modern bearing edges. Those who know me will probably be puzzled by those specifications since I tend to have custom built snare drums made from Vaughncraft single-ply shells, eschew gloss finishes, and almost always specify 30 degree, rounded bearing edges. Ah, the mystery!

One final tidbit of information: Bill Kay, who is a moderator at Cymbalholic, as well as a regular and valued contributor on Drumforum and Ghostnote (the three top drum forums in my opinion), invited my attention to a wood finish called Tried & True Varnish Oil. A little research revealed that this is possibly the one product that would entice me into refinishing some of my vintage wood snare drums. I have been loathe to do so in the past because I did not want to alter the original finish in any dramatic manner. The company also makes another product that intrigues me too: Original Wood Finish. All of the products are "green" in that they are environmentally safe and use natural ingredients. I'll report back after I've tried it. My first candidate will probably be the Ludwig Transition Badge Pioneer.

Rogers Powertone Chrome Over Brass (COB)

This heavy, amazing sounding snare drum will keep my Dynasonic company. In fact, I like the sound a lot more than my Dynasonic's sound, and she weighs about the same if not more. If you like metal snare drums this is one I recommend. They are still not grossly overpriced on eBay, and I can assure you that they can hold their own against a Ludwig Brass Edition Supraphonic (although who doesn't love Supras?)

On the subject of Dynasonics, if you have one and are not getting the sound you want from it, check out these instructions. Follow the recommendations and I guarantee you will have your Dyna singing.

White Oyster Pearl Ludwig Pioneer NOB

This Nickel Over Brass (NOB) snare drum was obtained in a trade for a cymbal. It needed work, which was easy enough to do, and I am waiting for a chrome over brass hoop I just purchased to swap out the bent batter hoop. There is a little cracking near the muffler too, but that is an easy fix I'll get to when I put the new batter hoop on.

She sounds great as is. A little make up and she'll win beauty contests.

UPDATE: Using MAAS Metal Polish (mentioned in my Friday, January 29, 2010 post) I was able to quickly transform a beautiful sounding snare drum into a beautiful looking one as well.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Ludwig Transition Badge Pioneer

This baby was born - according to the stamp inside the shell - on June 7, 1960. She came to me in perfect condition, but in need of a little cleaning and polishing. Here is a before:

The first thing that pops out at you is the strainer. A three-point Pioneer had me scratching my head, but a quick visit to A Guide to Vintage Drums and some research on that excellent site's Ludwig Strainer Page reveals this:

More interesting is it is called a P-85 Large Pioneer strainer, which bears no resemblance to the P-85 we know and hate (or I hate the later ones anyway - different story.)

Another interesting thing about this snare drum is it does not have a muffler, nor are there any holes or evidence of plugged holes to indicate it ever had one.

After a little polishing with an amazing polish called MAAS Creme Metal Polish this is what she looks like:

A few more shots complete the picture showing the WFL butt and the plastic end snare wires. She sounds beautiful, by the way!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Researching Vintage Drums - a resource

My friend Roberto from Padua, Italy sent me a link to a treasure trove of old drum catalogs online at Drum Archive. Clicking on any manufacturer will bring you to a page of downloadable catalogs that are a collection of scanned pages (JPG format) in a ZIP archive. Excellent material for research. Sadly missing are Leedy catalogs, but there are a few Zildjian catalogs including one showing cymbal setups of their major endorsers. This is definitely worth a visit.

Other worthwhile sites are the Classic Drummer archives page and Vintage Drum Guide.

UPDATE 28 January 2010 - a new resource, A Guide to Vintage Drums has just been completed and it looks great. Check it out and bookmark it.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Band, Single and Double Flange Hoops Explained

Too often the terms "single flange" and "stickchopper" are erroneously used when describing vintage style hoops. Hopefully I can set the record straight.

Early snare drums used "band" type hoops; in fact as late as the 1950s that style was used on student model snare drums. This hoop has no bends or lip - just a straight band as shown in the following photo. Note the top and bottom edges are flat.

Single flange hoops have a lip (flange) on the bottom edge as shown in the next photo. This allowed the hoop to better seat on the flesh hoop on the drum head:

Double flange hoops - commonly referred to as "stickchoppers" had an additional bend or flange that allowed for tabs or ears to be included on the hoop for tension rods, eliminating the clips. The following photo illustrates this:

Modern hoops, typically triple flanged, have an additional flange or bend at the top to prevent the "stick chopper" effect. Most flange outward, although Slingerland's hoops flanged inward. At any rate, aside from specialty products, such as the Worldmax single flange hoops (and hoops offered by Pearl on some of their model snare drums) modern metal hoops are typically triple flanged and made of either stamped metal or are die cast.

I hope this clears up the confusing nomenclature.

Bun E. Carlos collection

Bun E. Carlos' collection is simply amazing, and emphasizes Ludwig drums. He is both a collector and historian (as well as a renowned rock drummer for Cheap Trick). This interview and article show not only the extent of Bun's collection, but also provides some insights into his musical influences and a summary of how Cheap Trick came to be. It's definitely an interesting read for any collector, as well as fans.