Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Rogers Super Ten Model Snare Drum

The Rogers Drum Company, like Ludwig, Slingerland, Camco, Leedy, and Gretsch, tried to offer a drum or drum kit for everyone's budget. In the case of Rogers, the Dynasonic snare drum was the flagship of the company followed by the Powertone (See blog dated July 20th). Over the years, collectors have made the Dynasonic, particularly the wood shell version, one of the most prized and sought after snare drums in the marketplace. Prices have gone through the roof. Certainly, the fact that both Buddy Rich and Louis Bellson played the Dyna helped matters considerably. But Buddy also played a wood Powertone and although it too has increased in value over the years, that increase hasn't come close to that of the Dynasonic.

As mentioned earlier, Rogers offered other models during the company's lifetime. Not all of these drums have weathered the test of time as well as the Dyna. In fact, it's a truism that just because a drum is old, doesn't necessarily make it good, desirable, or collectible. The same can be said about anything that is considered an antique. Which brings us to the drum you see pictured here.

The Rogers Super Ten was introduced in 1973. Its production run lasted until 1983. It came in two sizes, 5 x 14 and 6 1/2 x 14. The shell was made of steel, as were the hoops, and it had ten lugs, thus the name Super Ten. In 1983, a wood shell model was offered, although I've never seen one in the flesh. The Super Ten replaced the Powertone, which had finally run its course.

The 1976 Rogers catalog describes the drum as follows. " At last, a snare drum you can dig into and it still responds and feels good....carefully designed snare beds provide that thick sound that has become so popular....easy to play, easy to tune, and durable, the Super Ten gives a funky sound that is so much a part of today's music."

Suffice it to say, that the above catalog ad copy is just copy. The reality is somewhat different. There's nothing special about the Super Ten. The carefully designed snare beds are a figment of someone's imagination. It's not a bad drum, but it has no specialness about it at all. The sound of the drum is rather pedestrian, although with the choice of drum heads nowadays, a drummer could tweak the Super Ten to his heart's content. No endorsers were ever connected to the drum. And perhaps that's the problem. In any case, you don't see many of these in the marketplace and they are not considered very collectible.

It's all rather ironic really. Here's an average musical instrument that is currently considered not very desirable. Yet, it is relatively rare and it does share the same Rogers hardware as her more expensive sisters. It's true that the Rogers Drum Company had started its long slow slide into oblivion around the late 70's. Unfortunately, this drum was one of the casualties.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Rogers Powertone Snare Drum--metal shell

The Rogers Drum Company occupies a special place in the history of American Drum Companies. Like its competitors, Gretsch, Ludwig, Leedy, and Slingerland, Rogers had a long illustrious run producing fine drums and accessories. Unlike these aforementioned companies, Rogers early ( 1930's) snare drums and drum kits were not as desirable as those from Slingerland and Ludwig. The great Gene Krupa saw to it that Slingerland ruled the roost during the 30's and 40's. Ludwig, and to a lesser extent, Leedy were always nipping at Slingerland's heels during that time. In the mid 40's, Ludwig signed Buddy Rich to an endorsement deal in an attempt to put a dent in Slingerland sales. At the same time, Gretsch attempted to ride the Be-bop revolution with the great Max Roach.

Rogers, on the other hand, quietly made drums and stayed out of the fray. Indeed, for a while, Rogers had a working relationship with the Camco Drum Company buying parts and hardware.On May 5th 1955, the world changed for Rogers. On that date, Henry Grossman, the owner of the Grossman Distributing Company, announced he had bought the Rogers Drum Company. Henry brought two gentlemen into the company with him, Joe Thompson, a musican/engineer, and Ben Strauss, a marketing and sales professional. These three proceeded to turn the Rogers Drum Company into a powerhouse.

By the early 60's, Rogers was offering top of the line drums and hardware. They had snagged two of the drum world's most famous names, Buddy Rich and Louis Bellson, as endorsers. But they didn't stop there. There list of endorsers included Cozy Cole, Irv Cottler, Jim Chapin, Roy Burns, Hal Blaine, Earl Palmer, Frankie Capp, and J. C. Heard.

The company was innovative....and very aggressive. Rogers offered something for everyone in the percussion world. Snare Drums, Drum Kits, Marching Drums, Glockenspiels, Deagan Marimbas, Vibraphones, a full line of drumsticks and mallets, Pasha and Zildjian cymbals, FIPS, (an early silent practice drum kit), Conga's, Bongos, Maracas, Timbales, Temple blocks, tuned bells, complete Rhythm outfits, twirling batons, and bugles (soprano, baritone, bass baritone, and French!!!!). They even offered a U. S. regulation Bugle for sale.

But it was the hardware and shells that made the Company's reputation. The Swiv-o-matic hardware was revolutionary at the time. There was simply nothing like it. The Dynasonic snare drum was a wonderment. And the various drum configurations and finishes were special.

Rogers offered 7 different snare drum model's. These included the top of the line Dynasonic, the Powertone, the Century, the Tower, the Luxor. the Banner, and the Student model. The Dyna and the Powertone came in both a wood shell and a metal shell. Over the years, the wood models have increased in value 5 to 25 times above the original price. The metal shell drums have not increased in value nearly as much.

The pictured drum is a metal Powertone. The 5 x 14 listed for 99.00 dollars and 6 1/2 x 14 listed for 102.00. At the time, this was a lot of money. If you figure in dollar devaluation and inflation, such a new drum would list for 1000.00 today. Given that, the drum is of quite humble origins. It's competitors in the marketplace, the Ludwig 400 and the Slingerland Gene Krupa, had brass shells and, in the case of Slingerland, brass hoops. The lowly Powertone was made of steel. The Powertone had no special strainer. It shared the Swiv-0-matic strainer that graced its more expensive sisters. There was only an 8 lug version.

Nevertheless, this drum could more than hold its own against its competitors in the most important category when talking about a musical instrument----the way it sounds. It's a solid, fine sounding snare drum. She will give you everything you ask of her, and then some.

The wood model is more desired ( I'll address that in a future blog). But no matter, and no apologies are needed. The Rogers metal Powertone is a fine snare drum. It's a fine example of a drum made in the golden age of the American Drum Company.