Thursday, May 31, 2012

Super-Ludwig Mahogany Snare Drum

It can be argued that the 1930's belonged to the Slingerland Drum Company. The Company introduced the Gene Krupa Radio King Snare Drum in 1936 and the company's list of endorsers was a who's who of big band drummers. In addition to Gene Krupa, the list included Buddy Rich, Davey Tough, Ben Pollack, Ray McKinley and Jackie Cooper.  Krupa was perhaps Slingerland's best salesman. No one could touch him in terms of popularity. Even the music press referred to him as, "America's Ace Drummer Man.."

Slingerland's main competitor, the Ludwig Drum Company, simply didn't have the star power. Sure, there were many endorsers, but no Gene Krupa among them. It had to be especially galling to William Ludwig because Krupa had originally played Ludwig and, because of an administrative snafu concerning a possible endorsement deal, called Slingerland and received a kit. The rest, of course, is history.

But none of this really addresses the quality of drums that were made by Ludwig in the 30's. Ludwig made some fabulous drums during that time and the pictured beauty is certainly one of them.

The Super Ludwig Snare Drum came in a wood or metal shell. She also came in two sizes, 5 x 14 and 6 1/2 x 14. The drum listed for $49.50  The sweetheart pictured  here is the mahogany wood shell version, sized 6 1/2 x 14.  She has eight Imperial lugs and each snare wire could be individually adjusted to suit a drummer's taste. A special drum key was included with each drum.

 This drum had one weakness.  The tension rods screwed right into the lug, which, if you weren't careful  when tuning it,  could end up stripping it. Ludwig quickly recognized the problem and within the year came up with self aligning inserts that were placed inside the casing. It worked beautifully.

  The 1937 catalog describes this drum as follows."The modern beauty of its design is matched by splendid tone, sensitive snare response, and excellent power and volume." Even though these words seem like marketing slogans, in this case, they do apply. This snare drum could stand up to any of its competitors, even the vaunted Radio King. No apologies are needed. I feel fortunate to own this beauty.

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