Late 80s(?) DW kit, information please!

n2600

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Long time lurker, hello everyone!

After going down several rabbit holes trying to gather more information about this DW kit, I hope it’s ok to ping you all here to see if you might provide me with any information and insights.


What DW said:

So this can be considered a Collectors Series set. This was made in the late 1980s before Collectors Series was a line. However, it went through the same production process as our Collectors Series. This line was simply called DW Drums. The wood is North American Hard Rock Maple.

Here’s what I know: black and silver badge “A Quality Instrument”, Serials A008XX, A008XX, and A007XX.

The black wrap is very thin, in fact the shells, which appear to be 5x3 or 6x3 ply/re-ring (maybe you can tell, I can’t) are thin as well. The bass drum’s bearing edges rise to an edge, and then lower back to the final ply prior to meeting the wrap.

The shells are undersized and have hexagonal vents. (Please see pictures.). 16x20, 12x14, 10x12.

There’s no mounting hardware, so these are “virgin” shells. They came with a RIMS for the tom, and a Gauger floor tom suspension mount which, according to an email Adam Gauger wrote me, was supplied to DW in the 1980s.

I would be grateful for any information you might have about when these might have been made, how they were made, DW around that era, etc etc.

Many thanks.

IMG_7553.JPG
 

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Elvis

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Welcome to the forum n2600.
Thanks for showing us your gorgeous early DW kit.
Not really sure what specifically you want/need to know.
Sounds like DW already answered your questions.

Elvis
 

n2600

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Welcome to the forum n2600.
Thanks for showing us your gorgeous early DW kit.
Not really sure what specifically you want/need to know.
Sounds like DW already answered your questions.

Elvis
Thank you for the reply Elvis!

I'd love to nail down something more specific than "late 80s" on the manufacture date, and the name of the finish. Does everything look original? The spurs look like Gibraltars?

I'm noticing several different variations of DW "A Quality Instrument" black badges -- "100xxx" "200xxx" "300xxx," and "Axxxxx" "Bxxxxx." Has anyone ever been able to tie those serials to specific years?

My apologies for not being more specific.

Cheers,

-n
 

Elvis

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Those spurs probably did come from Gibraltar, or whatever vendor they were using back then.
In the days before the internet, the drum companies would use similar wholesalers that drum shops / music stores did, so the hardware tends to look very much the same.
These days, I think they all have deals with the actual manufacturers of those items and can order hardware to their individual specs, rather than using "off-the-shelf" parts.
I have a Ludwig Classic Maple kit I got in 1999 and compared to what Ludwig offers in that kit now, even my kit looks a bit "generic".
Different times.
Not sure the exact name of your finish, I'm not the biggest fan of DW. My impression was they always had a "vanilla" sound, but if they work for you, more power to ya. You could definitely do worse.
If you write back to DW and include the specific numbers from the badges on those drums, they can probably give you a more exact date.....or did you already try that?

Elvis
 

n2600

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[snip]
If you write back to DW and include the specific numbers from the badges on those drums, they can probably give you a more exact date.....or did you already try that?

Elvis
I did ask for clarifications, with the serials, and got somewhat of a generic response:

So this can be considered a “Pre Collectors Series” kit.
The A doesn’t really signify anything. This is just a serial number that you can use for insurance purposes if you want to insure your drums.


When searching on the internet, I hit a few posts on this forum that discuss some older DW badges, and was hoping some of the folks with knowledge might chime in.

I am mostly interested in learning more about 1980s DW history, and if this sparks a conversation that hasn't been had before (or that I've missed), wonderful. My first love are Camco drums, and I just happened upon this DW kit.

Thank you again for the reply and the intel on hardware vendors!

Cheers,

-n
 

JazzDrumGuy

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I have an 8x12/12x14 (in an FT cradle)/14x18 bass that are pre-collectors. Black/gold or black/silver badges (I forget which). Order #'s are stamped inside but no dates. Keller shells. Excellent quality build and killer drums. The bass has those Gibraltar type legs. It had a Yamaha bass mount which I removed and added the DW rail mount. I used coated ambs up and down. I actually put on die casts which give it a nice fundamental tone.
Great sleeper drums.....
 

Tarkus

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Hello 'n2600'

Are you already gone?
I bought DW drums in the 80s / early 90s, very similar to the ones shown in your deleted pictures. Still have them and would be glad to exchange information. This was actually the reason to register to this forum today.

Greetings from Germany
Markus
 

Elvis

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Welcome to the forum, Tarkus.....I used to have that album, btw. Very good. =)

Elvis
 

Tarkus

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Great sleeper drums ... well said.

Now the story behind my DW:

End of 80s / early 90s, I was playing a lot of rock and rhythm'n'blues in local bands. I was not particular great but had a lot of fun. And having good sounding drum gear was part of the fun. A drummer from another band happend to have the first 'drum workshop' kit in the area, a manufacturer name I have never heard before. At one occasion, both of our bands played and I was allowed to use his black DW. It just made 'klick'. Exactly the drum sound I always wanted and dreamed of. I had to get them. Immediately. But: the price. These were the most expensive drums you could buy in Germany these days. The 10" tom tom alone was nearly 1000 Deutschmarks, translated into 500 Euros (roughly). Regular 22" bass drum costed around 2500 DM (or 1250 € or 1200 $ if you like). The shell kit I got offered by my local dealer, 10/12/13/16/22, would be officially 7-8.000 DM - without snare or hardware. Really al lot of money...

I had to sell my beloved Sonor, a white Phonic Plus Prototype (the first and only drum kit I ever sold), to buy my first and only 'brand new' drum kit. It was 'slightly used' in a studio, therefore I got it for a very good price. I remember well that I had the choice between a lacquered one and one wrapped with foil. I think, the foil on DW was just introduced these days. After lots of testing: the foil had an effect on sound, the lacquered one sounded even more open and crisp.

The Sound
To my ears and for the era, it was unbelievable good. Very warm, excellent dynamics. I mean, the sound is voluminous, even played quietly, but the louder you play, the more volume and also more tone. Let's be honest, most drums gain in volume as you play them harder, but their tone flattens out.
The rim systems have just been introduced to the drummers world (of Europe, in US a bit earlier), and these DW drums were the first to implement RIMS without any compromises, no holes in the bass drum nor in the toms. The 'pure shell' swinging freely, that sounded convincingly to me (and many others). And, it's a thin shell with reinforcement rings, contrary to everything (especially Sonor Phonic and Signature series) who preached the thicker the louder. This was just wrong. Another point was the quality of the edge. The DWs were advertised using the 'candle trick': put the bare drum shell on a clean and plane table, place a candle inside, and no light should get outside on the table. Take another drum shell or even a DW (which is in fact a Keller) shell that is slightly damaged on the edge, and you'll immediately see 'the problem'.
The hardware of the drums was not very good. One of the down-points of 80s DW drums. And also the snare did not compare to the toms/bass drum quality and tone. At first instance, I bought the shell kit with the cheapest rack (Gibraltar) and without snare, as I had others anyway. Years later, I got the snare offered that belonged originally to my drums. I just bought it to have the matching snare. The sound range where it really kicks is too narrow for me (as 5 x 14, it is a great funk snare, but I don't play funk).

Another aspect was: this DW was the most expensive thing I ever owned. Even my car was about half the price. This changed my behavior. I would not let another drummer play on it on occasions like festivals, where different bands had to share one drum kit. Usually no problem for me. The singer/bandmates were not be allowed to place a towel on the rack. Never. Already at the very first gig, something happened: I talked for a while with the guitar player during sound check. But this guy had constantly his finger on my bass drum - all the time. When I asked about the reason, he started to explain his 'celebration of the new drum kit'. He hit (for what ever over-motivated reason) my splash cymbal. This hard-hitted tiny cymbal flew up into the lights, came down in a bow and left a deep dent in the wooden bass drum hoop. Shock. Even before the gig. This part of owning such a great kit really reduced the fun. The whole story escalated at an open-air gig with a lot of rain. The plastic roof above the stage catched water in a big bubble. I saw it, warned everyone (danger of electric shock), we left the stage, turned electrics down. And then it happened: The bubble cracked and all the water came down, and splashed exactly on my drum kit. I sweared to big heaven that I will never carry this DW to a live gig again. With a few exceptions, this came true. I couldn't sell it, it just sounded too good, and it was my first 'real good' drum kit. Since then, it was stapeled somewhere, or I used it as drum kit for rehearsal rooms. This is the current situation.

Next time, I see it again, I could picture all the serial numbers. But actually, our rehearsal room is far away, and COVID rules say: no meeting, no gig. Some older pictures are still on my computer. A few years ago, I found some DW brochures that I collected the time I bought it. If I find them again, I could upload here.

This is what I'm taking about:
IMG_2847.jpg


Old pictures. Close up pf serial number:

IMG_2842.jpg


It's an 'A' series.

The story is already too long, but I have to add this:
The owner of the local drum store had a nearly identical drum kit to mine, which was 'his own'. It was always assembled in his store as a 'reference kit'. And we compared a lot of 'new and must-have' kits over the years. Is it Pearl or Tama, Sonor or Slingerland, all failed to have these great dynamics of the 80s DWs. I remember a Brady and a Noble & Cooley which were really close. They had their own tone, different but not 'better'. Even 'newer DWs' had no chance (although their hardware was much better then). I mean, same player, same room, same sticks, all kits well-tuned, playing soflty, playing loud, sound at the kit and sound in front of (like the audience). This was kind of fair comparison, far beyond what you get nowadays at youtube.

I would be glad to compare it to a really good Camco.

Greetings
Markus
 
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musiqman

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Also DW used Tama hardware in the 70’s and in the 80’s utill they worked with/bought out Collarlock.

This was my 90’s kit:
1614280797263.jpeg


And matching Brass snare:
1614280830531.jpeg


I loved the sound of the kit. Very big.

But I do prefer the Maple Mahogany DW I have now over it.
 
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n2600

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That is a beautiful kit Markus, love that blue lacquer with the grain showing!

Thank you so much for sharing the story, the discovery, the sound, and the ups and downs. (The canopy bursting water over your new kit is the stuff of nightmares!). Sorry about your guitar player!

You and I have something in common — we fell in love with the sound!

When I bought the kit, it was dusty, the floor tom suspension system was missing an adjustment screw and was held by duct tape, one of the spurs was a bit loose, etc. I bought correct replacement parts, and it cleaned up real nice. I figured I would put some new heads on it and either keep it in the studio or maybe sell it.

Once the heads had been tuned and settled in, and I started playing it, I had a similar reaction as you.

As you mention, these shells react to soft playing, and don’t “flatten out” when hit hard. They are bright, loud, and full-bodied. With no muffling, the closest thing I could say is they have a timpani-like sound, which is crazy for a tiny 12x14!

I don’t have a lot of experience with DW drums, and all the ones I have played have all sounded very good, with my main criticism being that they sound a bit “polite” when pushed, not so here. Maybe the suspension systems on the floor and rack toms play a part in it?

Speaking of suspension, I will note one A/B comparison I have done: When I purchased my Oaklawn Camco set, it came with various extra parts, including two rack tom suspension systems: one was a RIMS like the one you have with attaches to tension rods, and the other was the more modern DW STM mount that attaches to the lugs.

So, same tom, different suspension systems.

With the RIMS system, the same tom had a noticeably more open sound, and I sold the STM mount shortly thereafter. Now it’s possible the STM was maybe not in round, or didn’t mate well with the Oaklawn tom, that’s just my experience.

I do prefer the “basket” suspension system that attaches to the bottom tension rods on a floor tom, plus it’s one less tripod to have to worry about!

Did you by any chance stay in touch with the store you bought it from or kept the receipts? It appears from your picture the serial number is A 076XX. I'd love to try and zero in on the manufacture dates.

Here is a catalog I found which I think is from the same era as our drums, but there are no dates on it, as well as an article that discusses a bit of DW's history.

Cheers,

-nico
 

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