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The history of the usage of drums as instruments

Boston-based drum maker Harry Bower had developed a throw-off system around the same time that Stromberg patented his.

While World War I slowed production for companies like Ludwig, the conflict had little effect on the innovations that were being made. The single-flanged metal hoop made its appearance around the end of the war and was followed a few years later by the double-flanged hoop.

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While the Slingerland Drum Company is widely believed to have become the first to use the Black Beauty name, when it first introduced its engraved, black-nickel-over brass drum in 1928, a George B.

Drum makers had started using brass after the Civil War, during which brass shells had been imported from Europe. Larger ensembles, led by the likes of Duke Ellington and his orchestra, became popular and the snare drum continued to evolve.

In 1923, George Way, working for Leedy, developed a swivel-nut lug design, which made tensioning easier. The following year, Ludwig patented its parallel-action strainer system, which made changing the snares themselves a simple task. In 1928, Ludwig produced the Super-Ludwig, a drum with a second set of snares inside the drum, beneath the batter head.

The drum was renamed the Super-Sensitive Fig.

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It was reintroduced to the marketplace in 1962. Conn purchased Leedy in 1927 and bought Ludwig two years later. The latter reemerged in 1937 as the William F. Ludwig Drum Company, which, under legal pressure from C. In 1955, Slingerland, the former banjo- and ukulele-maker that had gotten into the drum business 30 years earlier to compete with Ludwig, purchased the Leedy name and parts from C. If the 1920s represented the history of the usage of drums as instruments first golden age of drum-building — marked particularly by the Black Beauty drums that had been produced beginning in the late teens — the next few decades saw great changes in musical styles, which, in turn, dictated which types of snare drums the players of the day used.

In 1931, Ludwig started using the name Black Beauty in association with its line of engraved, black- nickel-plated brass snare drums, which it would continue to produce until 1940. Whereas early metal hoops were typically chrome-over-brass designs, drum companies eventually switched to chrome-over-steel rims. Shortly after the United States got involved in World War II, manufacturing restrictions limited the amount of metal companies could use in construction. Naturally, that meant a turn toward wooden drum shells.

Still, even as war broke out in Europe, new trends unfolded in the United States. In 1939, New York-based percussionist William Gladstone patented a unique, three-way tensioning system by which each head could be tuned individually from the top of the drum, and both could be tuned simultaneously. Bearing edges have, generally speaking, gotten sharper over time.

History of the Snare Drum: Eight Centuries of Innovation & Ingenuity

Speaking to that trend, Jim Ellis of the Cooperman Company — an industry leader in fife and rope-drum building — says his customers, beginning in the 1990s, started requesting sharper edges than the more rounded ones that were common to rope-tension drums. Jim Irwin, of 3M, secured a patent in 1955 for a Mylar head.

Previously, of course, drumheads were made from animal skin. In 1959, Ludwig had introduced the Supraphonic Fig. Initially a chrome-over-brass drum, the company started making it with Ludalloy chrome over aluminum in 1962, the same year that Rogers introduced its Dyna-Sonic model Fig.

The Dyna-Sonic featured a system that kept the snare strainer itself from choking the bottom head. Previous to being cut by machine on wooden drums, snare beds were simply hand-carved arches.

Before shells were modified in that way, a head and hoop held snares in place. Aldridge says the advent of the Acousti-Perfect design marks the most significant innovation in snare bed design.

Generally speaking, the introduction of plastic heads in the late 1950s marked a point at which snare beds became shallower and featured longer tapers than they had previously. The most significant moment of the 1960s in terms of drum-related trends took place on February 9, 1964, the night The Beatles performed on The Ed Sullivan Show. Orders for Ludwig kits multiplied exponentially overnight, Donn Bennett, whose drum shop in Bellevue, Washington, deals primarily with celebrity instruments, says.

Today, the eight-lug Ludwig Jazz Festival snare drum in an oyster-black finish is a sought-after drum among collectors, thanks almost exclusively to Starr. It was a good period for drum manufacturers; there were many of them, and they all benefitted from a relatively healthy economy. If the 1960s represented a second golden age of American drum making, the 1970s saw manufacturers catering to both brand new and broadly familiar aesthetics.

Perhaps a telling hint that sound still took precedence over appearance was the fact that many drummers who played acrylic kits tended to use more traditional snare drums. Bonham, most famously, stuck with his trusted Ludwig Supraphonic snare drum instead of using an acrylic one with his Vistalite kit. What was old was new again, and continues to be so.

Cable snares became popular in the 1970s, particularly among orchestral players, who, in the 1990s, embraced the triple-strainer systems produced by such big companies as Pearl and boutique manufacturers like Black Swamp Percussion.

These mechanisms allowed players to quickly switch from gut to wire to cable snares. Unlike gut, cable is not affected by temperature or humidity. While snares were originally made from gut Fig. The appearance of the James Snappi Wires Fig.

Previously, each snare strand had to be individually affixed to a drum. And thanks to the availability of the Internet, collectors of authentic vintage instruments can search the world for specific makes and models. Maxwell also says the vintage drum market has always lagged behind the vintage guitar market. Nineteen-twenties-era drums, including various Black Beauty models, are always in high demand, as are the brass Ludwig Supraphonic and Super-Sensitive drums that were made in the 1960s, before the company started using Ludalloy.

An orchestral drum that has become quite collectable is the Hinger Space- Tone Fig. Maxwell says, for example, that only eight or nine Ludwig Triumphal drums are known to exist Fig. Technology has helped manufacturers refine different parts of the drum, history has provided a vast library of sounds to replicate, and musical styles have largely dictated design trends. Today, drum makers from the major companies to custom builders are finding new ways to capture the sounds and aesthetics drummers are looking for.

Vinson believes we are now experiencing yet another golden age of drum production.