Here is my small, but expanding collection of vintage snares. Most have needed some
restoration work which I performed myself.
1920's Ludwig Junior Model snare - 13" X 3.5"
Purchased off of eBay for around $61.00 including shipping. The drum was structurally sound but had
years of crud build-up on the shell and rims. Not much shine as you can see and the rims were very
dull. About 3-4 hours cleaning/polishing the parts and another hour or so to reassemble. Original calf
heads were trashed as well, so I replaced them with the standard Remo coated Ambassador/snare side
heads I've preferred for many years.
*UPDATE* I've used this drum on several recording sessions and for the right song, it's perfect.
It's included in my sample library (located elsewhere on this site) and you can hear it for yourself
by clicking Here.
Here are three more studio recordings using this Ludwig with brushes. Click Me and me and me please!!
1960's Kent Champagne Sparkle snare - 14" X 4 7/8"
Purchased off of eBay for around $45.00 including shipping. Kent drums are interesting in that snares
and toms seem to be 2 ply maple shells (Kicks have more than 2 plys). Not very loud, but have a
nice tone to my ears. This drum was not in great shape like the Ludwig was.
Some previous owner had removed the throw off, butt plate, badge and bottom rim (replaced
with a standard 14" rim). the bearing edges were crap (saw marks, roughly sanded flat) and added a Kent
tom mount where the badge was supposed to be. I guess this was an attempt to make a tom tom
out of it. I have learned that Kent bearing edges were hit ot miss. Some nice, some not, so I started by
removing all the hardware and truing the top and bottom edges. I then recreated the bearing edges
and snare beds as best I could by hand (no router). After cleaning and polishing the hardware, I
installed a new generic throw, snares and butt plate, and reassembled (with the tom mount in place).
I ended up cutting the snare holes in the hoop myself bacause I didn't want to wait to have one
shipped to me.
*UPDATE* This is my favorite snare drum. One studio owner offered to buy it "On the spot" and a local
producer was quite enthralled with it's sound on a different session date and was sad when I went to
a different snare for a couple of tracks (the other snare was my Acrolite and he ended up loving it).
It's not for sale... right now. Hear this drum in action Right Here!!
1960's (or earlier?) Kent Mahogany Stain snare - 14" X 4 7/8"
Purchased off of eBay for around $42.00 including shipping. There's not a lot of info on Kent drums.
The early ones were made in the USA, in NYC. The Blue Flower Badge (made of paper) drums were
made in the USA, but when did the company start making drums? Is it true that an ex-Gretcsh
employee started Kent drums?
This snare was in good, 98% original condition. The only unoriginal part on the drum, was the green
electrical wire used between the snares and the throw off/butt plate. Functional, but not very
attractive. This drum really only needed a good cleaning, buffing and waxing of the shell finish, and
some polish work on the hardware and rims. It also had calf heads which were in sad shape but
lucky for me, the bearing edges were perfect. New heads, new snare cords and the drum was back
*UPDATE* I've used this drum on several gigs and it sounds great. Because of the single tension
setup, it can't be tuned very high. It has a nice, fat "FWAP" sound to it.
1960's (or earlier?) Kent chrome over steel shell snare - 14" X 4 7/8"
Purchased off of eBay for around $46.00 including shipping. When I saw this drum on eBay, I just
had to bid on it. It's like the brother to the above snare. There seems to be some confusion as to
just when these drums were made. Some say the 1960's, but I find it hard to believe that a drum
with calf heads (the drum above) was made in the 1960's. And it's unlikely that someone would
replace mylar heads with calf heads if the drum originally had mylar skins on it. Also, the single
tension rods lead me to believe that they are older - Maybe wishful thinking on my part.
Anyhow, this drum was structurally sound, 100% complete (heads marked E.G. Kent by Remo)
and even had the correct snare cords (thin, nylon or plastic like cord). The hardware is identical
to the above wood shell Kent, which leads me to believe that they are from the same era - When
that is, I do not know for sure. This drum looked as if it had been in a damp basement or similar
place for some time. The chrome shell was in poor condition, as was the hardware (not plated).
Oddly enough, the heads were like new, but I chose to replace them and keep the originals safe
in case I decided to sell the drum.
There was quite a bit of rust and pitting on all the metal parts. The chrome parts were not easy
to polish as they were in such bad shape, the chrome was flaking off in spots. The un-plated
hardware, cleaned up very well though. After 3 days of cleaning/polishing the drum was reassembled
and fitted with new Remo's.
*UPDATE* I've used this drum on a couple of live gigs and it will tear your head off with it's volume
and sharp attack. Unfortunately, it also rings like a church bell. A couple of moon gels solves that.
Separated at birth???
1960's Kent 2 ply Red Sparkle Custom Size - 4 1/4" X 14"
Purchased off of eBay for under $50.00 including shipping. Thsi drum appeared to be in great condition, but when it arrived,
I quickly noticed that a crack formed around the top, inner edge of the innermost ply, leaving about a 3/8" section of the shell
with only one ply to bear the tension of the head. I cut the shell down on both sides to keep the lug spacing even (from top to
bottom), then re-cut new 45 degree bearing edges. After a little hand sanding, I reassembled the drum and here are the results.
The drum came to me with an unoriginal snare throw and snare wires, but the lugs and all the rest are original, far as I can tell.
After... New 45 degree bearing edge.
60's Kent Red Sparkle 1
60's Kent Red Sparkle 2
1970's B&O Badge Ludwig Acrolite - 5" X 14"
Purchased from a local music store for what ended up being $25.00. The story is, I walked into a local music store one afternoon
and saw a no-name, black drum set with this Ludwig Acrolite sitting on the top of the pile. I checked the price of the kit and it
was only $125.00 for everything. I immediately purchased the kit and then sold it about 6 months later, minus the Acrolite for
$100.00. I also got a couple of nice cymbal stands (which I kept). Not bad far $25.00. *Note: This picture is not the actual drum.
I was too lazy to pull it out for a photo, so I snarfed this one from eBay. Since all Acrolites of this period look pretty much the same,
I figured no harm, no foul. My drum is in the same condition as the one pictured. All original except for heads and snare wires.
*UPDATE* Used in live and studio situations. What can I say... It's an Acrolite and sounds great.
Here it is!!! - The Big Daddy Blacrolite Beauty project snare.
Since I can't afford the real thing, I've built a Black Beauty look-a-like snare drum. It started as a bare, 67' Ludwig Acrolite shell
(eBay score for $9.99). After a couple of hours of prep work to remove surface scratches and dings, I then had the shell powder
coated in gloss black ($50.00). I added brass tube lugs, vent, tension rods and hoops. I ended up using a standard Ludwig throw
and butt plate (powder coated in a brass tint) until/if I can find a brass throw/butt which fits without having to drill more holes
(patrs cost = $130.00).
The original holes for the tone control are still there. I haven't decided yet if I will purchase an original TC and have it powder
coated, try to find a brass TC, leave the holes, or possibly have a custom badge made which would cover the holes.
This was a fun project and it's made me eager to try some other "metal" snare projects. I've established a great relationship with
the local powder coating guy (allen) and he's also eager to do more projects like this. As of right now, I have 2 more shells to play
with - One is a '64 Acrolite (bare except for a badly installed badge) and an old Pearl/CB-700 chrome over steel 10 lug drum. Allen,
the powder coating dude, has mentioned a finish they did for another non-drumming customer called Twilight. It's basically a gloss
black base with a clear metalflake top-coat. He claims that under bright light, the finish is amazing looking... food for thought.
So how's it sound???
It sounds a lot like my other Acrolite, but with a bit more ring. I'm guessing that the shell is resonating more because of the much
smaller, less intrusive lugs. I tuned it as close to my other Acro as possible and played them side by side. There's no question that
it is less muted/muffled sounding. Cool! You can always add a bit of muffling if needed.
Before... The shell as delivered.
More to come I'm sure!