Friday, January 21, 2011

The Slingerland Spitfire Snare Drum

Drum Companies throughout the decades have gone to great lengths to build "the perfect Snare Drum." Different shells, different snare strainers, and different snare wires and heads have all been used in the quest for the perfect sound. Slingerland, Ludwig, Gretsch, Rogers, Camco, Premier---- all have taken a whack at it. Some of these ideas have worked, others have not.

In 1979, the Slingerland Drum Company gave customers a look at the Slingerland Spitfire Snare Drum. This drum was offered in two sizes, 5 1/2 x 14 and 6 1/2 x 14. It came with either gut or wire snares and you had a choice of a wood shell, a chrome-plated brass shell, or a lacquered brass shell. It also came with brass hoops and the TDR snare strainer, which Slingerland introduced in 1976.

As one can see in the photo, the drum had the unusual arrangement of off set lugs, with 12 for the batter head and 6 for the snare head. This was supposed to give added sensitivity and clarity to the drum. Whether this was the case was debatable.

Slingerland had offered offset lug snare drums in the early 70's. The 1973 catalog shows a 4 x 14 Buddy Rich model, but both heads had an equal number of lugs. The Spitfire was a different animal entirely. This particular drum is unusual because it's a wood shell covered with chrome wrap. It's a good drum, but it's not better than the Slingerland Radio King.

In any case, the drum was a failure. It lasted one year and then simply faded away.. I'm sure there were Slingerland endorsers who used the drum, but I've never seen any. The history of Drum Companies is filled with many success stories. Unfortunately, this is not one of them.

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