Snare of the week

Ludwig Jazz Festival

As I regularly get asked for recommendations on snare drums, and advice on getting vintage sounds in the studio,I thought I’d start a weekly column discussing various classic and vintage drums with some accompanying video content.

First up I’m going to take a look at the Ludwig Jazz festival; a timeless classic, this model became Ludwig’s most popular wood shell snare drum of all time. It became the backbeat to Rock n’ Roll alongside the metal shell ‘Supraphonic 400’ and sold in huge quantity in the 1960s due to a certain drummer named Ringo. (Note: Ringo’s drum was a mid-60’s drum but with a 5.5” depth shell – read more here).

Introduced around 1960, this 3-ply 8 lug snare drum evolved from a snare drum that Ludwig were producing in the 1950’s. Ludwig produced the ‘New Swingster Dance Model’ snare which was 14 x 5.5”, later renaming it the ‘Barret Deems Model’ (1956). By 1960 it had been re-named the ‘Jazz festival’ and the shell was half inch shorter at 14×5”.

We have a selection of these wonderful drums in the shop, in a variety of colours and with different features according to age – with and without internal tone control muffler, nickel and chrome hardware options. As I’m sure you’ll agree, these drums sound amazing and remain a firm favourite in the recording studio as a ‘go-to’ drum.

If you are looking to begin your vintage snare collection, or you are looking for a classic vintage sound in the studio, then this would be a great starting point. Here’s a video of some of the Ludwig Jazz Festival snares we have in stock…

 

All the drums featured in our video are available to buy on our website; we accept paypal and all major credit cards and all items ship Worldwide. I hope you found the words and the video helpful in searching for your sound.

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Vintage Drums, what else?!

OK, so I know its been a long time since there has been a blog on the Nick Hopkin Drums website. As the business continues to grow it seems I have less and less time to sit down and write about what I love – Vintage Drums.

That’s not entirely true; last August I launched a vintage drums magazine – Vintage Drums Legendary Sounds – which is gaining momentum and getting great feedback, but all truth told I am spending so much time editing and compiling each issue of that that I’ve let the NHDrums blog slide into the slow lane, with just the occasional post about a particular or peculiar snare drum that has arrived on my doorstep.

What running the magazine has done for me, is open up conversations with loads of drummers worldwide, and start to tap into what’s really happening out there – single handed running a business can be lonely, especially in this digital age, and its easy to become very insular. This past month I’ve been talking on the phone and via email to some really interesting characters, more recently Dave Elitch in LA. I wish we were in the same time zone, so we could physically hang out and talk and play drums, and I may stop calling him at stupid times when he’s still in bed!!! Anyway, Dave is one of those guys who lives and  breathes drums, whether he is playing or teaching and has a huge appreciation for the drums of the past. He recently posted something on his instagram profile which is food for thought, about how technology is advancing so fast that we are losing specific skill sets (not just music) – probably the basis for another whole article – read it here.

Talking to lots of players it’s interesting that most people fall into one of two categories – people with way too many snare drums who couldn’t choose a top three, and people with one or two snares that suit them for everything. Choosing two is hard; What would be your favourite 2 snare drums? I think A black Beauty and something else, although my something else changes every time a batch of snares land at the shop! There are quite often wild card drums, sometimes un-badged or by lesser known brands that sound incredible and would be overlooked by 90% of us. I think I need to start a video series on ‘would be contenders’!

The shop seems quiet at the moment although a steady stream of gear continues to flow in and out at regular intervals. In this fast moving digital age it seems vintage is starting to become ‘hip’, whatever that means. Old stuff is getting cool, and expensive! My mission since opening almost six years ago, has been to share my passion for drums with others and educate younger people where I can. A lot of younger players, are priced out of investing in a vintage snare or kit, at the moment. Talking with Bob Henrit yesterday, he commented that the state of the music industry today means the majority of musicians who would have been ‘pro’ ten years ago are now ‘semi pro’ at best, and/or skint. I still believe that the old ones are the best, so if you are a younger player looking for that sound that you have in your head, or you heard on your favourite record – but are on a super tight budget – give me a call or drop an email and I’ll do my best to advise. There are other good guys out there too, who know what they are talking about, who I can put you in touch with if needed.

Where was I? Oh yeah, Drums! We have some classic snares in store as always and are just negotiating a rather lovely consignment of drums that should be here soon – probably in a month or so, just after the Chicago Drum Show. Watch this space as i endeavor to get a blog up weekly. Back to editing Issue #4 of the magazine now, which  needs to be with the designer in 3 days!

If you were unaware of the magazine’s existence, all 3 issues are available in traditional print and digital download from this lovely website – Issue 4 is out Monday 11th June – www.vintagedrumslegendarysounds.com

 

Snare of the day

Ludwig Acrolite

Today we are featuring a classic late 1970s Ludwig Acrolite snare drum.

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These snare drums have always been regarded among drummers as a studio favourite. I remember English drummer Bob Henrit (Argent, Kinks) telling me that his go to snare drum in the studio, during the 1960s and 1970s was an Acrolite. He may take other snare drums into the studio, but if the drum sound wasn’t working, he could always reach for his Acrolite and it would sound great. People sometimes talk about these drums like they’ve recently become really popular, but they’ve been loved for decades.

This particular snare that we have at the shop is in original condition. A previous owner has engraved his name in the top hoop, but that doesn’t affect the sound. It still sounds great! More details and images on Nick Hopkin Drums website.

Snare of the day

Leedy Utility

This lovely 1960 Leedy Utility snare drum arrived in the shop a couple days before Christmas.

Leedy Utility snare drum late 1950's at Nick Hopkin Drums, www.nickhopkindrums.com

This 14 x 5.5″ Leedy snare drum in original, natural mahogany is in great condition. Dated 1960, it features 6 original chrome lugs, single flange hoops, vintage snare drum claws and the original 3 point snare strainer.

The Blue oval badge, with the postal code 48 printed after the word Chicago, dates this drum 1960. Overall this drum is in great, original condition. Featuring an original vintage calf head on the batter side and a Slingerland True-Tone on the resonant side, it tunes up easily and sounds great – the calf head giving it that great vintage tone. It sounds great with brushes as well as sticks; it benefits from a lighter stick to experience the full tone of the drum.

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This Leedy snare drum may suit a player looking for something quirky, an alternative to some of the other 6 lug vintage snare drums that are popular. More details on the website…

Snare of the day

Slingerland Magnum 702 series

Well, its late in the day, but I have some time to sneak a quick write up on a tasty snare we have in store!

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If you’re looking for a great Rock snare drum, maybe your search ends here…. an early 1980s 14×8″ Slingerland Magnum 702 series maple snare drum! This 5 ply maple shell snare drum is featured in the 1983 Slingerland catalogue. This drum is in lovely condition, featuring all original hardware including 10 full length lugs,  stick-saver hoops and Slapshot strainer.

The Slapshot strainer has lovers and haters, the latter due to it’s cumbersome nature. Personally, I love any drums where the snare wires extend past the diameter of the shell, it seems that most of the classics do – Ludwig Super Sensitive, Premier 2000, Rogers Dynasonic, Slingerland Radio King, to name a few. This strainer is a little bulky, but is fully functional and with a good set of wires present adds to the sensitivity and versatility of this drum.

That said, I took this up to Northstone Studios with Jayce Lewis a few weeks ago, giving it a trial run – it definitely rocked, plenty of volume, great body with a nice, full sound due to the depth. All in all, a winner.

What a great snare drum, one we certainly don’t see everyday here in the UK. More details on the website.

Vintage drum musings…

Somehow it’s Friday. For the past two days I’ve had The Strokes debut album ‘Is this is?’ on heavy rotation, taking me back to 2001. I was living in Brighton around that time, helping a friend build a studio, and sleeping in the loft of that building as we did so. Mad times, working all hours, building an empire. I lost the plot somewhere around that time, and ended up moving to Wales via a sleepy village outside Brighton for a couple years where I met my wife. James did really well with the studio and it continues to grow – check it out Brighton Electric. If you’re on the South Coast of the UK, well worth checking out I’d say.

Back to now and I’m wondering if I can track down The Strokes drummer for a chat about recording that album, for our magazine Vintage Drums Legendary Sounds. He’s come up in my mind as I’ve been finalising a piece on Clem Burke for issue 3 and we’ve been talking about the whole New York sound;The Ramones, New York Dolls, Blondie, The Strokes…. We have a lot of other cool stuff in Issue 3, including articles on Charlie Watts and Ronnie Verrell, as well as behind the scenes recording a drum sample library and loads of knowledgeable contributions on vintage drums from a variety of sources. Almost there, looking at End February publishing date.

Looking around the shop I’m just seeing loads of cool snares! Yesterday we sold a nice 40’s Carlton Standard to Chris from White Feather Collective. I’m spoilt for choice to recommend one, but this Slingerland Sound King is one of my favourite drums. 14 x 6.5″ chrome over brass shell that just sounds great at any tuning, more common in the 5″ shell size, these drums are a must have in the studio arsenal.

Slingerland Sound King 6.5 snare drum available at Nick Hopkin Drums, www.nickhopkindrums.com

In an attempt to get the year off to a good start, I’ve been trying to tidy the shop. In doing so, I seem to be discovering boxes and boxes of vintage spares that aren’t listed on the website. Slowly but surely I am photographing and listing these, but it’s a long journey! If you’re still searching for that elusive spare part to complete your project or most loved snare/kit, do drop us a line and we’ll let you know what we have available.

Signing off on a fairly chilly Friday afternoon to update the website and get some orders packed and ready to ship tomorrow.

 

 

Snare of the day

Fibes SFT690

We are fortunate to have two stunning Fibes snare drums in stock at Nick Hopkin Drums. Both drums are in amazing condition, with original parts including the snare wires.

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First up is a 14×6″ Crystalite drum; this clear acrylic shell is recognised as something of a classic, rarer in the 6″ depth. All hardware is correct and in great condition, the shell is immaculate with no cracks. The SFT snare strainer is complete and fully functional; it comes with a set of original wires which are in great shape. This drum tunes up easily and sounds great!

We also have a 14×5.5″ fibreglass in Brown Marble. This is an original, and rarer Fibes colour. Maybe you have the kit to match? Again, all the hardware on this drum is original; it even has the Fibes rubber bumper fitted to prevent the snare knocking against the tom.

Both these drums sound great, with loads of sensitivity and response from the extended snare wires. Plenty of volume from these shells when required, a lovely bright crisp tone. An alternative to the vintage wooden and metal shell snare drums in your collection.

More details on both drums on our website…