1950s Gretsch RB BDP Bass Drum Restoration...COMPLETE!

retrosonic

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Well, it took a bunch of time and work, but........my 1960s Gretsch RB BDP Bass Drum Restoration is finally completed!

I had to fill 6 small holes in the shell, and of course acquire every piece of hardware installed on it.

An eagle eye will notice the BDP hoops are not the normal Gretsch ones with the 3/4 inlay. I was offered a set of those for like
$260, which I just thought was too high for a players drum. So, instead, I found one restored BDP hoop with the 1/2 inlay which looks fantastic (the front Hoop), and a neglected BDP hoop with some glue spots on the inlay and badly needing a paint job. I Cleaned all the glue off the inlay, polished with Novus, the masked the inlay and painted the hoop to match the good one. I'm really really happy how it came out. I think I spent around $60 all told for both hoops.

"The Encores" head is not my band, its an original 50s head that I found on EBAY. I think it goes perfectly with the drum.

I am having one issue tho....the consolette Spade is too loose in the post assembly, even with the nut cranked down tight. Not sure how to fix that! Anbody know?

Please let me know what you think!!

next up on the list...restoring the matching floor tom, mounted tom, and snare drum. Those should go a bit faster. The mounted tom has two small holes I have to fill.

Retro
 
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el_37

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Great Job! Can't wait to see the rest of the restoration.
 

JazzDrumGuy

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Sweet! One of my ongoing projects is a Gretsch BDP tribute to Elvin Jones. I have an SSB 12 tom, RB 14 FT, RB 14 snare and a 16x18 SSB FT I just need to cut down as a bass but it's in perfect condition so it pains me to think about doing so.....

Do u have matching drums?
 

retrosonic

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Hi Jazz! Hey that sounds like a fun project!! I'm curious as to how you are going to cut down the width of the bass drum. Are you going to bring it to a wood shop and have them do it on an industrial saw?

You know, around 10 years ago, I spoke to an older gentleman on Long Island, who was a big band drummer in the 40s and early 50s . He told me an interesting tidbit which is related to what you want to do (a little):

In the 1940s, many drummers had these BIG bass drums...26, 28 inchers. Most bands were acoustic, so the drummer needed those big drums to punch thru the brass.

So, when the 50s hit, the bands got much smaller, now maybe 6 or 7 pieces instead of 12 or larger. At the same time, the drum manufacturers down sized most bass drums to 24 and 22.

So, in the 50s many drummers were still lugging around these huge bass drums, which were both no longer needed, and looked dated by say , 1952 or so.

Rather then spend alot of $$$ for a "modern" bass drum, many of these drummers looked up their local "Cooper". A "Cooper" is one who makes and fixes wooden barrels. Now, in the 1950s, wooden barrels were still used extensively, especially to ship things overseas. So there were plenty of Coopers around. The "Coopers" had special tools and machines to cut, bend and bind wooden slats. The drummers would bring their 26 and 28 inch bass drums to the cooper, who could actually cut a chunk out of the circumference , then steam the remainder of the shell, bend and bind the edges together, with horse glue and brackets. These guys were EXPERTS with wood, they could do anything that required advanced knowledge. Since the hoops on those old bass drums were just wooden hoops and not metal with rod holes, all the drummer needed to buy were a new set of smaller hoops.....much cheaper than buying a new bass drum. And who knows.....maybe the Cooper would cut down the hoops as well!!

I figured you would enjoy that story. I was fascinated hearing it. In those days, drummers on the road had to be DIY guys. Things were always breaking and many times a drummer would have to get inventive to fix things, like using plumbing supplies (I'm not kidding) to repair drum hardware.

And yes, all my drums in this set that I'm restoring are RB, 50s/60s BDP with the appropriate badges.
I dont like mixing RB and SSB drums, BUT....I could live with it if I had too. Its really the wrap thats important.


Please post before and after pix of your bass drum....I'm really interested to see how you make out!!

Retro
 
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JazzDrumGuy

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Cool story about the cooper - now I know what that job is!

Retro, my problem is that the FT future bass is pristine....9+/10 condition.
I love to fix and save old, beater drums and make them "new" again, or repurpose drums (such as 12x15 marchers into mini basses), but this one I cannot justify tearing into. I'd have to have a shop do it as I don't have a router or table saw.
Thus, the project is stuck. I have hoops, T-handles, claws, heads, and a rail consolette, but I made this mistake already and it still haunts me.

My first vintage Gretsch kit started with a 12" RB in red sparkle. I then found a 16 RB FT from the same kit (the store didn't realize they had it!). I then found a bare shell RB 14x14 FT that I sent to Maxwells to rewrap in red glass glitter (I found a wrap on eBay that was 98% perfect and had the guy ship it to Maxwells to do my FT). Since I wanted a vintage bop kit, I converted the 16 to a bass, Max made hoops and inlay and it worked great. I then moved to 18" basses (SSB & square badge) and then scored a 20" RB bass. At that point, I realized I should have NEVER damaged the 16 FT. I could, in theory, "unconvert" it back to a FT, but it will have two 1" holes where the retracting spurs were added (plus the rail holes) - it was just a stupid bonehead maneuver!

So, although I am not actively looking, it would be perfect to find both a 16 BDP RB FT and a 20 BDP RB bass to have a full kit........so I would probably sell the 18......
 

retrosonic

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Jazz: I understand your problem. And most of the time, I feel the same way. However in this case, I think its Ok to convert that SSB Floor tom into a bass drum. For one thing, its not a RB. For another, there are thousands of BDP SSB Floor toms out there, I honestly dont think you should feel guilty. Besides, you will give it new life as the centerpiece of your Elvin Jones kit. I'd say do it.
 

retrosonic

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Uh 0h!! The mounted tom resto is going to be a bit more work than I thought.....the seam has come up alot and theres a small crack in the wrap, and I have to fill two holes...but luckily, the diamond plate mount will cover both holes (the previous user drilled it for a ludwig tom mount).

So its gonna be fine, but will take me a bit more time and effort....which is ok. I'll put The Hullaballoos on the turntable and go at it......
 

JazzDrumGuy

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Retro, I haven't come across another BDP 18", RB or SSB.....must be living under a rock! I've got other projects on less desirable drums I can work on while I ponder this one a bit more but thanks for the right answer......
 

bopdaddy

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That bass drum is not a 50's, paper tags came in 63'. Nice drum!
 

wflkurt

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Uh 0h!! The mounted tom resto is going to be a bit more work than I thought.....the seam has come up alot and theres a small crack in the wrap, and I have to fill two holes...but luckily, the diamond plate mount will cover both holes (the previous user drilled it for a ludwig tom mount).

So its gonna be fine, but will take me a bit more time and effort....which is ok. I'll put The Hullaballoos on the turntable and go at it......

My champagne Gretsch restore had the same issue with the 12. Somone put a Ludwig mount on there but thankfully the diamond mount covered the two holes and you would never know those holes are there.

As for your spade, I was having a similar issue with the spade arm moving around. I actually added another washer under the bolt and used a ratchet to reallt tighten that thing down. I don't plan on having to adjust it again as I only need to fold down the rail for transport. I just used the set on a gig last weekend and everything worked perfectly.

Gretsch7.jpg
Gretsch8.jpg
 

retrosonic

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Thanks Kurt.
Your Gretsch set is BEAUTIFUL!! What a color.....that champagne is so classy. Congrats on that classic!
Do your Floor Tom Diamond mounts have the holes in them to mount to the shell, or the pegs on the underside?

Actually, since I posted the issue with the spade, alot has changed.

My BD was a custom order. It was ordered from Gretsch with no holes, no mounts, no muffler, nothing.

The buyer was a left handed drummer and had his local dealer install a Rogers "knobby" cymbal mount (the early 2 hole model) and a Slingerland 4 point rail consolette mount (the rare kind where the metal "straps" are over the rail and riveted to it.


I was actually able to find BOTH mounts, and it wasnt easy, but they are the exact same models that were installed on the drum when new. So I removed the Gretsch consolette mount , turned the drum around so the legs are now at the back (because I'm a righty) and installed the Slingy and Rogers mounts. Of course, nothing ever goes right for me, the Slingy mount post has a broken tab, so it slipped . But I was actually able to fix that by using some stiff wire in the sprocket holes and it seems to work fine. I'll keep looking for a perfect one, but for now this is fine. I'm currently working on the matching BDP floor tom, it needs a TON of work, but no extra holes.
 
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wflkurt

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Thanks Kurt.
Your Gretsch set is BEAUTIFUL!! What a color.....that champagne is so classy. Congrats on that classic!
Do your Floor Tom Diamond mounts have the holes in them to mount to the shell, or the pegs on the underside?

Actually, since I posted the issue with the spade, alot has changed.

My BD was a custom order. It was ordered from Gretsch in 1959 with no holes, no mounts, no muffler, nothing.

The buyer was a left handed drummer and had his local dealer install a Rogers "knobby" cymbal mount (the early 2 hole model) and a Slingerland 4 point rail consolette mount (the rare kind where the metal "straps" are over the rail and riveted to it.


I was actually able to find BOTH mounts, and it wasnt easy, but they are the exact same models that were installed on the drum in 1959. So I removed the Gretsch consolette mount , turned the drum around so the legs are now at the back (because I'm a righty) and installed the Slingy and Rogers mounts. Of course, nothing ever goes right for me, the Slingy mount post has a broken tab, so it slipped . But I was actually able to fix that by using some stiff wire in the sprocket holes and it seems to work fine. I'll keep looking for a perfect one, but for now this is fine. I'm currently working on the matching BDP floor tom, it needs a TON of work, but no extra holes.
Thanks for the kind words. Fortunately I did not have to do much to this set. A friend of mine picked them up and they came with a 1961 Slingerland champagne 22" bass drum, the gretsch toms and snare and a late 70's Ludwig 9x13 and concert toms in champagne. I only bought the Gretsch pieces and the Ludwig concert toms. The gretsch 12, as I mentioned had a Ludwig mount that got covered by the Gretsch mount. I'm not quite sure what you mean about the floor tom legs. The have screws at either end of the diamond that fastens inside the shell with bolts. As for the legs themselves, the wing screw threads directly against them. Not the best design but it did work at the gig OK. I also added a repro micro to the snare as the original did not work all that great.
 

retrosonic

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youre welcome Kurt. What I meant to ask about the leg mounts on the floor tom was whether they have holes or have the tabs inside. I've posted pics of both types below.

My 1950s Gretsch FT mounts have the holes, but I need to upgrade them to more modern one because the originals chrome is all pitted.
 

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