Vin­tage GEAR lud­wig black beauty snare drums

Span­ning 50 years of Lud­wig history, th­ese two Black Beauty snares come from the col­lec­tion of Dave Seville

Rhythm - - DRUM LESSONS - Words: Ge­off Ni­cholls p ho­tos: James Cump­sty

The evoca­tive de­scrip­tion Black Beauty is firmly as­so­ci­ated with al­most 100 years of Lud­wig snare drum history. You can still buy a new one to­day. This month’s pair come cour­tesy of Sh­effield drum­mer Dave Seville, who up un­til last year edited and com­piled the Old Drum­mers Club (ODC) news­let­ter, a store­house of in­for­ma­tion for vin­tage drum nuts.

Dave says: “The drums came from the USA dur­ing my hey­day (mid-late 1990s). The first one is a late 1970s 14"x6½" Black Beauty with the sim­ple P85 strainer (Supra­phonic model 451). It has a one-piece brass shell, spun from a disc, with no weld. It’s a great drum with as­ton­ish­ing vol­ume. The en­grav­ing looks like it was ex­e­cuted by a stoned ap­pren­tice from the tat­too par­lour, but was ac­tu­ally done by some au­to­mated CAD/CAM process, I’m told. Frankly, it’s pa­thetic, but adds maybe 50 per­cent to the sale value. I have an­other, non-en­graved one, which has been used more. This one stays at home.

“The older one is the more in­ter­est­ing. It’s a late 1920s Lud­wig and Lud­wig Su­per model with 10 lugs and par­al­lel snare mech­a­nism. Amaz­ingly, they were still fit­ting a sim­i­lar mech­a­nism up un­til 1968. I re­ceived this one as a shell and hoops only, in poor con­di­tion, so I rigged it up with the throw-off from a 1960s 410 Su­per-Sen­si­tive (as shown), which fit­ted the same holes. It had plenty more holes should I have needed them!

“This drum has the clas­sic two-piece heavy brass shell – the top half and lower half are sol­dered to­gether along the over­lap­ping cen­tre bead. The huge bear­ing edges have two flanges and sol­der back to the in­te­rior of the shell. It weighs a ton.

“Orig­i­nally, it was black nickel plated with faux-gold fit­tings – the ‘Deluxe’ fin­ish, which be­came known col­lo­qui­ally as ‘Black Beauty’. But a lot of the fin­ish has worn off. It is hand-en­graved in the ‘flo­ral’ pat­tern, which is sim­ply beau­ti­fully done.

“I had trou­ble get­ting us­able snare wires for this drum. Apart from the com­plex­i­ties of the par­al­lel throw-off, the gate on the lower hoop is only de­signed to take 10 strands or so. I lat­terly fixed it up with a sim­ple Olympic strainer, which was mounted on a piece of wood and se­cured to the shell us­ing the ex­ist­ing holes. It worked great.

“I sold the drum to a guy in Bel­gium who did what I should have done years ago and re­stored it to its orig­i­nal con­di­tion. He made a great job that put me to shame –I had it for 25 years. It is a now a real beauty, cos­met­i­cally as well as sonorously, and worth a few bob, I dare say.”

“The 1970s Black Beauty has a one-piece brass shel spun from a disc with no weld. It’s a great drum with ast on­ish­ing vol­ume owner, Dave Sevile ” Circa 1920s1970s

AGED PATINA

The late 1920s Su­per model has grad­u­ally as­sumed a gor­geous warm golden-brown-brass patina.

EN­GRAVED HOOPS

The drum has ‘Su­per Lud­wig’ en­graved into its hoops which, like the shell, are made from solid brass.

BLUE-OLIVE BADGE

Lud­wig re-in­tro­duced the Black Beauty in the 1970s on drums with one-piece brass shells, 10 Im­pe­rial lugs and blue-olive par­al­lel­o­gram badges.

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