Old 11-05-2022, 12:01 PM
#11
O-Lugs O-Lugs is offline
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Default Re: Ply overlap in 70s Ludwig shells?
Ludwig and other 3-ply shell companies of that era kinda took a "the drum is a hollow log" approach to making shells. If you could get a head onto it and crank it down, then it was good to go.
I think other companies like Rogers and Gretsch had shells with staggered seams in the plies so there wasn't the lump created by a scarf joint.
In some cases, regardless of the shell style, there were some drums that were exceptionally good ones and some that were exceptionally bad.
I once purchased a green sparkle, pointy B/O badge Ludwig Pioneer because everyone wanted green sparkle at the time, and the drum looked good -no fade. I took the heads off and it looked like a beaver had cut the edges! The edges were so bad, it would have meant cutting down the depth of the shell drastically to repair them. Needless to say, I resold it and let someone else worry about it.
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Old 11-05-2022, 12:09 PM
#12
thin shell thin shell is offline
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Default Re: Ply overlap in 70s Ludwig shells?
Quote:
Originally Posted by O-Lugs View Post
If you DO get them re-edged, then make sure you find a competent entity to do the job. Precision Drum Company comes to mind.

As far as Ludwig's quality control...It varied. When the early 70's hit, they were pumping put drums to meet the demand for them. Bands were cropping up everywhere...concerts everywhere...drums everywhere. In many instances, drums and guitarswere getting kicked, thrown and destroyed as part of the show. There wasn't a demand for meticulously-made instruments during that era. No one cared. Most music was being performed on the back of a flatbed trailer, outdoors in the blazing sun and driving rain. And, for what it's worth, I believe that also can be part of the attraction to these old battleships. They were built for WAR! It shows in their construction. They were being built to meet the demand....and there was a BIG demand -especially for LUDWIG drums. Ludwig was so ubiquitous a name, people often just referred to "drums" as "Ludwigs"....and that''s no lie!

to the brotherhood of vintage drums, man. This is your trial-by-fire!
Kind of blows that "made in America is the best quality" myth. Doesn't it?

Ludwig quality was all over the map. Slingerland was much better. Rogers was probably the best. Gretsch was probably between Slingerland and Rogers. Ludwig quality was much better before Ringo so it could be argued that Ludwig didn't manage their growth very well. The other companies never had the same level of growth that Ludwig did so they were able to maintain their quality better than Ludwig.

I agree that the market wasn't as picky as it is now but Ludwig was willing to get it out the door while letting the quality slide. They still made great drums, but they also made a lot of turkeys.

Now a days, you have people taking drum sets apart and inspecting ever detail and then posting online that their new snare or drum set has an imperfect spot of grain on the inside or has a funny spot on the inside of their metal snare shell where it was hung for plating and asking if they should send it back. Usually, there is a chorus of people that say, "yes, send it back. It should be perfect". These are not hypotheticals.

I even saw one post where someone bought a USED set of Premier Genistas and when they took everything apart, something the seller hadn't claimed to have done, found one of the internal nylon lug pieces had a crack in it. They wanted to know if they should contact the seller because they hadn't disclosed the "damage" even though they seller had no way of knowing what was going on inside the lugs. This person was very upset about it and unbelievably, some people were actually in the "the seller did you wrong camp". These posts weren't here, but the expectations out there are really out of hand in a lot of cases.

Cracks in the shell or finish. Bad bearing edges or other actual quality issues all deserve resolution, but expecting perfection on things that don't make a bit of difference to the function of the drum just blow me away. I remember one of the many posts about an imperfection in the inner ply wood grain, had the poster so upset that they had to send it back because knowing that imperfection was there would ruin his ability to enjoy the drum. People with that mindset would never be able to get into vintage drums.
Old 11-05-2022, 12:12 PM
#13
Marty Black Marty Black is offline
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Default Re: Ply overlap in 70s Ludwig shells?
For what it's worth, Ludwig was the only drum company with unionized employees, and in 1971 a "radical chief steward was elected by the membership." Although threatened strikes were averted, a difficult relationship between labor and management existed, which included some sabotage....I'm not implying that the toms in this discussion were deliberately made sloppy, but it appears that Ludwig - in the 1970s - suffered from employees with "I don't give a sh**" attitudes. See page 87 of WFL II's book "The Making of a Drum Company" by Rob Cook/Rebeats. Regards, mb
Old 11-05-2022, 09:48 PM
#14
hochelaga hochelaga is offline
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Default Re: Ply overlap in 70s Ludwig shells?
All I can say is that before buying and looking closer to vintage drums, I was pretty naive. I honestly thought they were build to perfection, with all the knowledge and expectations we have now. I now know, and it makes totally sense, that they really didn't care much about all of these issues at the time, because of multiples factors, previously explained to me here.

I'm learning all of this in a short period of time, and have come to accept all those imperfections. Before making modifications on my drum's edges, I will take the time to play with it, learn to tune it properly and discover it's limitation, if there's any. And maybe in the end, I'll leave it as is, who knows. After all, they have been this way for almost 45 years on this specific drum kit.

One thing for sure, if I ever buy another vintage drum in the future, I will know what to look for !
Old 11-06-2022, 10:55 AM
#15
Hoppy Hoppy is offline
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Default Re: Ply overlap in 70s Ludwig shells?
Quote:
Originally Posted by hochelaga View Post
All I can say is that before buying and looking closer to vintage drums, I was pretty naive. I honestly thought they were build to perfection, with all the knowledge and expectations we have now. I now know, and it makes totally sense, that they really didn't care much about all of these issues at the time, because of multiples factors, previously explained to me here.

I'm learning all of this in a short period of time, and have come to accept all those imperfections. Before making modifications on my drum's edges, I will take the time to play with it, learn to tune it properly and discover it's limitation, if there's any. And maybe in the end, I'll leave it as is, who knows. After all, they have been this way for almost 45 years on this specific drum kit.

One thing for sure, if I ever buy another vintage drum in the future, I will know what to look for !
I can say I was pretty niave at one point too. We're all on a learning continuum and there's so much more information available and experienced people willing to share than ever before. Thus, it's easy to argue that the 'right now' is really the best time period to be engaged in this hobby, especially if you're one that is into the details/minutia.

I wish this level of info/expertise was available when I was starting out. I got my first kit in 1978, a 'Bonham' kit, plus a set of 8-concert toms. Soon thereafter I wanted to expand it, so in 1980 I bought an additional bass drum that was sitting on the floor of a music store (recovered it to match my kit). But, the 'new' bass drum didn't sound just like my original, which was a bit baffling to me. It was Ludwig drum, had a pointy B/O badge, had the same hardware, although it was a bit heavier compared to the kits original drum, why the difference in sound? I only much later, i.e., after being a member here, realized that the orignal bass was a 3-ply/re-ring while the 'new' bass was a 6-ply drum. Doh! No wonder they don't sound alike!!! I had the same experience with a 12" & 13" double headed toms I added to kit; both 6-ply (hmmm these badges look a little different, still B/O, but different, not as sharp on the edges), compared to the 14" 3-ply of the orignal kit. The 12"/13" toms just dont have the 'warmth' and are just a bit 'sharper' than my 14" (or the floor toms for that matter).

Similiar experience with a Black Beauty snare drum I bought in 1980 as well. The receipt listed the drum as a Ludwig L-417, 6.5"x14" Black Chrome snare. I always had a unfair bias against that drum because it wasn't an engraved model (which in my young mind was the only real Black Beauty) and was written up as black chrome and not a Black Beauty.

What brought me here to the VDF over a decade ago was trying to figure out what type of snare drum that thing was. I've learned a lot in that time, but it some times feels like only a thimble of knowledge compared to some more expereinced folks here.

Last edited by Hoppy; 11-06-2022 at 10:58 AM.
Old 11-06-2022, 09:13 PM
#16
K.O. K.O. is offline
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Default Re: Ply overlap in 70s Ludwig shells?
My high school band toured the Chicago Ludwig plant in 1976. I was 15 at the time. Based on that experience and what I saw I think you'd have been very hard pressed to find a single worker below management status that really "gave a Sh!t" about the fit and finish of the drums. It was a dirty, noisy environment where hundreds of folks went about their day doing their single task over and over again. In other words, a factory. If you didn't know they were making drums you could have easily been persuaded that they were turning out furniture, frying pans, or engine blocks. So they were regular people from the neighborhood, happy to have a job and a paycheck, but spending each day eyeing the clock waiting for quitting time to roll around. In other words, typical factory workers. I'm sure there were some there who honestly wanted to do the best they could, but they were mostly doing repetitive tasks for an eight hour shift and that wears anyone down eventually. If you spend eight hours a day feeding dowels into a drumstick lathe (incredibly noisy and the sound of multiple lathes reverberated throughout the place) or screwing lugs onto a shell, or operating a drill press you will eventually become numbed to the task.

I mention this, not to disparage Ludwig, or the workers, I love the products they were churning out, imperfections and all, but to inject a dose of reality. It was a factory environment and it operated as such. I know many have romanticized notions of men in white lab coats, each carefully constructing a drum from scratch one at a time, but that was not the way it was done, at Ludwig, or at any of the major drum makers back then. At the time this level of quality was good enough for, if not every customer, perhaps, at least the vast majority of them. In the era before clear heads it might be years before a drum owner saw the interior of one of his drums. When he did it was doubtful that he paid that much attention unless something truly jarring was apparent. We just, for the most part, accepted what we were sold and as long as it worked we were happy.

Trends in drum sounds also played a part in this. In the 50's and 60s the close up sound didn't matter anywhere outside a recording studio. In a concert setting the drummer was bashing on them just to be heard. In the 70's when live close miking became more common the single head sound was in vogue as was a dead tom sound and drummers were even spending money on add-on gadgets to kill as much resonance as possible. If a drum was slightly out of round or had a badly cut bearing edge it might just mean the drummer needed a bit less duct tape to achieve his desired sound.

None of this would fly today and the drum companies, with much smaller workforces and much fussier clientele, have addressed most of these issues in the past 30 years or so. Even the very cheapest First Act drums have shells that are built to a higher standard than the top of the line drums of 60 years ago (and yet still don't sound as good....hmmm?). But we can't honestly expect the drums from 50 or 60 years ago to live up to the standards of today...but they did meet the standards of their day, which was, admittedly, a much lower threshold to cross.

Vintage drums are great (I have LOT of them) but they come with certain peccadillos that are to be anticipated (maybe embraced) and, if you expect the sort of perfection that those imaginary men in white coats might have achieved, you are bound to end up with some level of disappointment. But if you can tolerate these usually minor quirks you can be rewarded with great sounding drums that have some history and "mojo" behind them.

Last edited by K.O.; 11-06-2022 at 09:16 PM.
Old 11-06-2022, 11:03 PM
#17
Marty Black Marty Black is offline
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Default Re: Ply overlap in 70s Ludwig shells?
K.O., that's the best-written, most informative and "real" post I've ever read on VDF! Thanks for opening our eyes a bit wider and providing a base of expectations for beginning collectors of Ludwig drums...as well as others. I'm saving your post in my paper files. A great and interesting read! Regards, mb
 

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