Slingerland ‘Clamshell’ snare strainer

The Slingerland ‘Super Strainer’ was introduced in 1940 on Radio King snare drums, but is commonly referred to as the ‘clamshell’. It replaced the three point strainer which had featured on all drums until then. It looked great, with its streamlined design and extended throw off lever, but today is disliked by many for its fragility. Its rare to find a Radio King from this era with a complete arm on! However, Slingerland continued to use this strainer on drums up until the late 1950’s, gradually phasing out the three point.

Here’s a late 1950’s Radio Kings with the Clamshell throw off:

Although the extended lever is often missing from earlier drums, most snare throws I’ve come across are still functional without it. Occasionally the bolt holding the arm itself in place has worn out from years of use; the alternative is to replace it with a modern lever, of which we have several in stock. We picked these up when we were in the USA in May and they work a treat. Although they look nothing like the original, they really do work allowing these great drums to be played again.

We have several in stock on our website with worldwide shipping,  as well as a couple of fine Radio King Snare drums. One is late 1950’s in  white pearl with Nickel hardware the other mid 1950’s with chrome hardware in Blue glitter.

Why not come and visit us to try these snares out and check out the Clamshell throw in more detail. We’re open weekdays and weekends.


Slingerland Radio King snare drum – a brief history

Ask many drummers what the ultimate snare drum is, the Holy Grail, the ‘must have’, and you’ll hear the words Radio King. This snare drum has been a best seller since it was introduced and remains highly popular among players and collectors worldwide.


I’ll attempt to give a quick history of the drum as well as outline its main features. This snare drum was in production over 4 decades, so as you can imagine there are too many models to discuss here, but hopefully this article will serve as an introduction and you can go and explore a little more.

The Radio King first appeared in the 1936 Slingerland catalogue alongside an announcement that Gene Krupa was their new endorsee. It was a solid shell snare drum, which many believe to be the ultimate when it comes to sound and playability (most modern drums are ply, with the exception of a few custom companies).

The earliest models featured streamlined lugs without inserts, the rods tensioning directly into the lugs, and brass hoops engraved with ‘Slingerland Radio King’. Offered as a metal or wood shell, it is the wood shell drums that are hailed as a timeless classic. By 1938 the lugs had inserts (nicknamed ‘cigar lugs’) and the Gene Krupa model was Slingerland’s bestselling snare drum.

Slingerland1936 catalogue gene krupa.jpg

The solid maple shell featured reinforcement hoops and was fitted with nickel plated hardware, a three point strainer and extended brackets at both strainer and butt end, which the snare wire end plates themselves screwed directly into. All drums were fitted with a two pad muffler, with each pad washer stamped ‘Slingerland, Chicago ILL’.  The felt colour was yellow, red or green. Around 1942 felt pad washers were eliminated and the felt colour became grey. The size of knurled adjustment knob became slightly larger too.

During 1940-42 The Super Radio King was introduced with ‘super lugs’ (referred to as ‘small beavertail’) replacing the cigar shaped lugs and the ‘super strainer’ was introduced (referred to as the clamshell strainer). This strainer was more delicate than the three point, and many don’t like it for that reason, although it remained on drums up until the early 1960’s.


Around 1955 the Sound King hardware was introduced with a more modern look and Slingerland stick saver hoops (which curved inwards) were fitted as standard. Radio king remained stamped in hoops until around 1956 and both the three point and clam shell strainer were offered.

radio king blue glitter interior

In the early 1960’s solid shell snares became the artist model. By 1962 the clam shell throw was replaced by the zoomatic and between 1963 and 1966 the Radio King name reappeared on snares. By 1970 the artist model was 3 ply and the Radio King cob had been replaced by the Krupa sound king.

Artist models appeared over the years, such as the Ray McKinley model featuring a wooden hoop with pearl inlays and countersunk claws on the batter side, metal full flanged hoop snare side. The Buddy rich model featured a 3 point strainer and simple butt end and bottom hoop.Slingerland1939 cat

I’ve probably missed loads of information out, but you can read all this in more detail on the web.

Although most companies made solid shell drums in the 20’s and 30’s, most turned to plywood. Slingerland claimed in the 1950’s that they were the only company still manufacturing solid shell snare drums. “Each solid snare shell is hand turned for exact sizing to a perfect circle. It is the strongest and most durable shell made. Makes for easier playing, greater sensitivity of snares and easily controlled power and volume”.

Over the years, the Radio King Snare drum was offered in depths of 5,5.5,6,7 and 8. The Shell interiors are usually pretty rough, and separation/ splits in the reinforcement hoop are common. But these drums sound incredible. You can take a battered Radio King that cosmetically looks well past its time, place it on a snare stand and the magic happens. Most name players have one in their collection for studio work, and these drums provide the backbeat for many classic records in every genre.

In his book on Slingerland drums, Rob Cook states that collectors tend to refer to all solid shell Slingerland snare drums as Radio Kings and to not consider any drum a Radio King, unless it has a one piece as opposed to plied shell. What really distinguished the Radio King models from other Slingerland drums though, he states, were the Radio King Brackets, which drew the tension of the snare wires outward rather than upward. Rob says that the presence of these support brackets on both the strainer and butt plate is a better way to identify a Radio King, as this was part of the basis for the patent.

Feb 10 2016

It’s interesting running this shop, people kind of float on and off my radar. Back on my scene this week is Chris Ellul from UK band The Heavy, who’s been holed up in studios for the past year writing, recording and mixing their new album which comes out in April.

Chris turned up at the shop a few years ago, unannounced, as the band were recording at nearby Rockfield studios. He needed some parts urgently for one of his favourite studio snares, from what I remember. The shop looked very different to now, as I’d recently moved units so there would have been stuff everywhere. There still is, but it’s a little more organised these days. Anyhow, we fixed the snare and had a drum chatter over a cuppa, and since then we’ve seen a fair bit of Chris. He’s really into his vintage drums and so is a massive supporter of what we do here at Nick Hopkin Drums. He’s no badge freak – he plays what sounds good for the song.

Chris tells me that he used his 70’s Gretsch & 70’s Olympic sets on the new album which is released 1st April 2016. He also used a modest selection of vintage Rogers, Slingerland, Premier & Ludwig snare drums.

Check out the new single here – the drums really do sound great. I’m not sure which kit he’s touring, but he’ll have his tatty old Ludwig Supraphonic 400 on stage, with half the chrome hanging off it that sounds awesome – there’s a great story behind that snare drum. Ask him when you see him. Tour dates here

Premier Mayfair console set

Last week we took delivery of an early 1930s Premier Mayfair console kit in red glitter. 28″ bass drum mounted in a Premier console on wheels, with two toms, traps table and cymbal arms. Yesterday We happily delivered this beautiful piece of English drum history to its new home, a recording studio in England where it will be used on some upcoming film scores I’m told. So great to know that even 80 years after it was built, it’s still being used to make music rather than sitting on a shelf in a museum gathering dust. I love to see this old classics being played and can’t wait to hear the results in time. As we set it up, we wondered amount ourselves who the kit may have belonged to back in its day and what sort of gigging history it might have….


Premier ‘Kenny Clare’ Resonator

Premier 'Kenny Clare' Resonator

Early 70’s Premier ‘Kenny Clare’ Resonator- 22,13,16 in Polychromatic Red.
The Resonator drums were the brainchild of the late Alan Gilby who had experimented putting ‘liners’ in Ludwig drums for his friend Kenny Clare. This led to production by Premier in the early 70’s, the liners providing a resonant chamber within the drum itself, holding itself in place. These drums became one of Premier top line kits in the late 70’s and production continued through the 80’s, with some cosmetic changes.
These earlier drums feature disappearing bass drum spurs and dampers which pierce the liner, features that were later refined. A lovely sounding vintage classic.

A slow day…

It’s been a slow day at Nick Hopkin Drums. Due to feeling like i’ve been hit by a bus, with a really heavy cold, I haven’t managed to do much physical drum work today despite having a queue of kits lined up for restoration! I did however get lots of admin stuff done, which usually falls by the wayside.

I’ve joined Vintage and Rare which is a relatively new site featuring specialist musical instrument makers and dealers. Looking forward to a good long term relationship with them, it’s great to have another site promoting quality instruments by people who care about them.

I had chance to natter with one of Cornwall’s finest drummers, Pip Harbon,as well as catch up with America’s biggest collector of Premier drums in the states CJ Blundell. He’s got every Premier drum kit since the 1930’s in just about every colour – awesome! Nice to have time to talk drums.

I’m slowly sorting through boxes and boxes of spares – lugs, rods, claws, screws, snare throws – that aren’t on my site yet. If there’s anything particular you’re desperate for, now’s a good time to ask! Hopefully I’ll be back on my feet properly tomorrow…..

Drum of the day at Nick Hopkin DrumsSlingerland Super Sound King (chrome over brass).

2 July 2012

What a great Monday at Nick Hopkin Drums!

It may have rained all day, but my 3 year old Alice was able to come to work with me, as my new shop premises has a bathroom and kitchen. Small comforts. She wandered around eating all my biscuits and watched kids dvd’s while I boxed 2 kits for courier collection. The snare drum from a 1960’s Edgeware kit finally arrived, completing the set that I am stripping and refurbishing for a client. Beautiful black diamond pearl, pictures of it as it arrived….


By midday, Tanny arrived with Lois & Joel, lots of food and made us lunch. Still raining but we were happy. Surrounded by drums and family. What more could you ask for? The afternoon was spent arranging drums, tidying tools away, sorting out spare parts and photographing drums.Oh, and buying a couple more snare drums. I dashed out at 4 and picked up a kit and some odd drums and stands, then back to shop for courier to collect kits. At closing time the legendary Bristolian Richie Paradise dropped in for a cup of tea and a natter… Oh, and a 1970’s Ludwig set in Champagne sparkle…. photos of that one tomorrow, watch this blog!