Ludwig 3 plys

wflkurt

Deafus Maximus
Joined
Aug 5, 2005
Messages
9,334
Reaction score
551
Location
Chichester NH
I am definitely not an expert on wood and what was used inside the shells but I have heard numerous times over the years that production was so crazy after the Beatle boom that they used pretty much whatever was on hand. I heard a funny story years ago from one of the Ludwig guys. They were set up at one of the Ludwig booths and had Wm F Ludwig II there signing autographs and whatnot. Apparently young guy approached him with a 60's jazzfest gushing about how magical it was and how did Ludwig make such incredible things. By this time WFL II was well into advanced age and all of a sudden snapped "That thing?? Hell we probably made that drum out of a pallet. We were so busy back them we would use anything we could find to make those damn things". The guys at Ludwig shut things down pretty quick and I can only imagine the look on this poor guys face!

I do know that shells were made up with colors in advance where they would be badges first and later drilled for lugs and hardware. I am willing to bey this is exactly happened with citrus mod being covered with black panther. I'll bet that shells were made up in the later part of 1969/early 1970 only to be realized by Ludwig that the color was a very poor seller. Not ever wasting anything, I think someone came up with the idea to use black panther as it is such a thing wrap to just cover over the shells piled up. That's why I would be very surprised if someone ever found citrus mod under black panther on a set with keystone badges. Nobody in 1969 would have thought to do that as the color had only been around for no more than a year and a half at that.

It's also why i think the dates were added later when hardware was added. I have seen a handful of sets with older shells and serial numbers with a newer date stamp. It's hard to know for sure but it would be cool to find out indefinitely.


1589480391937.png



P4210011.jpg
P4210012.jpg
P4210010.jpg
 

K.O.

DFO Star
Joined
Aug 5, 2005
Messages
19,826
Reaction score
2,084
Location
Illinois
I am definitely not an expert on wood and what was used inside the shells but I have heard numerous times over the years that production was so crazy after the Beatle boom that they used pretty much whatever was on hand. I heard a funny story years ago from one of the Ludwig guys. They were set up at one of the Ludwig booths and had Wm F Ludwig II there signing autographs and whatnot. Apparently young guy approached him with a 60's jazzfest gushing about how magical it was and how did Ludwig make such incredible things. By this time WFL II was well into advanced age and all of a sudden snapped "That thing?? Hell we probably made that drum out of a pallet. We were so busy back them we would use anything we could find to make those damn things". The guys at Ludwig shut things down pretty quick and I can only imagine the look on this poor guys face!

I do know that shells were made up with colors in advance where they would be badges first and later drilled for lugs and hardware. I am willing to bey this is exactly happened with citrus mod being covered with black panther. I'll bet that shells were made up in the later part of 1969/early 1970 only to be realized by Ludwig that the color was a very poor seller. Not ever wasting anything, I think someone came up with the idea to use black panther as it is such a thing wrap to just cover over the shells piled up. That's why I would be very surprised if someone ever found citrus mod under black panther on a set with keystone badges. Nobody in 1969 would have thought to do that as the color had only been around for no more than a year and a half at that.

It's also why i think the dates were added later when hardware was added. I have seen a handful of sets with older shells and serial numbers with a newer date stamp. It's hard to know for sure but it would be cool to find out indefinitely.


View attachment 441524


View attachment 441527 View attachment 441528 View attachment 441529
In the home movies that WFL II shot around the factory in the mid 60s the badge was added as the next step after the holes were drilled for the lugs and floor tom leg brackets ( it's a floor tom shell the worker is preparing, oyster black). Somewhat notoriously the hole for the badge is drilled free hand with no guide or jig to asist in placement. Maybe just that one worker on that one day...then again he knows the boss is filming him.
 

wflkurt

Deafus Maximus
Joined
Aug 5, 2005
Messages
9,334
Reaction score
551
Location
Chichester NH
In the home movies that WFL II shot around the factory in the mid 60s the badge was added as the next step after the holes were drilled for the lugs and floor tom leg brackets ( it's a floor tom shell the worker is preparing, oyster black). Somewhat notoriously the hole for the badge is drilled free hand with no guide or jig to asist in placement. Maybe just that one worker on that one day...then again he knows the boss is filming him.

Hmmm. Maybe the process changed from from the WFL years as I have this pic saved that shows the badge put on the shell already as the holes are being drilled.

drilled.jpg
 

K.O.

DFO Star
Joined
Aug 5, 2005
Messages
19,826
Reaction score
2,084
Location
Illinois
Hmmm. Maybe the process changed from from the WFL years as I have this pic saved that shows the badge put on the shell already as the holes are being drilled.

View attachment 441687
Hard to say. In the film the same worker does all three steps in succession so it might have been up to the worker when he did what. But it would seem like it would be easiest to line up the badge to the lug holes rather than the other way around. I suppose after a while these guys got pretty good at eyeballing all this stuff.
 

YabaMTV

Member
Joined
May 16, 2012
Messages
12
Reaction score
5
Location
Philly
From my experience, the shell guide is helpful yet deeply inaccurate.
Ludwig didn’t waste anything back then. That applied to everything on the drum. Even badges and hardware. They reached in the bin and used it until it was gone then on to the new batch. In 1968 they started with the clear coated interior. Granitone was another interior they made later on. I prefer the Maple/Poplar/Maple clear interior shells. I bought many of these kits to piece together a large kit for Jack Lawton to rewrap with aged Top Hat & Cane wrap I purchased from Stauffer Drums when they closed (tragic story). I still have to sell the extra kits I have in boxes. I had Jack rewrap 6” and 8” concert toms all the way around to my 18” Floor Tom but single bass drum and no 20” Floor Tom because I ran out of wrap and Andy Foote in Nashville robbed me by taking over $700 from me and never delivered my additional wrap. He is a thief. Many folks posting online that he robbed them. I did see some with at least one of the plys being Mahogany usually the first ply under the wrap.
 
Joined
Feb 17, 2008
Messages
7
Reaction score
2
In '67 or so they switched to maple on the inner ply but were still painting the interiors. There are no hard and fast rules with Ludwig though. If they had a shortage they would use whatever they had to get things out the door.

Early 60's Bass drums were Maple on the inside while their toms and snares were Mahogany.
good call .. my understanding for the reason for the white paint is that ludwig couldn't keep up w' demand post ' beatle-boom ' , so they - as you write - would use anything they could get wood-wise .. & the " sonic improvement " of the white paint was to cover up inferior wood / inside finishing .. haven't writ that , yes, they still sounded good !
 

K.O.

DFO Star
Joined
Aug 5, 2005
Messages
19,826
Reaction score
2,084
Location
Illinois
good call .. my understanding for the reason for the white paint is that ludwig couldn't keep up w' demand post ' beatle-boom ' , so they - as you write - would use anything they could get wood-wise .. & the " sonic improvement " of the white paint was to cover up inferior wood / inside finishing .. haven't writ that , yes, they still sounded good !
The white paint started in 1962 though. Allegedly white ceiling paint purchased in bulk from the hardware store down the street. Many bass drums from this time frame have bare maple interiors though. Hard to say what was up but most likely they wanted uniform looking interiors whether they used mahogany or maple for the interior ply.

Most of the clear interior "maple" wrapped drums of 1968 and later are still mahogany/poplar/maple.
 

thin shell

DFO Master
Joined
Sep 15, 2010
Messages
3,628
Reaction score
796
Ludwig didn’t waste anything back then. That applied to everything on the drum. Even badges and hardware. They reached in the bin and used it until it was gone then on to the new batch. In 1968 they started with the clear coated interior. Granitone was another interior they made later on. I prefer the Maple/Poplar/Maple clear interior shells. I bought many of these kits to piece together a large kit for Jack Lawton to rewrap with aged Top Hat & Cane wrap I purchased from Stauffer Drums when they closed (tragic story). I still have to sell the extra kits I have in boxes. I had Jack rewrap 6” and 8” concert toms all the way around to my 18” Floor Tom but single bass drum and no 20” Floor Tom because I ran out of wrap and Andy Foote in Nashville robbed me by taking over $700 from me and never delivered my additional wrap. He is a thief. Many folks posting online that he robbed them. I did see some with at least one of the plys being Mahogany usually the first ply under the wrap.
This shell configuration never existed back then, or at least not very often. The vast majority of clear maple interior drums had an outside ply of Mahogany. The maple thermogloss shells with clear maple interiors are probably the only examples of maple-poplar-maple shells.
 

Ludwig1954

New Member
Joined
Dec 18, 2011
Messages
1
Reaction score
2
Location
Columbus, OH
I own two Ludwig vintage kits: a 1959 (yes, date stamps are still visible) which I got used in 1961, so it was 2 years old when I got it. It had the duo lacquer finish (dark blue with a silver stripe around the middle) i.e. painted finish. It is: outer ply maple, middle ply (maple or poplar?), inner ply is unfinished mahogany. How do I KNOW what types of wood the plies are? Because I refinished this kit into a varnished maple set (popular at the time). Maple looked great.
Second set I purchased used in 1970, it is a 1967 set (visible date stamps all match across toms and kick). It was a Sparkle Red Pearl finish exterior and the inside shells painted solid white.
How do I KNOW what types of wood the plies are? Because I decided to recover them ALL in Sparkle Blue Pearl in 1971 to make a double bass set. The 1967 kit was a bitch to remove the red pearl without pulling up chunks of mahogany, very different experience than the older set. Wish I'd never got talked into it. Then stripped the white paint off the interior revealing maple. Anyway, I still have the set(s). These are undeniable facts.
My opinion only here: my guess is Ludwig used maple to paint on, be it inside or out, because it is less open grain and needs less filler to make paint look good. OTOH, mahogany is more open grain and takes adhesive better than maple. Back in the 50s and 60s, good wood was plentiful and cheap. I also dont think there was much thought given to fine tuning drum acoustical properties via wood species. I.e. this species gives a warm, punchy, attack with overtones of a galloping T-rex.... They used high grade woods that sounded great. The rest is up to the drummer. No recording techniques of the period would be able to capture the distinction without a difference. Enjoy your vintage set.
 

Beesting

New Member
Joined
Nov 1, 2017
Messages
3
Reaction score
3
Location
Colorado
I own two Ludwig vintage kits: a 1959 (yes, date stamps are still visible) which I got used in 1961, so it was 2 years old when I got it. It had the duo lacquer finish (dark blue with a silver stripe around the middle) i.e. painted finish. It is: outer ply maple, middle ply (maple or poplar?), inner ply is unfinished mahogany. How do I KNOW what types of wood the plies are? Because I refinished this kit into a varnished maple set (popular at the time). Maple looked great.
Second set I purchased used in 1970, it is a 1967 set (visible date stamps all match across toms and kick). It was a Sparkle Red Pearl finish exterior and the inside shells painted solid white.
How do I KNOW what types of wood the plies are? Because I decided to recover them ALL in Sparkle Blue Pearl in 1971 to make a double bass set. The 1967 kit was a bitch to remove the red pearl without pulling up chunks of mahogany, very different experience than the older set. Wish I'd never got talked into it. Then stripped the white paint off the interior revealing maple. Anyway, I still have the set(s). These are undeniable facts.
My opinion only here: my guess is Ludwig used maple to paint on, be it inside or out, because it is less open grain and needs less filler to make paint look good. OTOH, mahogany is more open grain and takes adhesive better than maple. Back in the 50s and 60s, good wood was plentiful and cheap. I also dont think there was much thought given to fine tuning drum acoustical properties via wood species. I.e. this species gives a warm, punchy, attack with overtones of a galloping T-rex.... They used high grade woods that sounded great. The rest is up to the drummer. No recording techniques of the period would be able to capture the distinction without a difference. Enjoy your vintage set.
Ludwig 1954 - your assessment of the wood plys is spot on. My starter kit as a young teen was a '58 kick and snare, dark green w/ gold stripe. I refinished them in 80s and the outer ply is maple, middle poplar and inner mahogany(not painted). The snare has some nice birds-eye maple on the outer ply. Still use the kick...it sounds great.
 

K.O.

DFO Star
Joined
Aug 5, 2005
Messages
19,826
Reaction score
2,084
Location
Illinois
I own two Ludwig vintage kits: a 1959 (yes, date stamps are still visible) which I got used in 1961, so it was 2 years old when I got it. It had the duo lacquer finish (dark blue with a silver stripe around the middle) i.e. painted finish. It is: outer ply maple, middle ply (maple or poplar?), inner ply is unfinished mahogany. How do I KNOW what types of wood the plies are? Because I refinished this kit into a varnished maple set (popular at the time). Maple looked great.
Second set I purchased used in 1970, it is a 1967 set (visible date stamps all match across toms and kick). It was a Sparkle Red Pearl finish exterior and the inside shells painted solid white.
How do I KNOW what types of wood the plies are? Because I decided to recover them ALL in Sparkle Blue Pearl in 1971 to make a double bass set. The 1967 kit was a bitch to remove the red pearl without pulling up chunks of mahogany, very different experience than the older set. Wish I'd never got talked into it. Then stripped the white paint off the interior revealing maple. Anyway, I still have the set(s). These are undeniable facts.
My opinion only here: my guess is Ludwig used maple to paint on, be it inside or out, because it is less open grain and needs less filler to make paint look good. OTOH, mahogany is more open grain and takes adhesive better than maple. Back in the 50s and 60s, good wood was plentiful and cheap. I also dont think there was much thought given to fine tuning drum acoustical properties via wood species. I.e. this species gives a warm, punchy, attack with overtones of a galloping T-rex.... They used high grade woods that sounded great. The rest is up to the drummer. No recording techniques of the period would be able to capture the distinction without a difference. Enjoy your vintage set.
Yes maple was used on the outside of drums they intended to paint or stain (unless, obviously, it was a natural mahogany finish drum) and they almost always used mahogany for the outer ply of drums that were going to get wrapped (even in the clear interior era) because it worked better with the laminate glue. We're talking about Ludwig so surely there are some wrapped drums with maple as the outside ply and there definitely were some post 1968 drums with clear mahogany interior plies (oddly they are usually 18 and 20" floor toms). The only real constant was the poplar core which as far as I have been able to surmise was never substituted with another wood. Poplar was an important component of Ludwig drum shells up until they introduced the Classic Maple series....and now it's back in the Legacy shells.

Here's a Bill Ludwig II quote on woods...(Modern Drummer interview 9/87)

"When I came into the business we were producing three ply shells. We used two outer plies of mahogany and one inner panel of poplar. The idea behind the three ply construction was that it would be very strong and crack proof, but very light. We reinforced the edges with solid maple glue rings, referred to as reinforcement rings. We stayed with mahogany and poplar for a long time. From time to time we'd use maple as an outer panel, and sometimes birds-eye maple. We were always trying to come up with something different in a comparable price range with our competition. You could use exotic woods, but they'd be very costly. And I don't know what difference it would make in the sound. Drum companies mainly used woods that were readily available, economical, and easy to manipulate, sand, fill, and finish".
 

D. B. Cooper

DFO Veteran
Joined
Oct 18, 2009
Messages
2,049
Reaction score
585
Yes maple was used on the outside of drums they intended to paint or stain (unless, obviously, it was a natural mahogany finish drum) and they almost always used mahogany for the outer ply of drums that were going to get wrapped (even in the clear interior era) because it worked better with the laminate glue. We're talking about Ludwig so surely there are some wrapped drums with maple as the outside ply and there definitely were some post 1968 drums with clear mahogany interior plies (oddly they are usually 18 and 20" floor toms). The only real constant was the poplar core which as far as I have been able to surmise was never substituted with another wood. Poplar was an important component of Ludwig drum shells up until they introduced the Classic Maple series....and now it's back in the Legacy shells.

Here's a Bill Ludwig II quote on woods...(Modern Drummer interview 9/87)
Great quote.

Interesting mention of the birds eye. Anybody ever seen one?
 

K.O.

DFO Star
Joined
Aug 5, 2005
Messages
19,826
Reaction score
2,084
Location
Illinois
Great quote.

Interesting mention of the birds eye. Anybody ever seen one?
I've seen some birdseye maple inner plys from the era of clear interiors but never as the exterior on a vintage 3 ply. Of course you'd only be able to see it on a Thermogloss set.
 

D. B. Cooper

DFO Veteran
Joined
Oct 18, 2009
Messages
2,049
Reaction score
585
I've seen some birdseye maple inner plys from the era of clear interiors but never as the exterior on a vintage 3 ply. Of course you'd only be able to see it on a Thermogloss set.
What era is he referring to in that interview? A time before the standard 3-ply era, right?
 

K.O.

DFO Star
Joined
Aug 5, 2005
Messages
19,826
Reaction score
2,084
Location
Illinois
What era is he referring to in that interview? A time before the standard 3-ply era, right?
Well he didn't specify. I guess the 3 ply era went from roughly 1938-1977. Things stayed pretty constant during most of that time with the poplar core surrounded by mahogany and/or maple (depending on which way the wind was blowing that day).
 


Top