Vintage drum gear: Meazzi Hollywood kit

26th Jun 2014 | 08:27

Vintage drum gear: Meazzi Hollywood kit
Meazzi Hollywood Kit
Black Pearl, 67/68

With the Italian flair for design and style, combined with bold engineering, Caldironi & Meazzi of Milan, Italy, produced some unusual and inventive drums from the 1960s on.

Italian jobs: Meazzi, Hollywood, Wooding, Hi-Percussion – all these names adorned kits manufactured by Caldironi and Meazzi of Milan, Italy

Confusion can arise from the fact that the same company made drums with the various names Meazzi, Hollywood, Wooding and Hi-Percussion. They all stemmed from the audacious designs of bass player Franco Caldironi and his team.

Our exhibit is yet another from the burgeoning collection of Dave Prince, who says, “It’s a 1967/68 Meazzi Hollywood President in Black Pearl (Perla Nera) with 22"x14" bass drum, 13"x9" and 16"x16" toms.”

Vintage drum gear: Meazzi Hollywood kit
Meazzi Hollywood Kit
14"x5" snare

As for the 14"x5" snare, this is an earlier model with an intriguing past.

“The metal snare drum appears in the 1962 catalogue as an Oscar and was purportedly once owned by Charlie Watts, although unfortunately I can’t verify that,” rues Dave.

Vintage drum gear: Meazzi Hollywood kit
Meazzi Hollywood Kit
Meazzi tension rods

For a while in the late 1960s Meazzi drums were played by some big names in American jazz, including Max Roach and Jack DeJohnette.

Players: in the 1960s Meazzi Hollywood drums were played by Max Roach, Billy Cobham, Art Blakey, Connie Kay (MJQ) and John Marshall (Nucleus, Soft Machine)

The drums have typically European beech ply shells, supported by some unusual hardware. In particular, the lugs have a flip-off design, briefly used by Premier in the 1930s, and more recently pursued by Ayotte and Yamaha.

The metal drum hoops are described as ‘bossless’, ie: they do not have eye holes for the tension rods, but rather the rods pass through clips (like bass drum claws) and screw into a rotating bar inside the lug.

Vintage drum gear: Meazzi Hollywood kit
Meazzi Hollywood Kit
Quick head changes

To remove the head you just loosen the rod a little until the clip slips off the ridged drum hoop and the rod hinges away from the shell.

This allows the head and metal hoop to be lifted free while the tension rod remains attached to the lug. The idea is to facilitate quick head changes, although the principle has never really caught on big time in any of its guises.

Vintage drum gear: Meazzi Hollywood kit
Meazzi Hollywood Kit
Floor tom leg

Also notable are the floor tom legs. These have outriggers which are a side-product of the Hollywood MultiSound tuneable floor tom design.

Max’s kit: Max Roach’s Hollywood drums had an ingenious rack system with the bass drum and toms supported by a wheeled trolley

This had a foot pedal attached to the widespread legs allowing the pitch of the tom to be adjusted while playing, like a timpani drum.

Dave concludes, “It’s a real stunner of a kit and with the President being the rare top of the Meazzi range someone offered me £1,500 for it at the National Drum Fair last year.

"l have always wanted to own a Meazzi Hollywood kit and finally grabbed this one in 2011, when by chance I was searching through 1960s Hollywood pictures on the web and I spotted this kit.

"I immediately contacted the seller and later that afternoon I was driving home with a real taste of Hollywood in the back of the car. Of all my drum kits this is my wife Susie’s favourite as she loves all the glamour of Hollywood!”

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