1960S Premier ‘54’ Outfit
This year’s London Drum Show was packed with gear, as visitors to London Olympia were treated to the shiniest and most desirable kits, snares and cymbals on the planet. But as well as the brand new stuff, there were also plenty of vintage delights on display in the Vintage Showcase area.
Supplied from Drumattic’s hire stock and accompanied by Impression cymbals, these five kits were generously left set up and ready to play for punters who may never have experienced the thrill of sitting behind a perfectly-tuned classic drum set. Here’s what was on offer
1960S Premier ‘54’ Outfit
This 20”x 14”, 12”x8” and 16”x15” Premier kit features 3-ply birch shells, complete with reinforcement rings.
It’s finished with a Mahogany Duroplast wrap - the same finish as Ringo Starr’s early-era Beatles kit, and is pictured with a matching Premier Royal Ace and Premier 2000 chromed aluminium-shell snare which Premier introduced to replace the Royal Ace.
1970s Ludwig Stainless Steel with 60s Ludwig Supraphonic 400
As the 70s ushered in new ideas for shell materials (keep reading for more of that), a few companies began to adopt stainless steel too, with Ludwig leading the way.
The Ludwig Stainless Steel is famed for its use by John Bonham during the latter part of his career (although Alan White of Yes and Steve Gadd also had a hand in its popularity) the sound is bright, but with the right heads, it’s also beefy, making it a monstrous kit for cutting rock sounds.
Also pictured is one of the most popular snares of all time: the Ludwig Supraphonic 400. Early models were made of a chrome-over-brass shell, but this chromed Ludalloy (aluminum) shelled snare is 14”x5”, and also gave birth to the more affordable, yet also collectable Ludwig Acrolite.
1970s Ludwig Blue Vistalite ‘Big Beat’
As we mentioned, the 1970s opened the door for experimentation with materials. Acrylic kits have had a resurgence over the last few years with everyone from Natal to Pearl to Tama to DW, and indeed Ludwig themselves producing coloured acrylic tubs.
But it was the Ludwig Vistalite (named after the shell material) that first made plastic fantastic in the early 70s. Bonzo’s was amber, but Vistalites also found fans in the likes of Keith Moon, Billy Cobham, Nick Mason and Karen Carpenter, and by 1976, Ludwig was offering multi-coloured Vistas such as the stunning Tequila Sunrise finish.
The sound is loud and dry, and can be hugely influenced by head choice, but this example (22”x14”, 12”x8”, 13”x9”, 16”x16” and matching 14”x5” snare) in blue is as cool as they come!
Slingerland Ensemble 3-N
Long before Hip Gigs, Jungle Kits or Breakbeats, there was this: the Slingerland Ensemble 3-N Radio King Jam Session.
Marketed as a portable and affordable outfit for drummers on a budget, it included a bass drum and Radio King snare drum, with other drums available to add on if required.
The bass drum is mahogany, while the Radio King snare (as played by Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich) is made of a solid, steam-bent maple shell. Both are finished in the iconic White Marine Pearl.
Rogers XP-8 Londoner Seven
The XP-8 shells were released in 1979, and are thought of among the best shells Rogers ever produced. Rogers continued to produce these kits until the company ceased five years later.
The kit takes its name from the shell construction: eight plies of maple glued together to produce a thick shell with a powerful sound.
The XP-8 series was available in a range of configurations, from the huge double bass drum Studio Ten and Ultra Power Eight, and Tower Of Power’s Dave Garibaldi had his own configuration too.
But this Londoner Seven in Blue Mist is by no means modest! The toms are 8”x7”, 10”x8” 12”x8” 13”x9” and 16”x16”, with a still relatively shallow-sized 22”x14” bass drum. The snare is a Rogers Dynasonic, a classic snare drum known for its floating snare cradle, designed to minimise any choking from tension on the shell.