Here is my small, but expanding collection of vintage drum kits. Most have needed some amount of
restoration work which I have performed myself.
1960's Kent & Leedy/Slingerland Kit - Champagne Sparkle
The drums were purchased from eBay (various sources ) for roughly $400.00 US (add a few $$$ for shipping).
All drums are Blue and Gold Flower badge Kents, although the kick and snare lost their badges at some point.
Originally, I was using a Leedy/Slingerland floor tom, but I finally found a proper Kent floor tom in excellent shape
All of the drums feature maple shells - The Kent snare and toms are 2 ply and the kick and floor tom are 6 ply.
Additional 12" tom not pictured.
Sizes are as follows: Kick = 14" X 22" | Mounted Tom 1 = 7 7/8" X 12" | Mounted Tom 2 = 8 7/8" X 13" | Snare = 4 7/8" X 14" |
Floor Tom = 15" X 16"
I believe that Kent drums made lots and lots of 3 piece sets - I see them all over eBay, craigslist, etc...
These would have been Kick, Snare & mounted tom kits. Pretty much the standard starter setup back in the day. This would
certainly explain why Kent floor toms are so hard to find. Because of this, I purchased the Slinger-leedy as a "temporary"
drum, while I continue to scour the planet for a matching Kent floor tom. The Slinger-leedy actually fits in well sound-wise.
The color however, is a little darker than the other drums. I hope to find a 14" Kent floor tom in the future - I'll just add
it to the kit and keep the Slinger-leedy for that Buddy Rich double floor tom look. I did locate and purchase a 16" floor tom
and will keep looking for the uber rare 14".
The snare drum is actually the same drum on my Vintage Snares page. Because of that drum, I started collecting Kents.
I'm sure I'll regret it someday :)
Other than the aforementioned snare drum, restoring this kit was pretty simple. The wrap on ALL of the drums was in
excellent shape. The same goes for the hardware, with the exception of the 12" toms rims - They were rusted beyond
hope, so I replaced them. Shells were also in good shape with the 13" being the least good. It shows signs of some
slight water damage, but is stable and can be tuned (creatively). It needed some work on it's bearing edges, but
nothing too serious. I have since replaced the 13" with another which was in MUCH better shape. Slightly darker in color.
All of the drums were closely inspected and I did touch-up a couple rough spots here and there
on each one. Overall, the process was painless and the results are a kit which looks and sounds great.
I replaced the very used and mismatched heads on the toms with Aquarian Studio X on top and Evans resonant
on the bottom. I wanted the sound of a Remo Ambassador, with a bit of dampening. The Studio X heads looked
like a perfect solution and so far, I'm very pleased with the sound. The kick got a Remo Powerstroke for the
batter side and (temporarily) an Attack 1 ply med ebony w/4" port on the reso side. Eventually. I'll replace this with
some kind of white, coated reso head with a port (I cannot find any head maker who sells these - Have to make my own).
I believe I spent an additional $50.00 - $75.00 on misc. parts (not including heads) - Not bad really for a vintage, american
made, maple drum kit.
Additional info on the kit: The original Kent color for this kit was Silver Sparkle. Removing a lug, you can see that indeed
they were closer to silver than champagne. The Slinger-leedy was Pink Champagne and again, it's obvious when a lug is
removed, that there was LOTS more pink in the color. Over the years though, both colors have changed/faded to a very
similar champagne sparkle and they match up pretty well. The kick came with wooden hoops, but they were very badly
warped and so I replaced them with a pair of chrome hoops. I may eventually go back to the black painted wood hoops
but the sound of the kick is quite good as is, and the chrome is not bad to look at. The 12" tom (not pictured) is likely
older as it has a white flower badge and a "slip-on" tom mount (similar to say, a 64' Ludwig kit). The snare and kick have
lost their badges at some point, so there is no telling how old they are. The tom mount on the 13" and the kick is
the classic Kent Adjust-O-Matic type. The kick also has a single set-screw cymbal mount and straight cymbal arm which
are original. Along with the kick and 13" tom, I received an original Kent snare stand. While I would never trust it to
support an actual snare drum while I was playing, I have used it to support the 12" tom and it actually works quite well.
1950's, 1960's Kent Kit - Jazz Sizes - Red Sparkle
These drums were purchased from eBay (various sources ) for roughly $450.00 US. I once again purchased the 3 piece
kick, snare and mounted tom from one source, and the floor tom 6 months or so later from a different source. The kick,
snare and mounted tom all had the older White and Gold Flower badge, which some believe date the drums as far back
as the 1950's to early 1960's. The floor tom has the newer Blue and Gold Flower badge. The drums all came to me in pretty
good shape. The wrap on the kick shows less *sparkle* than the other 3 drums, but there is no cracking or lifting seams
on any of the drums. All of the chrome is original. There is some pitting and rust on the floor tom leg mounts which could
not be cleaned or polished away. Hoops and lugs are all pretty good. I have a 2nd red sparkle snare which I cut down
due to bearing edge damage. It matches the kit just fine so I have the choice of a standard or piccolo snare in red sparkle.
Sizes are as follows: Kick = 13 7/8" X 20" | Mounted Tom 1 = 7 7/8" X 12" | Snare 1 = 4 7/8" X 14" | Snare 2 = 4 1/4" X 14"
Floor Tom = 13 1/2" X 14"
Interesting thing about Kent drums - They all seem to be undersized, as far as depth goes. Almost every drum I've worked on
was slightly under the standard size. No idea why this is, but I have speculated that they might have made the shells exactly
the right size. Then after cutting, truing and bearing edge work (if they bothered to go that far) they ended up a tad under the
I've also noticed that their hoops are a bit taller than other US makers. Lugs are very heavy duty and I've yet to see a cracked
lug on a Kent drum. Their wraps are also a little different. Several drums I've seen and worked on had wraps which were very
porous. You can run your hand over the wrap and actually feel the pores. The kick in the red sparkle kit suffers from this problem
and if may have something to do with the fact that it's less "sparkly" than the other drums.
Since taking the above picture, I have switched the mounted tom from a stand to a RIMS type mount. The original slip-on
style mount was in excellent condition, as was the rail consolette on the kick drum. However, when placing the tom on the
mount, it immediately choked the drum. Pressure from the weight of the tom must have been great enough to actually alter
the shape of the shell and it caused the drum to sound as if it had been stuffed with rags. Others have reported this same
problem with Ludwig and other drums using the same style of mount. Oh well... one more thing to buy :)