Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Ludwig Clear Vistalite Snare Drum

Drum companies in the 1960's enjoyed a period of great sales success. Business was literally booming and drum executives looked for ways to entice drummers to spend more of their hard earned cash on new drums and accessories. In addition, new companies like the Fibes Drum Corporation entered the marketplace. Fibes introduced acrylic and fiberglass shells and immediately began finding willing buyers.

This sales activity wasn't lost on the "old line" drum manufacturers. Nothing succeeds like success and Ludwig and Slingerland began making drums made of acrylic. But they ignored Fiberglass shells entirely. Ludwig called their line the Vistalite line, Slingerland called theirs the Phantom line. Interestingly enough, Grestch, Rogers, and Premier decided not to enter the fray.

Ludwig Vistalites were introduced in 1973. At first, 6 colors were offered--clear, red, blue, yellow, amber, and green. Later, more colors were added along with various patterns with a mixture of colors The drum you see pictured is an early clear Vistalite. She has the Classic lugs and P-85 strainer that she shared with her wood shell sisters.

The Vistalite line enjoyed initial success. Indeed, John Bonham (Led Zeppelin) played an amber kit. But, by the early 80's, the "bloom was off the rose. " In 1983, Ludwig dropped the line. Acrylic drums became an afterthought--- a reminder of a time long gone.

But in 2000, Ludwig began making acrylic drums again. They were really the only major American drum company to produce them. And Ludwig continues to make them. Indeed, at the most recent NAMM convention, Ludwig exhibited Vistalites along with metal and wood shell drums.

Interestingly enough, the Sonor Drum Company and the Canopus Drum Company have recently marketed acrylic drum kits in their respective catalogs. Other smaller companies have followed suit. Acrylic drums, which were considered a dead issue not so long ago, are alive and well.

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