Monday, February 21, 2011

The Leedy and Ludwig Broadway New Era Snare Drum

In 1950, the Conn Musical Instruments Company, owner of both the Leedy and Ludwig Drum lines decided to combine the two under one nameplate. Both lines were nearly identical, except for slight differences in strainers and lugs, and both came off the same production line. To the cost conscious Conn executives, it simply made good economic sense. Thus, the Leedy and Ludwig Drum Company became a reality.

The swing era was slightly past its heyday in the 1950s. Yes, Big Bands still toured, but Be-bop was the hot new thing. Drum Companies attempted to cash in with new drums and new slogans---anything to make an aspiring drummer part with his hard earned cash. At the same time, many drummers, perhaps inspired by the new progressive jazz sound, started to turn to smaller drum kits and snare drums.

The 4 x 14 Snare drum had been around since the 1920s, but in the late 40s early 50s, the Gretsch Drum Company, created the 4 x 14 Max Roach Snare Drum. According to Gretsch, this was the snare drum for hip drummers. The 4 x 14 offered " greater articulation , clarity, and faster response."

Soon, every other Drum Company in America followed suit. WFL Drums offered the Buddy Rich 4 x 14 and 3 x 13 Be Bop model. Slingerland Drums introduced its Bop model in 1948.. And in 1950, Leedy and Ludwig offered the snare drum pictured above.

The Leedy and Ludwig Broadway New Era Snare drum has 16 side by side beavertail lugs, double flanged hoops, and the Pioneer strainer. The drum came with either chrome or nickel plating. This beauty is chrome plated. Like most of the Leedy drums of the period, the craftmanship is second to none.

The Leedy and Ludwig Drum Company closed their doors in the mid 50s. But the 4 x 14 BeBop model lived on in the inventory of other companies. The name was simply changed as the 1950s merged into the 60s. Camco Drums had its 3 x 13 Jazz model. Gretsch Drums had its Progressive Jazz model. Ludwig changed the name of its 4 x 14 to the Downbeat model and the 3 x 13 to the Piccolo model. Interestingly enough, the Rogers Drum Company offered a 4 x 13 single tension model known as the Classmate, which was a student model snare drum. In the early 70s, Slingerland named its 4 x 14 the Buddy Rich model.

Today, nearly every Drum Company offers a 4 x 14 Snare Drum in its catalog. Drummers play these drums in a variety of settings. No longer is the 4 x 14 considered mainly a Jazz model. Indeed, my Leedy and Ludwig Broadway New Era 4 x 14 was played by a drummer in a Rock a Billy band before I purchased it.

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