Sorting the stencils project...

Mr B

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This subject comes up often, usually in the guise of someone trying to identify some oddly named vintage Japanese kit or snare.

As most know in the 60's & 70's both Pearl & Star(Tama) produced kits under literally dozens of different brand names (often being named for specific distributor), commonly refereed to now days as the "stencil brands"

George's (Lawrence) Drum shop website has a great "Japanese Drum Museum" page that's often sited here for reference. While it has what must be a pretty complete list of all the different brand names, it doesn't really go too far in identifying which company was which.

For quite a while I've been keeping my own lists based on kits that I already knew about or others I've seen while posted here. In order to help me out with this project I'm posting some photos/descriptions of the key differences between early Pearl & Star drums.

-----------------------------------------------

Both companies also produced very inexpensive kits (even by Japanese standards of the time) for the big department stores like Sears & Montgomery Wards. Sometimes these kits would have a actual stencil brand badges, but more often they were completely badgeless or with just very simple "Made in Japan" vent badges like this (I believe the star indicates this one was made by "Star")

1


Shells: Both companies used either very thick 9ply Luan or very thin Luan shells with traditional re-rings. My own anecdotal observations suggest the thick ones where more common with Pearl & the thin ones for Star.

Lugs: Both companies used Slingerland style knock off's early on that are fairly hard to distinguish from one another.

Row A: Early Star shown here, these do have a very slightly more defined ridge across the top than the Pearl version. However to further confuse things, there are at least a couple of other very similar variations.

Row B: Later Star's (late 60's)

Row C: New flat tops for Pearl in 1969, these were more common on Pearl's 70's stencil brands than on actual Pearl badged drums.

Row D: The now familiar early Export style, but new for Pearl in '73.

2


Hoops: Both companies used era thin triple flanged hoops and also copies of Slingerland "Stick Savers" for toms & snares.

Star claims to have patented the metal bass hoop in 1965, but Pearl started using an pretty much identical one in '68. Before that they both used black painted wooden ones with wrap inlays.

Floor tom leg, cymbal arm mounts: These are one of the easiest ways to quickly tell the difference between Pearl & Star...

A: Early Pearl, Note the diamond shape, with a wing screw or a drum key square head as shown. These were also used for Pearl's tom mounts & folding spurs.

B: New for Pearl in '73, larger & heavier than before with a interior eyebolt.

C: Star with a single wing screw, Note that it's 6 sided and not diamond shaped (more like a Ludwig). Sometimes the wing screws were much larger than the one shown here.

D: Star, Same shape as C, but with square head screws on 2 sides.

E: A more rectangular/boxy shaped Star with single wing screw

F: Longer rectangular shaped Star with double wings on one side

3


Rail mounts: The left is Pearl with it's tapered "L-Arm"- The rail is mounted on brackets like a Ludwig. The rest are Star's with "flat tab" mounting arms except for the newer one on the far right. Note the variations of the rails "end caps". Overall the Pearl is much heavier & more robust.

4


Other Tom mounting systems:

A: Pearl's "Free adjustable" c.1969 with a single set screw.

B: Pearl's (quick) replacement for "A" with 3 set screws, a much heavier version with thicker arms was introduced in '73.

C: Early Star's

D: Star's "Fre-O-Matic" "Tom Tom Holder" -Early 70's.

5


Bass T-Rods: This is another quick way to tell the difference between companies...

A: Early Pearl

B: New for Pearl in '73

C: Early Star

D: Later Star's

6


Throws:

A: Pearl's, The one on the right was new in '69 and advertised as their top of the line, but design flaw caused to outer case to easily break, it was quickly discontinued (A non broken one is pretty rare today).

B: Star's...

7


There are many other details like Mufflers, pedals, spurs & spur mounts, and wrap colors that could be discussed, but I think this is a good start as a quick identification guide...

-Kirk
 

Mr B

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And here's the lists as they stand...

Pearls:

Appollo
CB-700
Challenger
Coronet
Crest
Dixon
Dixie
Lyra
Majestic
Maxwin
Penncrest
Revelle
Revere
Roxy
Royce
Stewert
Tempro
Torodor (Toreador?)
Whitehall
---------------

Star's:

Black Jack
Crown
Del Ray Teisco
Kingston
Lotus
Mica
Zim-Gar
----------------


So if anybody has any Kit names they can add -Perhaps your first set or a recent 5$ flea market find please speak up!

I'll add them to this post as they show up.

Also I'd love to hear about any extra insights, corrections to the above, or stories you might want to share!

Thanks in advance!

-Kirk
 

EvEnStEvEn

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Great compilation of info Mr.B.
I hope this topic can be sticky'd somewhere for reference.

I posted the following info at: http://www.vintagedr...seum.com/forum/ ... .php?f=151
____________________________________________________________

I once owned a LOTUS c.o.w. drumset.
They appeared to be from the early 70s.
12/13/16/22 polished stainless wrap over maple shells with maple re-rings.
No snare was included, shellpack only.

I'm convinced the shells themselves were genuine maple, or perhaps another horizontal grained, amber colored hardwood. They were definitely not Phillipine mahogany or lauan, and the re-rings were quite thick, maybe 12 or 15 ply. With the chrome stainless wrap, the drums were quite heavy.

The lugs were unmistakably the Tama beavertails we're all familiar with, and the tom post had the STAR logo. The tom holders were similar to Swivomatic ball/socket type. (Fre-O-Matic) as seen in Mr. B's catalog scan.

The BD T-rods were exactly like those seen on Tama's History page under early Star/Hoshino drumsets from the 60's with a thin "sharktooth" appearance.
("D" in Mr. B's catalog scan)

The 3 tom mufflers were the 'memory' style similar to those found on later Tama offerings, but these were all chromed steel, and a smaller design than the later faux chrome plastic ones Tama offered on the KingBeat and KG Imperialstar snares and such.

The badges were small black rectangle style with gold text reading:

LOTUS
Finst Quality
Japan


Amazingly, the word "finest" was misspelled on every badge to read "finst"
I only noticed this after a bandmate pointed it out - which brought a good laugh!

The "shell receiving" BD spurs were identical to those found on early Imperialstar sets.
The bass drum hoops were chromed steel with a matching stainless inlay, similar to Imperialstar steel hoops.

I'm convinced these LOTUS drums were intended as a professional level drumset for their era.
They had the full rich tone of pro maple drums, and the set came with hardshell fiber cases when I bought them used in 1988. I paid $600 for the 4 pc shellpack after inspecting them thoroughly. The seller didn't know much except he thought they were from the 70's and were a pre-Tama Star/Hoshino brand.

Who knows? I suspect they were indeed an early Tama/Star/Hoshino offering, maybe designed to be marketed outside of the USA.
I've scoured the internet for additional info, to no avail, and I've never seen another set exactly like them.
Early Imperialstars come very close but they didn't have the clear maple shells with re-rings like these Lotus drums had.
I sold the set in 1998 after using them for a decade on hundreds of clubdates and festivals.
I only have 2 or 3 unscanned photos, but they don't reveal much detail so I haven't posted them online.

I'd be very interested in a reply from anyone who has seen or owned a similar set, or any drums with a LOTUS badge.
 

mlayton

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great post and great information there. as a recent buyer of a late 50's/early 60's pearl nsare, this stuff really intrigues me. thanks again. :)


mike
 

EvEnStEvEn

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Mr.B. said:
Btw, Signing off in 20 for Breaking Bad.

Ditto, Kirk.
The plot thickens!
 

Mr B

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Lotus?, At some point somebody must of posted some here or somewhere in order for me to put them on the Star list...? But I dont recall where I saw it?

-Kirk
 

poot

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Excellent resource, Kirk! I'll be filing this for future reference. From your pics I recognize parts that I have; now I know what they are.
 

onedrum77

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WOW MR.B great posting..I do have a story about these types of sets and other names to send in..I just have to fine my notes. I use to know the man who started brings these sets into the U.S.A. starting back in 1960, I will post the story in a few days i think its a cool story to pass on...mike
 

Rob G.

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This is an awesome thread. I'm just starting to get into these sets. Why? I don't know. Probably because I like puzzles (and crazy wrap finishes that these drums seemed to have exclusively.)

The shells seem to really be all over the map. At first, I though that would be a reliable identifier, but now I'm not sure. I have to wonder if the shells were being made by other companies and Star and Pearl were just taking whatever they could get at the time. For example, I looked at an Apollo kit last night with the Star Sonor knock off hardware and the 9ply silver ("just like Grestch" the seller kept reminding me) shells, which you found to be more of a Pearl thing. Week before, saw one with the Pearl type C lugs and B tom holder, but the thinner shells. Then there's the kit I bought a few weeks ago. Two 12" toms, one with knock off Slingerland lugs and the 9ply, one with center mounted Slings and the thin shell (I'm guessing these weren't originally together, but who knows? No badges, both were mounted on the rail and the blue sparkle matches perfectly.) And there's a Pearl kit (with the knockoff Rogers script badges) around town with the thin shells, if memory serves.

It's certainly a mystery. Glad someone else is interested.
 

mlayton

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we've got some members here with some really nice looking 60's japanese kits. we've got at a least a couple that gig with them. i enjoy anything vintage so i never turned myself off to them. after hearing this pearl snare i just acquired i certainly have a different take on them as well. it sounds great.


mike
 

mwb5271

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Quote
Mr.B wrote: Georges (Lawrence) Drum shop website has a great Japanese Drum Museum page thats often sited here for reference. While it has what must be a pretty complete list of all the different brand names, it doesnt really go too far in identifying which company was which.


Mr.B, great post, this is in information that I have been looking for for awhile. I have referenced the "Jamanese Drum Museum" page and I agree it pretty much lists the different brand names but does not go far enough to be able to identify the "no name" drums. I have a 1966 Sears kit with no name except "Made in Japan" on a black rectangle tin badge screwed to the drun over the air hole. With the information that you provided on your thread I can pretty much conclude that my drums were made by Star. I had thought so but did not have enough evidence to prove it. Thank you!!!
 

Den

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Mr.B, I have a early 60's "Starlight" drum kit that was just given to me. I find them quite playable and have used them on a couple gigs. They sound pretty good IMHO. The snare drum is the stinker though. That's okay, I use my others with this kit.

Here's a picture, I'm sure some members are getting tired of seeing it again, but it fits well into this thread. Thanks for all your info, good work!
 

mlayton

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den
did you ever complete that hoop swap that you were working on?


mike
 

Den

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Yes! Sorry I can't post any pictures yet. I only have a cell phone camera which I used to upload pics to the net. It's been shut off since being laid off so I am stuck being the only one to see the finished job. Looks very vintage I might add, way better than those steel black hoops with the dark blue inlay.

It looks great and sounds better. It IS what I expected. Thanks for remembering.
 

TommyWells

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Great work! I have a stencil brand to add to the Pearl side. My first "modern day" drumset. They were 1962 Pearl drums. The brand name was "Maestro Swing Master." The badge was nothing more than foil at the vent hole. From Maestro Music, Detroit, MI. There was a set identical to mine on display at Pearl's Nashville office a few years ago. Black Diamond. They looked new. They did not belong to Pearl, though. They belong to Jim Petty of the Memphis Drum Shop. BTW, they did look pretty cool and made me want my old set back. I sold them in 1966 when I bought a NEW Pearl set. The shells were so thin, though, that we put reinforcing plates under the spurs inside the shell. The shell was getting flat at the spur mount just from the weight of these VERY light drums.
 

Archt

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I just got this kit from a friend who saw them on the sidewalk put out for the trash. His son is interested in drumming and he has been dragging his butt on fixing them. I've been telling him just bring them over I will fix them up for Jesse, finally he did. Just dropped them off Monday. Orange Sparkle, pretty cool wrap. More orange then the picts show. I have all the hardware and even a neat cowbell/stick holder clamp. Pretty hasetly constructed and like Tommy's these have given way at the spurs and will need a little TLC plus the floor tom inner ply is coming off and needs to be repaired/replaced. The rail is almost a dead knock off of Ludwigs. Its not brass though.

Zim-Gar, Brooklyn NY
 

Big Beat

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Excellent! Here's some additions from a similar list that I've been compiling:

Pearl:
Andy K
Cortley
Heit
Kimberly
Samson
Starlite
Tempo / Tempro
US Mercury
Werco
Anything with an oval badge that reads "World's Supreme Quality" (I also collect images of badges off eBay, see below for a collage of typical Pearl stencils of this type).

Star:
Lido
Majestic (I disagree on this one, I have seen a set of Majestics identical to my Micas, so they cannot be Pearl)
Ralston

Neither Pearl nor Star (these brands have unusual features not typical of either Pearl or Star):
Gracy
St. George
Stadium

Either Pearl or Star (depending on model and year, could be either one):
Apollo
Zim-Gar
 


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