Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Gretsch Broadkaster Snare Drum

Arguably one of the finest snare drums ever made was the Gretsch Gladstone two way or three way tension snare drum. ( See blog date Oct 6th, 2010). There wasn't anything else quite like it and great big band drummers like Chick Webb and Jo Jones raved about the Gladstone. Jo even played a complete set of Gladstone drums. In the 30's, Gretsch based it's reputation on this drum and the company "rode" it for all it was worth
 But the Second World War affected drum production and it wasn't until the late 40's that drum companies returned to their normal way of doing business. The music scene was changing also. Be-bop was the trend of the day and Big Bands were starting their long slide into oblivion.

The Gretsch Drum Company recognized this and was johnny-on-the spot in grabbing the lion's share of endorsers who played this "new" music. The list of musicians was most impressive. It  included Kenny Clarke, Max Roach, Art Blakey, Shelly Manne, Art Taylor, Chico Hamilton, and Charli Persip. The company didn't ignore big band drummers either. Jo Jones continued to play the brand but he was joined by Louis Bellson, Sonny Payne, Don Lamond, Mel Lewis, Shadow Wilson and Dick Shanahan.  Thus Grestch  entered it's glory days.  The company started a run that culminated in the 60's, stumbled a bit in the 70's and 80's, righted itself in the late 90's, and is currently enjoying great success in the marketplace.

All of which brings me to the gorgeous beauty you see pictured here. This is a Gretsch Broadkaster Snare Drum from 1947. She has a 3 ply wooden shell, which was advertised as being perfectly round for life, double flange hoops, self-aligning non strip lugs and the " feather touch" snare strainer.

 This drum has no reinforcing rings. Gretsch engineers believed that such rings distorted the sound. She is wrapped in a White Pearl finish. Later Gretsch drums had a silver sealant on the inside of the shell.  This drum does not. Perhaps not the most sensitive drum around and her sound is "old fashioned". That is to say that younger players who like that real poppy snare sound would not care for her at all. But no matter. She's a real sweet heart, and for us older players, she fits the bill perfectly.

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