Vintage drums "on the cheap" - change hardware, rewrap?

Sesh

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Hi Drummers!

New to vintage drums here.

I'm in the middle of building a home studio and looking to build a vintage drumkit. I'm by no means a collector and therefore prefer bang for the buck and quality of sound over resale value/collectability/reputation of brand/condition. I also don't mind piecing from different brands/models. I am, however, obsessed with the late 60's/early 70's vintage sound (Melody Nelson-era Serge Gainsbourg in particular)! I'm well aware that there's plenty of factors that come in to play here with regards to the sound (muffling, simpler recording setups etc.), but to be honest, it is equally for inspiration, knowing I have something from the era (which is why I've also collected stuff like vintage combo organs from the era).

As a play-it-all-myself-multi-instrumentalist I'm looking to have a bunch of decent instruments and can't pay too much. I'm therefore looking at piecing together a great kit from the many cheap single vintage drums that I can find in my local classifieds.

For instance, I can get a Sonor Teardrop 16" tom for something close to 120 euros that's missing the badge, muffler and a few t-rods. Can probably squeeze the seller even more. I also see a few hardware-less drums on eBay for cheap.

So my question is:
- Is it possible to replace lugs etc. with modern equivalents so I don't have to pay overprice/look everywhere for rare parts? I know some would think it sacrilege, but again, I'm not necesarily looking at the most collectible drums.
- And is my strategy, as I fear it's not, even viable? Will it end up costing me more than it's worth?
 

Ickybaby

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Every time I try to do something on the cheap it winds up costing me more. My gut is that you'd be best off with a "player" grade kit that fits the bill of being vintage and not too much money.

BUT

To be honest....really tough to know what is "too much" for you without knowing what you are looking to spend, what size kit you want, etc....
 

D. B. Cooper

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You're headed down a great route, but if it were me, I would buy complete or near-complete drums. A lot of the time, you find vintage shells because the seller realized they could get more for the parts than the complete drum. Piecing hardware together to build drums is by far more expensive than buying a complete drum.
As far as modern hardware equivalents go, it's not a bad idea, but reproduction parts like lugs are usually pretty pricey. You could find modern lugs that fit the old hole spacing but that would take a lot of research. Different lugs have different hole spacing where they attach to the shell and that can be hard to keep straight. Especially when you're mixing brands.
In my experience, buying new hardware of any kind is usually more expensive. And there's all kind of variables you would need to watch out for, like shell thickness, for example.

I think the easiest way to get the sound you're after would be to buy either a complete or mostly complete set of drums in poor cosmetic condition or buy complete orphaned drums and piece a set together.

Replacing things like hoops and rods can be really easy and relatively cheap, but I would stay away from drums that need edge work done or are missing lugs. Keep an eye out for signs of abuse, as well.

Doing an eBay or Reverb search like "Slingerland floor tom" or "Ludwig bass drum" and then sorting the results by price - lowest first is an easy way to quickly get a feel for your options. If you're just a little bit patient, you can easily score a 3 piece set for $500. Shipping can be expensive, so watch that.

What are you looking for?
 

Sesh

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Every time I try to do something on the cheap it winds up costing me more. My gut is that you'd be best off with a "player" grade kit that fits the bill of being vintage and not too much money.

BUT

To be honest....really tough to know what is "too much" for you without knowing what you are looking to spend, what size kit you want, etc....
Right, that was my initial thought, getting a cheaper intermediate kit. BUT I just really like the idea of a "unique" piecemealed set and I'm prepared to invest the time for the TLC (in between jobs, so...). I love odd, personalized gear.

I want something somewhere between jazzy and rock-ish, as I'm in love with that super dry "jazz-funk" (for lack of better word) sound of the era. Only need a 3-piece, thinking something like 13/16/20. My budget is 600 usd/550 euros max. I'm also gonna invest in something like an acrolite separately (seperate budget... the snare is the critical the sound I have in mind)

You're headed down a great route, but if it were me, I would buy complete or near-complete drums. A lot of the time, you find vintage shells because the seller realized they could get more for the parts than the complete drum. Piecing hardware together to build drums is by far more expensive than buying a complete drum.
As far as modern hardware equivalents go, it's not a bad idea, but reproduction parts like lugs are usually pretty pricey. You could find modern lugs that fit the old hole spacing but that would take a lot of research. Different lugs have different hole spacing where they attach to the shell and that can be hard to keep straight. Especially when you're mixing brands.
In my experience, buying new hardware of any kind is usually more expensive. And there's all kind of variables you would need to watch out for, like shell thickness, for example.

I think the easiest way to get the sound you're after would be to buy either a complete or mostly complete set of drums in poor cosmetic condition or buy complete orphaned drums and piece a set together.

Replacing things like hoops and rods can be really easy and relatively cheap, but I would stay away from drums that need edge work done or are missing lugs. Keep an eye out for signs of abuse, as well.

Doing an eBay or Reverb search like "Slingerland floor tom" or "Ludwig bass drum" and then sorting the results by price - lowest first is an easy way to quickly get a feel for your options. If you're just a little bit patient, you can easily score a 3 piece set for $500. Shipping can be expensive, so watch that.

What are you looking for?
Thanks for tips - and for confirming that I'm heading down a great route! I'll definitely focus on looking at complete drums (or complete kits...), then. Did see a complete Slingerland 13" pop up locally, but wasn't quick enough on the trigger. Damn!
 

Old Dog

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I agree with the other posters. I've been refurbishing a few drums here and there over the last year. It can definitely be costly. Finding a full kit, used, with good hardware--I would also lean in that direction.

Re-wrapping isn't horribly costly depending on whom you buy from.

And of course, as soon as the word "VINTAGE" is added to a listing, you can bet they've added to the price. I've seen "vintage" gear that looks like it was sitting outdoors in a junkyard for years and people ask hundreds of dollars. Yep, just be careful. Good luck
 

Rich K.

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I would buy a complete Slingerland set from the 1960s or 70s. They are very reasonably priced, and are QUALITY drums.
This is good advice. If you find that era Slingerland set with modern spurs or tom mounts and maybe a rewrap, you'll get a great working set and not have to pay collector prices.
 

crash

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Here’s my gig set. ‘70’s Gretsch toms. ‘58 Ludwig bass and snare.Funky hardware I made work. Great giging
9D6FC6B9-E92D-4B8D-B2AF-AD69667F254F.jpeg
kit that I don’t have to worry about. And they sound awesome!
 

Sesh

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I would buy a complete Slingerland set from the 1960s or 70s. They are very reasonably priced, and are QUALITY drums.
Yeah, I've looked into Slingerland.. sadly people know what they're worth here locally. There's an Avante for about 1250 usd, and a maple one for 1420ish. That's more than double my budget, I'm afraid...

There's also a complete Sonor Teardrop for 750, though. Read really good things about those. But still a bit over budget.

Anyways, I might save up some more so I can move up a tier quality wise. It's gonna be a recording set primarily, so I hope to purchase something, I can use for the rest of my days playing music!


Here’s my gig set. ‘70’s Gretsch toms. ‘58 Ludwig bass and snare.Funky hardware I made work. Great giging View attachment 447251 kit that I don’t have to worry about. And they sound awesome!
Looks awesome! Very personalized, exactly the kind of thing I wanted to do. Love the zebra throne, haha
 

Swissward Flamtacles

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Where in Europe do you live? There are many good sites aside from ebay and reverb. Getting a complete set is usually the cheapest and best way. Do you need cymbals, a snare and hardware as well? Those things add up quickly and can cost a lot more than the shell set!
I would look primarily for Sonor and Premier drums (in international sizes, so you don't need to worry about finding metric heads) because US brands typically sell for a lot more - when people own such a set, they usually know what it's worth and try to sell for a lot of money.
Building a set from orphan shells is fun but can take quite some time if you want to keep the costs down or can't find a good matching drum. I built a set from old Premier and Beverley shells. I used hoops, spurs, feet and lugs from other brands because I found good deals. The shells had some holes that I closed with epoxy resin. The wrap was already removed. I sanded the shells and applied shellac poliishing which I like with mahogany shells. The small tom is made of birch and that wood didn't work as well but I don't mind because the set sounds great and it only cost about 250€ in total. Staining shells is another option if you don't need a "collerctor's grade set".
 
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Sesh

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Where in Europe do you live? There are many good sites aside from ebay and reverb. Getting a complete set is usually the cheapest and best way. Do you need cymbals, a snare and hardware as well? Those things add up quickly and can cost a lot more than the shell set!
I would look primarily for Sonor and Premier drums (in international sizes, so you don't need to worry about finding metric heads) because US brands typically sell for a lot more - when people own such a set, they usually know what it's worth and try to sell for a lot of money.
Building a set from orphan shells is fun though. Here's a set I built from old Premier and Beverley shells. I used hoops, spurs, feet and lugs from other brands because I found good deals. The shells had some holes that I closed with epoxy resin. I sanded the shells and applied shellac poliishing which I like with mahogany shells. The small tom is made of birch and that wood didn't work as well but I don't mind because the set sounds great and it only cost about 250€ in total. It did take a while though to find those deals.
View attachment 447264
I live in Denmark. So I use dba.dk (our national online classifieds) and drum sale FB groups. I should mention that I'm not in any hurry to assemble this kit as I have a Tama Rockstar in my practice space that I use for recording atm (DIY all the way). So I'm willing to be patient and lie in wait for the sweetest deals.
 

equipmentdork

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IF you're going to go the partial route, consider if what you'll pay for parts plus the shell doesn't put you over the top of a complete drum. I find that this is usually the case. Little snags like improper lug mount screws(in the case of a 3-ply vs. 5-ply shell) can become an issue when you dive into Parts Hell.

I'm with the people who suggested looking for whole drums. A parts hunt can be time consuming. Plus, parts that seem plentiful have a way of becoming hard to find when you need them!


Dan
 

Swissward Flamtacles

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I live in Denmark. So I use dba.dk (our national online classifieds) and drum sale FB groups.
I would get these - that's a very good price at less than 300€! Put some new Ambassador Coated on them (if necessary) and you have a great sounding vintage set with sturdy hardware and in good condition.
 

Swissward Flamtacles

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By the way, the Royale is an entry level set but old English Premiers are all very well made. If you want to buy from a store, these are good and the shipping won't ruin you:

Since you mentioned the Acrolite, I'd also have a look at the Premier 2000 and similar models https://www.jouwdrumstel.nl/snares/snare-336-premier-2000-vintage-14-x-5
Or a Beverley Cosmic 21 which is also aluminium. A fine vintage steel snare is the Sonor D454. All sell for about 150€ while an Acrolite is easily 300. Also, all of these have arguably better hardware and chrome.
For English drums check out preloved and gumtree. For Sonor ebay-kleinanzeigen.de is a good source.

For cymbals I'd look for auctions of Zildjian Avedis from the 50s or 60s. You can get a 20" Ride for less than 100€ shipped if you're a little patient. http://www.cruiseshipdrummer.com/2012/08/how-to-get-real-cymbals-when-your-poor.html
 

Sesh

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By the way, the Royale is an entry level set but old English Premiers are all very well made. If you want to buy from a store, these are good and the shipping won't ruin you:

Since you mentioned the Acrolite, I'd also have a look at the Premier 2000 and similar models https://www.jouwdrumstel.nl/snares/snare-336-premier-2000-vintage-14-x-5
Or a Beverley Cosmic 21 which is also aluminium. A fine vintage steel snare is the Sonor D454. All sell for about 150€ while an Acrolite is easily 300. Also, all of these have arguably better hardware and chrome.
For English drums check out preloved and gumtree. For Sonor ebay-kleinanzeigen.de is a good source.

For cymbals I'd look for auctions of Zildjian Avedis from the 50s or 60s. You can get a 20" Ride for less than 100€ shipped if you're a little patient. http://www.cruiseshipdrummer.com/2012/08/how-to-get-real-cymbals-when-your-poor.html
Thanks a lot! Excellent tips. I've come across the Sonors before, been reading about the D454 and the "King of snares" D426. There happens to be a Sonor D454 locally for exactly 150 euros and a D426 for 270ish. They're supposed to be pretty dry for steel snares (that are, or at least that's what I'm reading, more ringy than other metals)? Perhaps because of the ferromanganese alloy?
 

Swissward Flamtacles

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I don't know if there is a huge difference but I wouldn't overthink it - the D454 is a very nice snare. Small sound tendencies can become negligible when recording and tuning the drum with mufflers and different heads. The D454 is very well built and should last another 40 years easily. For that reason, I'd have a look at it - 150€ is a fair price if you can have a look at it before buying it. I don't know about the D426 but unless you really know what you want, I'd avoid US brands (more expensive in Europe and replacement parts can be hard to get for a reasonable price) or drums with very intricate designs like complicated strainer systems for your first vintage set - I mean, you said you're trying to keep the costs reasonable and want something reliable with the vintage mojo.
Since you enjoy putting in some work, this one is also good deal if it's worth the trip to you: I think it's a Sonor Swinger (some have issues with the plastic lugs, others have no problems) with an extra Sonor snare with "Imperial" lugs and cymbals. https://www.ebay-kleinanzeigen.de/s-anzeige/sonor-schlagzeug/1437250092-191-3007
 

Sesh

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I don't know if there is a huge difference but I wouldn't overthink it - the D454 is a very nice snare. Small sound tendencies can become negligible when recording and tuning the drum with mufflers and different heads. The D454 is very well built and should last another 40 years easily. For that reason, I'd have a look at it - 150€ is a fair price if you can have a look at it before buying it. I don't know about the D426 but unless you really know what you want, I'd avoid US brands (more expensive in Europe and replacement parts can be hard to get for a reasonable price) or drums with very intricate designs like complicated strainer systems for your first vintage set - I mean, you said you're trying to keep the costs reasonable and want something reliable with the vintage mojo.
Since you enjoy putting in some work, this one is also good deal if it's worth the trip to you: I think it's a Sonor Swinger (some have issues with the plastic lugs, others have no problems) with an extra Sonor snare with "Imperial" lugs and cymbals. https://www.ebay-kleinanzeigen.de/s-anzeige/sonor-schlagzeug/1437250092-191-3007
Alright. It turns out that the D454 was a rare D424-ish brass snare (a Sonor-nerd pointed it out to him after he posted it).

He lives too far away for me to stop by and check it out, but he assures me it's in very decent shape.

Pickup in Germany is sadly not an option.

I have noted the wariness towards buying American here in Europe, thanks :)
 
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