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A tidy Red Sparkle outfit - haven't had one of those in while!
There's something about Red Sparkles... Their beauty can't be captured in a picture. And while they're nothing special in terms of prominent player's signature finish, they always catch the eye. And this is quite the stunner! Super tidy, all original and although the main picture displays the ubiquitous Super Classic set up, this is in fact the less common, Big Beat outfit. Featuring a 12" x 8" rack tom, in addition to the Super Classic 13" x 9", 16" x 16", 22" x 14", this kit is all factory. There's almost nothing to discuss when considering the excellent condition of these drums but there's plenty we can say about the sound ...absolutely brilliant. They've got a full set of old Coated Ambassador on, top and bottom, and, while played, they have plenty of life in them and may be part of the reason why these drums sing. They tune up easy, boom and deliver all that vintage Ludwig tone synonymous with these drums. An old Clear PowerStroke 3 on the kick gets all the WHALLOP out of the shell, even with the reso head having a port hole cut. These drums sound every bit as good as you'd hope and pictures don't do 'em justice so, brass tax, you're looking at a winner.
So as already mentioned above, these are some damn tidy tubs. They're all original, wrap, hardware etc., so there's only a few things that take away from this kit being describe as a 9 or even 10 out of 10. The tom bearing edges have all been re-cut ...BUT! They've been done by a pro by the looks of things. Back cut rounded with an inner 45. We never like seeing anyone messing with vintage drums in this way and have plenty of experience of these drums with damaged bearing edges and it is a real rarity when they can't be tuned, even with severe damage. However, when they're done by a pro and the drums tune up as easy as this, we find it hard to get too upset. Kick bearing edges are original. After that, well, just little niggles. Being a Big Beat, this bass drum was factory fitted with a centre post tom plate but the one fitted appears to be a slightly later piece, '70s, rather than '60s. You can only really tell by the pattern on the plate, the notches cut for a memory and the matching wing nut - as you tell, we're nit-picking here. The tom holder itself (part #781) is also the later model that came in in 1969. There's a circular patch on the front of the floor tom but it can only be seen close up, at certain angles and is near impossible to photograph - it ain't a bubble in the wrap, it doesn't feel different to the touch, it's a bit of a mystery to be honest. For all intents and purposes it is invisible and therefore of no consequence but we've got to give you all of the details, no matter how inconsequential. Yes you could give the metal work a scrub and get these drums gleaming but the overall condition of this kit is brilliant - we can't spot any fade, original hardware, original wrap, factory outfit, very tidy, beautiful and fantastic sounding. What a drum set.
12" Rack Tom – Great condition. There's not really anything we can say about this drum apart from stating what's right with it. As mentioned above, re-cut bearing edges, factory egg-shell interior, white felt Baseball Bat damper, nice clear date stamp, 'NOV 18 1966'. Clear lapping, original wrap, a beautiful drum. Serial #417750.
13" Rack Tom – Great condition. Much the same as the other rack tom. Again, re-cut bearing edges, factory egg-shell interior, white felt Baseball Bat damper, fairly clear date stamp, 'OCT 31 1967'. As we have seen on many kits, it is not uncommon to have drums from factory sets being separated in build date by up to two years. Drums constructed by Ludwig were completed, stamped and then put on the shelf in the factory and then waited to be paired up with other drums to complete an outfit when ordered so the eleven months between this drum and the rest is of no consequence. Clear lapping, original wrap, a beautiful drum. Serial #540911.
Floor Tom – Great condition. As mentioned above, there is an odd patch on the front of this drum but it is invisible from almost every angle. There's a ding in the batter bearing edge and the wrap seam at the batter end looks a little chewed but after that, you've got another tidy drum. The boxes could do with some elbow grease as there is the tiniest bit of tarnish of them but it's nothing that some Peak and '00 gauge' wire wool won't sort out. Original egg-shell interior and wrap, re-cut bearing edges, etc.. Again, the date stamp is nice and clear, 'NOV 23 1966'. Original white felt damper, not so obvious lapping, serial number #418631. Another lovely drum.
Bass Drum – Great condition again. Sturdy hardware. As previously mentioned, the centre mount plate and tom holder are slightly later models and therefore aren't quite original. The spur brackets are for some reason upside down, they're easily swapped around but we like to leave these things as we find them! Bit of wear of the odd t-rod and claw. The hoops appear to have been touched up with a lick of paint. There's been a bit of jiggery-pokery gone on with the ends of the inlay too but this is a detail that again, is so minor, it probably wasn't worth mentioning. After that, again, this drum is in much the same condition as the others. Original dog-leg spurs, claws, etc.. Original egg-shell interior, clear lapping and again an obvious date stamp, 'NOV 25 1966'. Serial number #417526. So all in all, we have another killer drum. Good, original bearing edges – ready to rumble and rumble it does!
Whoever has had this kit over the decades has clearly looked after it. The great condition and lack of fade are a testament to this. There are little black washers, snug underneath the original washers on the lug shell-mounting screws. This to us is indicative of the care and attention this outfit's previous owner has undertaken to preserve these drums. It always makes us happy to see that someone has cared for and respected such a musical instrument. Really, aside from all that waffle, what it comes down to is sound and these drums sound fantastic. THUMP the bass drum, tickle the toms and they'll sing. Bags of classic Ludwig tone is here, waiting for a new owner to treat these drums with the respect that they deserve.
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