Questions about vintage American drums, Ludwig, plies, etc.

Sticks Of Fury

Senior Member
Hello Guys!
i have some questions about older drums and whatnot. you guys could tell me to google it, but i would rather ask you. this is mainly about older american drums, from the 1930's thru 1970's. from what i understand, they were made from "real" mahogany or maple/poplar/maple. did any drum companies back then use any other types of wood? i know that asian companies introduced "phillipine mahogany" and birch, back in the 60's and 70's. and that english companies used beech. and a bunch of exotic woods came from african countries. another question: old ludwigs had the 3 ply shells, and then they went to 6 ply shells in 1976. what would have happened if they went with 5 ply instead? i've read the 6 ply were for loud, stadium rock playing and whatnot, but most people said the earlier 3 ply sounded better. any input would be appreciated. thank you. i'm sure i will have more stupid questions in the future. take care.


Platinum Member
Gretsch used maple/gum/maple. Early Round Badge kits were 3 ply shells. Later, they switched to 6 ply shells.

Ludwig .... was a bit all over. Even in the mahogany period, if you get a Duco drum, you'll find a maple exterior ply underneath the Duco paint. So those shell are maple/poplar/mahogany. Drums that got wrapped, usually mahogany/poplar/mahogany. I think the switch to maple/poplar/maple happened in '68. And yes, '76, they went to 6 ply straight shell. (a 5 ply ..... interesting to ponder.)

I think Rogers were 3 ply (maple/poplar/maple ..... then 5 ply ..... then back to 3 ply ..... then in 1978, the XP8 straight shell, the first all maple shell.

Slingerland ..... here's info here. They were all over the place, and used walnut, maple, mahogany and poplar.
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What would have happened if they went with five plies.? They would have sounded very similar to Slingerland drums of the same era (70's) which were to the best of my knowledge five plies with re-rings.


Senior Member
I'm pretty sure Ludwig went from a 3 ply shell to a 6 ply shell in the 70s because music was changing and guitar amps were getting louder, so more projection was needed. The thicker the shell, the more projection it has.

Compared to a 6 ply shell, a 5 ply shell would have slightly less projection, more resonance, and a lower fundamental pitch.


Platinum Member
I think Slingerland were 5 ply in later 70s. As for woods , Premier of the 60's also used birch, not on everything.
The other wood used in certain periods was beech, Sonor.


Silver Member
The short answer is.... Just like today, they used Maple, Birch, Real Mahogany, Philippine Mahogany, Poplar, Basswood, Gumwood, Bubinga, etc, etc