Vintage drum gear: George B Stone Deluxe Combination Stage Outfit

12th Jul 2012 | 09:32

Vintage drum gear: George B Stone Deluxe Combination Stage Outfit
George B Stone Deluxe Combination Stage Outfit
Circa 1920

Each month Rhythm Magazine tracks-down and checks-out vintage gear in order to marvel at a bit of drum-making history. Here we have a beautiful early-‘20s kit...

George Burt Stone was born in 1857 and became a well-known military-rudimental drummer in the Boston area of North America. At one time he led his own Stone’s Military band, but from around 1890 he devoted his time to building high quality drums and other musical instruments.

When he died in 1917 his son George Lawrence Stone carried on the company. Stone Jr went on to publish his classic Stick Control For The Snare Drummer book in 1935, still today an essential weapon in every drummer’s library. He taught many great drummers, notably Joe Morello, who extended Stick Control... into his own Master Studies.

Vintage drum gear: George B Stone Deluxe Combination Stage Outfit
George B Stone Deluxe Combination Stage Outfit
Solid rock-maple Master Model snare has 24 nickel-plated tension rods, positioned for minimal stress on the shell.

The kit was referred to in Stone’s catalogue as a ‘Combination’ outfit of a 26x12-inch bass drum and 14x5-inch snare.

Owner Dave Brown did however buy the snare and bass drum separately.

“I got the snare from Vintage Drum Centre in America back in 1996 and the bass drum on eBay about six years later,” he says.

The bass drum was used to lay it down for Happy Flint’s Black Panther Serenaders, no less. The snare is a Stone Master Model, ‘The Ace Of All Orchestra Drums’, with a shell made from solid rock maple with solid maple reinforcing rings and was ‘guaranteed not to split, warp or check’.

Vintage drum gear: George B Stone Deluxe Combination Stage Outfit
George B Stone Deluxe Combination Stage Outfit
Badge states, 'George B Stone and Son Inc., Manufacturing Drummers, Boston, Mass.'

Earlier Stone drums were finished in highly polished natural maple, but these are enamelled in black (white was offered as an alternative), and this ‘De Luxe’ finish was ‘recommended for stage, cabaret and hotel dance orchestras’.

Stone Jr moved the company from 47 to 67 Hanover Street, Boston, in 1922. Dave Brown points out, “Both my drums have the same paper tag inside the shells with the address of 47 Hanover Street, so they certainly can’t have been made later than 1922.”

The bass drum, which Dave says is ‘light as a feather’, has 10 full-length lugs, tensioned from the front end only, simultaneously pulling the batter side up. This was a familiar cost-cutting design early last century.

The calf heads were treated so as to withstand dampness. Inside the bass drum is a light bulb, also to combat cold and damp.

Vintage drum gear: George B Stone Deluxe Combination Stage Outfit
George B Stone Deluxe Combination Stage Outfit
Beautifully engineered throw-off, plus badge stating: 'George B Stone and Son Inc. Master Model.'

The snare has 24 nickel-plated alternating tension rods with direct pull, ‘free from side strain’.

Trouble is, as Dave explains, “It takes an hour to take a head off! You have to use a banjo key and can only do a quarter-turn at a time and then take the key off and do another quarter-turn. I’ve done it once and never again!

“The snare strainer glides on and off beautifully, though the original circular tensioning knob has gone missing. I can’t find any information about the Black Panther Serenaders. I’d love to know if any readers have heard of them.”

Vintage Gear continues each month in Rhythm Magazine.

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