1968 Sears Drum Set

TomN

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I got my first drum set in the summer of '68 when I was 13. A five-piece Sears blue sparkle set ordered from the catalog. $229. I had to pay half with earnings from my paper route and my parents paid the other half. Standard sizes except for the floor tom: 8x12, 9x13, 15x16, 14x22, and 5.5x14 steel snare. I never noticed that the floor was one inch shorter than usual until I recovered the set.

The drums, hoops, lugs, and tension rods were good. Some other hardware was not so good. A few things failed in the first two-three years so I had to jury-rig fixes. The bass pedal was smooth and fast but the threads in the heel wore out where the bottom bracket attached. Some welds failed in the throne--had to be one of the cheapest thrones ever made.

In the early 70s, I replaced all the tom/floor tom brackets with Ludwigs since the hole spacing was the same. I also replaced the rail mounted double tom holder with a Ludwig--had to drill for that.

In the late 80s, I got tired of the "old school" look of the blue sparkle so, like a dope, I recovered the drums with gloss black wrap from Sam Barnard. I also sprayed the interiors of the shells with dark brown enamel.

I replaced the club-date style spurs with the modern Ludwig and the metal bass drum hoops with wood hoops in the early 90s.

This has been the perfect set to leave at different houses over the years for band practices. Now I find myself wanting to use the set for gigs because they're so low-end, they're cool.

The photos below show the drums and original hardware pieces. For some crazy reason, I still have all the pieces. A few things to take note of:

--super lightweight (i.e., super chintzy) flat-based cymbal stands

--the "Speed Pedal" high hat--still works great, has the cool hinge between the top and bottom rod so you can fold the high hat for gigs

--the "Speed Pedal" bass drum pedal

--the unusual (?) rail-mounted double tom holder

--the ride tom brackets were tightened with a drum key, chrome still looks great

--shells are on the thick side with so-so/rough bearing edges, no rerings

--bass drum lugs take the slightly larger 6 mm tension rods

--several of the bass pedal pieces are stamped "Pearl Drum Co."--see the photos

--I usually have a white head on the bass drum but have a clear one on at the moment


I hope you get a kick out of seeing this stuff--probably more than you ever wanted to know. Even though I have better drum sets, I have a soft spot for these and they sound pretty good.

And for you guys whose parents bought you Rogers, Ludwig, Slingerland, or Gretsch for your first drum set...(expletives deleted.) :-D

Have a good 2010.

Tom N

Click on the thumbnails for full size images:
 

Drumstyx7a

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I like it ... chrome seems to be in excellent shape ...just got finished bringing back some old Pearl lugs and FT legs and holders that look a lot like those ... in design anyway, never will get them to look that clean though.

Robb
 

marko52

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Way before I ever got my hands on a real Ludwig catalog, I'd pore over the Sears & MW catalogs, looking at drum sets. My best buddy got a Sears Silvertone electric guitar with the amp built in to the guitar case. I had my heart set on a blue sparkle set like yours, but ended up with a used red sparkle Lyra 4-piece instead. Lucky you! ( actually, at 57 years old, I can still tell you which kids in town had 'real' sets, what brand, what color, what cymbals; but....I got 'em beat now!)
Yours look great! Cool that you kept them, & still play them. The black wrap's fine. Classy. nice post....marko
 

mikesdrums

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Very cool. I wanted one of those Sears (or Penney's) kits so bad, but couldn't afford even that. I started with a $20 three-piece set from a garage sale. Loved it, too.

BTW, adjusting for inflation, $229 in 1968 is the equivalent of $1,423.55 in 2009 dollars. Pretty amazing how the price of entry has dropped.
 

rivercityslim

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My first kit was from the Sears catalog as well, but in 1972. It was silver sparkle, and looked a lot like your pics. Paid approximately the same price, too.
 

mlayton

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i think its great that you still own them and enjoy them tom. nothing like some fond memories of our youth. :icon_smile: i like 'em!


mike
 

Casper

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Cool kit. Thanks for sharing. It's amazing how the chrome has held up on some of the old 60's "stencil kits." I've seen some that look equally good. I like your upgrades. Great that you're still playing them out too.
 

mwb5271

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Great story and pictures. I too purchased my first kit from Sears catalog in 1966. I also used my paper route earnings to purchase them. See my avaitar. Mine are blue sparkle as well. Mine are a little different from yours, the hardware was not marked by Pearl just "Made in Japan". I believe that Sears and the other catalog companys purchased these kits from many of the 150 or so Japanese companies making these drums. I too got stupid and painted the interior of the shells (flat black) and used them without the bottom heads. I did leave the blue sparkle finish alone and they have not faded and cleaned up very nice. I have since painted the interior of the shells white to get rid of that awfaul flat black. They sound pretty good and like you I have a special bond and fondness for them. I will always own them. Thanks for sharing.
 

TomN

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Many thanks for the comments, guys.

I forgot to add that the drum set also came with cymbals which I still have also.

Thinking back on why I recovered the drum--its was probably because I had holes showing from where the rail mount was. I also had my black Rogers set and found that I loved gloss black drums which look great behind the chrome hw. Since I had already made a few alterations, it was an easy decision but it would have been nice if I had just left everything alone.

Pardy, from things I've read over the years, I'm pretty sure that Pearl made my drum set. My brother had a '66 Sears set and his came with a Pearl drum key.

Thanks for the catalog pages, Beatnik. My brother had a '66 four-piece Sears red sparkle set that cost about $175-199 that looked different from the one in your '66 page. His set looked just like MWB's set (above.) I'm guessing that that set was on another page.

MWB, your drums look great--just like my brother's set, with the ride cymbal mounted on the bass drum. Very cool that you still have them and that they haven't been messed with. Pictures, pictures!

Thanks again, all. Have a great day.

Tom N
 

jrfrond

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What many people do not know is that Pearl Musical Instruments, Hoshino Gakki (Tama) and Nippon Gakki (Yamaha) were the de facto suppliers of stencil-brand Asian Firewood kits to the USA long before they became A-game players. In fact, if you trace any of them back, you will find transition-type kits that sport decent drums and crappy, utilitarian hardware. Of course, all three of these companies are now, ironically, hardware giants. My early-mid 70's Yamaha kit is a perfect example of this. The shell composition was nearly identical to the 8000 series which debuted about five years later (birch/lauan, called "Philipine Mahogany" by Yamaha), with grey interiors, taillight lugs and "Y" badges and nice plating all-around. SUPER kit, albeit in a weird configuration (20/12/12/16).
 

Patrick

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Hi,

Those are very familiar to me. My first kit was a red sparkle four piece (with cymbals, no stool) from the 1968 (I think) Simpson Sears catalog. I vividly recall those bolts on the bases of the stands, the pedals in all their glory.

We had a house gig at a dance hall. The hall burnt down. My drums came out of it water damaged and charred, but still playable.

I loved playing them, but was eager to move to a set of Ludwigs as soon as possible. So they never got the same level of regard and affection as have yours.

Great story,

Patrick
 

tillerva

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Very cool. My first set was from JC Penney, a mere 20 years ago; Synsonics for close to the same price ($250 maybe).
 

mwb5271

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Many thanks for the comments, guys.

I forgot to add that the drum set also came with cymbals which I still have also.

Thinking back on why I recovered the drum--its was probably because I had holes showing from where the rail mount was. I also had my black Rogers set and found that I loved gloss black drums which look great behind the chrome hw. Since I had already made a few alterations, it was an easy decision but it would have been nice if I had just left everything alone.

Pardy, from things I've read over the years, I'm pretty sure that Pearl made my drum set. My brother had a '66 Sears set and his came with a Pearl drum key.

Thanks for the catalog pages, Beatnik. My brother had a '66 four-piece Sears red sparkle set that cost about $175-199 that looked different from the one in your '66 page. His set looked just like MWB's set (above.) I'm guessing that that set was on another page.


MWB, your drums look great--just like my brother's set, with the ride cymbal mounted on the bass drum. Very cool that you still have them and that they haven't been messed with. Pictures, pictures!

Thanks again, all. Have a great day.

Tom N
Tom N, I will post a few pics when I some time at home. I have previously posted a few but I cannot find that post right now. It may be too old and archived?
 

jrfrond

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OK, here's some Asian Firewood trivia. My photographic memory is screaming on this one:

I remember being around 9 years old (so it was around '68-'69) and pining for the kit pictured in the Montgomery-Ward catalog. It was a blue Satin Flame 5pc. with offset sharktooth lugs and swan leg stands. I remember it VERY clearly. Does anyone else ever remember seeing this? It almost looked like the bastard child of Sonor and Rogers! :blink:
 

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