Help me ID my VERY FIRST MIJ Kit!

Fat Drummer

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OK gang, after the wonderful insights and help you provided on my recent Gretsch thread, (Teach Me about My New Kit in the General Threads) I wanted to throw out a second request. TEACH ME ABOUT MY FIRST MIJ SET!

By my first MIJ set, I dont just mean the first MIJ I have owned I mean my actual first drum set! This was my cousins drum kit in the late 1960s and I first remember falling in love with it around 7 or 8 years old. We were at their home often and each visit I spent playing this little kit. Then that faithful Christmas in 1970 when my cousin received a new Slingerland set (a 50N in sparkling silver and full hardware just like the 70 catalog) and my Mom bought me his used MIJ kit! You all know that 10 year old Ward was just as thrilled with this set as he was with his!




I have no photos of the drums in their original configuration, but it was obviously the same set less the converted tom made from the kit snare. I bought the Ludwig Acrolite around the summer of 1971 from a kid on my street, I THINK I paid $40 complete with the case and stand. So I added to my toms by converting the matching snare. This kit served my dreams of rock stardom well until the day I picked up of 1977 TAMA catalog In 1978 I ordered my first real kit and impatiently waited on its arrival from some distant land, while continuing to play my trusty blue kit (now abloom with homemade cymbal stands). I had to pre pay for my new Superstars and when the store called to tell me my drums had arrived, they explained that I still needed to pay about $100 in sales tax! So like any good young rock wannabe, I promptly headed to the local pawn / music store and sold off the blue set for $75.00! I knew I would never see them again, but hey thats progress right?

Fast forward 15 years later and I received a call asking if I happened to be Ward Wilson and did I ever play a blue sparkle drum set. Why yes I am and yes I did why? It was a young high school band director from a small town 30 miles away who had met me a few times at my small drum shop. He said he was cleaning out a large storage closet in the band room and discovered an old blue sparkle set with my name painted on the kick head, someone had tried to spray paint over it but it was still clearly visible. He said they were in bad condition but if I wanted what was left, I was welcome to come pick them up. So just like that, I was reunited with the very set that had begun my drum love affair all those years before.



You can see from the photos that the toms are basically intact less a few hoops, rods and floor tom brackets. The kick was ROUGH but did come with the lugs in a box (no hoops, spur brackets or tom rail), while the snare was somewhere in the middle. I never had any intention of restoring them as they kick particularly would require a LOT of structural work. However last year, the thought hit me to dig these out and look over the snare at least. So after setting neglected for decades, I restored the snare that I first plated on almost 50 years before. And to answer your question, it sounds awful!

So there is the backstory, and here is where you guys come in what in the world is this thing???? Its made of 3/8 thick laid fiberglass with a molded gel coat (not a wrap) like a boat would be made. The hardware is clearly Pearl to me (the old Slingerland copy) though I am unsure of the kick lugs. You can see that the profile on the spine does not match the design on the tom lugs. I dont know if this is an actual MIJ kit, or did some local boat company or fiberglass shop (in Little Rock, Arkansas) produce these and stick various MIJ hardware on them? There is no vent holes or badges on any and of the drums. Again making me wonder if they were handmade?



The snare throw off is original along with the stick saver hoops and Slingerland copied Sound King lugs, while the missing tom mount and floor tom leg brackets were very Pearl looking. I know that Pearl produced fiberglass kits in their own line in the late 1960s but I have never seen one in person. Was the shell similar to this in construction? I have a couple of late 60s reprint PEARL catalogs and it looks VERY close to this kit, but I have no idea if it was made the same way. I find several web sites (and Marc Patchs new book) showing me that Star also produced the same hardware, but I have never seen this snare strained on a Star drum, only Pearl.

So if anyone can chime in with ideas, suggestions or information it would be so much appreciated. I hope one of our resident DFO experts can shed some light for me. While I still have no plans to restore any more of the set (you can see that someone had started to work on the kick), I would still like to know what it is if possible. This little set is so much a part of my history and I am really pleased all these years later to still have it. Especially after selling it off so unceremoniously back in the day!

If you made it this far, thanks for the long read and allowing me this reminiscence. Yell back with any info you might have.

Ward
 

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Fat Drummer

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Thanks guys, It really was a blast to set down and work my way through the time line and memories. I can tell the era by the "super cool hand painted" kick heads! LOL

The felt strip with the name written on it was around 1972, the "artsy" version with the upgraded cymbal stand were around 76' -'77 while the block letter head and roto toms were 1978 before I sold them.

I realized I never listed the sizes in my original post, but they were the typical dimensions you would expect except maybe the floor. 22X14", 13X9" and 16X15" deep floor (not the 16X16 I expected).
 

drumtimejohn

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Cool set! Have you considered contacting Mikey777 on the Vintage Drum Forum? Hes quite knowledgeable on vintage MIJ.
 

Fat Drummer

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No, but should no one here have any ideas after a while, I will reach out to him. I've never spent time over there so I might like that as well.
 

thejohnlec

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That's one heck of a story - congrats on your reunion! I'll chance a guess and say either Star Drums or Apollo Drums. Star eventually became Tama Drums, and was a popular "stencil" brand of that era that copied hardware designs of popular brands. Check www.vintagedrumguide.com as well as the vintage forum listed above - great info and knowledgeable folks on both sites.
 

Fat Drummer

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Thanks johnlec, I will most likely reach out over there in a week or two if we don't solve the mystery here (I'm not a member on any other boards). Yes, I see several Star made kits with this hardware but not these internal mufflers or the throw off. But the shell construction is the bigger mystery, as I do not believe Star produced a laid up shell this early. It was pretty late in the 70's or early 80's before they introduced the Fiberstar line wasn't it?

And your so right Rick, I've seen several old pics DFO folks have posted of their kits and I smile every time I see the "snare tom" add on!
 

drummerjohn333

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Many of us are aware that Pearl made fiberglass kits back in the 70s - and this may be one of them. If you know for sure that the muffler knobs are original (on the FT especially I see) I believe that they indicate Pearl.
One thing you can do is to confirm that Star never made fiberglass. Consulting the old catalogs (Tama website has the Star catalogs) - and another way to do that is to consult with RALF, the guy who has the Star website. He is quite knowledgeable and might know right off the top of his head about Star and (no) fiberglass.

So.....my guess is Pearl. Only exception would be Hoshino, which was like the Chrysler of the big 3 MIJ manufacturers.

It might help confirm to offer some closer and clearer shots of the hardware parts: tom mounting, various mounts on the all the drums, etc.

GREAT story and I bet they sound great (worthy of some new heads I would think - to really see what they can 'do').
 

Big Beat

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The hardware is definitely Pearl. But I have at some point owned both 1970s Pearls and Pearl-made Lyra stencils with fiberglass shells, and the interiors looked nothing like this. They were the color and texture of oatmeal, kinda lumpy yellowish off-white, not the textured black that you have. They also all had grommets and badges. It's possible that these are just different because they pre-date the ones I had by a few years. But unless someone knows for a fact that these features appeared on Pearl drums of a certain era, my guess is that these shells were made by some unknown smaller independent Japanese company who had outsourced their hardware from Pearl. They might have only existed for a short time, enough to fill a few orders from a trading company that marketed the drums to a Stateside distributor. This shell game happened commonly with Japanese products in the 1960s and is just as confusing for collectors of vintage Japanese guitars, stereo components, etc.
 

Fat Drummer

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Thanks so much Big Beat. Yes, everything hinges on those shells. The black version is the kick where someone had started some form of restoration prior to me getting them back. It looks like they filled a lot of mounting holes with what appeared to be spackling and shot the interiors black. With the exception of the paint, everything they did can be easily undone. The toms show the natural weave of the shells though. THAT is what we need to find out.. did the older Pearl all Fiberglass shells look anything like this?

I like your thinking with a smaller company. It's all adding up to a more interesting mystery for me. Based on a couple of recommendation above, I have signed up for the vintage forum so maybe I will access another set of eyes over there. Thanks for the time to look this over for me.
 

funkypoodle

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I'm going to have to do some digging, but I believe these had been "vibrafied". As Bigbeat put it Pearl Wood/FG is "the color and texture of oatmeal, kinda lumpy yellowish off-white"( spot on BTW). Apparently Neil Peart was having this done to the interiors of his kits at one point. I ran across a thread saying his Blackchrome Slingerlands had been Vibrafied by the Percussion Center in Ft. Wayne. Maybe someone more "old-school" can add more about Vibrafying to the conversation?
 

rock roll

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It's clearly stencil hardware. I have a similar snare..same hardware.
I can't say anything as to the interiors of the shells.
getting Marc Patchs new book might help. I ordered it a couple days ago.

Very cool story.
 

Johnny D

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Scan 9.jpeg
OK gang, after the wonderful insights and help you provided on my recent Gretsch thread, (Teach Me about My New Kit in the General Threads) I wanted to throw out a second request. TEACH ME ABOUT MY FIRST MIJ SET!

By my first MIJ set, I dont just mean the first MIJ I have owned I mean my actual first drum set! This was my cousins drum kit in the late 1960s and I first remember falling in love with it around 7 or 8 years old. We were at their home often and each visit I spent playing this little kit. Then that faithful Christmas in 1970 when my cousin received a new Slingerland set (a 50N in sparkling silver and full hardware just like the 70 catalog) and my Mom bought me his used MIJ kit! You all know that 10 year old Ward was just as thrilled with this set as he was with his!






I have no photos of the drums in their original configuration, but it was obviously the same set less the converted tom made from the kit snare. I bought the Ludwig Acrolite around the summer of 1971 from a kid on my street, I THINK I paid $40 complete with the case and stand. So I added to my toms by converting the matching snare. This kit served my dreams of rock stardom well until the day I picked up of 1977 TAMA catalog In 1978 I ordered my first real kit and impatiently waited on its arrival from some distant land, while continuing to play my trusty blue kit (now abloom with homemade cymbal stands). I had to pre pay for my new Superstars and when the store called to tell me my drums had arrived, they explained that I still needed to pay about $100 in sales tax! So like any good young rock wannabe, I promptly headed to the local pawn / music store and sold off the blue set for $75.00! I knew I would never see them again, but hey thats progress right?

Fast forward 15 years later and I received a call asking if I happened to be Ward Wilson and did I ever play a blue sparkle drum set. Why yes I am and yes I did why? It was a young high school band director from a small town 30 miles away who had met me a few times at my small drum shop. He said he was cleaning out a large storage closet in the band room and discovered an old blue sparkle set with my name painted on the kick head, someone had tried to spray paint over it but it was still clearly visible. He said they were in bad condition but if I wanted what was left, I was welcome to come pick them up. So just like that, I was reunited with the very set that had begun my drum love affair all those years before.



You can see from the photos that the toms are basically intact less a few hoops, rods and floor tom brackets. The kick was ROUGH but did come with the lugs in a box (no hoops, spur brackets or tom rail), while the snare was somewhere in the middle. I never had any intention of restoring them as they kick particularly would require a LOT of structural work. However last year, the thought hit me to dig these out and look over the snare at least. So after setting neglected for decades, I restored the snare that I first plated on almost 50 years before. And to answer your question, it sounds awful!

So there is the backstory, and here is where you guys come in what in the world is this thing???? Its made of 3/8 thick laid fiberglass with a molded gel coat (not a wrap) like a boat would be made. The hardware is clearly Pearl to me (the old Slingerland copy) though I am unsure of the kick lugs. You can see that the profile on the spine does not match the design on the tom lugs. I dont know if this is an actual MIJ kit, or did some local boat company or fiberglass shop (in Little Rock, Arkansas) produce these and stick various MIJ hardware on them? There is no vent holes or badges on any and of the drums. Again making me wonder if they were handmade?



The snare throw off is original along with the stick saver hoops and Slingerland copied Sound King lugs, while the missing tom mount and floor tom leg brackets were very Pearl looking. I know that Pearl produced fiberglass kits in their own line in the late 1960s but I have never seen one in person. Was the shell similar to this in construction? I have a couple of late 60s reprint PEARL catalogs and it looks VERY close to this kit, but I have no idea if it was made the same way. I find several web sites (and Marc Patchs new book) showing me that Star also produced the same hardware, but I have never seen this snare strained on a Star drum, only Pearl.

So if anyone can chime in with ideas, suggestions or information it would be so much appreciated. I hope one of our resident DFO experts can shed some light for me. While I still have no plans to restore any more of the set (you can see that someone had started to work on the kick), I would still like to know what it is if possible. This little set is so much a part of my history and I am really pleased all these years later to still have it. Especially after selling it off so unceremoniously back in the day!

If you made it this far, thanks for the long read and allowing me this reminiscence. Yell back with any info you might have.

Ward
Very cool! Congrats on reconnecting with your first kit! For what it's worth, it looks exactly like my first kit, which my dad bought through the Sears catalog for my 12th birthday and Christmas in 1972, so just two years after you got yours. I don't know much about old MIJ kits, but from what I've seen and read, I assumed it was made by Star/Tama. I wish I hadn't parted with mine...

Oops - I re-read your post and realize your kit was from the late 60s and with fiberglass shells. Nevertheless, it looks just like mine. This was spring 1974... I added the second floor tom for Christmas '73.
 
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