So let’s talk about some of the rich history that Ludwig Drums has. The company has been around since 1909, which is pretty impressive in of itself. Ludwig was started in Chicago, Illinois by 2 brothers. Ludwig’s initial claim to fame revolved around 3 innovations: their bass drum pedal, their tympani and the Black Beauty snare drum. The Black Beauty was unique as it used a black colored plating instead of the standard silver color. The tympani was designed with a spring mechanism that allowed the player to use his foot to change the tightness of the skin while playing, thus changing its tone. The bass drum pedal went through a number of changes until the 30’s, when it became the Speed King pedal, which is still in production 80 years later. (I used the Speed King for many years and it is a great pedal!)
Ludwig was world renown in the 60’s and 70’s because of the all star roster of rock drummers using their sets. Just a few names: Ringo Starr-The Beatles, Bill Ward-Black Sabbath, John Bonham-Led Zeppelin, Carl Palmer-ELP, Ian Paice-Deep Purple, Mitch Mitchell-Jimi Hendrix, Ginger Baker-Cream, Alex Van Halen-Van Halen, and Charlie Watts-The Rolling Stones. The drums were the best in the world and the best drummers in the world wanted to play them. It was a good time.
Like all good things, this time came to an abrupt end, due mainly to Ludwig Drums being acquired by Selmer in 1981. Selmer was a percussion company known for their marching band instruments. During this time, drums were being made in Japan, by companies such as Pearl and Tama, that were less expensive and better quality. (This was the same issue American car makers were going through at this time.)
Ludwig Drums were almost nowhere to be found for many years. All the top drummers were now using Tama, Pearl and Yamaha. Thankfully, the focus has returned to making great drum sets again, and the world class drummers returned as well. Again, just a few names: Joey Kramer-Aerosmith, Bun E. Carlos-Cheap Trick, Roger Taylor-Queen, Tre Cool-Green Day and Jason Bonham-Foreigner.
Hope you enjoyed my little stroll down Ludwig Lane! Keep Rockin!