Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Ludwig Piccolo Snare Drum

The Ludwig Drum Company, perhaps more than any of their competitors during the 60's and 70's,did its best to align its drums with the growing youth market. Truth be told, Ludwig had a head start in the marketplace because of its association with Ringo Starr and other drummers from the British invasion. But many American drummers also played the brand. The great Hal Blaine, who played on hundreds of hit records, played and endorsed Ludwig Drums.

The Supraphonic 400 was Ludwig's top selling snare drum. It was offered as standard on many kits at the time. The jazz great, Joe Morello, played the drum. But Ludwig executives continued to dream up other snare drum offerings. After all, the "Now Generation", also known as "Boomers" in later years, were huge in number and they had money to spend. Which brings us to the drum you see pictured here.

The Ludwig Piccolo Snare Drum was sold from 1970 to 1991. This 3 x 13 drum was the metal version of the Jazz combo snare drum. The copy from an early 70's Ludwig catalog describes the drum as follows. "Presenting the PICCOLO snare drum, a new solo soprano percussion voice ideal for today's intricate rhythmic patterns. The all metal shell produces the crisp sound demanded by so many of today's top recording artists."

In this case, the catalog description wasn't simply ad verbiage. This little beauty does produce a very distinctive " crack'. Because of it's size, there's not a lot of heft to the sound, and it's not for everybody. The idea was to offer it as the primary snare in a bop setting. It's best use is perhaps as a secondary snare voice in an expanded kit. Nevertheless, you can't help but notice it when you play it. The drum really sings.

In addition to offering the Piccolo as a stand alone item, Ludwig presented it as part of their Modern Snare Quartet. This package included 4 snare drums that would commonly be used in a concert setting. Along with the Piccolo, the prospective buyer could purchase a 12 x 15 Super Sensitive, a 6 1/2 x 14 Super Sensitive, and a 5 x 14 Super Sensitive Snare drum. All the drums had metal shells and concert stands were included.

To read more about the Ludwig Drum Company and Joe Morello kindly click on the following links.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Rogers Dynasonic Snare Drum

Perhaps no other snare drum from the 1960's has created as much controversy as the Rogers Dynasonic snare drum. Every drummer who has played the drum has an opinion. And the opinions are varied to say the least. One drummer will claim that the Dynasonic sounds best tuned high and tight with Diplomat heads. Another will say that the drum sounds better with medium to low tensioning with Ambassador heads. And still others, some who don't even know anything about the drum, will say the drum sounds " terrible" in any tuning range. There simply is no middle ground.

To my way of thinking, all of this quarreling is really a " tempest in a teapot." The Dynasonic was designed to be the most responsive and sensitive snare drum of its time. Rogers designers, in particular Ben Strauss, did their best to make a snare drum that was playable "right out of the box." A special sheet indicating how to tune the drum was included with a Dynasonic purchase. As with any product, some Dyna's were better than others. If you happened to purchase a "good" one, you bought a hell of a snare drum. And the drum could be tweaked to no end.

The drum you see pictured is from the mid 60's. This beauty is wrapped in red sparkle and she still sports her original heads. The clockface strainer has a black background around the logo which indicates a pre 1964 vintage. After 1964, the black background was dropped and the shape of the strainer changed somewhat. Every Dynasonic was outfitted with a metal snare bridge that, theoretically, would keep the snare wires flat and in even constant contact with the snare head.

The drum came in wood and metal shells and in 5 x 14, 6 1/2 x 14, and 8 x 15 sizes. The shell was a 5 ply maple/poplar mix and was finished in a clear varnish. Rogers tom and bass drums, on the other hand, were finished with either black or grey speckled paint. Early Rogers Dynasonics came with brass "bread and butter" lugs. This model has the "Beavertail" lugs which replaced the earlier brass ones.

Many famous drummers played the Dynasonic, including Buddy Rich and Louie Bellson. Perhaps because of this association, the Dyna has become a very collectible drum, particularly the wood shell model.

To read more about the Dynasonic, kindly click on the following link

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

the Premier Royal Ace Snare Drum

The Royal Ace snare drum was the flagship snare drum for the Premier Drum Company. Every drum company back in the day offered a top of the line snare drum that represented the best that particular company had to offer at the time. Indeed, Slingerland, for example, had the Radio King. Rogers sold the Dynasonic. Camco offered the Super 99. And Premier presented the drum you see pictured here.

The Royal Ace garnered a full page in the 1966 catalog. It came in two sizes, 5 1/2 x 14 and 6 1/2 by 14., in either a wood or metal shell. The snare mechanism set it apart from its competitors. The parallel action strainer allowed the snare wires to " float" against the bottom head. Perhaps the best way to describe this strainer is to quote directly from the Premier catalog. " The patented Premier floating snare system brings snare response to a new high level. The perfect snare action keeps the 20-strand snare wires always under tension. Unwanted snare "buzz" is completely eliminated. No longer are the snares attached to both sides of the shell, choking the sound and stifling the vibrations."

Certainly some of this explanation is advertising verbiage. Nevertheless, it did work as advertised. The drum is responsive. And it comes with die-molded counter hoops, eye catching chrome plating and a choice of various finishes, some of which were exclusive only to Premier. This drum is wrapped in Red Sparkle Pearl and to say she's beautiful is an understatement.

A number of famous players endorsed Premier. Sam Woodyard with Duke Ellington, Gus Johnson with Ella Fitzgerald, Bobby Elliott of the Hollies and, of course, Keith Moon of the WHO----all endorsed Premier.

To read further details about the Royal Ace snare drum and the players who endorsed Premier, kindly click on the following link.