Black Beauty snare drums

trommel

Very well Known Member
Joined
Mar 21, 2009
Messages
642
Reaction score
155
Location
NC
What is the magic, mystique, mojo or qualities that so many players attribute to Ludwig "Black Beauty" snare drums? I'm interested in the ones produced from 1960 until the present. What makes them so special? Or are they? Just painted black to look cool? I've played some, nothing really jumped out as "special? I have no axe to grind, just wondering what is the allure?
 

Seb77

DFO Veteran
Joined
Apr 11, 2013
Messages
2,163
Reaction score
782
Location
Germany
For a while (90s, 2000s?), Ludwig offered both a COB and a BB, both brass shell Supras. You should find some comparisons of these to get more info on what the black nickel (?) plating does. There might also be some raw or lacquered brass shells.
In any case, I feel you need to live with a drum , play it a lot, in different rooms, with different heads/runing, in order to be able to tel what it can do. That's why I rely on recommendations a lot when choosing snares.
I don't own a BB, but I once borrowed a modern 5x14 BB for a large band recording, mayn tunes in different styles. It just seemed to be the best choice at that time. I know the rimshot was brighter, more open than the aluminum Supra I also brought as a backup.
 

NobleCooleyNut

Very well Known Member
Joined
May 21, 2019
Messages
503
Reaction score
582
No 60’s Black Beauties to my knowledge - they did get reissued in the late 70’s .
They are a black nickel plated most typically brass shell ( though there are bronze version). They also come in hammered and smooth versions .

I own a smooth 5” version so I will comment on my particular model . It has a wonderful tuning range - even tunes down it still projects and has some crispness to the attack . It is very sensitive and makes a beautiful brush drum as well .
Ludwig lucked out on a great design for all their metal shell snares that just became iconic and well loved .
I generally look for an aluminum shell snare when I start considering a metal shell snare to buy . The Black Beauty is the exception . I far prefer the Black Beauty to the Ludaloy Supras, Copperphonic , COB or raw brass versions .
 
Last edited:

drummers_need_coffee.exe

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 26, 2019
Messages
290
Reaction score
179
Location
Burlington, Vermont
I had a 5" deep BB for a while and played a hammered one at an open jam once. I thought both snares were awesome, with a crack and sensitivity that made them feel really good to play, and a really nice ring that was easy to dial in with a little muffling. I traded mine, but it was a great drum. Liked it more than a supraphonic I had.
 

rsq911

Very well Known Member
Joined
Oct 27, 2008
Messages
1,206
Reaction score
111
For me, besides it’s unique sound, it is a very versatile snare. I use it for symphony work, gigs, solo snare, pit work, etc... The drum is receptive to head and pitch changes.
It is crisp, bright, and responsive, with insane rimshots!
 

K.O.

DFO Star
Joined
Aug 5, 2005
Messages
19,899
Reaction score
2,203
Location
Illinois
The modern Black Beauty was first issued in 1977 so there are none prior to that in the modern "supra style" configuration.

Essentially they are a brass (bronze for a bit in the early 1980s) version of the Supraphonic that is plated in black nickel instead of chrome. The standard Supra (aluminum shell) was already a highly regarded design but substituting brass for aluminum really appealed to a lot of drummers. Just one of those combinations that seems to work very well.
 

Seb77

DFO Veteran
Joined
Apr 11, 2013
Messages
2,163
Reaction score
782
Location
Germany
Would like to try a bronze one for sure, but then there are bronze Supras as well. The question remians: what does the black plating do? :)
 

CC Cirillo

Very well Known Member
Joined
Feb 20, 2019
Messages
600
Reaction score
906
Location
Northern California
I do agree with the sage comments here about getting to know the drum intimately.

A bassist friend was describing one of his iconic amps and pointed out a great feature was its “headroom.”

That’s what I like about my 6.5 BB, the headroom. Sounds great at 1 if you’re Bill Stewart; sounds great at 11 If you’re Clem Burke.
 

Hop

DFO Veteran
Joined
Feb 11, 2012
Messages
2,194
Reaction score
643
Location
L.A., CA
What is the magic, mystique, mojo or qualities that so many players attribute to Ludwig "Black Beauty" snare drums? I'm interested in the ones produced from 1960 until the present. What makes them so special? Or are they? Just painted black to look cool? I've played some, nothing really jumped out as "special? I have no axe to grind, just wondering what is the allure?

I think there's a couple of things that contribute to this M-M-M, outside of the players contribution (which could be rightfully argued as the most significant quality).

When the BB (Ludwig De Luxe) was first produced nearly 100-years ago, it was a brazed welded 2-piece shell. After a few years the process changed to a 1-piece spun shell.
After a break from manufacturing them, Ludwig brought back the spun brass shell (~1960) and after a few years went to aluminum shells. Then in the late 70's Ludwig reintroduced the BB again first as brass then bronze variants as mentioned above. I recall the BB cost just a bit more than the aluminum Supra at that time, so I don't know how many they sold. So why the M-M-M? I think the big drive was really the older/vintage ones, especially the 2-piece shells having a big allure or desire for the collector and they just weren't as common (which may contribute to that M-M-M) compared to the aluminum shell Supra.

I think another factor was that there weren't nearly the number of shell options available through that time period. I know for me, as more shells came out from Ludwig I was buying them. I bought my first BB in early 1980 and then when the hammered bronze came out a few years later I was got one as well. Now, look at all the metal variants that are available to us: aluminum (hammered/smooth); brass (smooth/hammered, Super series chromed/lacquered, raw, black chrome, CoB; bronze (hammered/smooth); copper (hammered/smooth)!

I think the last big thing is how many drums the average guy has now compared to 40-50 years ago, which again will drive that collectability factor up. I can't recall any of my contemporaries back in the day having more than one drum set, or more than 1-to-a couple of snares. The gear that some folks have these days is pretty impressive... heck, many in this forum have got a couple (or more) drum sets and better than half-a-dozen snares
 

vintagedrummersweden

Very well Known Member
Joined
Apr 24, 2007
Messages
803
Reaction score
146
Location
Sweden
I run a jazz festival since three years back (well, not this year, obviously) and my two BBs, one 70's engraved and one 89(90s non engraved, are always there.
Last year a very well known drummer, who prefers wood snares, ended up using the 70s BB since "this one really sound good".
I've used them all three years and just one of the 20 drummers has changed the snare on the two different backline kits. And he used his own 50's WFL wood snare.

I don't know - they just sound and feel great. And every drummer knows one when they see it and seems to accept that there's a good snare in place, why change...
 

Attachments

Seb77

DFO Veteran
Joined
Apr 11, 2013
Messages
2,163
Reaction score
782
Location
Germany
A friend of mine did something right by getting a 6.5 BB as his only snare, must be from around 2000. I got to fool around with it as he asked me to tune it for the studio. It just does all kinds of tunings well, sounds fat. As with any snare, you need to tune /set it up well, use proper heads and wires.
 

repete

This one goes to eleven
Joined
Aug 17, 2005
Messages
5,201
Reaction score
1,060
Location
south florida
There’s a great drum history podcast that recently discussed the black beauty. It was interesting


Uli Salazar is the Ludwig Marketing and Artist Relations Manager and shares the complete history of the iconic Black Beauty snare drum. We discuss how it originated as the 1919 "Inspiration Model" and then evolved into Black beauty we know today over the next 100 years.
Learn about how Ludwig was not the first company to use the "Black Beauty" name, but they became the most famous. We talk about the different processes that have been used to make the shells and what makes them some of the most sought-after snare drums in the world.
 

rculberson

DFO Veteran
Joined
Jan 18, 2010
Messages
1,578
Reaction score
836
I've owned a few Black Beauty snares over the years. What strikes me about them is the ability to do multiple types of sound at an A+ level. Low and muffled, low and open, medium anything, high anything... the BB does it all and does it easily. Factored into that "easily" equation is time. It takes next to zero time to dial in a Black Beauty in any of the scenarios I described. It's really hard to make one sound bad.
 

aparker2005

DFO Master
Joined
Oct 16, 2007
Messages
3,774
Reaction score
473
Bell brass, maple, aluminum, rosewood, bubinga, and my black beauty were all snares used at our last studio session.

I kept changing song to song for what I personally thought was the best snare for each song, and our sound guy continually kept asking for the black beauty. He said under the mic, that snare has something the rest didn't have. Most of the tracks we used the black beauty on. It lives up to its status for sure.
 

Old PIT Guy

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 26, 2019
Messages
297
Reaction score
279
After restoring an old supra SS COB in the 80s (and losing the SS mech) I never bought a BB. Decades later I mentioned this on a newsgroup and a couple of guys insisted the plating made a big difference. Still didn't convince me to buy one, and I still have the old supra. That said, I wouldn't turn one down if the price was right. And that seems to be my problem.
 

Mcjnic

DFO Master
Joined
Dec 28, 2010
Messages
3,119
Reaction score
1,747
I’ve never owned one. Wanted to, but always seemed to find a different brass to do the job well. Oriollo spun me the latest I own and it does what I need it to do.
I will say, there are quite a few too many that swear by them for the words to be anything more than true.
One day, perhaps.
 

Phantomlimb777

Very well Known Member
Joined
May 8, 2015
Messages
656
Reaction score
385
Location
SoCal
I decided to get one after touring with one, and watching a video back of one of the shows. I used someone else’s detuned black beauty, and the drum cut through with very little tension in a grindcore band.
I ended up getting a bronze one.
 

DannyPattersonMusic

Very well Known Member
Joined
Sep 22, 2014
Messages
1,259
Reaction score
160
Location
Texas
I own the 5" and 6.5" (both smooth shell) models.

They are very sensitive, wide tuning range and work well in any genre.
 


Top