Thursday, July 11, 2013

Vintage Ludwig Snare Drums | Painted Interiors And Dating The Drum

WFL Symphonic Snare Drum
For a few years, I got caught up in the vintage drum craze. Acquiring old Ludwig snare drums was my thing. It took me some time to learn about them, mostly through trial and error.  I should have gone right to this vintage drums book for starters. 

The book gives the reader a solid base of information on most of the larger or more popular drum companies of the 20th century. It was in that book where I found out about the WFL Symphonic snare, a drum that has been in my possession for nearly 20 years now.  I love that drum, and I try to take great care of it. When I took it on tour in 2000, I made sure to bring it in from the van every night. 

I have found just one other Symphonic, and that one was a couple years younger than my first, with extra holes drilled into it.  Someone had replaced the Ludwig Classic snare throw off with a cheap Japanese throw. The interior of that “newer” snare has a coat of interior paint. That was a common thing to see on the early 1960’s models. It was done at the factory. Some say that they were painted to hide the lower quality of wood in use at the time.   They sound very different from each other.  The painted snare produces fewer overall tones when compared to the 1959 Model.

I feel that I was one of the lucky ones who got into Ebay early enough to grab some pretty nice snare drums and parts before things got out of hand, and opening bids went through the roof.  Finding a good deal on a vintage drum on EBay seems to be a thing of the past. Prior to that change, it wasn’t unusual to find a Ludwig Supraphonic available for just over $100. At one point, I managed to snag a pair of vintage Supraphonics for $75 each. When I log on to an auction site now, it’s easy to see that the public at large has been educated. At least I made my splash early.