Unwrapped Ludwig Rockers!

Winston_Wolf

Platinum Member
I finally made some real progress on updating my Rocker kit so I thought I'd post up some quick and dirty pics and the background of the kit.

I've had this kit for going on a couple of years now. Mid 80s Ludwig Rocker kit, used but not (too) abused, with a black wrap finish. This has been my "throw it in the car and go" gigging kit and it has served me well, but I knew it deserved a little more care and attention.

I briefly owned a Vistalite kit, and played a '68 Psych Red kit in college so I've been dying to get back in the Ludwig saddle. I wasn't really looking for another kit when I happened into the Rockers, but I thought in spite of their "budget" status I might be able to make something nice out of them. Knowing they were Monroe-made maple/poplar shells just made me even more excited to find out whet they could really do.



The finish was lifting and rippling on all of the drums, and a few lugs were broken. I got enough lugs on eBay to get the 12, 16 and 22 up and running back when I first got it, but the 13 was taken apart for donor lugs and a little experimentation. Last week I decided it was time to really begin overhauling all of the drums and get them all working and looking great. Off with all of the wrap!



In removing the wrap from the 13 I discovered that the raw shell was nice enough, so I knew if the others matched going with a natural finish was an option. I considered a few other vintage wrap options like Sky Blue Pearl and Psych Red, but once I committed to unwrapping all of them and finding all of the wood looked great I decided showing off the shells was the best choice.



Once I had all of the wraps off I had to take care of the glue residue from the tape used to hold the seam down. Removing 30-year-old glue was a lot harder to do than I thought it might but with a pad sander and a lot of sandpaper I sanded the shells smooth and got all of the glue removed.

I decided on clear satin because I thought it would be a little more forgiving with my lack of refinishing experience but it really does look great too. I did four coats, lightly sanded after each one. I was really surprised just how easy it was and the finish came out really nice.



So now I'm SUPER excited with these. They look great, but most importantly they SOUND amazing. There is something about the Ludwig sound, and these drums certainly have it. I love my Mapex kit too, but they sound completely different. They're very clean, very "contemporary" for lack of a better word, but the Ludwig kit is the exact opposite. Normally "fat and dirty" wouldn't be much of a complement, but that's how I'd describe the Rockers, and I love them for it. They're a joy to play!
 

bigiainw

Gold Member
Those look great. it makes you wonder why they wrapped them in the first place?
 

Winston_Wolf

Platinum Member
Thanks for all the kind words guys! :)

I wondered why they were wrapped too, since I think the wood looks pretty good. I guess that speaks for Ludwig's standards that "pretty good" isn't good enough for their Super Classic shells. There are some tiny knots and blemishes that probably kept these particular shells out of the running, and of course with the paint on the inside there's no telling what kind of flaws they covered up there.

Of course, you can't rule out total dumb luck either, but I have a feeling that more Rockers look like my drums under the wrap and there are some great looking shells lurking under the plastic.

I think the USA-made Rockers are a real sleeper hit for anyone wanting Ludwig and just can't spend the money on a pro-level kit. The hardware is really the biggest shortcoming, and buying a "fixer upper" isn't everyone's goal, but I know that sound-wise these drums can hang with anything out there and with a little care they can look good too.
 

Adam B

Senior Member
I could never get over the fact that the Rocker shells had an inner layer of particle board. It just looks too tacky for me. But if they sound good, they sound good.
 

Winston_Wolf

Platinum Member
I could never get over the fact that the Rocker shells had an inner layer of particle board. It just looks too tacky for me. But if they sound good, they sound good.

That's just paint on the inside of the Rocker II. The shell itself is maple/poplar/poplar/maple like the Super Classic shell.
 

Winston_Wolf

Platinum Member
So, a year and a half later, I finally thought to take some new pics and post some updates!

After thinking these drums would look even more interesting with some wood hoops I jumped in with both feet and got some.

In the drum room:











And a couple "action shots" from a gig last September:





So this is my home and gigging set, with the Mapex kit on band rehearsal space duty. I love both kits, but the Ludwigs just have "something" that makes them so much more fun to play.

As currently set up I'm using:

12x11" tom with Modern Vintage II over Modern Vintage medium
13x12" tom with Modern Vintage II over Modern Vintage medium
16x16" tom with Deep Vintage II over Modern Vintage medium
24x16" bass with Super Kick 2 and Fiberskyn PS3 reso

14x8" Supralite with Deep Vintage II over Evans 300.

Also pictured at home is:
Paiste 14" 404 Sound Edge hi hats
Dream Bliss 10" splash
Paiste 18" PST7 thin crash
Paiste 20" 404 ride (as a crash)
Meinl 22" M Series medium ride

The gigging cymbals are:
Zildjian 15" Mastersound hi hats
Paiste 18" PST7 medium crash
Dream Bliss 10" splash
Sabian APX 20" crash
Sabian APX 24" ride

Thanks for looking!
 
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Superman

Gold Member
Awesome looking kit..makes me want to try the same project. So sweet looking.
 

valkyrievf2x

Senior Member
Wow!!!
I always thought the Rocker II's had the less pretty wood underneath. Apparently, that is not always the case... Was the change to the lugs on the bass drum a cosmetic decision, or an practical one? I've found those lugs are not very sturdy (just replaced a broken one a couple of days ago on mine--I have Rocker II as well).

Rockers are such good drums! Extra love for the Rocker II's for obvious reasons ;)

Great job on the drums!
 

Winston_Wolf

Platinum Member
Thanks guys!

The bass lugs aren't a change, but an entirely different bass drum. It's an 80s Pearl MX that I also "unwrapped" and lacquered.

In the last year I joined a new band that's a lot louder and heavier than what I had been doing, so I decided to move up to a 24" bass with sturdier hardware and the Pearl was a "right price at the right time" kind of purchase.

If there's any real drawback to the 80s Rocker drums, it's the hardware. The bass spurs on the Rocker II's aren't great, and the lugs on all of the drums are really prone to cracking at the screw mount.
 

Winston_Wolf

Platinum Member
I just played out last night, so I thought I'd update the thread with some new pics.

I got a LOT of complements about the drums. The sound engineer said they were the most open and "woody" sounding drums he's ever run before and loved how big they sounded.









While getting ready for the gig I decided to try out some new tom batters and went with Remo clear Vintage Emperors. These drums really prefer 2-ply heads and with the Vintage Emperors I got a TON of tone but also a lot more snap than I usually get. Having that blend of attack and a punch of drum tone behind it sounds really satisfying. I'm REALLY impressed with these heads and I think they're my new favorite right now.

More pics and music on our Facebook page...

https://www.facebook.com/pages/A-Breath-Forgotten/283992615986?ref=aymt_homepage_panel
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
That is like finding gold! I can just imagine your face when you discovered that you had great looking natural shells hiding underneath that worn wrap.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Stupidly enough, I think I prefer the straight shelled Ludwig tone to the vintage re-ringed tone. Better edges. Outfit them with the large classic lugs if the Rockers hware is crap. That drum set looks like it sounds great. If you're going to just have one rack, you might as well go big, right? You have a seriously cool looking vibe going on there man.

If you posted a sounclip, I'd bet there would be no objections.
 

Winston_Wolf

Platinum Member
That is like finding gold! I can just imagine your face when you discovered that you had great looking natural shells hiding underneath that worn wrap.

Absolutely! You never know what might be hiding under the wrap, and even though finding an ugly knot wouldn't have been too disappointing I really was stunned at how nice all of the shells looked.

Stupidly enough, I think I prefer the straight shelled Ludwig tone to the vintage re-ringed tone. Better edges. Outfit them with the large classic lugs if the Rockers hware is crap. That drum set looks like it sounds great. If you're going to just have one rack, you might as well go big, right? You have a seriously cool looking vibe going on there man.

If you posted a sounclip, I'd bet there would be no objections.

Thanks Larry! To me it's not just the straight shell, but that they're 4-ply too. They're pretty thin and light and when they're tuned to the sweet spot you hit the drum and you can hear (and feel) the whole drum resonating.

I've considered getting some classic lugs (hole spacing is the same) but I enjoy celebrating that these are "just" Rocker II's and the lugs are a big part of that.

The club's owner recorded us and is giving us the raw multitracks this week so as soon as I get them I'll post up some clips!
 
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