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Vintage Ludwig Bass Drum

When I first started at the Pensacola Bay Concert Band, they were using this old bass drum.

I came to learn that this was a hand-me-down drum from one of the local middle schools. Some time around October 2016, the band purchased a used 36×22″ Majestic bass drum. Shortly after, I mentioned we were running out of space in our storage area at the church, and I offered to temporarily store the old bass drum for them until they figured something out, so I did.
Then, after quite a while, I mentioned I still had this bass drum in storage, so they said they would give it back to the middle school they got it from. I brought it back to the church. I then noticed the drum wasting our scarce storage space once again, so I asked about it. They told me the middle school didn’t want it back, and so they asked me to get rid of it. Well, I had The Addams Family musical coming up, and it called for a concert bass drum. I figured I would just use this one.

So I used the drum in the show. It did the job, but it didn’t really sound as good as it should have. Not long ago, I decided to give it some love. Maybe I’ll use it again somewhere else someday.

So, with a little bit of research, I came to learn that this is a 16×32″ Ludwig “White Marine Pearl” concert bass drum, which were made in the 1960’s and early 1970’s. The lack a serial number suggests this drum was made sometime before 1964. It has a mahogany shell, and the interior of the shell is natural, not white (1961-1967), so this drum was most likely created in 1960. One of the hoops is original, but the other is a black replacement. One side had an unlabeled cheap white head, and the other side was a Remo Weather King bass drum head that had seen better days. The head was labeled “Playground Music Center”, apparently a reference to a music store out in Ft. Walton Beach.

I thought to put an Evans Strata head in place of the old Remo head and use that as a “batter head” and leave the white head as is for a side head. It is a crappy head but it is in good condition. I found a brand new, in-box Remo Fiberskyn F1 Head on eBay, so I bid the minimum and won (ha!). Sorry Evans, opportunity called.

I bent some of the tension rods and claws to be more-straight… I thought to replace some of these, but doing so wouldn’t be simple to find replacement parts. I decided to just to the best I could. I put some WD-40 in each side of the lugs, and because I am a weirdo, I gave the drum shell several good wipe downs, inside and outside of the drum. I filled up my trash can with the decades of dirt and gunk this thing had collected.

I also used some metal polish and gave all the tension rods, lugs, and claws a nice, reasonable shine, because I’m an obsessive weirdo. I then checked if the white headed was balanced, and of course it was not, so I cleared the head with my DrumDial, setting it all to about 78 give or take. I then added the new Fiberskyn head to what I’m calling the batter side and set it to about 82 give or take. The sound is much improved. However, the is a slight rattle if I strike the head too loudly. I don’t think this would be noticeable to anyone put the player. I believe either one of the washers on the t-rods is vibrating or the lug is not tight enough on the shell. I might investigate this further, but tightening the lug to the shell would require removing a drum head…

I also need to remove rust and repaint the stand that it came with. I will use the same Rust-Oleum paint I used on the Chimes stand and the Brake Drums as before. Might as well keep the color consistent.

I highly recommend you use headphones with the video below to head what it sounds like. Apologies up front, it isn’t so easy to hold a phone and play a drum at the same time.

Sounds pretty good for a free 32 inch bass drum!


Update for January 17, 2018. I wanted to show what the old head looked like, which has already gone through trash pick up.

I particularly like how there are six pink arrows letting me know specifically where to aim… you know… in case I forget.

Anyway, the drum sounds much better now, and the only thing left to do was make the stand look a little nicer.

So, I shaved off some rust and painted it with the same paint I used on the chimes stand.

The stand appears to be a Ludwig LFP302BKS, but much of the powder coat had worn off and rusted underneath. I’m not sure how old it is, as today’s models use a metal bar rather than a chain to adjust the stand height.

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