WFL Auditorium magic

charlesm

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A few years ago, I picked a WFL Supreme Concert (6-lugs) snare in the search for a drum with a strong, inherent "woody" tone. Well, this drum did not disappoint. Within the first few hits, I was just amazed at the warm, round, deep tone of this drum.

Eventually, I decided I wanted just a little more tuning range, so I reluctantly sold that one and was lucky to eventually find an 8-lug Auditorium model.

I hadn't taken it out of the case in a little while, so I gave it a spin yesterday. Once again, I was reminded of how amazing these old WFLs are. Incredible depth, warmth and quintessentially woody tone. And just beautiful, simple appointments: African mahogany/poplar 3-ply shell, nickeled-brass hardware, lightweight throw/butt...it all adds up to such a musical drum.

I'm sure newer drums with a similar design--8 lugs, mahogany/poplar shell, rounded edges--can get into this ballpark. But I love the tonal aspect of the brass rims on these older drums combined with such an aged shell; it is unmistakable that you are playing a wood drum with a lot of years on it.

Although I can get a deep tone out of any of my snare drums, nothing else has had quite the abundance of warmth and low frequencies in play when dropped below medium tension. My 402 and Gretsch bronze can get close, but in a more metallic way; the WFL is just all woody warmth, and it gets there easily and happily.

Highly recommended, especially if you are going for a darker, very warm and fat snare tone.

This one is definitely going to get a lot more play time in the right places.
 

EvEnStEvEn

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I couldn't agree more!
I have a 15" WFL Auditorium in natural finish mahogany with maple rerings, 8 nickel bowties, Nickel plated brass hoops, I think the depth is 6" or 6.5" and it's everything you've described. I got mine free from a music shop that was closing in 1995, it was in the back room gathering dust and in disrepair, I restored it.
 

charlesm

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I couldn't agree more!
I have a 15" WFL Auditorium in natural finish mahogany with maple rerings, 8 nickel bowties, Nickel plated brass hoops, I think the depth is 6" or 6.5" and it's everything you've described. I got mine free from a music shop that was closing in 1995, it was in the back room gathering dust and in disrepair, I restored it.
15"...that must be one fat-sounding drum!
 
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YES!!! I have an 8x15 WFL natural mahogany stain with nickel hardware and NOB rims. I have nicknamed it "Levon" because I saw him playing one just like it at a session, and I fell in love with it. He asked me to sit down and play it, I did and as soon as he saw the smile on my face, he said in that great Levon drawl, "I'm gonna have to check your pockets when y'all leave, cause it looks like you might try and take that drum wit ya." He was right.

I looked for one for a long time, and finally found one, it's on the bottom shelf, fifth from the right. Ludwig reso, Coated Emperor, stock wires, tuned low and dark. I might try some different wires, I wonder how it would sound with a 42 strand?

IMG_0872.JPG


It'll go to the grave with me.
MSG
 

shuffle

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I give myself a boot-a-rectomy for selling the several ive had,6 or 8 lugs,brass hoops.
Smoky,dark,sweet like bbq sauce!
 

mlayton

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I think that I have had two Auditoriums. They are indeed fine instruments. Just a deep version of a Jazz Festival really. Here are a couple that friends own now...One in a very uncommon solid blue duco. And another in a WFL badge red sparkle. Also shown is a mock Auditorium done by a friend and forum member. It's a 4 ply.....was a COW drum. Some new old stock SBP wrap as well. Love this drum!
sky blue pearl 6.5 25.jpg


auditorium 25.jpg
Wfl red sparkle front 6.jpg
 

charlesm

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YES!!! I have an 8x15 WFL natural mahogany stain with nickel hardware and NOB rims. I have nicknamed it "Levon" because I saw him playing one just like it at a session, and I fell in love with it. He asked me to sit down and play it, I did and as soon as he saw the smile on my face, he said in that great Levon drawl, "I'm gonna have to check your pockets when y'all leave, cause it looks like you might try and take that drum wit ya." He was right.

I looked for one for a long time, and finally found one, it's on the bottom shelf, fifth from the right. Ludwig reso, Coated Emperor, stock wires, tuned low and dark. I might try some different wires, I wonder how it would sound with a 42 strand?

View attachment 397681

It'll go to the grave with me.
MSG
Great story!

Personally, I wouldn't use 42 strands on mine. I think it would be too "snarey." This drum is all about the shell tone to me. 15", though...might be more forgiving.
 
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charlesm

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I think that I have had two Auditoriums. They are indeed fine instruments. Just a deep version of a Jazz Festival really. Here are a couple that friends own now...One in a very uncommon solid blue duco. And another in a WFL badge red sparkle. Also shown is a mock Auditorium done by a friend and forum member. It's a 4 ply.....was a COW drum. Some new old stock SBP wrap as well. Love this drum!View attachment 397684

View attachment 397682View attachment 397683
Sweet drums!

Mike, I have to say: I had a '67 all-orig. champagne Jazz Fest for a little while and it did not have near the tone of the WFL. Polar opposite...it was very bright and toppy. It had a maple interior, though, and I think the Ludwig edges were sharper by that point; it sounded that way. I never bonded with it. I have a Gretsch 4105 that I actually love way more as an 8-lug wood 5x14. It has a much warmer tone.

I don't know if my particular Jazz Fest was a fluke, but sometimes it seemed so bright you'd almost think it was a metal snare.
 

EvEnStEvEn

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Personally, I wouldn't use 42 strands on mine. I think it would be too "snarey." This drum is all about the shell tone to me. 15", though...might be more forgiving.
Exactly!
These mahogany drums are "all about shell tone" indeed.
I'm running 16-strand Ludwig wires on my 15" Auditorium, that's plenty.
 

charlesm

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Actually, I'm wondering if I have the nomenclature correct here; did WFL ever actually refer to this drum as the Auditorium? I know Ludwig did later on. But, in WFL-speak, it seems like this drum was more commonly known as the Contest model. Is that accurate?

Apparently, the 8x15 is officially known as the School Symphony model.
 

JDA

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charlesm

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So, yeah, in the WFL catalogs, looks like there's no actual Auditorium model. It's called the Contest, and then Ludwig brings it out as the Auditorium in the early '60s.
 

Sinclair

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I just picked up a Keystone 6.5 School Festival w/ baseball bat muffler. 16 single lugs. Not as old as the WFL's but I believe they are more or less the same shell. The WFL's I think have a thicker re-ring. One other difference might be the Keystone's do not have brass hoops (?)
Please enlighten me.
 

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