Friday, March 30, 2012

The Ludwig Supraphonic 402

The Ludwig Drum Company holds the distinction of producing perhaps the most recorded snare drum in history--the Ludwig Supraphonic 400. The number of drummers who have used this model in recording sessions is quite staggering. The great Hal Blaine used the drum on 40 top ten hits, 350 top 40 hits, and thousands of other recordings. Charlie Watts (Stones), Mitch Mitchell (Jimi Hendrix), Dino Danelli (Young Rascals) and John Densmore (Doors), to name but a few, all played the model for extensive periods during their careers.

The pictured beauty doesn't have quite the same pedigree, but she is no slouch by any stretch of the imagination. The Ludwig 402 is really a 400 on steroids. She's bigger at 6 1/2 x 14, but no less responsive. She has the famous self aligning Imperial lugs and P-83 snare strainer. The drum originally came with Ludwig's own batter head and extra thin snare head. And the drum was initially made of brass.

This particular model is from the late 70's, perhaps early 80's. By this time, Ludwig had stopped using brass shells and used whatever metal they could get their hands on. Interestingly enough, Ludwig returned to brass shells in the mid 90s, but that's another story. The competition, in this case Rogers and Slingerland, continued to use brass shells throughout this time period.

The popularity of the 402 rests on the shoulders of one John Bonham who used the model extensively with Led Zeppelin. It was a match made in heaven. The list of recordings he made with Zeppelin are now a part of Rock history. I have no doubt that somewhere in the world, at this very moment, a classic rock radio station is spinning a Led Zeppelin tune with John powering through with his 402.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Rogers Brass Dynasonic Snare Drum

Every Drum Company in the 1960's sold a flagship snare drum. This drum was intended to be the finest snare drum the company could offer. It was usually the most expensive drum in the catalog and the company did its best to draw attention to it.

This didn't necessarily mean it was the most popular snare drum. And, despite a company's best efforts, it didn't mean that it was the best sounding snare drum, either. Ludwig, for example, offered the Ludwig Super Sensitive as its flagship, but many drummers prefer the standard Supraphonic 400 for its sound and ease of tuning. It also was virtually indestructible and many of these drums survive and are in use today.

The Rogers Drum Company offered the Dynasonic as its flagship snare drum. The drum came in two sizes, 5 x 14 and 6 1/2 x 14 . The Dyna was designed in the early 60's when Buddy Rich was Rogers' main endorser. Both a wood shell and a brass shell were available. It was sold as a standard snare on both the Buddy Rich Celebrity model and the Louie Bellson double bass model.

Over the years, the wood Dyna has increased in value by leaps and bounds. The more numerous brass model has not. In both wood and metal shell versions, the 6 1/2 x 14 model is more rare than the 5 x 14 model. Which brings us to the brass beauty you see pictured here.

This Dyna is from the later 60's, perhaps early 70's. Earlier models had 7 etched lines on the shell. Later models had 5, as can be seen on this cutie pie. All Dyna shells had the unique two beads around the top and bottom of the drum. This was done to increase the rigidity of the shell. Ludwig, on the contrary, had one bead around the middle of its shells. And Slingerland had no beads, claiming they were sound distorting.

Beads or not, this is a fabulous sounding snare drum. Loud, but sensitive, and very versatile, this drum can fill the bill in almost any musical setting. Although the 6 1/2 x 14 model is not something you run into everyday, the 5 x 14 model is not that rare and prices are very reasonable. This drum is one of the great examples of the golden age of American Drum Manufacturers.