What Caused Drummers to Start to Seek Vintage Drums?

JDA

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Or actually couldn't find (even if we knew or didn't know it existed..)
Prior to the Internet chance of either seeing let alone acquiring was a way slimmer chance..
So the Internet certainly had some role
 
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el_37

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I disagree slightly with the guitar players in the 70's wanting "higher quality" so they looked vintage argument. That in my opinion is a fantasy colored by today's thinking- many prominent players and builders who were active in the era have stated that many of the things the guitar makers were doing in the early to mid 70's was in reaction to the then current taste. They WANTED heavy guitars because the thinking back then was heavy = sustain.

Also 1950's and 1960's guitars were just old in 1975- the collectors and enthusiasts were only interested in pre war acoustics. A few visionaries saw the writing on the wall and began stockpiling stuff, but by all accounts it was so easy to find the stuff in the 1970's because to 90% of the guitar playing world it was just old used crap.

Vintage guitars first picked up steam because you could not get certain guitars anymore. The classic single cut Les Paul was unavailable from 1961-1968 and due to the usage by guys like Clapton and Bloomfield demand went through the roof for the originals as early as 1967 and the late production ones became legends.

By the early 70's flametops were already trading hands at $2K and they weren't even 15 years old- hardly "vintage". The market then dipped in the early 80's for a bit when everyone wanted Kramers, and then Nostalgia reared its head and the vintage market became well- the vintage market.

I remember in the 1990's barely anyone famous was using vintage drums or if they were- talking about it. Sure we heard about guys using old supra's on recordings, but dig through any issue of Modern Drummer in the 80's and 90's and you will find next to nobody using vintage. If they were it was a snare at most.

I still remember people being perplexed at the fact that Neil Peart used a plain 1970's Slingerland snare drum- they were borderline horrified at the thought.

There was a movement afoot back then- articles appeared here and there and NSMD had subscribers, but the only time I ever saw a vintage setup was with indie or punk rock bands (because they were cheap, and also rejected the mainstream rock power tom and lacquered finished look and aesthetic of the 80's and early 90's) or when some boomer dragged his original set out on a gig- which was pretty rare since most drummers still like to be "current".

I had a 1963 Ludwig in 1995. I used to get laughed at by younger guys and the older drummers were always trying to get me to update. But by the late 90's the vintage market started talking hold, partly because name drummers were admitting to using them in studio, and the internet allowed the buzz to grow at a much faster rate. By the early 2000's it exploded and post 2002 with the housing bubble in full swing- we saw nostalgia insanity that we will never see the likes of again- 14" Rogers Floor Toms selling for $1900 and run of the mill Slingerland sets in common finishes going for $1500.

I also don't buy the "Levon" argument- he barely made a dent then or even now on influencing many drummers setups.

At the end of the day though- drummers are a weird bunch. Most reject vintage whereas almost every other instrumentalist is constantly seeking out old vintage instruments. From horn players to string players.
 

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Fewer drummers means less market on vintage drums, but otherwise the vintage drum market vaguely shadows the vintage guitar market.

For me, quality of the wood and value is primary. The collectable vintage market causes the high-dollar collectible stuff to pull upward the other stuff a bit.

If I walk into a pawn shop and see a set of Ludwig Club Dates with cases for $300, I am snagging them. Its about value primarily.

There are some misnomers that new drum manufacturers rely upon to sell their drums, as has been happening since the advent of the high-quality Japanese drums in the 70s. This has to do with the notion that you need perfection in shell roundness, and bearing edges must be perfect, and you get better-sounding drums. This isn't true. You can improve sound by working on some of that stuff.

But there is a definite parallel between the quality of the old wood versus the new wood on guitars/drums.

There are interactions between the new market and the vintage market. For instance Gibson raised their prices on their new guitars and I think the vintage market for similar older guitars responded with an upward swing.

So in a nutshell the biggest difference in drums-vs-guitars vintage market is in the size of the markets.
 

Rich K.

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i'd have to say, Levon Helm, who purposefully created a whole "genre" that emphasized mismatched period pieces... when that style of music had a revival, everyone went out to put their stamp on their version, and the demand started the ball rolling

using "new" drums reduced the authenticity, plus the sounds were less bright and "attack-y"
I have never seen Levon Helm with mismatched pieces, other than the snare drum.
 

Bri6366

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As said above, there is the desire to recapture that old sound of drums we played growing up. Until recently, you couldn't get a 3 ply Ludwig kit unless you bought a used set. Back in the 80s these kits were going for $350, but now to get a kit in decent shape it might be over $1K. There are also less of these kits than there were 35 years ago and middle aged and above drummers seem to have unlimited disposable income to buy both vintage and top end new stuff as well. In addition, selling used to be through the local publications. Now you can know nothing about drums, do a quick google and realize you have something highly collectible. Selling on the internet has a much bigger market as well.
 
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JDA

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recapture that old sound of drums we played growing up
almost doesn't apply to another group; we didn't play radio Kings WFLs or old Ks growing up. We played supras and sliingerland rogers ludwigs of the sixties Premiers of the early 70s A's of the day . Vintage -sometimes- goes back further than the period one began on/in. To gold we never saw before
 

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For me, it started with articles in Modern Drummer that were touting Radio King Snare drums for studio use. I already had a '28 BB and a '20 NOB Ludwig. This was in the mid 70s.
 

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I remember reading an interview with Grant Hart of Husker Du in the 80's and I thought his Radio King interest was strange. He said that he played a kit and said something like "My God, this is how drums should always sound!" It was puzzling to read when everyone else was playing Yamaha Recording or Tour Series or Tama Superstars. That band was always decades ahead of their time.



Dan
 

ThomFloor

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I have never seen Levon Helm with mismatched pieces, other than the snare drum.
His 2 floor toms in the movie the Last Waltz (winterland show) do not match.
That said, its one of the few shows he has 2 floor toms.
 

Targalx

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I remember reading an interview with Grant Hart of Husker Du in the 80's and I thought his Radio King interest was strange. He said that he played a kit and said something like "My God, this is how drums should always sound!" It was puzzling to read when everyone else was playing Yamaha Recording or Tour Series or Tama Superstars. That band was always decades ahead of their time.
I'm a massive Husker Du fan, and Grant Hart (R.I.P.) wrote/sang some of my favorite songs ever, but his drum sound was really undesirable to my ears. The drums on those records sound pretty rough, not to mention his tiny cymbals bashing away in the distance.

I wish he used modern drums like Superstars or Recording Customs on those records -- perhaps it might've improved the overall sound of those albums a tad.
 

el_37

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I'm a massive Husker Du fan, and Grant Hart (R.I.P.) wrote/sang some of my favorite songs ever, but his drum sound was really undesirable to my ears. The drums on those records sound pretty rough, not to mention his tiny cymbals bashing away in the distance.

I wish he used modern drums like Superstars or Recording Customs on those records -- perhaps it might've improved the overall sound of those albums a tad.
Well the early records were engineered by Spot and they would have sounded terrible regardless of whatever drums were on there- he really ruined a lot of the early SST records.

I'd have to give it a relisten- but I don't really remember their Warner Brothers LP's having offensive drum sounds- but I may be blocking it out! All the pictures I have seen of them live he's playing 3 ply Ludwigs.....at least in the SST era.

Edit- just threw on some Candy Apple Grey Tracks- I forgot how tinny the whole band sounds on that LP. They really never got a fair shake at good production. 80's over gated cardboard drums- once again no brand would have saved that recording.
 

EvEnStEvEn

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As mentioned above, for some of us it was those Modern Drummer articles from around '79 that touted the sonic joy of owning & playing a vaunted Radio King or Leedy Broadway drum that initially sparked our interest in vintage drums. I was certainly one of those readers and began searching pawn shops, thrift stores, musical supply shops and yard sales for old USA-made drums while on tour just to kill of the boredom of the motel room, which was cool because those drums were still very affordable then, heck, you could literally name your own price for old drums in those days because music shops and pawn houses were glad to see them gone!....... I got a lot of cool old American drums for cheap (!)

"Hey Charlie, some long-haired guy came in here the other day and bought that dusty old drum junk we've had stored in the back room for years, haha, can you believe it?"
 
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fun2drum

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Most of you are going to think this is crazy talk, but part of what I like about it is the hardware. I still like to gig out with my 69 Ludwigs which have the thin curved bass drum legs, lightweight rail tom mount that simply folds down for packing, and thin short floor tom legs that can stay on the drum while packed in its bag. I'll admit that the mounted tom now has an INDe mount on it, but otherwise that set is all-original. It's a dream to set up, play, and pack away for next time - nostalgia notwithstanding.

Other than that it is indeed mostly nostalgia for me. There's a lot of cool factor in a vintage set.
 

Johnny D

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Most of you are going to think this is crazy talk, but part of what I like about it is the hardware. I still like to gig out with my 69 Ludwigs which have the thin curved bass drum legs, lightweight rail tom mount that simply folds down for packing, and thin short floor tom legs that can stay on the drum while packed in its bag. I'll admit that the mounted tom now has an INDe mount on it, but otherwise that set is all-original. It's a dream to set up, play, and pack away for next time - nostalgia notwithstanding.

Other than that it is indeed mostly nostalgia for me. There's a lot of cool factor in a vintage set.
I don't think that's crazy talk at all. I agree completely, especially when it comes to vintage hardware. Up until two years ago I was using all vintage hardware i.e. flat based cymbal stands, 2 x Buck Rogers snare stands, hi hat and pedal. I switched to the DW Ultralight purely to lighten the weight of my trap case, but still gig with a vintage Gretsch Monster Hi Hat (I have nine of them!) and a Gretsch Floating Action. I use all vintage hardware on my home kits.

All my of my nine kits are vintage. I think they sound great, look great and definitely have a vibe you don't get with modern drums and especially modern hardware. I've yet to meet a drummer who when they see one of my vintage kits, doesn't appreciate the coolness factor. I'm a big fan of nostalgia.
 

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almost doesn't apply to another group; we didn't play radio Kings WFLs or old Ks growing up. We played supras and sliingerland rogers ludwigs of the sixties Premiers of the early 70s A's of the day . Vintage -sometimes- goes back further than the period one began on/in. To gold we never saw before
My uncle had a light blue set of Slingerland Radio Kings that he received in the 1940's from his folks. My interest in drums began around 1966 (age 12). Every Thanksgiving from that time on I would make a bee line to the attic to "try them out." And I really had no clue what I was looking at....other than drums from decades earlier. Those visits went on for many years, to the point that it has been ingrained in my mind. Since then, I've always longed for such a kit. Those were like "gold" to me and the "unachievable." And those were the first set of drums I ever put my paws on.
 

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For me, it started with articles in Modern Drummer that were touting Radio King Snare drums for studio use. I already had a '28 BB and a '20 NOB Ludwig. This was in the mid 70s.
- The Paul Jamison interview?
 

JDA

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Nostalgia is ok but I can't don't live in it you know what I mean. It can't be my raison d' etre. I think..I like 'the now'..Applying vintage (some not all vintage pieces) (because some sound better) to this moment not for the sake of recreating anything, that strikes me as a little weird.
the whole Ringo/Bonham_thing..I lived and drummed thru that. That was fifty years ago..I'm interested in (and already know) the last Ed Blackwell and Elvin recordings. I'm more interested in what and how Jim Keltner played last night.....
 
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