Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Ludwig Supraphonic 400 Snare Drum

The 1960's were a wonderful time for drum companies and drum retailers. Business was brisk at the retail level and manufacturers worked overtime trying to pry every last dollar they could from their customers. But one company seemed to stand above the rest, particularly in the exploding Rock and Roll scene. That company was Ludwig out of Chicago Illinois.

The Ludwig Drum Company was no johnny come lately. The company had been in business for years, supplying drums and accessories for every need. But the Beatles appearance on the Ed Sullivan show sent shock waves throughout the industry. Ringo Starr played Ludwig and that's all aspiring rock and rollers needed to see. It also didn't hurt that Charlie Watts of the Rolling Stones played Ludwig Drums. In fact, many of those British Invasion bands played the brand. It wasn't long before American drummers began to follow suit. The Ludwig brand name became commonplace on many of the drums sets of groups that appeared on weekly rock and roll TV shows like Shindig.

The Ludwig Supraphonic 400 Snare Drum was standard issue with many of the Ludwig kits. This metal beauty came with 10 Imperial lugs and triple flanged hoops. Earlier models had heavy brass shells, but later models were made with whatever metal alloy was available at the time. The drum was built like a tank. It could stand any "punishment", yet would still retain response and clarity. Literally, thousands were sold.

It should come as no surprise that the Super 4 is perhaps the most recorded drum in history. Hal Blaine, the great session drummer, used this drum. Hal recorded on 40 number one records, 350 top ten records and thousands of other tunes. Charlie Watts used the drum early in his career before switching to Gretsch. Mitch Mitchell, with Jimi Hendrix, played it. Others include Jim Densmore with the Doors, Dino Danelli with the Young Rascals and John Bonham with Led Zeppelin, who played the 6/1/2 x 14 model.

Happily, the drum lives on. Nowadays, in addition to the standard aluminum shell, you can order it with a titanium shell. Or you can simply buy a used one. They are plentiful and they are not expensive, at least not the brass ones.

There are more collectible Ludwig Snare Drums. The Ludwig Black Beauty comes to mind. But, as far as Drum History goes, the Super 4 takes a back seat to no one.

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