Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Rogers Powertone Snare Drum--metal shell

The Rogers Drum Company occupies a special place in the history of American Drum Companies. Like its competitors, Gretsch, Ludwig, Leedy, and Slingerland, Rogers had a long illustrious run producing fine drums and accessories. Unlike these aforementioned companies, Rogers early ( 1930's) snare drums and drum kits were not as desirable as those from Slingerland and Ludwig. The great Gene Krupa saw to it that Slingerland ruled the roost during the 30's and 40's. Ludwig, and to a lesser extent, Leedy were always nipping at Slingerland's heels during that time. In the mid 40's, Ludwig signed Buddy Rich to an endorsement deal in an attempt to put a dent in Slingerland sales. At the same time, Gretsch attempted to ride the Be-bop revolution with the great Max Roach.

Rogers, on the other hand, quietly made drums and stayed out of the fray. Indeed, for a while, Rogers had a working relationship with the Camco Drum Company buying parts and hardware.On May 5th 1955, the world changed for Rogers. On that date, Henry Grossman, the owner of the Grossman Distributing Company, announced he had bought the Rogers Drum Company. Henry brought two gentlemen into the company with him, Joe Thompson, a musican/engineer, and Ben Strauss, a marketing and sales professional. These three proceeded to turn the Rogers Drum Company into a powerhouse.

By the early 60's, Rogers was offering top of the line drums and hardware. They had snagged two of the drum world's most famous names, Buddy Rich and Louis Bellson, as endorsers. But they didn't stop there. There list of endorsers included Cozy Cole, Irv Cottler, Jim Chapin, Roy Burns, Hal Blaine, Earl Palmer, Frankie Capp, and J. C. Heard.

The company was innovative....and very aggressive. Rogers offered something for everyone in the percussion world. Snare Drums, Drum Kits, Marching Drums, Glockenspiels, Deagan Marimbas, Vibraphones, a full line of drumsticks and mallets, Pasha and Zildjian cymbals, FIPS, (an early silent practice drum kit), Conga's, Bongos, Maracas, Timbales, Temple blocks, tuned bells, complete Rhythm outfits, twirling batons, and bugles (soprano, baritone, bass baritone, and French!!!!). They even offered a U. S. regulation Bugle for sale.

But it was the hardware and shells that made the Company's reputation. The Swiv-o-matic hardware was revolutionary at the time. There was simply nothing like it. The Dynasonic snare drum was a wonderment. And the various drum configurations and finishes were special.

Rogers offered 7 different snare drum model's. These included the top of the line Dynasonic, the Powertone, the Century, the Tower, the Luxor. the Banner, and the Student model. The Dyna and the Powertone came in both a wood shell and a metal shell. Over the years, the wood models have increased in value 5 to 25 times above the original price. The metal shell drums have not increased in value nearly as much.

The pictured drum is a metal Powertone. The 5 x 14 listed for 99.00 dollars and 6 1/2 x 14 listed for 102.00. At the time, this was a lot of money. If you figure in dollar devaluation and inflation, such a new drum would list for 1000.00 today. Given that, the drum is of quite humble origins. It's competitors in the marketplace, the Ludwig 400 and the Slingerland Gene Krupa, had brass shells and, in the case of Slingerland, brass hoops. The lowly Powertone was made of steel. The Powertone had no special strainer. It shared the Swiv-0-matic strainer that graced its more expensive sisters. There was only an 8 lug version.

Nevertheless, this drum could more than hold its own against its competitors in the most important category when talking about a musical instrument----the way it sounds. It's a solid, fine sounding snare drum. She will give you everything you ask of her, and then some.

The wood model is more desired ( I'll address that in a future blog). But no matter, and no apologies are needed. The Rogers metal Powertone is a fine snare drum. It's a fine example of a drum made in the golden age of the American Drum Company.



  1. "The lowly Powertone was made of steel"
    I think a correction has to be made here.
    The shells on Powertone snare drum were brass.

    1. Are you sure they're brass?

  2. So, what would be the value of my Powertone Snare, mine is in good condition and it says it was made in Cleveland Ohio, No. 11374.

  3. Don't know . I was wondering what my 1972 Dynasonic COB is worth . How about the Londoner 5 set that wraps it ?