Vin­tage GEAR slinger­land buddy rich model 80N kit

A Slinger­land kit just like the one Buddy Rich played in his big band dur­ing the early 1970s

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

Buddy switched capri­ciously around the ma­jor USA drum com­pa­nies – Slinger­land, WFL, Lud­wig and Rogers (though not Gretsch) – through­out his long ca­reer. He also had a brief flir­ta­tion with the Ger­man Vox/Trixon and loved his Fibes SFT fi­bre­glass shell snare.

When he first came to the UK in 1967 he played a cut­ting-edge Swiv-O-Matic Rogers set, but by the end of the year he was back with Slinger­land for his glo­ri­ous early big band re­vival years. He later re­turned to Lud­wig, but fin­ished up play­ing a re­stored 1940s Slinger­land Ra­dio King set.

His drums were al­ways White/Marine Pearl and he in­vari­ably set­tled on the classic one-up-two-down lay­out. Yet he made a big deal of not need­ing more than a stan­dard four-piece kit and, as in our fea­tured kit, the sec­ond floor tom was hardly ever played.

This kit was pre­vi­ously seen in Rhythm, Fe­bru­ary 2008, when it be­longed to Pre­ston Prince of Tiki Drums (www.tikidrums.com). Buddy played a sim­i­lar kit from 1967 to 1974, dur­ing which time we UK drum­mers were able to wit­ness the mas­ter live for the first time on his leg­endary an­nual con­cert tours – and our lives ir­re­vo­ca­bly changed.

Pre­ston re­calls: “I bought the kit in 2006 from a re­tired drum­mer called Keith in Lon­don who loved Buddy to bits. He had bought it new, in Wales in 1974, with the orig­i­nal hard­ware, so I had the pur­chase re­ceipts with serial num­bers. It came with all the orig­i­nal heads, a set of Zild­jian As and a Lud­wig 400 snare.

“He loved this set but he had fallen on hard times and he was ask­ing very lit­tle for it. He told me he was sell­ing it to raise funds for a new TV. So I gave him an­other £250 on top of the ask­ing price for a TV set and he was knocked out.”

The kit is the classic Buddy Rich set-up: 24"x14", 13"x9", and two 16"x16" floor toms, with 14"x5½" Artist snare. The drums are three-ply maple-ma­hogany-maple with solid re­in­forc­ing rings. “One floor tom is whiter than the other,” says Pre­ston, “since Keith only played the four drums. It had been in its case for most of its life.

“I got the Artist snare later for £100. Keith had the same one orig­i­nally, but swapped it for the 400. There’s the orig­i­nal Rocket snare stand, cym­bal stands and Rogers Swiv-O-Matic bass pedal (again, the same pedal Buddy played). There’s the bass drum ride cym­bal arm, but not the splash cym­bal arm, although it has the mount­ing holes for it.

“The kit is awe­some, with a big sound at all dy­namic lev­els, high or low tun­ing. The whole set is great. If only I could mas­ter mak­ing shells like they used to! I’ll keep try­ing.”

“The kit is awe­some , with a bi g sound at all dyn amic lev­els, high or lo w tun­ing” owner, Pre­ston Prince

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