Monday, December 20, 2010

Slingerland Radio King Snare Drum

I think it's probably pretty safe to say that, at one time, the Slingerland Radio King Snare Drum, was the most popular snare drum in the world. Gene Krupa played Slingerland Drums his entire carreer and many other drum stars of the 30's and 40's such as Buddy Rich, Dave Tough, Ben Pollack, Ray McKinley and Barrett Deems played and endorsed these drums.

The 1930's-60's Radio King was made of either metal or solid wood. The solid wood models, which are highly prized, came in two sizes, 5 x 14 and 6 1/2 x 14. It came with the Krupa strainer and double flanged hoops. The top hoop was engraved with the words, "Slingerland Radio King". The drum was offered with either nickel or chrome plating. By the late 1940's, the drum was actually referred to as the Gene Krupa Radio King, such was the influence of this Chicago drummer.

Throughout the 50's and 60's, Slingerland continued to offer the Radio King. The metal model was made of brass, as were the hoops, which were now known as stick saver hoops. The name of the drum changed to the Super Gene Krupa Snare Drum and other models, playing off the Radio King name, were added to the catalog. The Gene Krupa Sound King, the Concert King, and the Super Sound King were made to entice drummers everywhere. These models achieved various degrees of sales success.

The pictured drum is from the 1950's. A few Drum Historians and Collectors believe that these drums from the 50's and early 60's were the finest drums that Slingerland ever made. This drum is also covered in a White Marine Pearl Wrap which was Krupa's favorite finish.

Slingerland is still in existence---now owned by Gibson Guitars. But this drum is from a time that is long passed and will never return.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Rogers Wood Dynasonic Snare Drum-B and B lug

This particular drum holds a special significance for me. As the reader can see, it's a Rogers Wood Dynasonic with "Bread and Butter" lugs. These lugs were made of brass and they tended to break and crack. It's unusual to find a drum like this with perfect lugs. The drum is also wrapped in the rare wine red ripple pearl. It's difficult enough to find a Wood Dynasonic in any finish much less this wrap. But that's not what really sets this Rogers Dynasonic apart from others.

Many years ago, I went to see Louis Bellson at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago. Louis would come in every year for a week stay at the club. I would go to every show and marvel at his playing. One time, I decided to bring this drum into the club and show it to him. I was somewhat nervous but, hell I thought, what was the worst thing that could happen.

He saw me come in with the drum and he motioned me over to him. He had big smile on his face and said he wanted to talk to me about the drum, but after the show. Needless to say, I stayed until the last set was over. What followed was one of the most enjoyable times of my drumming career. Louis picked up the Dynasonic and started to recall his time with Rogers Drums and Buddy Rich. In particular, he focused on a drum caravan that toured Japan in the 60's. Buddy, Louis, Philly Joe Jones, and Art Blakey were all part of the troupe. Louis played the Rogers Wood Dynasonic at the time. According to Louis, Buddy was enamoured with the sound of Louie's Snare drum and wanted him to give it to him. Louie quickly changed the subject and the drum never changed hands.

Louie graciously signed this drum for me that night. It was a wonderful night that I will never forget