Vintage Drum Gear: Slingerland Sea Green Pearl kit and '30s snares

25th Sep 2012 | 14:25

Vintage Drum Gear: Slingerland Sea Green Pearl kit and '30s snares
Slingerland Sea Green Pearl kit
Circa 1930s

Each month Rhythm Magazine tracks-down and checks-out vintage gear in order to marvel at a bit of drum-making history.

This kit from Wigan drummer Dave Brown’s collection is a Slingerland set from the late-’20s or early ’30s. It consists of a 28x14-inch bass drum and 13x9-inch tom, finished in Sea Green Pearl Pyralin wrap, coupled with a Black Beauty snare.

Sea Green made its appearance in Slingerland’s very first 1928 catalogue and was seen as late as the 1936 catalogue, so the kit dates from within this period.

The bass drum has 12 single-tension tube lugs. Dave says, “I have two Slingerland Sea Green sets [the other was featured in Rhythm way back in October, 2003]. This bass drum is single-tension, the other is double-tension.

“All the hardware on the bass drum - the centre studs, claws, rods and washers - is nickel-plated except for the ‘T’ handles which are brass. The tom is 13x9-inch with a tacked-on bottom head and has six nickel-plated tension rods which screw into very small button lugs, the same as the centre studs on the bass drum.”

Dave has mounted the tom on a tripod cradle, the forerunner of floor tom legs. The original traps tray has a matching Sea Green Pearl border and the five red temple blocks have original Slingerland fittings.

Vintage Drum Gear: Slingerland Sea Green Pearl kit and '30s snares
Slingerland Sea Green Pearl kit
Black Beauty Artist model snare has 'Three Point' strainer with elongated lever for flicking off the snares with your stick.

Teamed with the kit is a superbly restored 14x61⁄2-inch Slingerland Artist model snare drum in engraved Black Beauty finish.

Although Black Beauty is a term commonly associated with Ludwig snares, it was in fact first popularised by Slingerland.

Dave says, “This was Slingerland’s top-of-the-line drum from 1928 through till 1934. It was featured in the 1928, 1930 and 1934 catalogues but is missing from the next one in 1936.

“The one-piece nickel-over-brass shell has 10 tube lugs and is fitted with the famous #967 ‘Speedy Sure Hold’ strainer, or as it is more commonly known these days, the ‘Three-Point’ strainer.

The Artist was available in 14x4-inch, 14x5-inch and 14x61⁄2-inch sizes with either nickel or Art Gold hardware. My size drum was $32.50, and for another $10 you could have Art Gold.

“The drum came to me via a guy in the south of England who had heard I was interested in old drums. I asked for pictures and bought the drum on seeing them.

“As most of the original plating on the shell had worn off I sent it to Adrian Kirchler in Italy to be ‘re-blackened’. The hoops were correct but the strainer with its extension lever and the knob that holds the lever on were missing.

“Adrian did a fantastic job, as the drum was in a pretty rough state and could not have been left as it was. Having the shell re-blackened does however affect its value, but since there are only four of them in existence, in my opinion it was well worth restoring.”

Vintage Drum Gear: Slingerland Sea Green Pearl kit and '30s snares
Slingerland Defiance Snare
Circa 1930s

These next two extremely rare Slingerland snare drums also come from Dave Brown’s collection. The first is an eight tube-lug Defiance model in Opal - or Peacock - Pearl.

It’s 14x5-inch and was made between 1930 and 1936. Dave Brown says, “The finish is super rare and only two examples are known to survive to this day. The other is in a world famous collection owned by my good friend Mike Curotto from San Carlos, USA.”

In fact Dave bought the drum from Mike and if it looks familiar it’s because Rhythm used it in Drum Oddities (March 2012) where we used it to illustrate single-flanged stick-chopper hoops.

Vintage Drum Gear: Slingerland Sea Green Pearl kit and '30s snares
Slingerland Defiance Snare
Defiance model snare has eight tube lugs, single-flanged hoops and three-point mount snare strainer.

Unusually the hoops contribute towards making this a particularly rare exhibit.

As Dave explains, “What is different about this drum is that it’s the only model which was offered with two hoop choices at two separate prices. The hoops on this drum are the ‘L’ shaped ones, with all hardware in nickel, exactly as per the 1930 catalogue when the price was $38.50 (or $46 in Art Gold).

But you could also have the same model ‘with extended counter hoops covering the flesh hoops, adding strength as well as appearance to the drum’.”

Vintage Drum Gear: Slingerland Sea Green Pearl kit and '30s snares
Slingerland DuAll Radio Snare
Circa 1930s

Dave’s second, Sparkling Gold, drum is from the same period. “Slingerland’s top-of-the-line snare, produced between 1934 and 1936, was the DuAll Radio model, or DuAll as it’s more commonly known today,” reveals Dave.

It’s a 14x5-inch model again and has a couple of remarkable features. The Slingerland company started out in 1923 making banjos, which were all the rage in the early part of the last century.

It was not until the 1928 catalogue that Slingerland turned its attention to drums. In doing so Slingerland adapted what it called the ‘Tone Flange’ from its banjo building know-how. This was a circular brass or aluminium collar, usually perforated with holes, which lay over the upper bearing edge.

As Dave explains, it “sat on a brass ring which in turn sat on levelling screws that were screwed directly into the bearing edge”.

Slingerland claimed: “The Tone Flange eliminates the ring and overtones which drummers have worried about for years. It rejuvenates and clarifies the tone and staccato notes ‘pop’ out like the crack of a machine gun.”

Vintage Drum Gear: Slingerland Sea Green Pearl kit and '30s snares
Slingerland DuAll Radio Snare
The DuAll's complicated internal parallel action was the subject of an ill-fated patent dispute with Ludwig in 1934.

The second notable feature is the superbly elaborate parallel snare mechanism.

Dave Brown again: “The DuAll’s uniqueness came from its snare mechanism, a parallel action allowing both ends of the snare to be lifted or lowered at the same time. This invention didn’t go down well with Ludwig & Ludwig as it infringed the patent on their ‘Super’ strainer.

“Ludwig took Slingerland to court, Slingerland lost the case and had to stop production of the DuAll drums. This is why not many have survived today and these drums are some of the rarest models Slingerland ever produced. For that reason alone, one would grace any Slingerland collection.”

Vintage Gear continues each month in Rhythm Magazine.

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