The Ludwig Curse

larryz

Platinum Member
Yes, I have seen Zambizzi's kit in person. It is the Ludwig Classic Maple with Centennial badges. Not a lower-line kit. It should be done properly.
Why are Centennial badges are on a Classic Maple kit? Classics have the keystone or the blue/olive bade, correct? both are super cool. Classics are also U.S. made, correct? Centennials made overseas with U.S. materials? Anyway....

I don't know what you mean by "the curse continues..."? That's a real overgeneralization. Sure you want things made right butto expect perfection? Hmm. Everyone's idea of perfection is different. I'm not excusing Ludwig but...
 

zambizzi

Platinum Member
Sorry for the hit-and-run post, guys...got really busy over the weekend and didn't have time to reply.

So...questions:

- Ludwig Classic Maple
- 100th Anniversary badge (discontinued)
- Bought them a year ago, roughly...but they had to have been made in 2009.
- No ply separation or even a hint of it, prior to this last head change

This is the FOURTH kit I've received with problems of *at least* this magnitude. I'm completely fed up and through with this brand, as much as I love the sound, looks, and rich heritage throughout drumming history. Over it.

Here's my history with Ludwig:

First kit arrived with a DEAD bass drum. Couldn't be tuned, regardless of head, tuning, or what room it was being played in. Hoops were bad and couldn't be seated on the heads correctly, and replacement hoops (even though they were done WRONG), didn't help the sound at all. It just sucked. I returned the entire kit for a refund.

The following year, I ordered two kits in the same badge and finish, so I'd have both bands covered (20" kick and 24" kick.) Half of the shells were 1/4" out-of-round, or more. Some were so bad, heads just couldn't be seated or tuned at all...and they even looked egg-shaped. Several screws were jammed into the lugs sideways and stripped out, and couldn't be fully tightened down to the shell. Two floor tom brackets were broken and completely useless. All drums were returned for a full refund.

Being a glutton for punishment, I tried the same order again, but in a wrap finish. I was given a guarantee that the production lead at the plant, would personally inspect every drum to make sure it was their finest work. Less issues than before...but only one of the kits was acceptable...the other had roundness issues and even WRAP issues. I posted a pic of the bearing edges of the "good" kit, just asking what people thought - several said they looked horrible. Every drum had a fair amount of wood putty to cover up flaws and the edges were really rough. Even the "good" drums didn't tune up that well...the edges were probably the culprit.

At that point, I had given up on Ludwig...at least as far as custom ordering. I found a 24/16/13 kit on eBay for half the price of a custom order...and they're great (so far.) There's putty on every one of the edges...but at least they're cut even, and all drums tune up and sound great.

Then, last year I notice a little drum shop in Illinois had the same finish and 100th Anni. badges, but in different sizes. I snatched them up so I could have a smaller kit for my funk band and just to have some extra, matching shells. The badge is rare, so I took advantage of the opportunity. Bass drum arrived cracked - not sure who's at fault, but got an immediate replacement, free-of-charge. Cool. Now the floor tom is falling apart...so that kit is useless until I get a replacement.

What's next? Gretsch Brooklyn. They look great, sound great...and if they're made as well as the Renown series, I know I'll have nothing to worry about. I'm selling off all of my Ludwig gear, save for my coveted Black Beauty. IMO, it's the only drum worth keeping.
 

BacteriumFendYoke

Platinum Member
The Gretsch Brooklyn series do look like very nice drums indeed. I'm really sorry to hear about this kit as well but hadn't quite remembered just how many problems you've had with Ludwig! Jumping ship is the smart thing to do.
 

pieplaysdrums

Senior Member
Sorry about your Ludwig woes. Par for the course in my experience sadly. My Brooklyn's are essentially flawless. Without starting up the circus again or luring in infamous board members, If you want a PERFECT kit, the closest you'll come is DW. They have the best track record in my experience as a consumer, and retail worker. Good luck and happy drumming with whatever you choose!
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
If you want a PERFECT kit, the closest you'll come is DW.
I'll agree that DW does a fine job, and do come close. But 100% perfection? I don't know of any major manufacturer that can claim that. If I had to name a drum maker that is probably 99.999% with their drums, it would be Craviotto. Of course, you pay for that kind of workmanship and attention to detail.

Sorry Zam about the repeated problems with Ludwig, I've had only a few problems and nothing structural, just some yellowing lacquer, and they quickly discontinued the finish in question and replaced the drums. I will say that Ludwig has majorly stepped up their quality control in the last 6 months. I realize that doesn't help you with any of your drums, but don't assume that Ludwig is in some sort of downward spiral - they're not. They've had some issues, they've sought to correct them, and based on 3 kits I just took delivery on last month, it's clear that they have. Wrap, hardware, seams and edges are flawless. And no, they don't pay special attention because they're my drums. My orders get put through right along with everyone else's, I'm not even sure my name appears where the workers can see it (I'll find out tomorrow, I'm going to the factory.)

But I know I can't re-sell you on Ludwig. I know what it's like to encounter repeated frustrations, whether it's with restaurants, people, or occasionally gear. Sometimes you have to move on. :(

Bermuda
 

Chunkaway

Silver Member
The Gretsch Brooklyn series do look like very nice drums indeed. I'm really sorry to hear about this kit as well but hadn't quite remembered just how many problems you've had with Ludwig! Jumping ship is the smart thing to do.
Sorry to hear about your problems with Ludwig. I have had several Ludwig kits over the past 6 or so years and I have only had a problem (wrap issue) on one drum. The rest of my kits, snares, etc.. have been flawless, so I'm disappointed to hear about your issues.

As far as Gretsch drums are concerned, I'd think again. A few years I ordered a Gretsch USA Custom in blue sparkle wrap. The kick drum was out of round to the point that my wife AND I had to pull on the front head for about FIVE minutes to get it off. On top of that, the floor tom had uneven edges. After complaining several times to my dealer, sending pictures, etc...I wound up having a phone conference with Gretsch. They had me send the two drums back to take a look. After they received the drums, they agreed that there were problems with both drums, and they needed to be replaced. So what happened? They rushed me new drums, right? No. I had to get back in the queue! This was after I had waited nearly SIX MONTHS for my kit in the first place. Months later, I finally had my full kit with a new kick and floor. By then, I was so frustrated, I sold the kit the next week.

I have owned kits from these manufacturers:

Yamaha
Pork Pie
DW
C&C
Ludwig
Gretsch
Pearl

The ONLY kit that was 100% flawless was....the DW. I didn't like the tubby sound, but it was absolutely the only kit that arrived (and stayed) flawless. I know some others have had issues with DW, but that wasn't my experience.

You should be able to expect a great drum set for the amount of money you are spending. However, expecting it to be 100% perfect is probably unrealistic, if my experience says anything.
 

zambizzi

Platinum Member
Sorry about your Ludwig woes. Par for the course in my experience sadly. My Brooklyn's are essentially flawless. Without starting up the circus again or luring in infamous board members, If you want a PERFECT kit, the closest you'll come is DW. They have the best track record in my experience as a consumer, and retail worker. Good luck and happy drumming with whatever you choose!
I owned a Collector's Series kit and really didn't care for it - especially after hearing Classic Maple. I like the videos that I've heard of the Jazz Series...which is right up my alley. However, I'm not willing to drop over $3 grand on a 3-pc. kit.

But I love the look and sound of Brooklyn, so I'm eyeballing them first and foremost. I'd love to hear some details from you, if you don't mind? Anything and everything!

But I won't try to re-sell you on Ludwig. I know what it's like to encounter repeated frustrations, whether it's with gear, restaurants, people, whatever. Sometimes you have to move on. :(

Bermuda
Yeah...as much as I love the drums, I'm going elsewhere. I gave 'em a fair shot and they've consistently failed me. It's too bad, because I get compliments at almost every gig. The sound that comes out of these drums really gets attention! I talk Ludwig up to everyone...it's a brand that I was always willing to get behind, even after all of my issues. That's *without* a formal endorsement or affiliation with the company, at all! Bummer...but there's plenty of fish in the sea. :)
 

zambizzi

Platinum Member
As far as Gretsch drums are concerned, I'd think again.

..................

You should be able to expect a great drum set for the amount of money you are spending. However, expecting it to be 100% perfect is probably unrealistic, if my experience says anything.
I wouldn't order a USA Custom for the reasons you've described. That's why I like the sound of the Brooklyn series...and they're pre-built and in stock. If something isn't right, the dealer will replace them or credit me for something else.

In fact, I doubt I'd custom order drums at all. I don't like waiting for months and I'm too jittery about potential issues, once I get them in my hands.

I don't expect perfection. My one good Ludwig kit has more flaws than most people would tolerate in a custom kit: shells are all a little out-of-round....but they all tune up. There is putty on just about every bearing edge. Some edges have lacquer on them, randomly, causing them to be a *wee* bit uneven...but again, they tune up and sound great. I expect better than what I've described below, however....way better.
 

Chunkaway

Silver Member
I wouldn't order a USA Custom for the reasons you've described. That's why I like the sound of the Brooklyn series...and they're pre-built and in stock. If something isn't right, the dealer will replace them or credit me for something else.

In fact, I doubt I'd custom order drums at all. I don't like waiting for months and I'm too jittery about potential issues, once I get them in my hands.

I don't expect perfection. My one good Ludwig kit has more flaws than most people would tolerate in a custom kit: shells are all a little out-of-round....but they all tune up. There is putty on just about every bearing edge. Some edges have lacquer on them, randomly, causing them to be a *wee* bit uneven...but again, they tune up and sound great. I expect better than what I've described below, however....way better.

The Brooklyns are made by the same people who make the USA Custom drums, so I don't see how you could expect the quality to be better than they are with the Customs. (Shorter weight times? Yes. Better quality? No.) The Customs are SUPPOSED to be better, at least according to the literature and cost. Personally, I'll avoid Gretsch drums for the reasons I previously mentioned. Now the DW Jazz series is STELLAR sounding! Definitely expensive, but WOWZA! do they sound great!

Do you need a new kit? What about a vintage set?

I hear you about the quality and not needing perfection. For whatever reason, perfection (or anything even remotely close to perfection) seems to be VERY difficult to find in the drum industry.
 

zambizzi

Platinum Member
The Brooklyns are made by the same people who make the USA Custom drums, so I don't see how you could expect the quality to be better than they are with the Customs. (Shorter weight times? Yes. Better quality? No.) The Customs are SUPPOSED to be better, at least according to the literature and cost. Personally, I'll avoid Gretsch drums for the reasons I previously mentioned. Now the DW Jazz series is STELLAR sounding! Definitely expensive, but WOWZA! do they sound great!

Do you need a new kit? What about a vintage set?

I hear you about the quality and not needing perfection. For whatever reason, perfection (or anything even remotely close to perfection) seems to be VERY difficult to find in the drum industry.
That's what I hear! The Jazz Series is great...but it's many months of waiting and just too rich for my blood. :( That goes for Gretsch USA Custom, too.

I don't expect the quality to be any better or worse on the Brooklyns...but I won't have to deal with Gretsch, and getting a replacement for a bum drum won't take 4-6 months. It's just a matter of shipping it out from a warehouse. I like having a dealer on the hook for issues, rather than dealing with Gretsch - precisely because of the stories I've heard, just like yours. Overall, I'm still convinced Gretsch does better QA...I've owned and sold a couple different Renown kits and still own one...all of them were/are very well made. I realize that line is made overseas, but I get a much better impression of quality from Gretsch, regardless.

I think I'm too picky for vintage drums. :)
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Yeah...as much as I love the drums, I'm going elsewhere. I gave 'em a fair shot and they've consistently failed me. It's too bad, because I get compliments at almost every gig. The sound that comes out of these drums really gets attention!
Well, the big question is, where would you go to get a sound comparable to Ludwig? Remember that while their shells look typical, they're molded differently than anyone else's, which accounts for their sound.

If it was me, and I absolutely had to choose another brand to get as close a sound to Ludwig as possible, I'd check out Pork Pie. Bill will do whatever edge will make the drummer happy, and I've heard some wonderful drums come out of his shop.

But, that's what you get with a custom shop - custom work. Try getting Gretsch, Yamaha, DW, or any major company to modify their edge. They won't, they can't. The US Gretsch stuff is nice as-is, but they don't sound like your Ludwigs.

You must either stay with Ludwig, or get a custom kit. There, it's all settled!

Bermuda
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
Of course, you pay for that kind of workmanship and attention to detail.
Bermuda
Yes you do, but that's not all you pay extra for with a solid shell kit such as Craviotto & others. If you strip out attention to detail, the cost of producing those shells is 5-8 times the cost of making a ply shell. Outside of additional quality enhancements such as hand selected boards, the actual cost of attention to detail isn't much in straight $ terms. It's an individual's pride in their work thing, & it's that basic element that's so often missing. When a worker spends hours crafting a shell, they get to know it, intimately. As they've selected each element carefully, matched grain alignment, etc, they spot even the tiniest flaw. Compare that to spending a few minutes layering up, a few more minutes in a press, then onto the next guy to cut edges, it's almost unreasonable to expect the same attention. It's an utterly different process, that in itself, leads to an utterly different mindset.

There are ply guys who apply the same pride through quality, but they're few & far between.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
You know how when you are standing in a really long supermarket line, and you get fed up and jump lines....Just then the first line whisks along and you are stuck waiting for a price check?
I hope that isn't the same type of thing.
 

zambizzi

Platinum Member
...the actual cost of attention to detail isn't much in straight $ terms. It's an individual's pride in their work thing, & it's that basic element that's so often missing.
Right. I suppose this is why I expect more. If I were building those shells, I'd make damn sure they were superb. I work this way and it's possible I just expect more from others than is considered "the norm."

After all, it's in their best interest to produce quality. If you put your name on crap, and it goes out the door...so goes your reputation. If you put your name on quality, you'll likely be rewarded for it. It doesn't matter if you fabricate plastic bags or high-end drum shells...do it well if you wish to compete and survive.

Well, the big question is, where would you go to get a sound comparable to Ludwig? Remember that while their shells look typical, they're molded differently than anyone else's, which accounts for their sound.

If it was me, and I absolutely had to choose another brand to get as close a sound to Ludwig as possible, I'd check out Pork Pie. Bill will do whatever edge will make the drummer happy, and I've heard some wonderful drums come out of his shop.

But, that's what you get with a custom shop - custom work. Try getting Gretsch, Yamaha, DW, or any major company to modify their edge. They won't, they can't. The US Gretsch stuff is nice as-is, but they don't sound like your Ludwigs.

You must either stay with Ludwig, or get a custom kit. There, it's all settled!

Bermuda
Heh! I hear nothing but great things about Pork Pie. I'll keep that in mind! I doubt they'd crank out a custom kit for me for under $2000 though. I guess it doesn't hurt to ask. ;) I also thought about ordering some pre-drilled shells, parts, etc. and having Bill cut the edges for me. I could keep it in my price range that way, maybe.
 

B-squared

Silver Member
I have an observation. What I am seeing is a vertical seam that has separated slightly as opposed to delamination. Delamination is where the layers are separating from each other. That would be nearly impossible to fix.

A vertical separation isn't as bad and could be repaired easily. I would have a professional fox it - be it Ludwig or whoever else - but I wouldn't throw the drum away.

Thermal expansion and contraction is just physics. Rail lines, for example, have to have some separation between abutting pieces because when the things sit out in the sun, if they were continuous, the thermal expansion would bend them right off the wood ties. You don't notice the joints when you ride the train, but they have to be there.

My guess is, in Idaho, where you have some temperature extremes, you just had a little thermal separation. A quick shop fix should work just fine. If you like the sound of the drums, then you shouldn't be too concerned.
 

scorch whammin

Gold Member
I have an observation. What I am seeing is a vertical seam that has separated slightly as opposed to delamination. Delamination is where the layers are separating from each other. That would be nearly impossible to fix.
No offense but I'd look again, specifically at the second (from top) picture..there is delamination there..yes the vertical seam is coming up as well, but that's probably from the delamination..

Sorry to hear about your misforune zambizzi…I went through the same thing with Tama back in the 90's..frustrating when you spend alot of money and then this happens…good luck on your new drum search...
 

zambizzi

Platinum Member
I have an observation. What I am seeing is a vertical seam that has separated slightly as opposed to delamination. Delamination is where the layers are separating from each other. That would be nearly impossible to fix.

A vertical separation isn't as bad and could be repaired easily. I would have a professional fox it - be it Ludwig or whoever else - but I wouldn't throw the drum away.

Thermal expansion and contraction is just physics. Rail lines, for example, have to have some separation between abutting pieces because when the things sit out in the sun, if they were continuous, the thermal expansion would bend them right off the wood ties. You don't notice the joints when you ride the train, but they have to be there.

My guess is, in Idaho, where you have some temperature extremes, you just had a little thermal separation. A quick shop fix should work just fine. If you like the sound of the drums, then you shouldn't be too concerned.
I'd be OK with that, if they hadn't been stored indoors, at a moderate temp, and never left in any weather extremes of any kind. Idaho is very dry and the humidity doesn't fluctuate much, either. I believe they just weren't made well, as another builder has pointed out here.

The vertical seam has separated, but so have the two inner-most plies, horizontally. It's delaminating as well as separating at the vertical seam.
 

pieplaysdrums

Senior Member
I hear you. Feel free to ask anything you want about the Brooklyn's. People are right, the DW jazz is SUPERB in doing what they do. I've A&B'd the Gretsch and the DW Jazz side by side, size for size, and I will say that DW does Gretsch BETTER than Gretsch does.lol.
Thy also don't have to cost a fortune. Wrapped and satin oil kits are now in the same price bracket FWIW.
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
Stainless steel?

Best of both worlds....stay with the company you love but say good-bye to those pesky delaminating plies, out of round shells and dodgy wrap jobs forever.

Gotta admit, if they excell anywhere it's in metal snare drums......imagine that excellence with a whole metal kit!! :)
 
Top