Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Super Gene Krupa Radio King Snare Drum

As mentioned in earlier blogs (See blogs dated Dec. 20th and Mar. 21), the Slingerland Drum Company never missed a chance to match the great Gene Krupa with the Radio King nameplate. It was never in doubt who they considered their number one drum ambassador. Gene was THE best salesman Slingerland had, regardless of how many sales reps the company employed. Krupa was loyal to the company and, starting in 1936, his image graced the front of the Slingerland catalog. Indeed, as late as 1967, there was Gene, sitting behind his set of Slingerland Drums on the front cover of the catalog.

The pictured beauty was first introduced in 1955. Production on this model lasted until 1962. Interestingly enough, shortly after the drum hit the marketplace, the Radio King moniker was dropped and the drum was simply known as the " Super Gene Krupa Snare Drum."

This drum came in a variety of sizes both in a lacquer finish and a pearl wrap. In addition to the 5 1/2 x 14, the drum came in a 5 1/2 x 13, 7 x 14, and an 8 x 14 sizes. The strength of this model was in its solid maple shell. It was truly a work of art. Slingerland's main competitors, Ludwig and Leedy, had ceased to make solid wood shells by this time.

The Super Gene Krupa model also came with either stick shredder or stick saver hoops. The stick shredder hoops were engraved with the "Radio King" nameplate. These hoops carried the lifetime guarantee that Slingerland was noted for.

Lastly, the drum came outfitted with Slingerland's Super Strainer. This strainer, also known as the Clamshell strainer, was introduced in the early 1940's. It's Art Deco look was quite attractive, but problems arose with its use. The extension levers would break, sometimes at the most inopportune time. If the lever broke while the snares were disengaged, there would be no way to reengage them. Slingerland soon replaced this strainer with the Zoomatic Strainer and the Clamshell became part of history.


  1. I just found a 1940 Super Gene Krupa Radio King in marine pearl that I want to refurbish. My big issue is the original clamshell super strainer. If anyone has any ideas on how to find one or remake one, please let me know.

  2. UPDATE: I found an orig clamshell strainer in nickel, replaced the broken lever with one of the new releases and now my 1940 Radio King sounds amazing...I use it every day! Got the orig stick chopper hoops on it with the "Radio King" engraving as well. It's the best snare I've ever played.