A Guide To Vintage Drums: Collecting, Restoring, And Playing Classic Kits

Posted by Mike Schumacher

Vintage drums refers to drum sets that were manufactured before the 2000s. While any drum set can be used to play any genre of music, the styles and sounds of music that are specifically tailored to older drums are less available.

Because so many new songs are being produced and played every day, there is not much use for older songs that require older drum sets. However, there is certainly nostalgia for the older music and sounds, which is why collecting vintage drums is a viable hobby.

Some people collect only one model of vintage drum, while others collect a variety. There is no wrong way to collect vintage drums, though some ways are more valuable than others. Knowing what models are more valuable can make for a fun challenge!

This article will talk about some different types of vintage drums and some tips on how to restore them to usable condition.

Before you start collecting, you should learn about the different drum types

A Guide to Vintage Drums: Collecting, Restoring, and Playing Classic Kits

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The main types of vintage drums are bass, bass drum, rack, and marching drums. Each has its own style and sound. Bass drums can be open or closed, which refers to whether it has a head or not.

Bass drums can also be tubular or quad bass, which refers to the shape. Quad bass bass drums have two sides that are flat with a raised rim around the edge.

Rack kits refer to when the tom-toms are placed in a row on stands. Marching drums are smaller versions of regular drums designed for military band use.

Know the different brands of vintage kits

A Guide to Vintage Drums: Collecting, Restoring, and Playing Classic Kits

Some of the most popular brands of vintage kits include Ludwig, Yamaha, Gretsch, Rogers, and Sonor. Some of these also have some less expensive models that are still great quality.

Ludwig is a very high-end drum brand that has been making kits since the 1900s. They are known for their brass snares and expensive models. Currently, they run a limited edition series that is priced lower than their classic models but still have the iconic look.

Yamaha is a mid-range drum brand that has been making drums for over 100 years. They are known for having great sound quality and durability. Some of their classic models are starting to rise in value due to collectors.

Gretsch is a low-end drum brand that has recently risen in value due to collectors. Their classic models have nice looks but lower sound quality and durability. Collectors love collecting their vintage sets due to their look!

Rogers is a mid-range drum brand that has low sound quality and durability. Currently, some of their classic models are rising in value due to collectors.

Sonor is a low-end drum brand that has low sound quality and durability. Some of their classic models are rising in value due to collectors.

Know the different models of vintage kits

As mentioned before, Ludwig is the most common brand of vintage drum kits. Other common brands include Gretsch, Sonor, Rogers, and Slingerland. Some people also collect other lesser-known brands like Paiste or Meinl.

Some models are more sought-after than others. For example, while some early Sonors are very rare, they are not highly sought-after like some of the newer models.

Because collecting is such a broad category, there is no universal price guide for vintage drums. However, many websites sell listings for different models that indicate their value.

Know the different finishes of vintage kits

A Guide to Vintage Drums: Collecting, Restoring, and Playing Classic Kits

A large part of collecting vintage drums is choosing the finish or color the kit will be. Some models only produced one finish, making it more rare.

Numerous factors influenced the finish of a drum kit. The most obvious is what colors were popular at the time. Other influences include marketing and company promotions, material availability, and personal preference of employees.

Because painting drums is a complicated process, companies typically had a internal painter who specialized in finishing drums. This makes it hard to find kits with different finishes unless they were painted by outside contractors.

There are three main types of finishes for drums: lacquer, primer, and marine coating.

Identifying flaws can help you assess the condition of a kit

A Guide to Vintage Drums: Collecting, Restoring, and Playing Classic Kits

As you play a vintage kit, it will show wear. The drummer and style of music can also add wear to a kit. As a collector or restorer, it is important to identify flaws in the original finish so that you can match them when re-finishing the kit.

Some common flaws include dents, scratches, and thinned finish due to age. All of these can be matched when re-finishing the drums depending on how deep they are.

Dents that go all the way through the shell are the most difficult to match. These require buying a new drum shell which is of similar quality as the original. The finish must also be matched according to color and texture.

Scratches can be easily matched by sanding down the surface of the finished drum until it matches the depth of the scratch.

Understand how to take care of your kit

A Guide to Vintage Drums: Collecting, Restoring, and Playing Classic Kits

Once you have your vintage kit, the fun part begins! Now you can start collecting drums, re-facing them, re-wrapping them, and restoring them to playing condition.

If you are going to collect drums, then you need to know the different shell compositions and which brands use which ones. This will help you identify new drums that you purchase as well as know what your current ones are made of.

Collecting shells is a fun way to add value to your kit as well as learn about the different types of wood. Some wood is more expensive than others due to how hard they are to harvest and process. This adds some worth to your collection!

Re-wrapping and re-facing kits can be done by yourself or by professional companies.

Piston or stick resonator? What type of shell matters?

A Guide to Vintage Drums: Collecting, Restoring, and Playing Classic Kits

When it comes to the shell, you will find two main types of drums: piston and stick. Piston drums have a round body shape with a flat bottom and are called piston drums because the sticks move the pistons inside the drum.

Stick shells are usually taller and thinner, giving the drummer more room to play. Both shells can be wood or plastic depending on the brand and year of make.

Which one is better? It depends! Many collectors find value in both types of shells depending on the brand and what kind of sounds they produce. pistons produce a louder sound than stick shells, so that is a key difference.

Collectors also look for different models based on how many lugs (the metal pieces that connect the heads to the shell) they have which can affect value.

What about hardware?

A Guide to Vintage Drums: Collecting, Restoring, and Playing Classic Kits

Hardware refers to the drums’s stands, lugs, pedals, and cymbal stands. Collecting hardware is a fun way to dive into the vintage drum world.

Many famous and iconic drum sets have specific hardware that is associated with them. For example, the Radio King series has silver-tone spherical lugs and a double bass pedal.

If you are looking to add some classic flair to your new kit, or want to add a piece of history, check out eBay for deals on hardware. You can also try local stores and flea markets for deals on vintage stands and lugs.

Once you have collected some hardware, there are a few ways to clean it up. The easiest way is to use a soft cloth or towel to wipe it down. If there are any scratches or rust, you can use some mild soap and water to scrub it clean.

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