Piper At the Gates of Dawn
- Oct 10, 2007
- Reaction score
- quimper peninsula
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.......markoThis 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.