Vintage Kit Taboos


Platinum Member
During the past year I began to purchase vintage drum kits. I carefully searched and I found specific kits that I decided that I wanted and I bought them. Whatever it took, I paid what I had to and I bought them. When I first bought each kit, (there are three) I had a notion in my head that I really wanted to keep them as they were back when.
That turned out not to be the case!
Upon receiving each kit and playing them, I found myself making modifications. Many modifications!
It seems that I saw many things that I liked in the vintage drums but I also soon discovered many things that I simply could not help but upgrade.
Every upgrade that I did was carefully planned and executed and I am totally pleased with the outcome. I spared no expense. I bought what I needed to complete these three kits. Satisfaction and personal reward abounded as I made these vintage beauties my own. I feel that I have introduced the best of the old with the best of the new. I kept what I liked and I discarded what I didn't like. I based my decisions on my over 40 years of drumming experience I am a happy fella because of it.
There is a small part of me that feels guilty because of this. That part is overruled by the part of me that is overjoyed, but it exist just the same.
Isn't life strange sometimes.
Please comment as you see fit. Perhaps some of you have been in a similar spot.


Senior Member
Who cares what you do with your kits. One of my biggest pet peeves is when another drummer will say "you shouldn't do that" simply because they don't feel its right or no one else does it.

Do whatever you want if it makes you happy.


Platinum Member
It isn't pier pressure kyle. I don't care what others think. I sometimes feel guilty because I am so happy with what I have changed and I somehow feel that I should have been satisfied with how things were.


Silver Member
Satisfaction and personal reward abounded as I made these vintage beauties my own.
I don't see what the problem is. You bought kits to make them your kits. If you have fun and love making these kits uniquely yours, then way to go. Some of us don't do anything more than putting on heads that we like. Just have fun, man.


Senior Member
I see what you mean, taking some of the vintage out of the vintage kit. But, if you can bring some modern accessory to the vintage kit.. hey! Best of both worlds!
Would be cool to see what you've done. :)


Senior Member
I understand where you are coming from. It is sentimentality and respect to past that make us want to keep vintage things true to their original form. If you wanted these drums as a collector or a drum historian or to sell them for profit, I would think not changing them would be the way to go. But, you obviously want to play them and want them to be as functional as possible, so there is nothing wrong with making improvements as you see fit. Again, I totally get the guilt, but not everything was made better back then or withstood the test of time. I think you are doing a great thing by combining best of the old and new.


Platinum Member
In my case, the vintage kit I got was simply not playable as was due to shell damage. The spurs and tom mount upgrades were a practical choice to make the kit playable again.

Ultimately, what you do with a kit is your decision, and while some might tear out their hair and beat their chests because you drilled a vintage shell, others will look at what you did and say, "That makes sense. I didn't like that original feature either."

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I wouldn't necessarily consider this a taboo, as I've had a few vintage kits myself and either upgraded or replaced parts that flat-out couldn't hold up to how I work. In fact, my first Slingerland kit mom and dad got me in 1978, I replaced the anemic factory spurs with the then-new Ludwig 1/2" curved monster spurs! (A design I still like to this day).

But remember too, Pro Drum in Hollywood made it a business to allow drummers to buy whatever brand of shells they wanted without hardware and would install different tom mounts/spurs/whatever else they wanted. Here in L.A. it was not uncommon to see vintage Ludwigs with Rogers swiv-o-matic tom mounts, or what I remember them doing some years ago, they took a Gretsch kit and installed Yamaha spurs and Pearl tom mounts! I had them install the monster Pearl bass drum spurs to a Ludwig 14x22 bass drum from 1973 once as well!

Making improvements isn't considered taboo, I say! The important thing is the sound-vibe of those vintage shells - and if modern bits and pieces make them easier to play, then that's OK!


Platinum Member
I have mixed feelings about it.
Probably best not to voice them though, because after all, they're your drums and you can do what you want with them.

The kits all look really good, and the modifications were tastefully done.

Taye-Dyed makes some points I agree with.


Staff member
The only consideration IMHO - am I a collector or a player? Two different defined paths that provide all the answers you need.

If I had an E type Jaguar as a show piece, would I upgrade the brakes = hell no. If I wanted to actually drive the thing, of course I would. As with anything old, if you want to use it, so long as you preserve the essential character of the piece, all's good.


Platinum Member
Depends what you want. If you are changing the sound why not buy a kit that sounds like that in the first place?

I love the look of "Vintage" kits but I would never buy a really old kit to gig with as its sound would not fit the music I play, and it would probably be too fragile to gig anyway. If I was going to gig a kit that looked old I would simply buy a modern kit and put a vintage style wrap on it. Job done.

Each to there own.


Platinum Member
Interesting comments, and yes the guilt comes from respect of the past.
On the other hand, when I see some of the things on these old kits I can't help to think, "What Were They Thinking?".

Stick Chopper Hoops?
Wobbly Spurs And Floor Tom Legs?
Bass Drum Lugs That Were Not High Enough In Profile To Prevent Splay?
Tom Mounts That Choked The Drum?
Rail Consolettes That Broke And Slipped?
The Ludwig "Bump" In The Shell?
Snare Strainers That Didn't Work?

I just couldn't deal with these things on a daily basis and actually play the drums because I knew of something better.


"Uncle Larry"
The whole reason for the vintage kits is the tone, not the hardware. Cheap crappy gotta remember that this stuff was designed by people who, through no fault of their own, had what I call "Depression-era" mentality. Use just enough material to barely do the job and not a gram more.

No one I know has any love for the crap hardware that came out of most drum factories of that era. Drums, quite literally, take a beating. More is expected from a drum kit today than then. Taboo? Bah. It's an improvement. You are doing those drums a solid.

With the exception of collector type drums, I'll never quite understand the mentality of something that is less functional to be worth more than the more functional counterpart, just because it's original. Really, people should be paying more for a kit like yours (if you were to sell) than an original with the crap hardware, JMO. The mojo is in the shells not the hardware.


there are two different schools of thought when it comes to vintage drums

the collectors kit - all original in pristine condition

the players kit - original shells and whatever the hell else you want to do with them


Senior Member
I say do what you want drums are meant to sound good. On the other hand if this was some super rare only one left in the whole world drum kit I would never do it. But if someone did I wouldn't cry.

The Old Hyde

Andy kind of nailed it for me. if your a player, do what works for you. My luddies have a bunch of aftermarket, non Ludwig style lugs on them and im sure it de-values them but I was building the kit to play, not sell or restore.


Platinum Member
there are two different schools of thought when it comes to vintage drums

the collectors kit - all original in pristine condition

the players kit - original shells and whatever the hell else you want to do with them

+1.This is how I feel.If you want to mod a drum that's already in need ,or has been modded before,then have at it.Conversly,if you have an original,unmodified piece,I strongly believe in leaving it alone.

If you like the sound...and look,finish of vintage drums,but not the hardware,then buy up orphans of already modified vintage pieces,and finish and refit the hardware as you feel necessary.

The reasons for that ,are simply this.It's WAY cheaper to buy modded or single pieces, than an entire matching original kit.Easily 35-50% cheaper,and you still have a vintage drum,to refit as you feel necessary,with out devaluing a collectable piece.Plenty of guys out there could enjoy that kit,and gig that kit,in unaltered ,original condition.

Secondly.Modifing an original drum,will devalue it's collectable worth by 35-50%.Modding the drum,than didn't need modding,DOWNGRADES it's value,no upgrades.If you don't believe that,just watch resale prices on Ebay for a week or so,and compare the prices of modified drums,against original drums

Thirdly,personal taste in finish,looks an hardware,are transient,and differ from generation to generation.They are often,here today and gone tomorrow,or till the next piece of new hardware comes along.

Vintage drums are so valuable,and collectable because ,they are a piece of history,and so if we modded all the vintage kits out there,eventually,we'd have NO original drums to refer to for historical reference or identification.You can't reference ALL information about vintage drums in a book or on the net.Sometimes ,you need to look at the actual drum,for that degree of accuracy.That's how some of the information in books or website is gathered.

Did anybody think about that?

I know that's hard for some younger playes to understand,in this information age,but it's 100% true.

So if you want that vintage look and sound,buy up orphans,or drums in need of restoration,.Refinish,repair,plug holes,and hang all the new hardware on those shells that you want.You'll certainly pay less money that buying an original piece,and you'll have the drum set you wanted in the first place,without destroying their originallity and value.

Why not leave original,unalterd drums to the collectors and purists,or drummers who want 100% original kits to play,or those,who want to preserve history,not rewrite it.

I'm with John Aldridge,Chet Falzerano,Harry Clagany and other vintage experts on this issue.Friends,don't let friends drill holes in vintage drums,because if you keep doing it,there won't any original stuff left.

Steve B