What Caused Drummers to Start to Seek Vintage Drums?

scaramanga

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It's important for me to have an emotional attachment to my instrument. Vintage instruments provide a shortcut to that attachment because over time they have become perceptibly unique sounding and, yeah, looking. So when I find the vintage drum(s) that sound and feel "right" to me it's easy to believe that some kind of destiny led to our meeting. I keep that sheeet!

Sorry I got a little ayahuasca up there.
 

equipmentdork

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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.
I know that they produced themselves on WB, I guess, to protect the songwriting, but my feeling is that they didn't have good technical ears. Listen to the Warehouse songs on The Living End...there was fire there that they didn't come close to capturing in the studio. That album was sourced from a cassette, I believe. I do not think that Grant's sound would have been better served by a different drumset. Better drum teching and better engineering/production would have helped. Maybe someone like Iggy Pop could have captured them better, or Brendan O'Brien had he been around then.


Dan
 

EvEnStEvEn

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Photos of my old WFL/Ludwig kit which was entirely comprised of orphan mahogany singles I found by scouring pawnshops & music shops while on the road with my band in '81-'83

I don't remember what everything cost me then but it couldn't have been much more than approx. $200, even including the Gretsch 4157 maple snare seen in the top photo. I think the FTs may have been Slingerland, can't recall now.



LudsAtJoshuas.jpg
LudsRogersTomRockFactory.jpg
LudsWFLrockfactory.jpg
 

markrocks68

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Old drums have mojo new drums do not.
A history.
And in my opinion the 50's drums are some of the best built ever.
And the best finishes.
Behold a 1958-1965 Capri Pearl orphan kit (I just landed the final pieces of the puzzle).
Pieced together with much love with the varieties of this beautiful wrap.
They don't make drums this pretty anymore either! (and they sound incredible).
IMG_6167.JPEG
IMG_4622.jpg
 
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RIDDIM

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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.....
- And that's very likely not a function of gear.
 

MntnMan62

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It's the age old story of "they don't make them like they used to." I remember when my parents bought me my Slingerland Stage Band four piece kit back in 1975 and I was a little embarrassed by it because it looked like a "student" kit. But I was happy to have anything. Then when I was in college and was still playing the same kit but had added some additional toms I began to appreciate the sound those drums put out. And now, I absolutely love them. I've babied them all these years, mainly because I don't have any other drums, but also because I like to take care of my stuff. I've had sound engineers comment how amazing they sound through the monitor when mic'd. So I appreciate what I have. If I were to start buying more kits I'd probably want to buy another vintage kit and would focus on the types of wood and number of plies. Same if I were to buy a new kit. It's all about the quality.
 
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APelletier

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In my area it was Charlie Donnelly who was the go-to guy for vintage drums and cymbals. I believe Bun knew him quite well and Steve Maxwell caught the bug from him. I recall going into Charlie's shop as a young guy... even sold some vintage Slingerland drums and Roto Toms to him when I took off to college. He was a very affable guy - his shop in Newington was really something - if only I knew then, what I do now...

 

Elvis

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What made drummers start to seek vintage drums? When was that turning point of "maybe we should start buying older kits" instead of new ones? When did newer not necessarily mean better, and why was that the case?
Older drummers looking to get back to the sound they enjoyed in their younger days, and being egged on by the insurgence of internet drum forums.
 

vintagedrummersweden

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I think, in my case, it's two reasons:
1. Economical - the most value for money. Even my father knew about "Ludwig" and preferred a used kit with a name he knew. In 1978 I chose the 22, 12 16 60's black oyster in the store. (in the other store I looked at a 20, 12, 14 totally original black oyster 60's kit, but thought they were to small. And they didn't have the modern 70's Ludwig tom holder that the other kit had installed to it. If I only would have known then...)
2. Even today I get a special feeling, or rather THAT special feeling looking at, and playing, vintage drums (Ludwig and Premier) that I recognize from the record sleeves, fan posters and catalogs from my childhood and early teens. Those shiny, sparkling drums of Ian Paice, Cozy Powell's double kick dream and, of course, Ringo's drums. In these days Gene Krupa's big WMP Slingerlands, Keith Moon's Premier kits, Charlie Watt's Gretsch, Steve Jordan's different kits, and so on...
 

drumfx

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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"
There are young people and not so young people that hop on the vintage wagon. The "not so young" ones first started playing on new drums in the 60's and 70's and therefore, many years later realize that nostalgia and that kind of sound is calling them. The other kind are the younger players that after buying a $4000 Dw kit with a bunch of modern gear realize that the new stuff lacks sexyness and the awesome sounds of yesterday's recordings which makes them seek a cool vintage kit. all the other drummers are perfectly happy with whatever kit they are using and wouldn't even think of getting an old set...To each his own.
 

AtlantaDrumGuy

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For me, sound and looks. I suppose it has to do with the drums (brand, sizes, era) in which my favorite music was recorded. It’s a different sound than a Dave Weckl with the Electrik band. I probably went a little overboard on my collection (since music is a side thing), but I really enjoy the old American drums and find that they still hold up well for gigs. Sometimes you may replace floor tom legs or something, but if you find a nice example (full kit or even just a snare), they’ll continue to produce great results for a long time.

Granted, with new drums, you can still experiment with heads and tuning. But for me, if I want the Motown sound, I want to use instruments that were used in those recordings.
 
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studrum

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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.
I think this is what started it all - the "old Radio King" that lots of youngish rockers owned and recorded with, even though they had endorsements with modern drum companies. You couldn't get single-ply snare drums from anywhere at that time. Total exotica to me, and I wasn't nostalgic for them one bit - they were from way before my time. Then you'd hear about the 50's-60's Ludwig COB's that the pro's would own, coupled with the more intense focus on "studio drumming," then on to 20's-30's Ludwig COB's, then on to those special Gretsch kits that you couldn't get anymore...
 

Whitten

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For me a few things are clear......
In the 80's everyone was into modern drum sounds. Most of the top studio players seemed to be using Yamaha Recording Customs (Gadd, the Marotta Brothers etc). We didn't know or really care what they actually used on studio dates, this was before the internet, we just assumed modern drums. Although vintage snare drums like the Black Beauty, Supraphonic and Radio King were widely used on records.
At the end of the 80's with the dawn of hip-hop, sampled vintage drum loops were all the rage. If you went on a pop recording date you might get asked to recreate the sound and feel of a sampled loop they were using (so they didn't have to clear the sample). We didn't really know what we were doing - it was essentially a mix of old recording technology, the style of playing, and the older drums, tuning and heads. So without knowing what we needed to do, we started looking to old drum kits to help us capture that vibe.
Great sounding vintage drums were very thin on the ground in the UK and Europe.
Once the internet really got going, and drum forums, and Ebay we learned for the first time that the top studio players had often used vintage Ludwig, Camco, Gretsch and Rogers kits on modern albums, despite endorsing DW, Yamaha and Pearl. Those kits were much more available on Ebay and didn't cost very much if bought in America.
Modern kits have largely become homogenised. If you set up a modern Tama, Yamaha, Mapex, or Pearl kit in a studio, the differences in sound are pretty minute.
If you then set up a keystone Ludwig, a Camco and an RB Gretsch, the differences are immediately apparent.
 

studrum

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For me a few things are clear......
In the 80's everyone was into modern drum sounds. Most of the top studio players seemed to be using Yamaha Recording Customs (Gadd, the Marotta Brothers etc). We didn't know or really care what they actually used on studio dates, this was before the internet, we just assumed modern drums. Although vintage snare drums like the Black Beauty, Supraphonic and Radio King were widely used on records.
At the end of the 80's with the dawn of hip-hop, sampled vintage drum loops were all the rage. If you went on a pop recording date you might get asked to recreate the sound and feel of a sampled loop they were using (so they didn't have to clear the sample). We didn't really know what we were doing - it was essentially a mix of old recording technology, the style of playing, and the older drums, tuning and heads. So without knowing what we needed to do, we started looking to old drum kits to help us capture that vibe.
Great sounding vintage drums were very thin on the ground in the UK and Europe.
Once the internet really got going, and drum forums, and Ebay we learned for the first time that the top studio players had often used vintage Ludwig, Camco, Gretsch and Rogers kits on modern albums, despite endorsing DW, Yamaha and Pearl. Those kits were much more available on Ebay and didn't cost very much if bought in America.
Modern kits have largely become homogenised. If you set up a modern Tama, Yamaha, Mapex, or Pearl kit in a studio, the differences in sound are pretty minute.
If you then set up a keystone Ludwig, a Camco and an RB Gretsch, the differences are immediately apparent.
Yep. Mr. Whitten sort of picks up the time line where mine ends. I did not delineate mine - it started in the early 70's.
A few minor differences in opinion/observation and some addenda:
We were hearing about the use of vintage drums way before hip-hop and the internet. Plus, as Asian drums and their "perfection" "inspired" the then-struggling US drum companies to "dial it in," construction-wise (no doubt, some US companies attained some QC lows as the 70's bled into the 80's), they found that consistency -surprise!, but only to bean counter- types, not real instrument makers - bred boredom, sound-wise. All kinds of producers in the singer/songwriter world would tell drummers, "Please leave your perfect, California-designed, Asian parts-sourced drums at home. We want you to play this 1952 Leedy marching snare, along with our 1964 Ludwig 22" BD..." Etc. From the arts-edge, you can hear this in Tom Waits records in the 80's.

Whitten's comparison of older American drums (don't forget Premier, mate!) to what happens with modern drums is spot-on.
 

Formula 602

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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
I emailed with Grant a few times....R.I.P
 

SKSMITH

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Photos of my old WFL/Ludwig kit which was entirely comprised of orphan mahogany singles I found by scouring pawnshops & music shops while on the road with my band in '81-'83

I don't remember what everything cost me then but it couldn't have been much more than approx. $200, even including the Gretsch 4157 maple snare seen in the top photo. I think the FTs may have been Slingerland, can't recall now.



View attachment 425035 View attachment 425036 View attachment 425037
Is that a Yankees shirt in the 2nd photo??? The drums are cool as well.
 

SKSMITH

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For me, it was being given my late uncle's Duplex Spirit of St. Louis gold sparkle 18/13/14 with matching 13 snare when I decided I wanted to play drums. This was 1980. I had never seen them, they were always in their cases at my grandparents house.
Once I got them home and opened the cases, I hated them. They didn't look like drums to me and the sizes were weird. But I learned on them and the original 40's or 50's A. Zildjians that came with them.
I made the mistake of selling these while I was out of work in the early 90's and would love to find them again some day.
A few years later, I bought a new set of Pearls, which I played for about 5 years. But probably 6 months (and no money) later, I saw a nearly mint early 70's Slingerland 22/13/16/18 copper over wood set at a consignment shop. I wanted those bad, but being broke and since it was on consignment, they wouldn't trade with me for my nearly brand new Pearl DX's, I missed out on them. They weren't in the shop the next time I stopped in, no idea whatever happened to them.
Fast forward to 1991 or 92, and I really wanted to get rid of my power toms. I went to Fred Pierce's Studio Drum Shop in St. Louis, looking to price a new Yamaha Maple Custom Absolute. Let's just say that at the time I would prefer to eat that spend that on a set of drums. The salesmen asked if I would be interested in a used Slingerland set and shows me an early 60's BDP 22/13/16 set with a matching snare. Needless to say, I was hooked.
Since that time, I've preferred vintage sets, even though I still own a couple of modern ones. My latest pick-up was an early 70's 3-ply COW Slingerland Buddy Rich 80N.
 


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