Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Ludwig Standard Swing Snare Drum

In the mind's of many drummers and musicians, the 1930's and early 40's belonged to the Slingerland Drum Company. Their roster of endorsers was impressive. The great Gene Krupa headed the list followed by Buddy Rich, Dave Tough, Cozy Cole, Big Sid Catlett, and Ray McKinley.

The Radio King Snare drum was the cat's meow for drummers everywhere--the epitome of snare drum construction. It's thick steam bent maple shell with reinforcing rings was the Radio King's calling card.

But the Ludwig Drum Company, one of Slingerland's competitors, wasn't asleep at the wheel during this period. The Company had its own list of endorsers which included Haskell Harr, Ben Pollack, Ray Toland, and George Wettling. And both Buddy Rich and Big Sid Catlett switched to Ludwig in the 1940's.

Ludwig also had been producing some very fine snare drums beginning in the 1920's. The Ludwig Black Beauty, the Super Ludwig, and the Ludwig Super Sensitive were great snare drums and all of them have stood the test of time. Which leads me to the drum you see pictured here.

This beauty was known as the Ludwig Standard Swing Snare drum. It dates from the late 1930's, specifically 1938-39. She came in one size, 7 x 14. The shell was constructed of mahogany. Early Ludwig wood shells were solid mahogany, but by this time the company had introduced laminated shells. In any case, she does have an indented snare bed.

As the reader can see, she sports wood hoops with silver sparkle inlays. The lacquered Duco finish is a very cool dark green to white fade. This finish was cheaper than the pearl wraps that were offered. Indeed, blue and white fades and red and yellow fades were more popular than other Duco finishes.

The snare strainer was known as the 339. It was first sold in the late 30's and remained in production until 1950. This strainer was very functional and fit the bill perfectly. Finally, this cupcake has the self aligning Imperial lugs that were first offered in 1938. Before that time, the tension rods screwed directly into the lug causing numerous problems. After 38, small tubes were inserted into the lugs allowing the tension rod to float.

This particular model was offered only for a short time. Nevertheless, it's a fine drum that, with some tweaking, could handle many present day musical situations. Interestingly enough, this drum was traded in recently at my local drum store. It is currently up for sale. (But perhaps not for long.) Anyway, it just goes to show that great drum "finds" are still possible.

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