Reflections on Slingerland Nashville Studio Kings

lossforgain

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Slingerland Studio Kings from Nashville are by far my favorite drums. I got a message from a member here asking some questions, and after I spent the time responding I thought I would share the info here in case it helps anyone. FYI, I just sold a large set of these to buy a set that was in better condition and better sizes for me. I'll try to get some pics up soon.

I know you're a Nashvillle Slingerland enthusiast, so I'm wondering whether you could tell me about Nashville Slingerland snares?


What are they worth? Are RK's more valuable than SK's? What difference does finish and depth make to value?


How do Nashville reissues compare to the vintage drums? How do the RK reissues compare to other modern steambent snares (Crav, N&C, Joyful Noise, Pork Pie)?
For whatever reason, it's not the snare drums that usually get me as excited as the bass and toms. I have owned three different sets of them now, and had five different snare drums. The 5.5x14 Studio King (maple ply) drum is my least favorite, and I've had a couple. One was okay, the other was not good. It's strange too, because the drums are all made well. I still have a 4x14 Studio King and it's one of my favorite snares - doesn't have the die cast hoops on it, and I think that's a good thing. It also has a smaller strainer on it (factory supplied) which also serves it well since the reproduction Rapid strainers that Gibson used were faulty and prone to sticking/seizing/de-tensioning. I have also had a couple of Radio Kings from the Nashville era and they are great drums. They weren't totally for me - I'm very picky about my solid shell snares and never own more than one at a time - but some guys swear by these.

Radio Kings (solid one ply shell) are more valuable than Studio King snares. Probably on average about $150-200 more. So if you can get a 5.5x14 SK for $350-400, bet on the RK costing you about $500-600. That's probably true for an excellent condition drum in any finish, although there is a following for the lacquer burst finishes that Pat Foley did. To compare the Radio Kings to other solid shell snares is a little bit subjective, but from my experience the RKs have a little "mushier" playing feel to them, and not a lot of attack. That could just be me.

The Nashville drums weren't reissues exactly - they were engineered to be more of a Gretsch-style drum than a vintage Slingerland drum. The die cast hoops, 30 degree edges, and proportional shell thicknesses were a Gretsch formula that Sam Bacco brought with him from his years at Gretsch. Foley had the finishing and Radio King experience to contribute. What they came up with was an all-maple shell in proportional plies (different for different size drums), using 30 degree edges and die cast hoops. They made a better Gretsch drum than Gretsch did in my opinion. The early Studio Kings even used 5-lug 10 and 12" toms like Gretsch. So...they weren't like the old Slingerlands, especially the old 3 ply shells with reinforcement rings that guys love. Those shells had much flatter bearing edges and a more "woody" tone. Great drums, just a different animal.
 

JCKOriollo

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Here is a solid shell comparison I did. There's a Nashville radioking in the mix. It was one of my favorites.

 
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K.O.

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I have a set in green sparkle (12/14/18/4x14) and I love the sound of them.

I would love to have found a set with a lacquer finish but there is nothing wrong with these.
 

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lossforgain

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chrisemt74 said:
Just bought my second set in red sparkle. 20" bass drum. As a jazzer, these drums sound great.
What are the rest of the sizes?

I've now owned three SK sets and I prefer the 20" bass drums.
 

rdumas

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JCKLudwig said:
Here is a solid shell comparison I did. There's a Nashville radioking in the mix. It was one of my favorites.

Boy that RadioKing really stands out as different from the rest doesn't it? This is one of the best ideas for a comparison video I have seen, seamlessly in context.
 
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wayne

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I was told my Mapex US Maples that were made in Nashville just before Slingerland moved in are the same shells as the SK..They are incredible drums, esp the toms and bass drum as was pointed out.
 

Leffler

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Love mine, but am looking to sell in the coming months. 24-16-12
 

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chrisemt74

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12" tom and 14 floor. 5/14 Radio King in Cherry Red Lacquer. It's funny you said you prefer the 20". I love playing the 18", but the 20 is growing on me. Also prefer the 6.5 snare, but the RK is a beautiful drum.
 
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RickP

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I was sniped on EBay a number of years back on a Nashville Slingerland kit in Big Band Blue ( my favourite of their stock colours). I also missed out on a satin natural kit that a local shop was blowing out . They were definitely well made drums for sure and sounded great. They have a bit of a cult following these days.
 

K.O.

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JazzDrumGuy said:
Nice set K.O.

I do prefer the 50's and 60's kits though.
Well I have five vintage Slingy kits too, so that's covered. As stated above the Nashvilles are very Gretsch like which is a good thing in and off itself but they are not a re-creation of the vintage Slingerland drums.
 

Prufrock

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Nashville Slingys (along with Austin era Fibes) are kits I would like to try. Haven't had the occasion yet.
 

JCKOriollo

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rdumas said:
Here is a solid shell comparison I did. There's a Nashville radioking in the mix. It was one of my favorites.

Boy that RadioKing really stands out as different from the rest doesn't it? This is one of the best ideas for a comparison video I have seen, seamlessly in context.
I did have a very different sound. I will say though that I think part of that was the brand new ambassador it had on it. I feel like for that drum the heads really need a good seating period before it starts to open up. To my ears, when I had an older coated emperor on it it sounded much less dry
 
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multijd

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JCKLudwig said:
Here is a solid shell comparison I did. There's a Nashville radioking in the mix. It was one of my favorites.
Thanks for this and great work!!
 
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