Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Fibes SFT 690 "Black Beauty" Snare Drum

In 1966, Bobby Grauso and John Morena founded the Fibes Drum Company. The shells were constructed of fiberglass which was revolutionary for the time. Clear shells were offered along with solid fiberglass shells covered with wraps. In addition, a sprayed on finish called Fivel was featured in the early Fibes catalogs.

The flagship snare drum of the Fibes Drum Company was the SFT 690. In fact, it was the only snare drum offered by the company. In a previous blog (See January 27th), I spoke at length about the 5 1/2 x 14 SFT. It was, and still is, a fine musical instrument. And it has enjoyed a great run. No less an authority than the great Buddy Rich played one even while he was endorsing Slingerland.

Bur Fibes didn't sit on its laurels, so to speak. The company started offering different wraps and different shells. Actually, the shells were still fiberglass, or Crystalite as they called it, but the company began to fiddle with the look. They came out with a " bumpy" or dimpled shell that looked frosted when held up to the light. Fibes also made a solid black acrylic shell, which brings me to the drum you see pictured above.

Perhaps the best way to describe this drum is to quote from a Fibes Ad in Downbeat Magazine, dated March 14th, 1974. The ad is titled, "Bobby and the Black Beauty." The copy reads as follows. "Our new Fibes drum is a beauty, but it's black. Black like you've never seen black. Made with our regular Cystalite shell, but with a difference, the color has been impregnated internally so that scratching of its high gloss blackness will never occur. We're proud of the Black Beauty and proud of Bobby Grauso, who thought of black being beautiful on a drum."

Now it's important to remember that this is Ad copy. When one thinks of a Black Beauty, one thinks of Ludwig, not Fibes. Nevertheless, up to this time, black wraps were used to cover drums. There were no solid black shells, although Fibes shells were made of black fiberglass.

Clearly, this was an attempt to sell more drums and drum companies, since the beginnning of time, have been trying to do that. More importantly, this is a very fine sounding snare drum in the rare 6 1/2 x 14 size. The drum is loud, but very sensitive and very similar to her smaller sister.

I haven't seen many of these and I suspect it was not a sales success. Still it's a important drum from the golden age of American Drum Companies.

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