Help with Leedy & Gretsch (?) Purchase - What I have and what to do?

count_me_in

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Hey everyone,

Saw a local FB Marketplace listing pop up advertising 2 Leedy toms (12" & 14") and 1 "not Leedy, maybe Gretsch" 20" bass drum. I'm not too well versed in vintage gear beyond Ludwig, but it seemed like a good deal so I pounced on them. The photos weren't the best, and when I got my hands on them in person I immediately started having more questions than answers.

The guy is in his 60s and said he's owned them since buying them as a used kit from the music store when he was a kid. They've been sitting in canvas bags in the garage for 30+ years.

I took a bunch of pics and hope that you experts here have some insights as well as advice to get them cleaned up and in playing shape!

Let's start with the two Leedy toms:

  • 12" has no badge, not even a vent hole. I started to worrying maybe it's a re-wrap and the holes were covered, but after removing a head I realized that's not the case.
    • Internal date stamp "June 1960" and "P-040"
    • Batter head was tough to remove, possibly the only head ever on it

  • 14" floor has blue Leedy Chicago badge without the "48" on it
    • Internal date stamp is smudged reads "OCT X XXXX" and "P-020"
    • Legs possibly missing rubber feet?

  • All heads stamped "Leedy Superior Hardwhite" but both Reso's were torn
  • Hoops look like the "stick saver" type
  • 3-ply with re-rings, unsure of wood. Also looks like some minor ply separations, though the bearing edges themselves are smooth
  • WMP wrap seams are tight with some minor yellowing
 

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count_me_in

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Now onto the "Not Leedy, maybe Gretsch" 20" bass drum:
  • No badge
  • No spurs or even holes for spurs
    • I started wondering if this was a marching band bass converted to a kick by adding the rail consolette, but it doesn't look "tampered" with at all
  • 6-ply, no re-rings, no internal markings, silver/gray painted interior
  • WMP wrap has one good seam, one bad seam. Both hoop inlay seams have lifted as well
  • Wrap is bubbled near one lug too - not sure if it can be fixed or needs a re-wrap
  • One claw is broken, and the hoop is chewed up a bit from the lug being overly tightened to compensate
  • One head looks like calfskin or something and has a faded stamp that kind of looks like "Gretsch Broadkaster"
Of the three drums, this one is definitely the biggest "project." I'm not sure what it is and what can be done to it. I'm a novice at resto and rehab and not sure if I'd be in over my head trying to fix the wrap or re-wrapping. Also don't think I'd want to drill any holes for spurs. Should I look for a replacement badge to help return it to its "original" state?
 

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KCDrumDad

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The tom and floor tom look like SlingerLeedy. Made when Slingerland owned the Leedy name as well. Rack tom would not have had a badge during the 1960 time period.

Bass looks like Gretsch in the period after they went to 6 ply and before they started the paper labels. (1958ish - 1962ish). Bass badges often fell off. Not sure when the claws/T-rods went from faucet style to the streamline style.

You can get hoop mounted spurs for the bass and avoid drilling. Looks like a doable and worthwhile project to me.
 

count_me_in

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The tom and floor tom look like SlingerLeedy. Made when Slingerland owned the Leedy name as well. Rack tom would not have had a badge during the 1960 time period.
Thanks for the info! SlingerLeedy was not something I was aware of until after I got these home. Is it safe to assume the shells are mahogany then? And should I be concerned over the ply separations? Will they need to be filled/glued to prevent them from getting worse?

Bass looks like Gretsch in the period after they went to 6 ply and before they started the paper labels. (1958ish - 1962ish). Bass badges often fell off. Not sure when the claws/T-rods went from faucet style to the streamline style.

You can get hoop mounted spurs for the bass and avoid drilling. Looks like a doable and worthwhile project to me.
Was it common in that time to not install spurs into the bass shells? I can't seem to find anything conclusive about that and am just stumped on whether this drum was originally built to lay on the floor while being played.

I'll also have a ton more research to do before deciding whether I want to attempt the wrap repair. Is it likely the whole sheet would need to come off first, or just the lifted parts can be glued back down? The last thing I want to do is ruin the drum with sloppy work!
 

Tama CW

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It was common for Slingerland to use hoop clamped legs/spurs in the 50's. Gretsch probably used them for much of the 50's as well. I doubt any of your drums have been re-wrapped. You can check the bass drum internals for signs of silver sealer
touch up or wood plugs if old mounting holes were filled. Not too likely for spur mounts as those are around a 1/2" or larger hole (3/8" spur). Not easy to "hide." Remove a bass drum lug if you want and see if you have a bright wmp finish under it.

I would just reglue that hunk of bass drum wrap that's lifted, especially if out of sight on the bottom. A bubble to two in the wrap wouldn't bother me. It's probably worth more in the current state than if you re-wrapped it. Being a Gretsch bass drum that's
very collectible. The bass drum hoop inlays normally shrink over time. What you have is pretty normal....better than most I'd say for player drums. I'd keep them original.

BD round badges can be found in repro ($30-$35) or decent originals with ($65-$100). No guarantee the repro metal grommet fits your bass drum hole. The sellers say they do....but some just don't fit. The repro badges are
a bright color and don't quite match the originals. But you can 'age' them in a vinegar/salt solution (google it). Gretsch put those BD badges on with a "light" push in fit....no flaring. So many just came out over time. It's quite normal.
Finding replacement BD claws is easy. While I wouldn't drill the BD for leg mounts....your thoughts might be different. An original set of retractable spurs and mounts could run $50-$125. Original clamped spurs could be pricey too.

No badges on your Leedy toms is correct. Slingerland didn't put them on toms until mid-1966. You can find replacement spurs for your bass drum. You don't have to go Gretsch. Slingerland and Ludwigs work too. Whatever you find
at a good price. DfD or others might actually sell new repro's of those legs. And you can "age" those as well. You can buy replacement rubber feet for your floor tom (repro's sold on line for around $1 each). Buy a bag of 6 or 12.

For the slight ply circumferential gapping on your toms you can improve the worst spots with some wood glue, syringes, and C clamps. Getting the glue into the gaps is the hard part. But it's not hard. Just time consuming. Plenty of instruction video's on how to do it.
Yours really don't look bad at all though. Cautions: don't clamp directly on to the wrap w/o a piece of cardboard to prevent indents. Not much pressure is needed. Wipe up excess glue with a damp rag as it comes out under pressure. Not too much pressure or most of it
comes out.

Check out Reverb.com and search through the 50's and 60's Gretsch offerings. You'll get a lot more clues on what is or could be correct for your drum.
Make them as nice as you can with your own labor. Keep the parts cost down. Enjoy them as the previous owner did.
 
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count_me_in

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Thanks for all the info @Tama CW !

I definitely agree that these drums are not a re-wrap and in all original condition. There are no plugged holes inside, I wasn't aware that clip-on style hoop spurs were around back then (or that the badges would easily and commonly pop out)!

I would much prefer to order myself one of the Gibraltar hoop clip-on spurs just to get the baby up off the ground.

Do these details suggest then that the bass drum is from the 50s and likely older than the Leedy toms then (stamped 1960)? Do I have any hope of narrowing down the year? The Gretsch catalogs on here have quite a gap so I haven't been able to find a match yet. I've searched Reverb for comparables too but all the one's I've come across have mounted spurs.

As for fixing the wrap, if and when I decide to tackle that project you'll find me in the Rehab thread asking far too many questions before I begin the work!
 

Tama CW

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While the norm for Gretsch's top of the line bass drums used the mounted/retractable spurs, it doesn't preclude a special order for one with clamped on legs. Their 2nd line of bass drums with single tension lugs used the
clamp on legs. All through the 50's and through at least the '61 catalog.

The faucet style tension rods on your bass drum show up in the '58 catalog but not the '61. From others I've read the change was around '58 - but with old hardware often making on drums dated 1960. I'd figure '58 to '60.
after the switch from 3 ply to 6 ply shells. So yours could be 1960. The tags with serial numbers don't start until a few yrs later....so no help there. I think that's about as close as you can date it.
Sometimes the type of original heads used and cymbal arm placements can help date them.
 
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JDA

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can mount two cowbell holders upside down on the front hoop for spurs.. You have the rail, so you can set them up..

frankly they may be a pig in a poke if it was me; Trade the toms for 2 Gretsch and recover the whole shebang or reverse... Trade the bass for a slinger-leedy bass and repair the toms if they buzz...

but a...pretty dark alley may have found yourself in ; )
 
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jmetatual

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Shells appear to be mahogany/poplar/mahogany.
K.O. is correct, mahogany/poplar/mahogany. The mahogany inner ply dates both these toms to pre '63-1/2. Taking into account all the other details (ink stamps, tone control, lug fasteners, FT leg mounts etc.) these toms can be further narrowed to '58 - '61. Here's an interesting twist regarding Slinger-Leedy toms: Per Slingerland historian Dr. CJ Wenk, Slingerland routinely placed badges on Leedy toms from '55 thru 1960. From '61 - mid '66 Leedy toms had NO badges (like their Slingerland counterparts). Starting in mid '66 both Slingerland and Leedy toms received badges. The blue Leedy badge w/o 48 postal code on this FT was used from '58 - '61 and makes sense on this drum. The 12" tom with June 1960 date code is interesting as it would normally be expected to have a badge also.
 

count_me_in

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Thanks everyone for all of the awesome insights and suggestions! I feel very lucky to have scored what I did. If I've learned anything from my brief time on this forum, it's "Buy the drums, ask questions later!"

While the norm for Gretsch's top of the line bass drums used the mounted/retractable spurs, it doesn't preclude a special order for one with clamped on legs. Their 2nd line of bass drums with single tension lugs used the clamp on legs. All through the 50's and through at least the '61 catalog.

The faucet style tension rods on your bass drum show up in the '58 catalog but not the '61. From others I've read the change was around '58 - but with old hardware often making on drums dated 1960. I'd figure '58 to '60.
That's good to know, just based on that info alone I've been able to find some pics and see the kind of legs that would have been on this from that era. If I decide to keep I'm definitely OK with using the most economical and practical option rather than attempt to return it to factory condition.

can mount two cowbell holders upside down on the front hoop for spurs.. You have the rail, so you can set them up..
Speaking of economical... :lol: I already have one cowbell holder, couldn't get any easier!

frankly they may be a pig in a poke if it was me; Trade the toms for 2 Gretsch and recover the whole shebang or reverse... Trade the bass for a slinger-leedy bass and repair the toms if they buzz...

but a...pretty dark alley may have found yourself in ; )
That's one of the first things that crossed my mind! One the one hand, a vintage Gretsch has been on my wishlist for quite some time. On the other hand, these SlingerLeedys are in tip-top shape in comparison.. Hmm, decisions, decisions...

K.O. is correct, mahogany/poplar/mahogany. The mahogany inner ply dates both these toms to pre '63-1/2. Taking into account all the other details (ink stamps, tone control, lug fasteners, FT leg mounts etc.) these toms can be further narrowed to '58 - '61. Here's an interesting twist regarding Slinger-Leedy toms: Per Slingerland historian Dr. CJ Wenk, Slingerland routinely placed badges on Leedy toms from '55 thru 1960. From '61 - mid '66 Leedy toms had NO badges (like their Slingerland counterparts). Starting in mid '66 both Slingerland and Leedy toms received badges. The blue Leedy badge w/o 48 postal code on this FT was used from '58 - '61 and makes sense on this drum. The 12" tom with June 1960 date code is interesting as it would normally be expected to have a badge also.
This is fascinating! We have October 1960 - badge, but June 1960 - no badge. I do have one likely silly question but I'll ask it anyway - At what point in the production process did the shells get stamped? Is it possible that maybe the 12" shell was produced and stamped prior to drilling, wrap, hardware assembly etc, meaning maybe the shell just sat unfinished in the factory until the "no badge" era?

Regardless I'm just happy that the stamps are present and mostly legible because it takes out all of the guesswork!
 

jmetatual

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This is fascinating! We have October 1960 - badge, but June 1960 - no badge. I do have one likely silly question but I'll ask it anyway - At what point in the production process did the shells get stamped? Is it possible that maybe the 12" shell was produced and stamped prior to drilling, wrap, hardware assembly etc, meaning maybe the shell just sat unfinished in the factory until the "no badge" era?
Your question is not silly and your theory is indeed one possible explanation. Per Dr. CJ Wenk the date stamp went on when the shell was fabricated and before the finish was applied. Didn't you say earlier that the year portion of the date stamp on the FT was smudged/illegible?
 

Pink69

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Those look like the makings of a great sounding kit. I suggest stripping the wrap off and playing like that.
 

count_me_in

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Didn't you say earlier that the year portion of the date stamp on the FT was smudged/illegible?
Oops - yes, but I meant that 3 out of 4 legible stamps ain't bad (to paraphrase Meatloaf). I was referring to the one date and two shell model stamps.

Here's a closeup of the FT stamp - seems like it was a "botched" application at the factory and not ruined afterwards by an owner, but overall I think it has the general shape of OCT 1/7/8, 195X or 196X. Fortunately there's other clues like the badge on this one to help with dating it.
 

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count_me_in

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Those look like the makings of a great sounding kit. I suggest stripping the wrap off and playing like that.
Thank you! To be honest I have not considered doing that at all! Although I have seen photos/listings of some nice looking "natural" shells, I kind of get the feeling that when people strip the original wrap and "finish" the bare shells, it's more of an attempt to not ruin the original drum or its value with a re-wrap. Who knows though! If done well, in one sense it's actually returning the drum to an even more original state!
 

JDA

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studrum

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Those look like the makings of a great sounding kit. I suggest stripping the wrap off and playing like that.
I respectfully disagree with this position.
I actually think the poster might be making a joke. I mean, around here.... stripping shells?
 

KCDrumDad

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Here's an interesting twist regarding Slinger-Leedy toms: Per Slingerland historian Dr. CJ Wenk, Slingerland routinely placed badges on Leedy toms from '55 thru 1960. From '61 - mid '66 Leedy toms had NO badges (like their Slingerland counterparts). Starting in mid '66 both Slingerland and Leedy toms received badges. The blue Leedy badge w/o 48 postal code on this FT was used from '58 - '61 and makes sense on this drum. The 12" tom with June 1960 date code is interesting as it would normally be expected to have a badge also.
I was thinking about Slingerland Tom's. Not sure about Leedy in 1960.
 

pedro navahas

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Nice score. I would get the Pearl iso feet for the floor tom, those straight legs are notorious for killing the resonance of a drum.
 


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