The great thing about collecting vintage drums is the vast range of options and pricing. As much as I’d like to have an engraved 1920s Ludwig Black Beauty in my collection, it’s a bit out of my price range at the moment (unless I stumble across one at an estate sale or Goodwill store, which seems to happen to a lucky few).
So, I’ve been picking off the low-hanging fruit in recent months, and there’s plenty of good stuff out there. The ubiquitous Ludwig Acrolite and Pioneer, vintage Premier, 6-lug Slingerlands, MIJ (Made in Japan) snares in interesting finishes – relatively cheap drums that sound good and serve as a good entry point into the hobby.
One of the better values out there is probably the Ludwig Standard line that came out in 1968. Ludwig came out with this lower-cost alternative to compete with the MIJ kits that started to become available around that time. The great thing is the shells are the same as those used for the classic Ludwig drums – they just used cheaper hardware to keep the costs down. So a Ludwig Standard snare is very similar in sound to the much more popular (and expensive) Ludwig Jazz Festival – you know, the snare that Ringo and tons of other drummers used throughout that period.
Aside from the price point, the other great thing about the Ludwig Standards is the range of wrap options. I know this is subjective, and some people really don’t like them, but I love some of the 15 wrap options – particularly Avocado Strata and the mists.
So, I was pretty happy to find this Ludwig Standard snare on eBay this fall for a whopping $100 USD. Made on May 20, 1970, it has a granitone interior and a Gold Mist wrap, which is my favourite option. I used some Novus polish on it, and it now shines beautifully. It’s far from perfect – there’s a bit of rust on the rims, and the bottom bearing edges aren’t pretty – but the P-83 strainer is in good condition, and the drum sounds great. I don’t mind the lugs, and they polished up nicely.
High on my list of low-cost additions is another Ludwig Standard, but with an aluminum shell instead of wood. Pretty similar to the Acrolite, I’ve heard great things about these drums and hope to come across one sometime soon. In the meantime, I’ll continue to look through Kijiji and thrift stores with fingers crossed that a holy grail drum is hiding in plain sight.