Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Leedy and Strupe Snare Drum

The history of  American Drum Manufacturers is filled with stories of success and failure. Unfortunately, the history of the Leedy and Strupe Drum company is one of failure. I'll try to give a brief synopsis of the life of the company, but the reader is encouraged to pick up Harry Cangany's indispensable book, " The Great American Drums and the Companies that made them," to get a more detailed view.

In 1929, Ulysses Grant Leedy sold his company to Conn Instruments. Conn promptly moved the company to Elkhart  Indiana  from Indianapolis . But Ulysses wasn't ready to throw in the towel just yet. He kept the factory in  Indianapolis and in partnership with his son Edwin and Cecil Strupe, a former employee from Leedy, he formed the General Products Corporation in 1930. Thus the L and S ( Leedy and Son) Drum Company was born. But Ulysses was not a healthy man and  he passed away even   before the company had built its first drums.  His son wanted to continue the operation with the help of Cecil Strupe.  Leedy and Son  now was referred to as Leedy and Strupe.

The company lasted for about 8 years. Cecil jumped ship in the mid 30's and went to work for WFL in Chicago. By 1939, it was all over but the shouting. The company died quietly. All of which brings me to the drum you see pictured.

So little has survived over the last decades concerning the various drums that  L and S produced. The top of the line was called the Master Tension Series and the Dictator model was the flagship snare drum for the company. The pictured beauty is not a Dictator.  In fact, I've had a difficult time identifying it.  L and S made other models. They included the Rhythm King, the Service, the Transient, the Concert, the Reliant, and the Boys school model.  This drum is somewhat similar to the Leedy Reliance snare drum of the time.  She's 6 1/2  x 14 inches, has single flanged hoops, and tube lugs. The shell looks to be of brass, but I don't think so.  The tube lugs might be an indication of this drum's timeline.. Early models had tube lugs. Later models had Master Tension lugs. In any case, the drum is very decent sounding, and with a little bit of tweaking, could fill the bill nicely.

Unfortunately,  L and S is now a part of history. All that's left are the drums themselves as a reminder of a time long gone.

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