'The Chief' refers to Bill Ludwig II, son of the Ludwig company founder, and the drum is a special limited edition made to honour the great man's considerable achievements.
The 14"x6½" shell, supplied by specialist drum-maker Ron Dunnett, is fitted with a specially minted gold keystone badge. It has 10 Imperial double-ended lugs and the familiar concave centre bead, so it looks just like a 402, although fitted with a quality Dunnett strainer. The shell is an extremely thin 0.035" of titanium, weighing in at 800g, the thinnest and lightest metal shell around.
The chrome plated throw-off lever of the Dunnett strainer rather cleverly operates through a horizontal 180º plane, so that you can either flick it away from the shell, or flick it to your left or right as is most convenient. The butt is a solid plate that stands 1.5cm proud of the shellholding the snares away.
In all this is one classy strainer, and we wish we could say the same about the actual snare wires. They're just a normal Ludwig 20-strand job with a thin (5/8") plastic strap, the sort of workaday attachment you see on a budget snare drum.
Light and dry
There's a certain thrill knowing you're playing a titanium drum. However, it's a specialist sound and, not everyone will take to it. The problem stems from that extremely thin shell. A thin sheet of metal does not resonate/ring like a thick piece of metal (picture the difference between tapping a sheet of tin foil and clanging a heavy bell).
So The Chief has a seriously dark sound with limited resonance and sustain. If that's what you're after, it's perfect, but it doesn't have the meat of a 402. It's significant that Dunnett's own titanium snares have fewer (eight) and lighter lugs, which constrict the featherweight titanium rather less.
To be fair, there are plus points. Engineers might approve of the L2006, because it sounds as though someone's already stuck a piece of Moongel on it. However, when it comes to the mix, there could be insufficient ambience, due to there being few overtones to give it character. Then again, there's an agreeably terse, high-pitched ring when you get near the edges or if you play rim shots, and cross-sticks are clean and satisfying.
The drum might work well in softer orchestral settings. It also has that board-like character of a marching drum if you tune it up really high - an almost table-top quality which demands accurate rudimentary sticking. We suspect Mr Ludwig, a trained percussionist, would be in favour of this.
Packed with pride
The normal vent hole is replaced by Dunnett's screw-in, adjustable Hypervent. When fully open this does let the drum breath a little, but fully closed it makes the sound dumpy.
More puzzlingly, there is an internal damper. This is presumably a nod towards history, but we can't think why anyone would want one today. Mind you, Ian Paice has one on his Pearl signature metal drum, so maybe we're missing something. In any case, the vintage screw-up felt damper is not exactly high-tech. Loosen it from the head and it starts to rattle.
The drum comes in a handsome, fur-lined presentation case with brass corners and carrying handle. The shell is polished to a lustre and Ludwig recommends you maintain this
with a jewellers' cloth. Finally, there's a guarantee certificate and a numbered card saying who 'packed the drum with pride' at the plant in Monroe, North Carolina.
Dunnett's own titanium shell snares are highly rated, but their thin shells aren't weighed down by 10 heavy Ludwig lugs and an internal damper, and neither do they have centre beads. For specialist applications the L2006 may work a treat, but for all-round use you might prefer Ludwig's everyday, vastly cheaper models.