Vintage Ludwig Bonham kit restoration project finally finished!

cdrums21

Gold Member
For quite some time now, I’ve wanted to have a vintage Bonham kit. I’ve seen some beautiful pictures of Bonham kits on here that were the new re-issues and some that people had redone themselves. I became obsessed with having the same kit that Bonham used from the same early 70’s era, outfitted with the same heads and hardware….right down to the last bolt. I just wanted to see, hear and feel the same thing that he did when he sat down to play behind his legendary studio kit. The problem was, where was I going to find a green sparkle, 1971, 3 ply maple Ludwig kit in the same sizes and outfitted with the same hardware as Bonham’s kit?
Well, I was looking at a local website for musicians when I saw that a local guitar player was selling a Ludwig kit. I clicked on the link and here is the picture that came up:


What you see is a 1974, 3 ply maple Ludwig kit with a 26x14 kick drum (virgin) a 16x18 floor tom and 13/14/15/16 concert toms covered in the black panther finish, which is like the covering on a guitar amp. I went to look at the drums in person and the shells were almost pristine…in very, very nice condition. I bought the entire kit, which included stands and cases, for $600. I was only interested in the bass drum and floor tom, since they were the only drums authentic to the Bonham kit. I sold the rest of the kit piece by piece for about $750, so in essence, I got the bass drum and the floor tom for free. I then went looking for the two other drums and found these two on ebay a few days later:




What you see are a 1970, 14x10, 12 lug tom (identical to Bonham’s) and a 16x16 floor tom…again, with the shells in pristine condition. Now I had all the pieces to the puzzle, including the 6.5x14 supraphonic snare drum, which is my main snare drum that I use anyway. I just had to remove the covering, refinish the drums and decide what hardware to use. I debated about drilling holes in the virgin bass drum, but I wanted the kit to be as close to the actual Bonham kit as possible, so I went with the vintage hardware. I bought the drum wrap, contacted Jack Lawton, vintage drum restorer and Ludwig expert for some tips on hardware placement and parts, and began the task about 2 months ago. The following is the finished product based on the 1971 Bonham kit that is found here on Drummerworld on the Bonham site. Here are the specs:
Ludwig 3 ply maple (clear interior) Bonham kit in green sparkle finish
• 26x14 bass drum (1974) outfitted with a vintage 70’s rail consolette and cymbal mount.
• 14x10 mounted tom (1970) complete with tone control muffler.
• 16x16 floor tom (1970) complete with tone control muffler.
• 16x18 floor tom (1974) complete with tone control muffler




 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
Well you get my vote for Drum Re-Builder of the year.(no offense to all others) Great job and great patience finding parts.
 

aydee

Platinum Member
Hey Clint! Long time no see! So this is what you've been up to. Very cool.. looks like time well spent
 

cdrums21

Gold Member
Hey Clint! Long time no see! So this is what you've been up to. Very cool.. looks like time well spent
How are you Aydee? I missed you guys and thought I'd just offer up some pics of my latest project. Wow, do these drums sound huge! Incredible sound. I can't wait to play them out tonight. My bandmates will be shocked...hopefully they can hear their instruments over me! Thanks for the compliments so far.
 

PQleyR

Platinum Member
They look great!

Hey, how come you've got wingnut type things on the toms to secure them to the...post...thing? (my drum gear vocabulary could really do with being expanded a little, I think). It's just that I've got a set of 80s Ludwigs and I have to do the hardware up with a spanner...why are earlier ones different? Or is that a modification for convenience?
 

harryconway

Platinum Member
Excellent job. Quite a score, on the free kick drum/floor tom combo. The deals are still out there. All ya gotta do is look for 'em, find 'em, grab 'em, and work with 'em. And you did it all.
 

harryconway

Platinum Member
It's just that I've got a set of 80s Ludwigs and I have to do the hardware up with a spanner..
Look here: http://www.adcdrums.co.uk/prodtype.asp?PT_ID=362&strPageHistory=cat The floor tom leg mount/tom mount also is used as the cymbal L-arm mount, and was used to mount the fold out spurs as well. Being "carrying an additional wrench" is considered by many to be a major "pain in the .....", most people prefer having a wing nut. When the wing nut gets lost/broken is where most "standard" nuts get pressed into service, owners being to cheap. lazy, or whatever, to replace the wing nut.
 

zambizzi

Platinum Member
Man, you did a KICKASS job! I like that wrap a lot, it looks better than what I've seen on new Bonham reissue kits (maybe it's just the lighting?)

Nice work...enjoy that sweet thang!
 

Strangelove

Gold Member
Very nice! How do they sound? Have you been able to tune them according to Jeff Ochletree's video? Are you going to try to finish them with a set of vintage Giant Beats, too?
 

zepplin92

Senior Member
wow that is so cool, looks like the real thing, and im sure after all that work they sound just that much better, congrats and awsome job.
 

cdrums21

Gold Member
Very nice! How do they sound? Have you been able to tune them according to Jeff Ochletree's video? Are you going to try to finish them with a set of vintage Giant Beats, too?
Thanks for the compliments. The drums sound great. Very big and powerful. I have been a tuning fanatic for a long time (See my posts in the tom tuning thread starting with post #69), and I subscribe to the same bottom tighter method as Jeff Ocheltree explains. I have been tuning that way for years, way before I ever heard of Jeff Ocheltree. I like the roundness and tone you get by tuning that way. I tuned these drums the same way I always do and they didn't disappoint. They sound different than my yamahas do, and have different heads, so they take a little getting used to, but the tone and punch are there. I play paiste 2002 medium crashes anyway, an 18" and a 20", so I will probably be done with the project now.
 

Strangelove

Gold Member
Thanks for the compliments. The drums sound great. Very big and powerful. I have been a tuning fanatic for a long time (See my posts in the tom tuning thread starting with post #69), and I subscribe to the same bottom tighter method as Jeff Ocheltree explains. I have been tuning that way for years, way before I ever heard of Jeff Ocheltree. I like the roundness and tone you get by tuning that way. I tuned these drums the same way I always do and they didn't disappoint. They sound different than my yamahas do, and have different heads, so they take a little getting used to, but the tone and punch are there. I play paiste 2002 medium crashes anyway, an 18" and a 20", so I will probably be done with the project now.
I rushed out to get a Giant Beat reissue crash that sounded like the Immigrant Song (or Zep III in general), which I have admired for years. It doesn't have as long or as sparkling a sustain. I found out on cymbalholic that only vintage Giant Beats can sound like that album or Zep IV. The old ones were heavier, and profiled a but different. But they are rarer to find than vintage 2002s. I haven't seen any on Ebay since I've been looking.
 
Last edited:

rmandelbaum

Platinum Member
Superb!


I grabbed a 26 x 14 blue / olive badge marching bass drum, I have a 16" floor tom, I am going to dig up a few more and build myself a Bonham inspired kit as well.
 
Top