Bought a Ludwig Acrolite Today

yammyfan

Senior Member
I gave in and picked up a classic today. Not classic in years, mind you, but in terms of design and reputation :)

I have several steel snares, a maple, and a birch snare. I've wanted an aluminum snare for a long time. I like the brightness of steel snares but I always seem to dampen them to cut overtones. It's my understanding that aluminum snares are drier sounding than steel snares so this seemed like a logical choice.

Now, some of you will cringe at this but I bought brand-new. New old stock, to be precise. That's what I mean by "gave in".

For some reason, used Acrolites rarely come up for sale in my neck of the woods. One finally did a couple of days ago but it was 40 years old and the seller wanted $400 for it. For that kind of money, I prefer new, honestly. The auction site lists plenty of them but cost is about the same once I factor exchange rates, duties and shipping into the equation.

Anyway, my local drum shop scored a few NOS Acrolites today and put them up for $349 Canadian which is about $260 USD. Not super cheap but not outrageous either. They say that something is worth what the buyer is willing to pay and $349 for a slam-dunk snare drum seems reasonable to me. I know that you guys who picked up $25 Acrolites are wincing right now but the drum gods have been VERY kind to me in other ways.

So, I've got my sure-thing snare at last. I paid a premium to obtain one that has never been knocked over, dented or abused but I think it was worth it. I like to support my local brick and mortar drum shop too, so that was a factor.

You've all seen dozens of photos of these things, but here's a photo of my baby for posterity 😁

87008
 
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yammyfan

Senior Member
Thanks, all :) I notice that the reissue "Classic" model doesn't include the internal muffler so I'm pleased that this one does. I'll need it to dial in the sound I'm looking for.

Any opinions on the factory drum heads? Conventional wisdom says to replace them right away but I gather that Ludwig heads aren't bad to begin with. Just play them till they're worn out and replace then?

And how about the P85 strainer? Guess I should just use it and find out how it performs. I would rather not replace it if I don't have to but if it's dodgy in the least I'll upgrade to a P88. Hopefully the P88 and butt plate bolt on without having to drill the shell. Supraphonic owners report that the butt plate doesn't fit their drums without modification.
 
I like the acrolite. To me, it is what it is: a good middle of the road, all purpose drum. I think you got what you paid for in a good way. Factory heads? I say use them if you like how it sounds. Otherwise put your favorite combo on there. I don't think you'll have issues with the strainer, just take care of it.
 

yammyfan

Senior Member
I like the acrolite. To me, it is what it is: a good middle of the road, all purpose drum. I think you got what you paid for in a good way. Factory heads? I say use them if you like how it sounds. Otherwise put your favorite combo on there. I don't think you'll have issues with the strainer, just take care of it.
Cool. The strainer is brand-new so I expect it to perform properly for a good long time.

Thanks!
 

Drifter in the Dark

Silver Member
And how about the P85 strainer? Guess I should just use it and find out how it performs. I would rather not replace it if I don't have to but if it's dodgy in the least I'll upgrade to a P88. Hopefully the P88 and butt plate bolt on without having to drill the shell. Supraphonic owners report that the butt plate doesn't fit their drums without modification.
Since your drum looks like it's pretty new, I wouldn't worry about the strainer just yet. But...the thing about P-85's is that they tend to become a little "dodgy" as they wear out over time. Eventually it'll be difficult to engage the snares from the "off" position, and you'll have to give the bottom part a little nudge upwards whilst engaging the lever with your other hand. Aside from that, I've noticed that the tension knob on the P-85 tends to work itself loose rather easily. I'd highly recommend the P-86 "Millennium" model- it has a heavier, more durable construction than the 85, and the snare tension holds better too. I put one on my Supra-Phonic 3 years ago and it's been wonderful! It'll set you back about $60 USD but it's worth every penny.
 
Anyway, my local drum shop scored a few NOS Acrolites today and put them up for $349 Canadian which is about $260 USD.
Am curious about what local drum shop that is, seeing as you're in Canada? (It's a big country, but maybe I'm driving distance from that one!)

FWIW, Long & McQuade is discounting the Tama SLP Dry Aluminum right now, same price at 349$.

Having owned both an original '68 Acrolite and the Tama, the latter has a much better throw-off and the OEM snare wires are just superb IMHO compared to what ships on new Ludwig snares, it also seems to handle lower tunings better (don't know if it's due to the slightly deeper shell). That said, the Acro has a distinct personality and will always keep its value if you keep it in good shape. My '68 sold for less than 300$ due to being "player" grade (all scratched up, original throw off and mufflers long gone, etc), and for that price I don't think there is a better snare on the market. 349$ for a brand new US made Acro ain't bad.
 

trickg

Silver Member
When I first got into drumming back in 2003, the phenomena of the internet forum was still kind of a new thing, and I remember when folks started referring to the Acrolite as the "poor man's Supraphonic." Back in the 60s, 70s and 80s, at least here in the US, the Acrolite was the snare drum included in virtually every Ludwig beginning percussionist kit. As a result, they were cheap and easy to find for a time - you'd see them in thrift shops, yard sales, and that sort of thing - cast-offs from a child who played drums for a year or two in the school band.

That's the thing with the internet though - once people realized that the shell was virtually the same seamless spun aluminum shell as the Supraphonic, they became sought after by drummers looking to put a great sounding, solid quality, but inexpensive snare on their kit.

Then there's the whole vintage/collectible thing - people assume there's something magic about a drum that was made earlier as opposed to later. (Regardless of the fact that shells were likely made on the same tooling the same way)

Combine all of those things and we now have a situation where old Acrolites have gotten expensive, and they've gotten harder to find. It's kind of silly when you think about it.

I got mine, plus the "broken" Tama snare stand it was sitting on, (which I fixed in about 2 minutes by correctly assembling the basket and roller pin) for $30 at Guitar Center. It's a decent snare, but there's no way I'd have paid $400 for it.

I have two old stripped Acrolite shells just waiting to be turned into projects. I'm not one of those guys who thinks it’s sacrilegious to refinish those old shells, so I’ll likely sand them down a bit, primer and paint them, and then add tube lugs. Or I could probably be convinced to sell them – right now they are just taking up space, so I’d probably let them go pretty cheap. A person could do their own build on one of these shells for a lot less money than buying one outright.
 

Mustion

Senior Member
Back in the 60s, 70s and 80s, at least here in the US, the Acrolite was the snare drum included in virtually every Ludwig beginning percussionist kit. As a result, they were cheap and easy to find for a time - you'd see them in thrift shops, yard sales, and that sort of thing - cast-offs from a child who played drums for a year or two in the school band.
I ended up getting an old beat-up Acro for free, which languished for years in my closet due to me associating it with gladstone pads, rinky dink stands and big plastic cases that have a school's name stenciled on them. But after seeing its praises on drum forums like this one I reconsidered it and fixed it up with new rims, strainer, heads etc. Now it's my main snare, and it gets compliments from other drummers more often than my other snares which cost much more...
 

trickg

Silver Member
I ended up getting an old beat-up Acro for free, which languished for years in my closet due to me associating it with gladstone pads, rinky dink stands and big plastic cases that have a school's name stenciled on them. But after seeing its praises on drum forums like this one I reconsidered it and fixed it up with new rims, strainer, heads etc. Now it's my main snare, and it gets compliments from other drummers more often than my other snares which cost much more...
Mine sounds great, and it works really well mic'ed up - it has a bright crack that cuts through, and I've gotten compliments on mine as well - with no more than I paid for mine, it was definitely a great value.
 

Lennytoons

Senior Member
I have 14 snare drums to date. My Acrolite is the best sounding one in the bunch. That includes two Supraphonics, two Premier Hi Fi's two Pearl COBs and a Gretsch 4160 COB. One of my Hi Fi's is a close second.
 

Jbravo

Senior Member
If it makes you feel any better, I recently spent a bit more than that (when you include shipping) for a used acrolite classic. It was in like new condition though, and is 6.5 inches deep, which is my preference. Great drum! I hope you enjoy yours as much as I am mine!
 

newoldie

Silver Member
I think you'll find your Acro will be a go-to snare for many gigs/occasion, as I've discovered first hand, and have done for the last 2 years since scoring a used 70s Acro in great condition from GC out of state.
Plus, it's such a light weight snare that it can lighten the load on the way in & out of gigs, compared to other snares.

$260 for a NOS Acro is about what the market would bear where I am in SoCal, even on eBay, where decent Acros (not needing a lot of cosmetic repairs) routinely sell in the $160-$180 range. If the finances were right, and I had the opportunity you had, I'd probably have sprung for it.

And since the Drum Gods have favored you on other purchases, at the end of the day--it evens out, no big gain or loss financially, especially since what makes you happy and sounds good to you is priceless.
 
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