Rogers "Big R" Drums

69OysterBlue

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I conducted a quick internet fact finding mission regarding the Rogers "Big R" line of drums and, to the best of my knowledge, these drums appear to have been introduced in the early 1980's.

Can any of my forum friends shed some light on this and/or give me your opinion of these drums?

I have been a loyal Ludwig guy for 35 years but am interested in possibly acquiring one of these kits to restore and have as a second option to play.

Happy Holidays!
 

amosguy

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Big R drums with USA on the badge are good. Grey interiors or clear golden interiors are good. Rogers name spent time in the late 80's/90's on imported Big R badge shells under guidance of Island Music and Brooks May company. These drums are crap and do not have USA on the badge.

Clear golden interiors with USA badges are some of the best Rogers available. These are the XP-8 models. Also undervalued and a good buys usually.

Remember - USA on the badge is the key to good Rogers.

Correction on Island Music / Brooks May dates - Sorry for wrong info.
 

tommykat1

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Amosguy is 100% correct! Look for the "USA" on the square Big R badge. There may or may not be a serial number, but only the good drums say "USA" which means thery were made in the USA.

The five ply shells with Memriloc hardware and the Big R badge were introduced in the mid seventies. The XP8s were introduced in 1979 and manufactured through 1983 until the company folded in early 1984. From a distance, the differences are 1) the XP8s used clear lacquer on the interior of all shells. The 5 plies had lacquer on the natural wood finishes only, and trunk paint on the pearl wrap models, 2) the XP8s had no reinforcement rings, and 3) the Big R badge on the XP8s faced toward the drummer (ie, opposite the Memriloc mount) whereas on the 5 plies, the big R was placed to the left or right of the mount, depending on what the worker had in mind while he was finishing and assembling a drum set that may or may not have been separated after boxing.

Any of these drums are undervalued at present, as Amosguy states. It is believed that the XP8s were the best shells that Rogers ever produced. They are Keller 8 ply old growth (read extinct) prime New England rock maple shells, and since they were manufactured over 25 years ago, today they are well seasoned. They have perfect 45 degree bearing edges, as measured by hand on a granite table.

In short, they are a STEAL in today's market, and they sound incredible.
 

DanC

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Rogers introduced the Big R badges and Memriloc hardware in 1975. They were updates to drums that were the same as the prior Swivomatic sets: same shells etc.

This continued until the XP8 line was introduced in 1979: 8-ply maple, no paint inside. Same Memriloc hardware and badges. This continued until the mid 80's or so, until Rogers collapsed and the name was leased to Island Music who imported a line from Taiwan.
 

SwivoNut

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Rogers Big-R drums are all I currently own and play. The shells are solid and the hardware is sturdy and user-friendly. They sound great and replacement parts are readily available from a variety of sources. There's really nothing not to like and I highly recommend them. I'm betting that if you eventually acquire a set, they'll make a believer out of you for the rest of your days.
 

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Brook Mays Music Company in Dallas, Texas. Did not enter the Rogers picture until the late 1990's when they bought the brand name. Matt Spitzer in the San Francisco area bought the Rogers name from CBS in 1984 with thoughts of continuing the venerable brand name of American made drums. Spitzer was not able to do this. So, he leased the name to Island Music in New York to put on some of the horrible drek drums made of low grade Asian firewood. Island Music went out of business. Spitzer then sold the brand name to Brook Mays Music for them to use as a house brand for their 60 plus stores. Bill Crowden came out of retirement to head up the Rogers project. Some of us know Bill from his many years of internship at Frank's Drum Shop in Chicago, and then as owner of Drums Ltd. AND Frank's. Bill Crowden is married to the daughter of the recently deceased Bill Ludwig jr. He developed a line of import Rogers drums that ranged from the same beginner stuff as everyone else to some solid maple pro level kits that are very good. Bill was working on developing some serious pro caliber drums when Brook Mays imploded under it's own weight.
 

Pounder

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Yeah Brooks Mays have nothing to do with Rogers in the 70s and 80s. So Big R Rogers drums from the 70s and 80s are nice drums. Pre XP8 drums are nice too..

Dan, I have what seems to be a transitional set that has mostly swivo hardware but one of the rack toms has a memriloc mount, and the swivo arm goes into a tube with a set screw, and that tube is the size of memriloc tom post. The tom is the same as the others in color and shell makeup, but it has a Big R badge over the vent grommet, which appears the same as the other drums' grommet. All the other drums are all script logo and swivo hardware. So should I assume the Big R's started at the same time the memriloc hardware was implemented?
 

DanC

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Yep, the Big R badges and the Memriloc hardware were intro'd at the same time. Naturally, there were a few transitional drums that snuck out: already built, not wanted to go to waste. There is a 'conversion' piece that was made to allow a Memriloc tom to ride on a Swivomatic arm. Sounds like you have one of those. I think I have one of them somewhere in the parts bin.
 

4164SB

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I giged with a Big R set (metallic gold) from '78 - '88. At the time, the Memriloc hardware could not be beat for repeated accuracy, ease of set up and durability. It was the sole purpose I bought Rogers, nothing else around like it. The mounted toms didn't seem to suffer too much from the weight, huge holes and protruding tube/arms required by the hardware. If you ever have a chance to pick up a Supreme foot pedal from that period, DON'T!
 

Pounder

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Yeah that's what it is, an aluminum round sleeve that fits over the swivo arm and has a small set screw, and it is the size of a memriloc tube.
 

tommykat1

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FloydZKing said:
tommykat - Good stuff, but one addition if i may? The earliest M/L Big R drums had their badges opposite the tom mounting block. I don't know how quickly they changed that, but badge placement is an issue to watch for when putting sets together.
FloydZ, I didn't know this little tidbit, thanks for the info.

John Cermenaro, the last employee on the Rogers payroll, mentioned the problem during his tenure in 1982-84 (ref. the Rogers Owners Forum). So, by your observation, it appears that the badges were opposite the mount at the introduction of the Big R era drums, then went to left or right of the mount, then migrated back to opposite the mount, presumably on the XP8s.

The catalog for the XP8s was first produced in 1979 and the badges are shown opposite the mounts. My XP8s are from July 1980, and the mounts are also opposite. I'm assuming that badge placement was changed back to this position with the introduction of these drums, but we have no evidence. I haven't seen an XP8 drum that has badges to left or right, although I think Dan C says he has seen some. I also haven't yet seen a 5 ply with the badges opposite the mount, though you have.

One thing to consider: It would probably have been a major engineering/political decision to make the change, as the badge is placed over the vent with a grommet. Moving the vent from left or right of the mount to the opposite side of the mount was probably one of those executive decisions for cost cutting reasons.

My take on the subject is, the drums look better without the garish badge facing the audience. I think that the big R badge was one of the key reasons for the decline in popularity of these otherwise awesome drums.
 

tommykat1

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leedybdp said:
Bill was working on developing some serious pro caliber drums when Brook Mays imploded under it's own weight.
Leedy, Brooks Mays was caught in a tangle with a competing Chinese manufacturer of musical instruments. BM slandered their quality and lost the ensuing lawsuit, which put them out of business.
 

Pounder

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I think the big R looks fine. I think it was consistent with the times, but it would be more impressive for them to be facing forward on the drums so that anyone playing them would be advertising Rogers drums.. (just like you have the logo on the front bass head).

The decline of Rogers probably had more to do with the increasing competitive forces coming from Japan in the form of Pearl, Yamaha, and Tama, and the general situation of the economy during this period of time. Rogers was probably slightly behind Ludwig and Slingerland, and Gretsch. So it was tough to stay afloat at the time. Slingerland had problems too.. All the while Pearl, Tama and Yamaha were eating up market share of the drum market, and new kid on the block DW.. Plus you've got drum machines and synthesizers coming on in the 80s.. Not an easy time for traditional drum manufacturers domestically.. Remember the Chrysler bailout? 1979, Too bad the drum companies didn't get the same deal..


To be honest I used to think Rogers drums weren't that great but after grabbing a few more sets from this era, and some XP-8 shelled-drums, those shells with the staggered-layup ply maple shells are still considered incredible.
 

eddiej

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leedybdp said:
Brook Mays Music Company in Dallas, Texas. Did not enter the Rogers picture until the late 1990's when they bought the brand name. Matt Spitzer in the San Francisco area bought the Rogers name from CBS in 1984 with thoughts of continuing the venerable brand name of American made drums. Spitzer was not able to do this. So, he leased the name to Island Music in New York to put on some of the horrible drek drums made of low grade Asian firewood. Island Music went out of business. Spitzer then sold the brand name to Brook Mays Music for them to use as a house brand for their 60 plus stores. Bill Crowden came out of retirement to head up the Rogers project. Some of us know Bill from his many years of internship at Frank's Drum Shop in Chicago, and then as owner of Drums Ltd. AND Frank's. Bill Crowden is married to the daughter of the recently deceased Bill Ludwig jr. He developed a line of import Rogers drums that ranged from the same beginner stuff as everyone else to some solid maple pro level kits that are very good. Bill was working on developing some serious pro caliber drums when Brook Mays imploded under it's own weight.
My understanding of the demise of Rogers is somewhat different. As I understood it CBS sold Rogers and Fender as a package to a group of investors that opted to let Rogers "wither on the vine" because they felt there was more money in making guitars then drums.
 

FloydZKing

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Tommykat - Whoops! I just checked my old pic files and I was totally WRONG. The Londoner VII set that I was remembering doesn't have its badges opposite the mounts after all. They are to the right of the mount on the 12 and 13 and to the left of the mount on the 14 & 15.
 

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I like that blue color, that is the same color as the one's I've got..but these are larger drums. 24/13/14/18 blue drums, all with script badge except the 14" rack tom, I think..it has the R..
 

tommykat1

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FloydZKing said:
Tommykat - Whoops! I just checked my old pic files and I was totally WRONG. The Londoner VII set that I was remembering doesn't have its badges opposite the mounts after all. They are to the right of the mount on the 12 and 13 and to the left of the mount on the 14 & 15.
FloydZ, glad you brought it up. This is consistent with the current understanding. Again, someone (DanC, I think) has said he knows of some XP8s with the badges to left or right of the mount. The catalog from 1979 does not show this, but who knows...
 

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