KENT DRUMS

marko52

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This subject has been discussed often. I have owned and played many Kent sets and I also put the Kent Museum page together. Mouse is a Kent fan and contributed the photo of the Kent factory in Kenmore, NY.He has also met one of the Kent brothers who is now deceased.

This is what I have learned about the Kent drums over the years:

The Kent drums of the 1950's and 60's were made with thin American maple shells. Bearing edges were often non-existent but some were quite well done. Very poor quality control. Often, brown glue smears were left inside the un-sanded shells.

The lugs are top quality- solid metal with good plating.

Hoops were similar in quality and construction to Ludwig hoops of the same era. They were steel.

The first tom mounts were similar to Sonor tom mounts. A very simple design, rather like a large version of a cymbal stand tilter. While they are solidly made, they tend to spin in their mounting if not tightened down VERY tight. Difficult with a drum key and hex nut.

In the later 1960's, Kent introduced a hex rod tom mount that revolved on a ball and socket fitting. They worked quite well.

Kent cymbal holders were on the same par as Ludwig's telescopic cymbal arms which were mounted in the center of the bass drum. Later, they offered a hex rod like their hex tom mounts.

Kent bass spurs were nearly identical to Gretsch. Simple telescopic design. Made from heavy solid metal. Often nickel plated.

The worst Kent feature? Their snare strainers, of course. They were horribly designed and barely work. They did offer a "Deluxe" strainer later which was much better.

The finishes offered by Kent varied in quality. Their earlier sparkle finishes were nothing special. Later, they used standard sparkles like Slingerland and Ludwig. They did offer some beautiful oyster type finishes. Definitely top quality and well applied.

One reason that Kent drums are viewed as inferior is that they made so many low line versions of their drums. Bass drums and toms with no lugs, center lug bass drums with only six lugs, six lug snare drums, etc. If you can find one of their top of the line kits, you'll have a winner. It's a fairly easy fix to improve the bearing edges. The Kent drums provide a nice warm sound that can compete with many of the upper echelon sets by other companies.

One thing to look out for....around 1969-70, Kent started incorporating cheap imported "Luan" shells and later other imported hardware items. The change in shell design marked the beginning of the end. By 1972, Kent drums were 100% Japanese. I ordered a brand new Kent set that year, thinking I was getting an American made set with maple shells and good hardware. When the boxes arrived my excitement turned to disappointment. The boxes were marked "Hoshino Trading Company" or something like that. Upon opening the boxes, I discovered cheap, standard import drums similar to those made by Pearl. Even the hardware had "Made in Japan" scratched out!

I hope this helps with your search for a nice old Kent set. They are out there.
Thanks, Mark. This is a great post, with lots of good info. Apparently there's "more" to the whole Kent story, but what you've shared here is good information about a cool American drum company.......marko
 

kona1984

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I bought this nice little 9x13 Kent tom last year. I had to tweek it a little to get the lugs to line up. The lugs we not put on straight - they did not line up with the hoops. And yes, mine has glue smeared around on the inside of the shell. I touched the edges up....well actually there were no bearing edges.Mine is missing the male(?) rachet part of the mounting hardware (one piece?). I use a snare cradle and have it as an add-on tom with my 6pc PWAM Gretsch Renown kit.

I like the drum and it's sounding good with new heads.

First 3 pix the day it arrived.
 

Mark Cooper

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This subject has been discussed often. I have owned and played many Kent sets and I also put the Kent Museum page together. Mouse is a Kent fan and contributed the photo of the Kent factory in Kenmore, NY.He has also met one of the Kent brothers who is now deceased.

This is what I have learned about the Kent drums over the years:

The Kent drums of the 1950's and 60's were made with thin American maple shells. Bearing edges were often non-existent but some were quite well done. Very poor quality control. Often, brown glue smears were left inside the un-sanded shells.

The lugs are top quality- solid metal with good plating.

Hoops were similar in quality and construction to Ludwig hoops of the same era. They were steel.

The first tom mounts were similar to Sonor tom mounts. A very simple design, rather like a large version of a cymbal stand tilter. While they are solidly made, they tend to spin in their mounting if not tightened down VERY tight. Difficult with a drum key and hex nut.

In the later 1960's, Kent introduced a hex rod tom mount that revolved on a ball and socket fitting. They worked quite well.

Kent cymbal holders were on the same par as Ludwig's telescopic cymbal arms which were mounted in the center of the bass drum. Later, they offered a hex rod like their hex tom mounts.

Kent bass spurs were nearly identical to Gretsch. Simple telescopic design. Made from heavy solid metal. Often nickel plated.

The worst Kent feature? Their snare strainers, of course. They were horribly designed and barely work. They did offer a "Deluxe" strainer later which was much better.

The finishes offered by Kent varied in quality. Their earlier sparkle finishes were nothing special. Later, they used standard sparkles like Slingerland and Ludwig. They did offer some beautiful oyster type finishes. Definitely top quality and well applied.

One reason that Kent drums are viewed as inferior is that they made so many low line versions of their drums. Bass drums and toms with no lugs, center lug bass drums with only six lugs, six lug snare drums, etc. If you can find one of their top of the line kits, you'll have a winner. It's a fairly easy fix to improve the bearing edges. The Kent drums provide a nice warm sound that can compete with many of the upper echelon sets by other companies.

One thing to look out for....around 1969-70, Kent started incorporating cheap imported "Luan" shells and later other imported hardware items. The change in shell design marked the beginning of the end. By 1972, Kent drums were 100% Japanese. I ordered a brand new Kent set that year, thinking I was getting an American made set with maple shells and good hardware. When the boxes arrived my excitement turned to disappointment. The boxes were marked "Hoshino Trading Company" or something like that. Upon opening the boxes, I discovered cheap, standard import drums similar to those made by Pearl. Even the hardware had "Made in Japan" scratched out!

I hope this helps with your search for a nice old Kent set. They are out there.
Thanks, Mark. This is a great post, with lots of good info. Apparently there's "more" to the whole Kent story, but what you've shared here is good information about a cool American drum company.......marko
Thanks, Marko. I have always liked Kent drums and I'm glad to share whatever I know. My very first set, purchased in 1970 was an ugly, faded silver sparkle Kent set....and I LOVED it! I remember removing the front bass drum head and painting the interior
black so that I could be just like Floyd Sneed!
 

TommyWells

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Mouse: What is B.S.? We depend on you for the Kent knowledge.

Mark: Thanks for the info. Appreciated. I'm still looking for the right Kent set....
 

ReGaL Music

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My brother has a set of Kents and enjoys playing them very much. They aren't in the category of his Yamaha Recording Customs, but I think he enjoys playing them just as much when he's in a "vintage" mood.

I for one really appreciate the history of them being an American drum company. I don't think they ever had the $ to compete directly with the big names, but they did produce some nice drums.

For those interested here's a video of my brother playing his kit that I believe were made in the mid 60s. I still a beautiful looking set.

 
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CSR

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I went through the Kent factory on Military Road in Kenmore, New York, near Buffalo in about 1969 or so. My dad took me there to pick out a 14" floor tom, red sparkle, to augment my Luddy classic 22,16,13 kit. I also bought a 20" ride cymbal there, made, I think, by Meinl. The factory was small...I walked through several areas before getting to the 14" floor toms. The smell reminded me of the smell you get when you remove a head that's been on a Ludwig wood drum for a long period of time - very evocative.

The old Kent factory is now a repair shop...

Mouse is the man who has a real love and knowledge of Kent drums and the family history through his interviews with the Kent connection. He and I have spoken in person a number of times about these drums.

Mine was a red sparkle, but not as fine as the Ludwig red sparkle...it was coarser and a shade darker red. The inside was unfinished and the edges were not terribly smooth, but even and level. It was a center-lug mount, like the Clubdate style. I played it for several years, until I decided to sell my set and "grow up".
I bought another red sparkle Ludwig classic set years later....for about 3x the selling price.


[edited several times to correct stupid spelling errors
]
 

donaldshultz

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Here’s a Kent bass drum I’ve re-wrapped for a friend. Does anyone know if freezing the shells makes the old wrap come off easier? The heat gun was not a fun experience lol.91A780FD-89F2-4888-BAC8-5DD27AAE4C70.jpeg19319746-59E0-41B8-9D26-40CE2890802C.jpeg
 

multijd

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Heres a couple of photos of a partial Kent set I use sometimes. Im using a gretsch 12” tom and Leedy snare with the Kent 20” bass drum ( calf heads) and a 15x15 Kent floor tom. The finishes all match.
 

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rock roll

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I have a Kent snare and a couple cymbals..someday I'll get the rest of the kit. And thx to all for the advice on what to do to it to improve it when I do get em.
 

retrosonic

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I've owned 2 KENT sets, one in orange sparkle and one in Black Diamond pearl. In my experience, they were way better built than the MIJ sets of the early 60s. I personally, did not like the tom tom mounts at ALL. They were like something from the 1930s, and the tom was always moving around. Also, the cymbal mount was dinky and didnt hold a heavier cymbal (which I learned the hard way). And for some reason, the snare strainer lever always broke!! I used a long screw, which did the job but looked pretty silly.

The SHELLS, however were very good sounding. They hit a home run with their shells. its just a shame they
couldnt come up with better hardware. However, for a tiny, tiny factory I give them alot of credit because they did manage to produce a decent line of drums that served the entry level portion of the market very well. They were the Chevrolet of the Drum Business!

One of the things on my bucket list for when I retire is to make it up to the old factory building in Kenmore on one of my trips upstate. I'd like to just step inside and imagine its 1962 and see the drums being built by hand. I'm sure other drummers have done this.
 

multijd

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I've owned 2 KENT sets, one in orange sparkle and one in Black Diamond pearl. In my experience, they were way better built than the MIJ sets of the early 60s. I personally, did not like the tom tom mounts at ALL. They were like something from the 1930s, and the tom was always moving around. Also, the cymbal mount was dinky and didnt hold a heavier cymbal (which I learned the hard way). And for some reason, the snare strainer lever always broke!! I used a long screw, which did the job but looked pretty silly.

The SHELLS, however were very good sounding. They hit a home run with their shells. its just a shame they
couldnt come up with better hardware. However, for a tiny, tiny factory I give them alot of credit because they did manage to produce a decent line of drums that served the entry level portion of the market very well. They were the Chevrolet of the Drum Business!

One of the things on my bucket list for when I retire is to make it up to the old factory building in Kenmore on one of my trips upstate. I'd like to just step inside and imagine its 1962 and see the drums being built by hand. I'm sure other drummers have done this.
I went there a couple of times when I was a kid. Im not sure you would catch any of the drum building vibe if you went there today. Its a janitorial supply now i think. But if you come this way contact Mouse. He has a museum of Kent drums. Great guy too!
 

D. B. Cooper

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Heres a couple of photos of a partial Kent set I use sometimes. Im using a gretsch 12” tom and Leedy snare with the Kent 20” bass drum ( calf heads) and a 15x15 Kent floor tom. The finishes all match.
Ooooh. 15x15!?
How'd ya like that drum?
 

lanebune

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Here's a pic of me playing my original Kent set in 1966. The second two pics are of the set I bought 15 years, or so ago, mainly for nostalgia reasons. I don't remember how good the original sounded, but the replacements sound pretty good.
 

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lanebune

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lane: Great Pics! Did your band record back then?
This picture was taken as a promo shot for the local Public Television station, so I guess there may be some audio and video out there somewhere. The two guitarists on the left and I were in this same band for 7 years with a parade of bass players and horn players. One of the bass players says there is some recordings out there of a later incarnation of the group, but he hasn't sent them to me yet.
 

multijd

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This picture was taken as a promo shot for the local Public Television station, so I guess there may be some audio and video out there somewhere. The two guitarists on the left and I were in this same band for 7 years with a parade of bass players and horn players. One of the bass players says there is some recordings out there of a later incarnation of the group, but he hasn't sent them to me yet.
Those were all kent cymbals also.
 

lanebune

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Those were all kent cymbals also.
I know for sure the one in the middle was a Kent, but I can't remember if the one to my right was, or not. I think it may have been a Zildjian with rivets. The one in the middle of the set I have now is a Kent.
 

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