Was there a golden age of drum manufacturing

Interested to hear your views on this. First off I don't wish to offend anyone with kits mentioned simply some observations on the many kits I have played and tried. My theory is there is a great period of drum manufacturing between the late 80s to about 2005 ish. I think pre mid 80s the manufacturing had great wood but a lack of accuracy in the machining out and equipment. After the mid 00s the accuracy of the build is good but the materials are not good in my opinion due to company's needing to meet profit margins and sadly a lot of the good wood being gone and rightfully being banned from being used. I think good wood can be got in a kit today but by god you will pay top dollar for it. I think the market is flooded with semi pro kits that are made well and look the part but the materials gone into them are not as good. The guitar player from my band was telling me about the gibson factory being raided in 1994 and stopped from using a lot of woods subsequently Gibson's post 94 are not as good. Did this happen in the drum world?
A few years ago I bought a reissue genista second hand new condition. I had admired them on line for a while and thought it would be a good little gigging kit, upon first inspection it seems good but it really was not the wood "birch" was almost white in colour with several brown knots and soft like cheap deal the metal was cheap pot metal nowhere near the quality of a original genista. I had a prolite which was to me not sufficient quality for the price tag chome starting to pit almost straight away no where near the designer i have from 03. I have a recording custom from the late 80s where for me has accuracy of the build and quality of materials are good and would cost the same or less as a new semi pro kit new today. Rant over but just a theory mabye I am mad or is there anything to it?
 
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Ghostin one

Senior Member
The golden age of drum manufacturing is now, from my view. There are so many choices and few are bad.

Gibson was raided in 2009 and 2011 over ebony for fretboards. Their downward spiral started long before then, as far as I'm concerned.
 

williamsbclontz

Silver Member
I’d say it’s different between manufacturers probably. But if your buying a top of the line kit today from any brand it’ll be hard to get a bad sounding drum
 
I agree with the fact that there is better stuff made today than ever of course thing's get better and better built. But all I am wondering is was there a time where the best wood was used. I work as a trades man as well and encounter all kinds of timbers and the quality of materials are not as good and good timber is becoming more sought after and expensive a 100 years ago pitch pine was used for everything now a reclaimed plank will fetch good money. It's just a few young lads i was teaching went out and bought new kits like pearl vision tama silverstar even say Saturn's meridians and the like and all I am wondering is are these newer and better than ever or is a older kit from yester day like a old masters 9000 signia genista etc better bit of timber in them for same price don't know mabye wood used now is better than ever.
 

Ghostin one

Senior Member
Most drums that I'm interested in are maple (sugar maple, rock maple, aka Acer saccharum) which is still a very common tree. It's possible that old growth is superior but I've never heard any discussion of it aside from violin and guitar makers mourning the loss of the ancient spruces for tops.
 
Is all maple equal or as you say the growth and position play a factor. Both my designer and prolite I did have were 9 ply maple prolite had rerings and thinner shell to the designer but when I put a tom from each kit with no heads beside each other the designer was a more rich honey colour with a tighter grain pro lite looks pale and a wide grain. I was surprised how different they looked. The way the planet has been wrecked I won't be surprised if we are down the the dregs of wood soon. I have a 1970 Ludwig that works as well as the day it was made nearly 50 years ago. It's amazing how these companies keep pumping out kits the market where i am is saturated with more drums than drummers you can't give them away.
 
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Dave_G

Member
I think we're in the best time for a combination of quality and price. I spent some time in the early 2000s apprenticing to a custom drum maker and feel that forced a lot of the big name companies to up their game.



In terms of wood and hardware quality (hoops and lugs), I would argue that up until the 1970s, American builders had the best access to quality woods. For instance, it was easier to get Honduran/Cuban mahogany. Also, all of the COB hardware common until the early 60s was well made and had great chrome plating.



Having said that, I feel the most innovative period came during the mid to late 70s and 80s via Japanese builders, particularly Tama and Yamaha. They made incredible shells and experimented around.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
There must have been a particular "better" time since almost every major brand is now making a kit to reproduce "that vintage sound" from before!!!!
 

cbphoto

Gold Member
If we listen to any of The Beatles recordings, we’ll hear great sounding drums. If we watch Ringo play the Washington D.C. Coliseum in 1964, we’ll see the cymbal stands quake, the snare stand quiver, and notice his throne seat was a poorly padded piece of wood (he delivered power in that show).

Conclusion: the shells were good, the hardware inadequate for rock music.

Then came the Rogers Drums’ Swiv-o-matic gear in the 1970s, and what I think changed it all was the Rogers Memriloc in 1976. Now our stands stayed in position and we could set up gear with consistency.

By the 1980s this innovation in hardware led Tama to make the most robust hardware ever, which in turn allowed them to copy Sonor and make thick-shelled toms without them quivering all over the stage.

Conclusion: Great sounding drums mounted to very solid hardware, which could be set up consistently and quickly.

So, I’d say 1970–1985 was the golden age.

Nowadays, I think every manufacturer can make a decent shell and put decent hardware on it. The innovation is happening in the player, the guy who can make unique sounds and distinct rhythms on a kit that is not considered standard. This video of Mark Guiliani is a prime example.
 
If we listen to any of The Beatles recordings, we’ll hear great sounding drums. If we watch Ringo play the Washington D.C. Coliseum in 1964, we’ll see the cymbal stands quake, the snare stand quiver, and notice his throne seat was a poorly padded piece of wood (he delivered power in that show).

Conclusion: the shells were good, the hardware inadequate for rock music.

Then came the Rogers Drums’ Swiv-o-matic gear in the 1970s, and what I think changed it all was the Rogers Memriloc in 1976. Now our stands stayed in position and we could set up gear with consistency.

By the 1980s this innovation in hardware led Tama to make the most robust hardware ever, which in turn allowed them to copy Sonor and make thick-shelled toms without them quivering all over the stage.

Conclusion: Great sounding drums mounted to very solid hardware, which could be set up consistently and quickly.

So, I’d say 1970–1985 was the golden age.

Nowadays, I think every manufacturer can make a decent shell and put decent hardware on it. The innovation is happening in the player, the guy who can make unique sounds and distinct rhythms on a kit that is not considered standard. This video of Mark Guiliani is a prime example.
I agree. It's all about the playing and player. And there is only so many ways to make a drum , when I was younger I was a complete drum gear nut now i play so much gigging and rehearse so much I don't care about the latest gimic must have and just want no hassle from gear . A good kit that's older is as good an option as any once you dodge a few fads and is a better option for young people buying. How much has changed really a 12 year old masters for 700 for me would be a better option than a new vision for 1200.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
There must have been a particular "better" time since almost every major brand is now making a kit to reproduce "that vintage sound" from before!!!!
Just another revenue stream, at a time when legacy brands are leveraging everything they can to show differentiation, & the newer guys want a piece of it - nothing to do with "better" IMO.

As for major manufacturers, I don't think we're in a golden age now in terms of instrument quality, but we are in the age of the widest choice at the lowest price point in history. I do believe it's a golden age for independents though - many are emerging from the Keller Sheller era, & actually driving greater choice + innovation.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
I'd say now, and going back the last 10-15 years.

The fact is if you took just about any mid-line kit made today, put in a time machine, and took it back to the 60's70/80's, it would be considered a top of the line premium kit. Beack then, people would lose their minds over features we consider rather standard today.

And if you took many high end kits from the 70's and 80's and tried to sell them now, they'd be considered entry level to mid-line at best.
 

TK-421

Senior Member
I'd say now, and going back the last 10-15 years.

The fact is if you took just about any mid-line kit made today, put in a time machine, and took it back to the 60's70/80's, it would be considered a top of the line premium kit. Beack then, people would lose their minds over features we consider rather standard today.

And if you took many high end kits from the 70's and 80's and tried to sell them now, they'd be considered entry level to mid-line at best.
When it comes to the shells, I think the high-end kits back then would be considered at least mid to high-end today. But you'd have to overlook some of the odd tom sizes and configurations that were fairly common then, like super deep square-size toms, concert toms and the like.

It's when you get to the hardware that you find the biggest improvements. To this day, I dread playing vintage kicks with telescoping spurs, because they were only designed to keep the bass drum from rocking side-to-side. They do nothing to keep them from sliding forward as you play, and I have a heavy foot. So every vintage kit slides almost as if it were on ice. Tom mounts are the other area with the biggest improvement today.

So overall, I agree. Today is the golden age. Manufacturing techniques are at an all-time high, hardware is very functional and very reliable (and for the most part very well designed), and the sound of today's kits are very good to excellent almost across the board. Even drum sizes are finally getting to be about right—standard size toms are common again (or 1" deeper than standard which is also fine) and bass drums are finally coming back down to sensible lengths after getting a bit ridiculously deep not that long ago.
 

mikyok

Platinum Member
Bearing edges, hardware and heads have made leaps and bounds in recent times so as a result even the low end kits are now reliable work horses. We're not really in a golden age we've just got better at making what we have.

Golden age for me would be 30s - 60s purely because the drum kit we know and love evolved in that time.
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
I'd say right now.

You don't have to pay a premium to get a birch or maple drum set, and access to the used market is incredible.

Hardware is now being designed to try to find that perfect balance between durability and portability.

It's a great time to be a drummer.
 

trickg

Silver Member
I'm not sure how the vintage craze got rolling like it did, but I see it across spectrum, and attached to it is this idea that older is somehow superior in some way. I have a friend at work who all joking aside has probably flipped easily $100,000-$150,000 on guitars, many of them vintage, but all of them high end - he doesn't even get started until he crosses the $3000 threshold.

He recently "paid" $18,000 for an early 60s Gibson ES-335, but ended up having to flip it because it was a bigger bite than he could handle financially. But with that in mind, he initially tried to buy it because he believed in that whole "vintage is better" mystique.

From what I can see, we are currently in a place where musical instruments are better, more innovative, and are being produced more consistently, then ever before. I know I created the "Corinthian Drum Marketing" thread, and there is a lot of hype in advertising, but that doesn't mean that the gear that is currently available isn't actually the best that has ever been produced.
 

gdmoore28

Gold Member
Ghostin One nailed it with his observation that the Golden Age of drums is RIGHT NOW.

While it stands to reason that wood qualities are quite limited now, the manufacturers have made excellent adaptations and substitution.

On the matter of Gibson: the quality and voluminous other problems at that company were not caused by The Ebony Raids, but by one individual: Henry Juszkiewicz. Thankfully, Henry has been deposed and Gibson will now get back into manufacturing guitars.

GeeDeeEmm
 

Bruce M. Thomson

Gold Member
There always seems to be some improvement of one sort or another.
Although the 70's kits did have a special quality to them we could very well be in that age right now. This short video has a mystical quality to it and even though I have never played a DW kit there approach does have a special level of care.

https://youtu.be/qpp1qtfKLiY
 

Craig J

Senior Member
Definitely now. The quality of drums coming from Ludwig, Yamaha, Pearl, Tama, Gretsch and just about every large manufacturer with easy access is unbelievable. On top of that, you have the best boutique drum makers that have ever existed that are an email away. It's incredible.
 
There seems to be a consensus for the most part for drums of today which for the most part i agree with . Kits like the gretsch renown are fantastic kits for the money. Hardware is better than ever and so is the choice and accessibility of stuff. I own a vintage Ludwig and it's great for certain things but nowhere near as versatile as a new kit great for quieter music like jazz blues and softer music lovely soft warm tone. But put it in louder high energy situation it would de tune with heavy hitting also due to the fat bearing edges slightly bigger shells and looser build it has a narrow tuning range even less or none with any thing bar ambassador more like a conga or bongo shell concept so I think one ply works best. But in soft music and played with right technique it has so much soft warm tone. They do have strengths in areas but across the board new kits are more versatile.

But in all the kits i play I still always fall back on my 30 year old 9000. It's had several owners done god knows how many gigs and has just wore into a nice place and seasoned really good, the timber has as well I am sure, not much has changed in a modern construction from it and I wonder will a modern kit wear as well. Hopefully. I find the 9000 a versatile kit for modern day uses and super easy to tune.
 
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