Do Vintage WFL Drums Sound Significantly Different Than Vintage Ludwig Drums?

Topsy Turvy

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Been thinking about getting a vintage Ludwig or vintage WFL drum set. I'm not all that familiar with these drums, so I just was wondering if anyone has experience with both of these kinds of drums. If so, what differences do you notice in the sound?
 

JDA

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yes, WFL are more n likely to be mahogany
Sort of like what they have today.
Legacy maple and Legacy mahogany.

3p mahog mix w/rings (WFL)
\3p maple mix with rings (Ludwig)

"same as it ever was-
.David Byrne
 

dexter74

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From what I understand, WFL era had better quality control as they weren't pumping them out like Ludwig was after Ringo appeared.
 

JDA

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Also likely a good chance nickle over a Brass hoop moreso on the WFL, altho thats debatable.
 

andlours

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I like the WFL and Ludwig stuff that is pre '64. Like mentioned earlier, it seems like quality control was a bit better before the Ringo boom. All of the pre '64 Ludwig and WFL stuff will have brass hoops. I've owned later 60s stuff which was still great, but have found in general that the quality is a bit worse. On the flip side however, the late 60s stuff has better, more useable hardware. Really, a lot of it boils down to finding sizes, condition, shell makeup, and finish that you like the best. At the end of the day, it's all good.
 

Topsy Turvy

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Appreciate everyone's replies so far. It seems like not everyone is hearing a lot of difference, is that correct?

JDA- how does that affect the sound?
 

JDA

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That's for you to experience.
It's something to experience.
(Words) just end up going in circles.
You can "see" the difference. What you "hear" is how you hear. Some have said Mahog is a more porous softer warmer - different- maple less porous more reflective harder .
Same with brass and steel
It's experienced
And something you make a personal call on my friend.
 
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jptrickster

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Keep in mind 50’s wfl’s were designed and built with calf heads in mind. If you want to hear them as intended put on the calf skin. Richer, fuller rounder , mellower are all words I would use to describe that drum era in general
 

shuffle

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Ive had both kits over the decades and the WFLs were better sounding to me but didnt project nearly as well as the white interior Ludwig but the WFLs had tons of tone.
Get a WFL!
 

edge

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good question as I am thinking about the exact same thing, biggest regret of the last 10 years was selling a 1963 Ludwig 22, 13, 16, mahogany/poplar mahogany. They had been a one owner kit, sold them to make a $800 profit when I needed some cash, now that mahogany sound is calling me back. I am on the hunt and thinking I might try a 24
 

Tanabata

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I have two 16x16 floor toms, one is a 1957 WFL, the other is a 1970 Ludwig. I love the WFL and have been playing since 1994, will always use it, but nothing wobbles the air like my 1970 3-ply Ludwigs. I don't know if that gets across to anyone a few feet away, but makes me feel great when I play them.

I've tried to tune them identically and have come pretty close. They both sound, play, and feel great. Inside, the WFL is maybe the most beautifully built drum I've ever seen, also, its edges are way closer to true and even.

I'm also in the club that would like to play a 24" or 26" WFL or 70's Ludwig 3-ply bass drum.
 

plexi69

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I think WFL's sound better because they usually sell for less then comparable Ludwig's.
 

rondrums51

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I had a student who had an old set of WFL's. Back in those days, they constructed the 3 ply shells with a scarf joint. They laminated the pearl finish on the outer wood panel before they made the shells, so the pearl was actually wrapped into the scarf joint in the shell. Hard to explain if you've never seen one.
 

K.O.

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I had a student who had an old set of WFL's. Back in those days, they constructed the 3 ply shells with a scarf joint. They laminated the pearl finish on the outer wood panel before they made the shells, so the pearl was actually wrapped into the scarf joint in the shell. Hard to explain if you've never seen one.
That process continued with the Ludwig 3 ply shells up until approximately 1968.

When WFL bought the Ludwig trademark back from Conn and over a period of about three years changed their branding from WFL to Ludwig they didn't suddenly change any of their production techniques to reflect the name change. Things pretty much stayed the same except for the name on the badge. The 3 ply shells did continue to evolve through the years though. The biggest period of change seems to be during the 2-3 year period of the "Beatle boom" (1964-66 or 67)when they couldn't keep up with the new orders coming in. That's when they started using maple plies a lot more (it seems they used maple or mahogany inner and outer plies over the poplar core more or less at random, depending on what they had or could get, then painted them white inside so they'd all look the same).

I have a set from 1959. It is badged Ludwig (transition badges) but is very similar to the last drums that still wore the WFL badges a year earlier. Strictly mahogany and poplar construction with bare interiors, they just have a "rumble" to their sound that I don't find in the later drums (I do find this same tone exists in old Radio King drums though, also a mahogany/poplar mix). Not that the later ones sound bad by any means but the earlier ones do seem to bring a little something extra to the table. Maybe it's the bare mahogany interior, maybe it's the lack of maple, maybe it's the glue they were using, the brass hoops, tighter production tolerances, all or none of the above....hard to say for certain.
 
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charlesm

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The WFL bearing edges tended to be more rounded...thus more head contact and shell tone (very round/warm) and a bit less sustain.

Ludwig edges got progressively sharper through the 3-ply era. My early-'70s 3-plies had fairly sharp edges (original). Lots of sustain to the toms and more attack than you'd find with WFL but still a very warm, round tone. That poplar core looms large with both WFL and Ludwig.
 
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