This was an extremely popular chrome shell snare drum in the 70’s in the USA, marketed as a cheaper alternative to the top line Sound King model. It actually has different features and characteristics which make it a great drum in its own right, rather than a cheaper alternative, so let’s look at some of those.
Appearing first in the 1963 catalogue, named the ‘Festival’ model, this drum features a smooth chrome over brass shell. It was only available in a 5” depth although it was offered as an 8 or 10 lug drum. Fitted with a rapid strainer, more reliable than previous Radio King Clamshell strainers and easier today to replace or repair than the Zoomatic strainer which were a feature of the Sound King.
The drum was fitted with Slingerland’s ‘Rim Shot’ hoops (also referred to as ‘stick saver’) which curl inwards giving a different and distinct sound when compared to other hoops of the period ( but cutting into your fingers if you carry the drum by the hoop!). Also standard was a tone control dampener and 20 strand ‘snappy snares’.
This snare drum was popular in the 70’s but seldom seen here, which the Sound King snare being much more popular. So we picked one up when in the States, and we love it. It was a great warm tone due to the brass shell, but a real weight to it when tuned down and played hard with a rimshot. Tuned up high, with the snares taken down to a buzz, this drum offers great sensitivity making it more than suitable for those jazz gigs. There is a notable difference in sound when compared to the Sound King and other chrome over brass snare drums of the era. I love the fact that all these drums have their own characteristics which give them their own unique sound.
Overlooked or ignored by many drummers is the effect that the snare throw has on the sound of a drum. There is such a variety of snare throws on drums of the 60’s and 70’s within and between brands and all these have such a huge influence on how a drum sounds and responds when being played. Other than snare drums that have snare wires extending over each edge of the shell, there is something appealing to me in a basic, no nonsense snare throw that does its job and the rapid strainer performs well for me in this respect.
Slingerland continued to make these drums into the mid 70’s. I don’t know why we see less of these drums in the UK. We have a nice 8 lug 70’s drum in the shop at the moment that sounds stunning and hope to source some 10 lug models in the near future too.