Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Camco Orchestra Tuxedo Model wood shell snare drum

Every drum company, at one time or another, has offered a flagship snare drum to perspective buyers. This snare drum is a top of the line drum. It's theoretically the best that a particular company has to offer.

In the 60's, Rogers had its Dynasonic. Slingerland had its Radio King. Fibes had the SFT 690. Ludwig sold the Supraphonic Super Sensitive. Gretsch had the Broadkaster and Camco offered the Super 99. But, except for Fibes and perhaps Gretsch, the rest of these companies sold "cheaper"models. The fact that these snare drums were less expensive was no indication of their worthiness as musical instruments. Indeed, the Ludwig Supraphonic 400 was " standard issue" on most Ludwig kits at the time. It can be argued that the 400 was the most popular snare drum of the 1960's. It has been said to be the most recorded snare drum of all time and yet it was not the flagship snare drum for Ludwig.

Which brings us, in a rather roundabout way, to the Camco Drum Company and the beautiful snare drum you see pictured here. There's no need to rehash the story of Camco. Readers are encouraged to see my blog dated March 7th 2011 for a more complete retelling. Suffice it to say, that Camco was the " little shrimp on the block." Ludwig and Slingerland simply dwarfed the company from Oak Lawn Illinois.

But Camco competed as best it could and like its competitors offered various snare drums in its catalogs. The company offered the Super 99, the Aristocrat, the Studio, and the drum you see pictured here, the Orchestra Tuxedo. This beauty listed for 79.50 US and came in two sizes, 5 x 14 and 6 1/2 x 14. Outside of the Studio model, it was the least expensive snare drum sold by Camco.

The Orchestra Tuxedo came with a trapezoidal or turret strainer and 8 Tuxedo lugs. These were the same type of lugs used on the pricey Super 99 ( 119.00 list US). The shell was made of 3 or 4 ply maple with reinforcing rings. Like the Ludwig wood shells of the time, the Camco shell was sprayed with white sealant. The hoops were triple flanged and were a copy of an earlier Leedy hoop.

No apologies are needed concerning the sound of this snare drum. This drum can more than hold its own with any comparable Ludwig or Slingerland model. Yet over the years, this drum was largely forgotten. Camco simply didn't have the promotional budget that Ludwig and Slingerland did at that time. But Camco made some great drums and this is a fine example, despite its modest cost.

The value of these drums has skyrocketed over the last 10 years. So many years after Camco closed its doors, drummers everywhere are discovering the quality of these fine drums.

1 comment:

  1. The 3,4 and 6ply Jasper shelled Oaklawn's were to some, the best sounding studio drums that were available in the 60s. Standard fair at studios across the country and by those in the know but virtually unheard of by the rest of the world. The L.A. era Camco's on the other hand were made from Keller 6/6 ply maple shells with sharp steeple shaped bearing edges, centered on the 3rd ply of the shell with a slight rollover getting larger as each drum goes up in size. Those who own them say they are, by far, the finest drums that have ever been made. Better sounding, cleaner and clearer tones than dw or recording customs and still to this day unmatched. Like owning an entire set of maple Dynasonics with twice the attention to detail and labor. History will one day record them as the Stradivarius of drums.