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Every so often we get in something real special. This is one of those sets. And yes, your eyes are not deceiving you, this is a set with two kicks and two snares! As with most kits we get, there’s a story attached to this but this story is one of our favourites. These drums are so tidy because, since the day of purchase, they have been in a prominent studio in Canada. The studio was in fact owned by Canadian Music Hall of Fame country band, The Mercey Brother’s between 1973 and 1980. But, it’s better than that: the gentleman who purchased these for his studio originally called Ludwig and ordered a Super Classic kit (the 13/16/22) and a Super Classic snare drum (14” x 5.5”, also known as a ‘Buddy Rich Model’), drove down from Canada to the factory on North Damen Avenue in Chicago to collect the drum kit himself. When he got there, it was none other than William Fredrick Ludwig the 1st who served him and got his shells together. Now, those who know a little about the Ludwig family, know that Bill Ludwig the 2nd, aka ‘The Chief’, was a proper shark! While his father was sorting out the Super Classic, he managed to sell this kit’s previous owner an additional 20” x 14” kick drum and another snare! Yes that’s a matching 14” x 6.5” Symphonic (previously known as a ‘Ray McKinley Model’ and also ‘New Classic’) snare drum too! After having his pants pulled down, the gentleman in question drove his new drums back to his recording studio and there they have resided up until they were shipped to us. How cool is that!?
It doesn’t end there of course. This pretty much a museum piece. Original ‘Sparkling Blue Pearl’ finish. It has been very well looked after. It has the top-shelf WFL-period build quality but accompanied by those rare, ‘Transitional Badges’. The date stamps too! Damn, the 17th of February 1959 must have been a special day to produce drums of this quality. This outfit really does steal attention away from everything else we have had in recent memory. This is probably the tidiest vintage kit we’ve ever had and we haven’t even put a duster on it! Apart from the rarity, excellent condition and brilliant story, there’s the sound of these things. WFL shells have that Ludwig sound but is often the best example of that ‘Ludwig sound’. The pristine, rounded bearing edges, the raw mahogany inner plies, CoB or NoB hardware, all coalesces to produce the warmest, open, boom you could ever hope for. The kick drums both produce serious bottom-end while remaining punchy. The toms tune lower than you’d expect for a kit of this age and can be really thuddy but equally tune up high and sing – just like they’re supposed to. Then there’s the snare drums. Normally you’d expect the shallower to be the more versatile drum in terms of tuning range but out of these two, the Super Classic snare drum is much dryer and has that great ‘PFFT!’ and thwack that is familiar from so many backbeats through the decades. The Symphonic however is livelier. It retains a low, throaty fundamental but has more bite and will sit wherever you want it to but really comes into its own when you tighten everything up; wires, heads and damper. It’s easy to understand why a busy studio of high station would have these drums at the heart of their sound for such a long time.
This is a mega find. Collector? Yup. Player? Yes. Studio? Of course. Kit that you buy, keep safe, never take out and brag about it, even to people that don’t play drums? Oh god yes! This is not perfect but it’s as close as we have seen. It’s a rare badge with a great story behind it, great sizes, brilliant condition, as good as Ludwig build quality can be and it sounds bloody brilliant. Is this the kit you’ve been waiting for?
Rack Tom – Very good condition. You can tell it’s not brand new but the shell is as close as it’ll come for a drum made in the ‘50s. Slight signs of wear on the spade mounting plate. Some signs of wear on the hoops. Small knob damper, original, intact and full working order. Bearing edges beautifully smooth and round. Clear shell lapping. This drum weighs far more than you’d think and that speaks to the high-quality, WFL-build heavy duty Chrome over Brass hoops and fittings. Natural mahogany interior with a clear date stamp, ‘FEB 17 1959’.
Floor Tom – Very good again. Hardware all original, solid, good condition. Old school WFL leg boxes that were so simple that they’re always met with distrust but always work brilliantly. Shell, brilliant condition. Bearing edges lovely. Clear lapping, natural interiors and another clear date stamp, ‘FEB 17 1959’.
22” Kick – Maybe the tidiest drum out them all! Very good condition. Apart from some typical wear on the batter and reso hoops, we’d be tempted to say this one has barely been hit! Unusually, the hoops on this drum have been painted a dark blue. When we first got this kit, we thought that it may have been painted post-production but it doesn’t appear to have another colour underneath the blue. Upon remembering WFL kits that we’ve had in the past, Ludwig did paint hoops whatever colour the customer wanted or sometimes to match a shell lacquer finish. This drum was part of the original order before B2 up-sold the customer the additional kick drum so this is most likely a factory finish. The odd bump and scuff on the hoops as one would expect. Some tarnish on the hardware but again, it’s all original and all solid. There is zero fade on this drum as far as we can see. Once again, amazingly clean bearing edges, raw mahogany interior, clear lapping and a nice obvious date stamp ‘MAR 5 1959’.
20” Kick – Great condition. This appears to be the bass drum that the studio favoured as you can see when you whip the heads off, there is the obligatory fade line. Slight signs of wear, as in, you can tell it’s not brand spanking new but nothing specific. The odd bump and scuff on the hoops as one would expect. The Walberg and Auge consolette rail is original but the arm that the l-arm would slot into has been replaced at some point for a late ‘60s model – clean and solid. There is no l-arm or extra spade mount included. Interestingly, this kick doesn’t have dog-leg spurs like the 22, it has two sets of straight legs, all factory. This tells us a little more about the possible reason B2 had a spare bass drum – it was likely a special order for another customer that fell through. Double straight spurs were available as a special order feature that appears now and again on ‘60s kits. There’s also the old WFL bracket for a cymbal arm on the drum, different from a leg box as they were on later drums. There is however no cymbal arm included. Again, fantastic, clean bearing edges, raw mahogany interior, clear lapping and a nice obvious date stamp ‘FEB 17 1959’.
Super Classic snare – Very good condition. All original, no real signs of wear, ‘Classic thro’ lovely and smooth. Being ‘Trans Badge’ the hardware on the drum is actually branded WFL, as they were during this transitional period – to us, it makes it even cooler! Slick, clean bearing edges, raw mahogany interior, clear lapping, deep, narrow snare beds and a clear date stamp ‘FEB 17 1959’, AGAIN! Original plastic ended wires still intact too!
Symphonic snare – Brilliant, same as the Super Classic snare drum. Bit of tarnish on parts of the hardware. Smooth mechanism, small knob damper, etc. Clean and bearing edges, raw mahogany interior, clear lapping, deep, narrow snare beds and a slightly smudged date stamp that you can just about make out as being ‘MAR 5 1959’.
Our photographs represent the condition as clearly as we could get them to and any issues mentioned can be seen in our images.
***There are no other drums or hardware included with this lot, only what is listed above.***
Looks beautiful but sounds even better! Buy a piece of history while you can.
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