Buying drums years ago Vs today

GHawk

Member
Joined
Feb 9, 2020
Messages
14
Reaction score
26
Location
Romford, UK
Hello

What was buying drums like in the past compared to today? Were shell packs available, were you limited to certain size and finish options? Did people own multiple drums or just one main kit?
 

Sonar Dave

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 28, 2019
Messages
128
Reaction score
103
I never thought I had enough money to buy new drums. My used Tama Superstar (13 drums) was about $900s if I remember right. This was early 80's.

I found most of my cymbals at pawn shops. All Zildjian. Most were about $30-$70. I made some good finds at pawn shops. I think now you have to find things on EBay or CraigsList if you want used. The only new drums I have purchased lately is a Cocktail Tama Kit. It was about $550 new.
 

JDA

DFO Star
Silver Supporting Member
Joined
Aug 7, 2005
Messages
26,654
Reaction score
15,523
Location
Jeannette, Pa.
In 71..you were at the counter. You looked thru catalogs. Then...(after checking price and..some of the specs) pointed down at a set and said "that One" picked a color and waited..
pretty much same story in 1982;
that's all I got)

Were shell packs available
absolutely called outfits
or no; they all came - even the top top line- with hardware +/- down to the pedal

were you limited to certain size and finish options?
no; but yes to pre-configured sets; but just about everything possible was configured.
Just look in a 71- Ludwig Catalog or 73 Premier catalog or 77 Sonor catalog
here or here

Did people own multiple drums
probably by accident rather than on purpose.. : )
 
Last edited:

JDA

DFO Star
Silver Supporting Member
Joined
Aug 7, 2005
Messages
26,654
Reaction score
15,523
Location
Jeannette, Pa.
then manufacturers hit on some clever psychology
"we'll (get rid of/ back down on the pre-configured sets)...let the customer think he's specifying all these details (we used to painstakingly put together for he/she, the customer) and the customer will think he has some control stake in all this. Perfect. Brilliant. Why didn't I come up with that George?"

And. It worked..now you can even specify bearing edge degree (top and (!) bottom.
brilliant sales technique. unheard of 50 years ago.

next (*only thing left) will be a question on the order sheet
"month you'd like us to pick the wood. Do you have a specific day and time in mind also moist dry foggy- weather condition"
and some will still ask for more specifics.
 
Last edited:

Mcjnic

DFO Veteran
Double Platinum Supporting Member
Joined
Dec 28, 2010
Messages
2,506
Reaction score
2,925
Depends on how far you want to go back.
In the 1920's, the focus was on the snare and the bass drum.
You could buy Trap kits or individuals.
There were 11 inch toms (11,12,13,14,16).
The kits usually included cymbals from the manufacturer associated with that drum builder at the time ... but by the 50's, most stopped packaging cymbals with the kits.
Some manufacturers didn't want to do substitutions for thier prepack kits (Slingerland in particular).
But they eventually loosened that rule and substitutions became the norm.
By the 40's, you have some nicer kits with some tom selections.
Lots of choices as the years clicked on.
There was always an oportunity to pick up a "shell pack" as the toms and bass and snare were also listed individually.
The number of drums on a kit increased quite a bit in the 60s (double bass and a second floor tom) and especially in the 70s (LOTS of toms).
Usually, the kit had hardware, pedal, and snare included. Some of the earlier ones had wood blocks, brushes, and all kinds of neato things to hit.
Throughout the 80s, kits expanded to monumental proportions ... and also returned to the basics of a simple four piece. It's usually how it happens.
When Tama barnstormed the industry with their hardware in the 70s and early 80s, it had an interesting effect.
Manufacturers realized their hardware wasn't the selling point. (Note: Rogers hardware had a similar thing going in the 60s, but not as intense as it was for Tama).
Lots of drummers were using different manufacturers hardware with their kits. Even endorsers were doing this. So ... shell packs.
It was a logical move. Why expect a customer to pay for hardware they didn't want. They could price out a kit sans hardware and it would be a much more attractive price point.
And then a fierce mucous lined visitor from Xxytherian disrupted the industry and we ended up with vintage four piece kits with modern hardware ... an abomination.
And that's where little boys and girls come from.
 

JDA

DFO Star
Silver Supporting Member
Joined
Aug 7, 2005
Messages
26,654
Reaction score
15,523
Location
Jeannette, Pa.
for every action there's an opposite reaction
lol
less options: less drowning: in minutia: is the opposite
to that
there's 5 or 6 major improvements after 1956
that I could think of usu. to do with spurs , double tom holders
well. that's 2.
 
Last edited:

JDA

DFO Star
Silver Supporting Member
Joined
Aug 7, 2005
Messages
26,654
Reaction score
15,523
Location
Jeannette, Pa.
they were more expensive if adjusted for inflation.
is that accurate? or is it the dollar buys less today

lets take this set



$894 with all stands

$894 in 1971 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $6,055.14 today, an increase of $5,161.14 over 50 years. The dollar had an average inflation rate of 3.90% per year between 1971 and today, producing a cumulative price increase of 577.31%.

This means that today's prices are 6.77 times higher than average prices since 1971, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index. A dollar today only buys 14.76% of what it could buy back then.
~~
Looks like the dollar is worth less no yes? +/-

add in the cymbals:
$1100 in 1971 is worth $7450.40 today.
dollar's power has gone down +/-
 
Last edited:

hsosdrum

DFO Veteran
Gold Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 23, 2020
Messages
1,891
Reaction score
3,249
When I started playing back in the 1960s, if you wanted brand-new drums you went to a drum store/music store and either ordered a drumset or bought one they had in stock. If you ordered one you could order an outfit straight out of a drum company catalog* or you could assemble a custom outfit item-by-item and order that. If you couldn't afford brand-new drums you bought them used via newspaper ads or in pawn shops. You usually bought new cymbals from the ones a store had in stock, or bought them used via ads or in pawn shops. Like with most consumer commerce, the Internet completely changed this experience.

*By the time I was 12 years old I had catalogs from Ludwig, Slingerland, Rogers and Gretsch. (All you had to do to get one was send a letter to the company.) I always went through each catalog and marked the various items that I would get if I were ordering a complete drumset out of that catalog. I looked at my first (1964) Rogers catalog so often that the cover finally wore out and fell off it.
 

mydadisjr

Very well Known Member
Joined
Nov 5, 2005
Messages
1,465
Reaction score
834
Location
Prescott AZ
When I started playing back in the 1960s, if you wanted brand-new drums you went to a drum store/music store and either ordered a drumset or bought one they had in stock. If you ordered one you could order an outfit straight out of a drum company catalog* or you could assemble a custom outfit item-by-item and order that. If you couldn't afford brand-new drums you bought them used via newspaper ads or in pawn shops. You usually bought new cymbals from the ones a store had in stock, or bought them used via ads or in pawn shops. Like with most consumer commerce, the Internet completely changed this experience.

*By the time I was 12 years old I had catalogs from Ludwig, Slingerland, Rogers and Gretsch. (All you had to do to get one was send a letter to the company.) I always went through each catalog and marked the various items that I would get if I were ordering a complete drumset out of that catalog. I looked at my first (1964) Rogers catalog so often that the cover finally wore out and fell off it.
Yup, same here... collected the catalogs in the '60's (well, actually just Rogers and Ludwig) and wore them out studying 'em.

Then, after playing on home-made drums/pads for years, at the tender age of 15 I took the bus downtown and, with my own money, bought a brand new 1969 Dynasonic right off the rack. Never consulted the parents, just did it.

I continued to play the homemade drums with the new Dyna till I was 17 and had saved enough for a used Ludwig set that I found in the classified section of the newspaper.

Still buying used sets today, still searching the classifieds (which are now called Craigslist).
 

Polska

DFO Veteran
Joined
Nov 3, 2008
Messages
2,712
Reaction score
1,543
Location
Buffalo NY
My early 80s gear all came used from teachers or from our version of Craigslist - "The Swap Sheet". My teacher was nice enough to go with me and help me buy my first kit. In the early 80s music stores had a few options, Ludwig and Slingerland, but too pricey for my paper route money.

I bought my first brand new kit, Tama Starclassic in the mid 90s. By then the local choices had expanded greatly. Oddly, that's the only new shell pack I've ever bought.
 

drawtheline55

Owner/admin
Administrator
Joined
Jan 31, 2011
Messages
4,331
Reaction score
1,175
Location
Boston
is that accurate? or is it the dollar buys less today

lets take this set



$894 with all stands

$894 in 1971 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $6,055.14 today, an increase of $5,161.14 over 50 years. The dollar had an average inflation rate of 3.90% per year between 1971 and today, producing a cumulative price increase of 577.31%.

This means that today's prices are 6.77 times higher than average prices since 1971, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index. A dollar today only buys 14.76% of what it could buy back then.
~~
Looks like the dollar is worth less no yes? +/-

add in the cymbals:
$1100 in 1971 is worth $7450.40 today.
dollar's power has gone down +/-
I guess I see it differently, take $894.00 in 1971 that means one would need to spend $6055 in todays dollars to buy the same drum set, yet a brand new Yamaha Stage Custom is around $650.00 with snare.

Yamaha recording customs were 3k+ in the 80s, guess what they are 3K+ in 2021, according to inflation they should be much higher.

The Beatles white album was 10.00 in 1968 TEN dollars, I guess what I am saying certain items have come down as time goes on, remember digital watches and calculators when they came out, they would be stupid money today.
 

K.O.

DFO Star
Joined
Aug 5, 2005
Messages
21,537
Reaction score
4,864
Location
Illinois
Back in the day most of the manufacturers only made one line of drums. There weren't all these different price point tiers like there are now. That started in the 1980s. Prior to that there were attempts at lower cost drums from the majors, most of them offered a center lug line for a bit lower price but the basic construction of those was the same as their top line drums, same shells and other hardware just a bit cheaper because of fewer lugs and drilling (labor). So you either bought a top of the line (or nearly so) set or you could buy a much lower quality imported set from Sears or J.C. Penney for cheap. There really wasn't much in between to chose from. Most music stores (and there were a lot more of them back then, even small cities usually had at least one) were of the "mom & pop" variety and tended to sell things at, or near, list price. You could either buy a set off the floor (if they had one) or order one from the catalog, usually entailing a waiting period. The catalogs contained pre-configured "outfits" of suggested set ups and hardware. Usually there was a bit of a price break for an outfit over what you'd pay if you ordered each piece separately. Due to that, and just because it was easier, most folks tended to buy or order a catalog outfit as pictured with them only choosing the finish they wanted. You could, however, order up any sort of set you wanted as all the hardware, parts, and drums were also listed individually within the catalogs. It wasn't uncommon for a buyer to order a set and delete, say the floor tom, to save money on the initial purchase, planning to buy one to add on in a year or two (why lots of vintage sets either have no floor tom, or one that doesn't quite match). Drums were expensive too. $20 was a sizeable chunk of money to a teenager back then, let alone five or six hundred dollars for a drum set.

In the big cities there were dedicated drums-only shops that did things a bit differently than the typical music stores. For example they might order all their drums in "virgin" configuration (although that wasn't actually a thing at the time) and then install whatever hardware the end user might want, say a Rogers tom mounting setup on a Ludwig set. This tended to be directed more towards the pros who might have specific needs but was available to anyone (a classmate of mine ordered a new set of Ludwigs in 1976 through Franks Drums shop in Chicago and, for some strange reason, specified that it be equipped with a Slingerland double set-o-matic tom mount...and they did it).

So the buying experience was different back then and there was a different mindset at play too. You decided on what brand you favored, for whatever reason, sound, looks, price, whatever your favorite drummer played, etc. and then you pretty much accepted whatever they made. No one knew or much cared about details like wood types, plies, edges, and all the things people obsess over these days when shopping for drums. That all started in the later 1980s and into the 1990s as manufacturers diversified their lines into different price tiers and started aggressively advertising what made their drums different rather than simply which famous guy/gal played them.

Nowadays you can buy high quality drums for fairly reasonable prices and even the cheaper drums are worlds better than the cheap drums of yesteryear. Top of the line drums are better made than ever and still reasonably priced when you adjust yesterdays prices for inflation.
 

varatrodder

Very well Known Member
Double Platinum Supporting Member
Joined
Jan 4, 2016
Messages
945
Reaction score
1,208
I started in the 80’s, but back then it wasn’t just shell packs. Kits came with all the hardware you needed to set up and play (minus cymbals). They also (mostly) had good heads. I don’t remember having to swap out crappy heads, even on lower priced drums. Even Pearl Exports and Tama Rockstars came with Remo pinstripes.

I remember buying a Premier APK in the early 90s, and it had amazing hardware and really good heads.

Check out the catalogs on http://drumarchive.com/ to see how kits used to be packaged.
 

Tama CW

DFO Master
Joined
Mar 4, 2018
Messages
3,384
Reaction score
2,894
Location
SE Connecticut
I only bought one drum kit new.....1984. I fell for the MTV hype I guess. All I saw on MTV were Tama and Pearl. Some Ludwigs too.
After some used USA brand kits from 1968 to 1983.....decided to buy new so I could be a "better player".....LOL. And I was still searching for that "sound of the 60's and 70's" I heard on the radio and records.
Only a few years ago would I finally find out it was Hal Blaine and others playing on vintage USA kits with plenty of recording "tricks." Doh! The Wrecking Crew!

I visited several music stores in 1984 and took home catalogs from Tama, Ludwig, and Pearl. That's about all those music stores carried. What about Gretsch, Rogers, Yamaha? Settled on Tama Superstars.....don't exactly recall why
other than they were considered their flag ship line and had a quite a prolific list of "endorsers" from all genres.

I had no idea I could order drums and or finishes outside the catalog combos. Pretty naive in retrospect. Got Tama Superstars in Cherry Wine, std sizes, 12,13,16,22, master craft snare with all hardware except a throne.......
$1095 out the door. I still have the receipt....and the drums still mint condition. Considering the following 37 years.....that was a lot of money for a new kit. That's $2890 today in "inflated" US Dollars (2.64X higher). If I could
do it all over.....I'd have just bought a mint used one in the 1980's for half price. At least I was smart enough to not fall for the "power tom" craze at that time. They didn't make sense to me any ways. The drums have held up
over time....they honestly don't make them all that much better today. The Tama Superstar polyurethane over lacquer "grand piano" type finish was quite rugged. The one touch lever lock hardware was simple and effective.
 
Last edited:

healthie1

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 27, 2021
Messages
238
Reaction score
112
I remember when drum equipment was affordable. Today the price’s are overinflated. It’s been over 10 years since I got anything new.
I agree for the most part. Know what blows my mind? The price of brand-new tom arms/accessory brackets. a pearl tom arm is like $70+ new, and accessory brackets are $25+ brand new. Thank goodness the used market is pretty darn strong and the internet/ebay hasn't made good deals completely inaccessible.
 

mydadisjr

Very well Known Member
Joined
Nov 5, 2005
Messages
1,465
Reaction score
834
Location
Prescott AZ
TAMA CW sez: "At least I was smart enough to not fall for the "power tom" craze at that time. They didn't make sense to me any ways. The drums have held up"

__________________________________________________________________


I did something similar... I ordered a new multi-tom TAMA set from the local store in Flagstaff AZ in about 1980, but I ordered Imperialstars and I DID fall for the hype of CONCERT TOMS!! (please do not judge me... I blame those jazz cigs we smoked in college)

Those drums REALLY sounded like crap. Got rid of them a few years later and got some square badge Gretsches that became my country/rock bar band gigging set for many years. Best move I ever made.
 

Soulfinger

Very well Known Member
Joined
Mar 25, 2017
Messages
585
Reaction score
612
Location
Vienna, Austria
When I got my first set in 1981, I paid (the equivalent of) 700 euros for a 22/12/13/16 + snare + hardware set made in Taiwan (which was NOT a seal of quality back then). I loved it but honestly, it was a crappy kit - the 12" shell was oversized so I had to pry on new heads with both hands, the lug sply on the snare was so bad that over the years I had three lugs break because they were pulled off the shell... you get the picture. A Tama Swingstar kit (made in Japan) was around 800 euros and would have been a better choice but 14-year-old me had no clue.

Today, 700 euros/dollars will get you an infinitely better kit - trouble-free, road-worthy, great sound and looks, lots of options regarding sizes and finish. I´m in the "great time to be a drummer" camp.
 


Top