Ludwig Black Magic - Head and Tuning Recommendations

JustJames

Platinum Member
I seem to have acquired a Ludwig Black Magic 14 x 6.5 snare drum. It is a rather handsome thing, with die-cast hoop (definitely on the batter side), tube lugs (ten of them) and generally so black light just falls into it.

My hope is to get a solid, warm and comforting sound from it, with a low to medium tuning. The original head was beaten to a pulp, so I have borrowed a near new Genera HD Dry from another snare to get started. Anybody have any other recommendations for head choice?

I am a not-very-hard hitter, playing classic rock.
 

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
“I seem to have acquired”. Meaning you woke up in the morning after a drunken party gig to find a Black Magic snare drum at the foot of your bed.

Maybe those of us who suffer from severe bouts of GAS (gear acquisition syndrome) can start referring to some of our drums as coyote ugly.


.
 

AzHeat

Platinum Member
That’s a tough one. I personally don’t dig a ton of crazy overtones, but found pretty much anything more than a 10 mil single ply to chock things out too much. Have had the best luck just with a Coated Ambassador and lately Aquarian Texture Coated and Modern Vintage. The Modern Vintage is a bit warmer and has been great on both my Bubinga and Bronze snares. Both snares are pretty lively, so the warmer Vintage sound did just enough to keep me from having to try and EQ anything out of my mics. They Sounded great on the Aluminum too, but being a dryer snare to begin with, both the Ambassador and Texture Coated sound the most open on that one.

I posted a snare head comparison video earlier. Includes Remo, Evans and Aquarian, recorded by the same people, so a pretty good starting point.

http://www.drummerworld.com/forums/showthread.php?t=163752
 
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Yoshinya

Senior Member
I have a Pork Pie Big Black 14" x 6.5", which is essentially the same black nickel plated, seamed brass shell as the Black Magic. I've used the 2.3mm Triple-Flanged hoops that've come with it, as well as a pair of S-Hoops and Die-Cast hoops. I like all three, but if I'm playing loud rock a lot with it, I throw the Die-Casts on.

Favorite heads for it (used in a rock application) are thick two-ply, but not completely deadened. A coated Remo Emperor, Evans G2, or Aquarian Response 2 would serve you well.

I find low tunings do well on mine, but I think it's the best anywhere in the medium-ish range.
 

Dave_G

Member
I have an 8x14 and prefer a Coated Ambassador over a Hazy Diplomat. I tried out a Coated Emperor over a Hazy Ambassador and found that there were some strange overtones. Not what I expected, but the single ply set up sounds much better to my ears. I also use that on my Black Beauty.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
The Genera may be a little dry, maybe a G14 or so. One ply thick
 

jdavis

Member
I have a Pork Pie Big Black 14" x 6.5", which is essentially the same black nickel plated, seamed brass shell as the Black Magic. I've used the 2.3mm Triple-Flanged hoops that've come with it, as well as a pair of S-Hoops and Die-Cast hoops. I like all three, but if I'm playing loud rock a lot with it, I throw the Die-Casts on.

I guess I lean the other direction. I've tried those combos as well and if loudness/openness/decay is what I'm after, the triple-flanged are the way to go, IMO.

As for the OP, I'd stick with the die-cast and a twin-ply head if he's going for a more controlled sound. That's just me, though... :)
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Warm and comforting are not attributes I would assign to a brass shell.

2 ply coated batter and gut snares in the basement might get you there. I have no experience at all with gut snares. I'm just trying to think of something to soften the sound up.

If it's too bright and metallic, you could soften the shell interior with moleskin.

It will take a little tweaking to overcome the natural tendencies of the brass shell.

Here's another vote for keeping the die casts on it. They tend to corral the stray O-tones.
 

Darth Vater

Senior Member
Remo Powerstroke 3. Try it, you might like it. Use 2 keys, get it finger tight, then 1 or 1.5 full turns all around. JMO
 

IBitePrettyHard

Senior Member
If you want a warm and comforting sound, you don't want Die-cast. They are great for focusing the overtones, but they'll also give you a brighter more aggressive sound.

Triple-flanged would be better for a more pleasing tone. You can still control overtones with moongel.
 

Winston_Wolf

Platinum Member
I have a Black Magic, with a Die Cast on the batter side.

I'm using a Aquarian Modern Vintage reverse dot on top with a Remo no collar clear Ambassador on the snare side. Sounds great. I tune mine medium-high, but the shell really contributes a lot of low end so it sounds meaty even in higher tunings.

Personally, I wouldn't stick with anything like a dry head that cuts out overtones. For a black brass snare to have "that" sound, you need those overtones.
 

JustJames

Platinum Member
“I seem to have acquired”. Meaning you woke up in the morning after a drunken party gig to find a Black Magic snare drum at the foot of your bed.

I didn't set out to GAS a snare...I have generally been pretty happy with my Blackrolite, but I spotted this one for sale, and it seemed a bargain so I thought I'd try it.


That’s a tough one. I personally don’t dig a ton of crazy overtones, but found pretty much anything more than a 10 mil single ply to chock things out too much. Have had the best luck just with a Coated Ambassador and lately Aquarian Texture Coated and Modern Vintage

I will check out that video. I haven't been impressed with Remo heads, but I may try the Aquarian (I've mostly been an Evans guy, but that's as much out of laziness as anythinng)

I have a Pork Pie Big Black 14" x 6.5", which is essentially the same black nickel plated, seamed brass shell as the Black Magic. I've used the 2.3mm Triple-Flanged hoops that've come with it, as well as a pair of S-Hoops and Die-Cast hoops. I like all three, but if I'm playing loud rock a lot with it, I throw the Die-Casts on...

I'll try out the die casts, and if it sounds too fierce I might try softer hoops.

I have an 8x14 and prefer a Coated Ambassador over a Hazy Diplomat. I tried out a Coated Emperor over a Hazy Ambassador and found that there were some strange overtones. Not what I expected, but the single ply set up sounds much better to my ears. I also use that on my Black Beauty.

Another vote for single ply noted.

The Genera may be a little dry, maybe a G14 or so. One ply thick

Another single ply vote; thanks

I guess I lean the other direction. I've tried those combos as well and if loudness/openness/decay is what I'm after, the triple-flanged are the way to go, IMO.

As for the OP, I'd stick with the die-cast and a twin-ply head if he's going for a more controlled sound. That's just me, though... :)

Deffo going to to try the die cast with the HD Dry for starters.

Warm and comforting are not attributes I would assign to a brass shell....

Once again the trouble with language to describe sounds. I'm after the sort of sound that I hear on Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain", which I've been listening to a lot lately.

Remo Powerstroke 3. Try it, you might like it. Use 2 keys, get it finger tight, then 1 or 1.5 full turns all around. JMO

Not a Remo fan, but I think I have the tuning pretty much as you described, but haven't been able to take it around the block yet.

If you want a warm and comforting sound, you don't want Die-cast. They are great for focusing the overtones, but they'll also give you a brighter more aggressive sound.

Triple-flanged would be better for a more pleasing tone. You can still control overtones with moongel.

We'll see how I get on with heads and tuning first. I can always bother triple flanged from another snare to try it out.

I have a Black Magic, with a Die Cast on the batter side.

I'm using a Aquarian Modern Vintage reverse dot on top with a Remo no collar clear Ambassador on the snare side. Sounds great. I tune mine medium-high, but the shell really contributes a lot of low end so it sounds meaty even in higher tunings.

Personally, I wouldn't stick with anything like a dry head that cuts out overtones. For a black brass snare to have "that" sound, you need those overtones.

I tried an Evans reverse dot snare of some description and really didn't like it because the tone was so different in the centre as composed to off centre.
 

JustJames

Platinum Member
Gave the Black Magic its first outing with a band rehearsal on the weekend, with a Genera HD Dry batter head, with a low to medium tuning and the reso tuned up. Initial impresions were that it was a bit ringy but sounded...lke a snare drum. Cross sticking sounded awesome, perhaps due to the die cast hoop.

Playing with the band though, was very different. The tone of this drum, being lower and warmer, seemed to sit lower in the mix. There seemed to be more easily accessible dynamic range, with ghostlier ghost notes, and I may be wrong, but I don't recall much sympathetic snare buzz. I'm very pleased.

Next step is to re-read your recommendations and choose a suitable new head.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
My process is to start with Ambassador over Ambassador to see what the drum wants to do. You then grab a piece or three of moon gel and determine whether you could benefit from a dot, or a ring, and then re-head accordingly.

Good luck, that's a fine drum.
 

JustJames

Platinum Member
My process is to start with Ambassador over Ambassador to see what the drum wants to do. You then grab a piece or three of moon gel and determine whether you could benefit from a dot, or a ring, and then re-head accordingly.

Good luck, that's a fine drum.

Thanks KamaK...and nice to see you back here.

I will translate "Ambassador" to "G1 Coated", and start from there.

Now, does anybody recall Bermuda's tip for something-or-other that was a cheap substitute for Moon Gel?
 

Vintage Old School

Gold Member
Now, does anybody recall Bermuda's tip for something-or-other that was a cheap substitute for Moon Gel?

I think this is the thread you're referring to for Bermuda's substitute:

This is what US$8 (roughly £5) gets here in the States, compared to $7.95 for the 4 Moon Gels in the center:

gel_assorted.jpg


The size advantages alone make this preferrable for me, and I don't mind some of the goofy shapes. Nobody ever accused me of not being professional because of my muffling choices. :)

Bermuda
 

mike d

Silver Member
Try an Evans Hybrid coated. I love them and have them on all of my metal snares (COB, Bronze, Copper). I don't mind spending a little extra money on a bulletproof great sounding dry, yet responsive head.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
Thanks KamaK...and nice to see you back here.

I will translate "Ambassador" to "G1 Coated", and start from there.

Now, does anybody recall Bermuda's tip for something-or-other that was a cheap substitute for Moon Gel?

G1 Coated over whatever they call their snare side, Ludwig USA med over X-Thin, Brandx Single Ply over BrandX snare side.

When my half-witted ears hear a random snare, the three types of sounds I can decipher are "wide open, overtone control, and all-encompassing blanket-control". One sounds like an unencumbered wild snare, one sounds like Carter Mclean's snare, and one sounds like a short "blap" that makes you blink when struck. There are other sounds, but I always interpret/categorize them as "weird/other/cannotcompute".

If you want one of the three common sounds all the time, you simply choose the type of head (ring, dot, null) and be done with it. If you want all three of those sounds for different songs/projects, then you're stuck with an unencumbered head and working with moongel (or some other dampening).

Plenty of other heads out there with unique sounds, but you might find yourself fighting to find a useful context for them or compromising your sound in an effort to distinguish yourself from beaten-path drummers. Ultimately, there's little harm in being weird. Calfskin, timpanic, whatever... go nuts. Or don't and join me on the happy road to pop-drumming homogeny.
 
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