2019 Classic Maple Comparison vs. 1970s Ludwig 3-ply - mini review and video

Peterk256

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In this thread I chronicled my reasons for selling a 70s Ludwig kit to buy a new Fab 22 Classic Maple kit. Without rehashing the details of that thread, here is a mini review and video of the new vs. old kit. The video was recorded with Zoom Q2N, no compression, limiting, or EQ. I've posted the video here for "Science" at the risk of exposing my wonky technique and chops on DFO. I am not aware of any similar vintage/new comparison videos with the identical setups. Headphones or good speakers is a must.

First up in the video is my vintage Ludwig kit, 13, 16, 22. The tom edges were re-done by Bill Detamore around 10 years ago. The toms have Aquarian Coated Super 2 batters. The 13 has an Evans EC2 reso and 16 has Aquarian Texture Coated reso. Bass drum has an Aquarian Superkick 10 batter and Ludwig medium reso with strip (no longer made) with a felt strip. These toms usually take a forever to find their sweet spot (it's very elusive, one of the main reasons why I wanted a new kit) but they were dialed in and sounded amazing that day. Go figure!

0:45 - Next up is my new 2019 Ludwig Classic Maple Fab 22 kit, 13, 16, 22. Toms have the stock clear Ludwig-logo Remo Emperor batters and stock clear Ludwig-logo Remo Ambassador reso, bd has stock clear Ludwig-logo Remo PS3 batter and smooth white PS3 reso. These batters all sounded particularly "boingy" and hollow from the driver's seat, and the drums sounded worse than my old kit to my ears. I wasn't digging it at all. After doing this A/B between old and new, I questioned why I needed to buy a new kit. Those stock heads would have required too much muffling and laundry in the BD to sound good IMO. I question if they are really USA-made Remo heads. There's just a Ludwig and Remo logo on the heads, no other markings. Anyway, those batter heads had to go.

1:33 - Lastly, I changed the tom batters to Aquarian Coated Super 2 and the bd to Aquarian SK II (yes II in this case, not 10). Resos are unchanged. Unlike the vintage kit which was a struggle to get dialed in, it was very easy to get these modern drums tuned after a brand new head change. Drum Dial settings for toms around 78, boom, that's it. Shockingly, they sound surprisingly similar to my old 3-ply kit, albeit a bit more focused. This is weird to me because the super sharp edges of the new kit looks worlds apart from vintage 3-ply, not to mention the wood differences. My takeaway is that heads, tuning, the room, and the player has a lot to do with the live sound. Under close miking, the results would likely have been completely different, but I only have this single Zoom Q2N room mic to make this judgement.

For my tin ears, the biggest difference between vintage and new is the ease and range of tuning which is the reason why I went through this journey.

Vintage 1970s Ludwig 3-ply vs. 2019 Classic Maple Fab 22 Comparison

These photos were taken the day after I received them, before the head changes.
20190605_180658.jpg 20190604_151723.jpg
 

Peterk256

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Both are great, but I dig the bass drum on the 70's kit more. So, 70's kit for me.
I know what you mean. I think the reso head arrangement may have something to do with it. Felt strip vs. P3 muffle band. After recording these I realized I didn't play the bd in a way that highlighted it for the new kit. I need to spend more time dialing in the reso, or just change it. I don't have the heart to cut a hole in it, I'm a felt strip kinda guy and have only played unmiked gigs for the last 2 years.

The drum tuning gods were shining upon me that day. I was shocked at how awesome they sounded. I owned these drums for about 16 years, countless head combinations, drum dial, tunebot, getting it dialed in was elusive. That's the best they ever sounded but I couldn't count on it all the time. Very frustrating. That's why I threw my hands up and bought new.
 
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wflkurt

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Wow I think both sets sound and look great. One thing I will say about the classic maple. When I ordered my set in early 2012, I sold a 2003 gold sparkle classic maple to fund my purchase. The gold set sounded fantastic but I felt I wanted something new and the set I ordered fit the bill. I like the Ludwig coated heads and the set came with those all around. I didn't have much time to play them before the first gig and I tuned them where I thought they would sound good. On the gig I just don't think they sounded right. They felt stiff and just didn't sound nearly as good as my gold set and I started to panic. I was thinking I made a big mistake that I was going to have to deal with so I just did the best I could with them. It seemed like it took about a month(we were gigging a ton back then) and they finally just started to feel really good. It was almost like I was breaking in a baseball glove and I soon fell in love with the set. I have had the set now 7 years and I just used them on a big gig with a sound guy and the works. This guy does tons of bands from local to touring and he was blown away by the sound of the set. He said it was one of the best sounding kits he ever mic'd up. I'll bet once you break that set in, you will absolutely love them.
 

Peterk256

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Wow I think both sets sound and look great. One thing I will say about the classic maple. When I ordered my set in early 2012, I sold a 2003 gold sparkle classic maple to fund my purchase. The gold set sounded fantastic but I felt I wanted something new and the set I ordered fit the bill. I like the Ludwig coated heads and the set came with those all around. I didn't have much time to play them before the first gig and I tuned them where I thought they would sound good. On the gig I just don't think they sounded right. They felt stiff and just didn't sound nearly as good as my gold set and I started to panic. I was thinking I made a big mistake that I was going to have to deal with so I just did the best I could with them. It seemed like it took about a month(we were gigging a ton back then) and they finally just started to feel really good. It was almost like I was breaking in a baseball glove and I soon fell in love with the set. I have had the set now 7 years and I just used them on a big gig with a sound guy and the works. This guy does tons of bands from local to touring and he was blown away by the sound of the set. He said it was one of the best sounding kits he ever mic'd up. I'll bet once you break that set in, you will absolutely love them.
I played a gig on Saturday after changing the batters to Aquarian Coated Super-2 and SKII. Was like night and day, they souned amd felt fansatic. Especially the 13" tom. You know, that feeling when you can't wait for an excuse to hit a tom in a song. Was really worried with the stock clear Ludwig-branded Remo batters.
 

wflkurt

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I have never tried the Ludwig clear heads before. I have always used their white coated ones and they sounded pretty good. I'm glad you are liking the set more now.
 

Peterk256

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I have never tried the Ludwig clear heads before. I have always used their white coated ones and they sounded pretty good. I'm glad you are liking the set more now.
Ludwig no longer makes tom heads. The supplied heads have a Ludwig and Remo logo, supposed to be clear Emperors. They were not working for me. It's a completely different drumset with different heads, in a good way.

Ludwig-Remo Clear Emp.jpg

Ludwig Head Choices from their configuration spreadsheet:
Ludwig Head Choice.jpg
 
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CC Cirillo

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I want to start out by saying thank you, sir, for the excellent comparison video and the time and thought you put in doing it. (This sort of thing is so helpful, as well as your other post discussing why you left your vintage kit for this one.) Also, thank you for playing the drums in a way that really focused on how they sound, hitting the toms with some crescendo, then solidly, and with the snare off and then on to compare the buzz effect on the toms, etc.

I, too, had a similar experience with the stock heads on my Classic Maples that I purchased last summer. Before they even arrived I started researching possible new batter heads for the toms. I figured at that amazing price point Ludwig wasn't shipping with top shelf heads. I can't fault them for that. It's a way to keep prices down and aren't many of us just going to just play around with different heads anyway? You know you are. You just are. You can't help it. Nor can I.

I went with Remo Vintage Ambassadors based solely on some things I'd read from my astute colleagues on this forum, and I'm grateful. Immediate change in the drums, much for the better, I felt. So I've had them now for a year and played with the tuning depending on live unmic'd vs live mic'd, room size, etc., and the heads (and of course the drums) are really sexy. To me they sound retro, without being vintage. They reference those older drum sounds, coming from the same DNA, perhaps augmented by the Ludwig imprint on my psyche. Imagined or not, to me they are just sexy sounding.

You may note, I like my drums to have some sort of persona. I'd say the vibe of those Vintage Ambassadors on those Classic Maples, if they were women's shoes, would be thigh high white go go boots. That's what I'm seeing in my mind when I'm playing and my wife thinks it's funny, so we're all good here.
 

yetanotherdrummer

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I purchased my classic maple set in 2011 and I have made many, many head changes over the years.

It's fun to try new batters and resos and see what different sounds you can get from the same drums.

I will say that the new classic maples are best sounding, and easiest to tune Ludwigs that I have ever owned. And I have been playing Ludwig drums since 1973.
 

Peterk256

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I want to start out by saying thank you, sir, for the excellent comparison video and the time and thought you put in doing it. (This sort of thing is so helpful, as well as your other post discussing why you left your vintage kit for this one.) Also, thank you for playing the drums in a way that really focused on how they sound, hitting the toms with some crescendo, then solidly, and with the snare off and then on to compare the buzz effect on the toms, etc.
Thanks for noticing my deliberate moves. I can't stand kit demos where the drummer is playing a beat incessantly on the (non-matching) snare, hi hat, kick and no tom hits until a few at the end. Snare off/on has a big impact when you are only capturing the room sound. I did think this all through. I do wish I featured the bass drum more but I had already packed up both kits (the old kit was sold by the time I recorded the CM with the new heads). My biggest surprise was how great the old kit sounded. It was like a higher force was telling me "you idiot, why did you think you needed new drums?". Like I said, I did it all for "science" and publicly posted it at the risk of embarrassing myself.
 

Peterk256

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I purchased my classic maple set in 2011 and I have made many, many head changes over the years.

It's fun to try new batters and resos and see what different sounds you can get from the same drums.

I will say that the new classic maples are best sounding, and easiest to tune Ludwigs that I have ever owned. And I have been playing Ludwig drums since 1973.
Have you decided on a favorite head combination?
 

yetanotherdrummer

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Have you decided on a favorite head combination?
I am currently using Evans EC2 Resonant heads on the toms, with Evans EC2 Frosted heads on the batter side.

On the bass drum I have a Clear EMAD for the batter and a EMAD resonant head that is ported, in a black matte finish. I found that the matte finish gave quite a different sound from the stock Ludwig reso head.

On my snare I have been using an Evans EC Reverse Dot Coated head.

I have been more or less using this combination for the last few years. But I do have several other sets of heads in boxes, both Evans and Remo, if I feel like a change.

My drums are all larger sizes, 24 bass, 13 & 16 toms and an 8 x 14 snare, so I go more for a "rock" sound.
 

Elvis

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FWIW, I found Aquarian TC's to be a pretty good head for the CM, but in the end, I went back to the Weathermaster heads for the toms.
Heavy on top, medium on the bottom, both coated.
The bass likes Fiberskyn 3 on the batter side. I went through several heads on the resonant side. I currently have a Skyntone up front. Works pretty good!
The snare drum currently wears a coated Attack! 1-ply with the Weathermaster it came with on the snare side.
For me, though, the biggest difference with the snare drum came when I swapped the 12 strand snare it came with, with a 20 strand snare off of a Tama Stagestar I picked up a few years later.

Elvis
 


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