Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Slingerland Radio King Snare Drum

The Slingerland Radio King Snare drum was the flagship snare drum of the Slingerland Drum Company. First introduced in 1936, the drum was offered in both a wood and metal shell and it came in two sizes, 5 x 14 and 6 1/2 x 14. During the 30's, the great Gene Krupa became associated with the drum and it became known as the Gene Krupa Radio King. In the late 30's, both Buddy Rich and Ray McKinley had Radio King's named after them.

In 1957, the Radio King name was dropped and the drum was simply referred to as the Gene Krupa Snare Drum. The drum was in production until 1976. After a brief hiatus, a reissue of the Radio King appeared in 1979, but that's another story. Over the years, the Radio King has achieved legendary status. So many great drummers played the drum and many collectors have at least one in their collection. Which brings me to the beauty you see pictured here.

This is an early 60's 6 1/2 x 14 Radio King. She sports the famous Radio King Strainer and has a solid maple shell. She doesn't have the engraved Radio King hoops, but rather the Slingerland brass hoops. I've seen pictures of other Radio Kings with these hoops, particularly those from the early to middle 60's. The Slingerland badge has no serial numbers which means this was one of the earliest drums made by Slingerland when they moved to Niles Illinois in 1960.

As the reader can see, she has a red and yellow duco lacquer finish. Radio Kings were offered in both lacquer finishes and pearl wraps. You usually find them in White Marine Pearl wrap and this is the preferred color among collectors. Both Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich played kits in this wrap. Buddy preferred this wrap throughout his career regardless of what make of drums he played.

To sum up, the Radio King occupies a special place in the history of American Drum Manufacturers. Even today, this snare drum can hold its own against its modern day competitors.

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