Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Leedy Reliance Snare Drum

For many drummers, mention of the Leedy Drum Company will draw blank stares. But this was not always the case. Leedy's motto was the "World's finest Drummers Instruments," and, during the 1920's, 30's, and 40's, Leedy built some of the finest drums that money could buy.
Leedy was originally based in Indianapolis. In 1930, the Conn Instrument Company bought Leedy and moved it lock, stock, and barrel to Elkhart, Indiana. In the 1920's, the company offered 16 different sized snare drums. The customer had a choice of a solid maple, mahogany, or walnut shell. In addition to the wood shells, Leedy also sold a heavy double inverted brass shell. The company even sold a floating head 8 lug snare drum.

The beautiful little drum you see pictured is from the late 1920's. Known as the Reliance or Utility Snare drum, this cutie pie sports a heavy brass shell, 6 tube lugs, and steel single flanged stick shredder hoops with clips. Initially, the drum had 8 lugs, but then became a 6 lug. In the early 1930's, the drum reverted back to 8 lugs.

The snare strainer on the Reliance was called the Utility Snare Strainer. If this drum has a weakness, this is it. The strainer is balky and none too solid. It is definitely not user friendly. Thus, this drum would need more than a fair amount of tweaking to make it usable in today's musical environment. Nevertheless, the drum oozes quality, and when it was made, it was one of the finest drums then available.

Leedy went through numerous twists and turns in its lifetime. At one time, Leedy was partnered with Ludwig. In the 1950's, Slingerland bought the company. Slowly, but surely, Leedy faded into the background, yet another casualty of the "Drum Wars" between competing companies.

But all is not lost. Leedy, currently owned by Fred Gretsch of the Gretsch Drum Company, is alive and kicking, at least on the web. Leedy has also maintained a booth at the winter NAMM show the last few years. The company that was founded by Ulysses Grant Leedy in 1895 still has life in 2012.

1 comment:

  1. I find the stainer to be perfect on mine. On or off. The tension rods being non-standard seem a bigger weakness.

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