Friday, March 30, 2012

The Ludwig Supraphonic 402

The Ludwig Drum Company holds the distinction of producing perhaps the most recorded snare drum in history--the Ludwig Supraphonic 400. The number of drummers who have used this model in recording sessions is quite staggering. The great Hal Blaine used the drum on 40 top ten hits, 350 top 40 hits, and thousands of other recordings. Charlie Watts (Stones), Mitch Mitchell (Jimi Hendrix), Dino Danelli (Young Rascals) and John Densmore (Doors), to name but a few, all played the model for extensive periods during their careers.

The pictured beauty doesn't have quite the same pedigree, but she is no slouch by any stretch of the imagination. The Ludwig 402 is really a 400 on steroids. She's bigger at 6 1/2 x 14, but no less responsive. She has the famous self aligning Imperial lugs and P-83 snare strainer. The drum originally came with Ludwig's own batter head and extra thin snare head. And the drum was initially made of brass.

This particular model is from the late 70's, perhaps early 80's. By this time, Ludwig had stopped using brass shells and used whatever metal they could get their hands on. Interestingly enough, Ludwig returned to brass shells in the mid 90s, but that's another story. The competition, in this case Rogers and Slingerland, continued to use brass shells throughout this time period.

The popularity of the 402 rests on the shoulders of one John Bonham who used the model extensively with Led Zeppelin. It was a match made in heaven. The list of recordings he made with Zeppelin are now a part of Rock history. I have no doubt that somewhere in the world, at this very moment, a classic rock radio station is spinning a Led Zeppelin tune with John powering through with his 402.

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