I’ve been looking to add a genuine vintage drum kit to my recording arsenal for a long time. I regularly do sessions for/with singer-songwriters or old-school funk/R&B that need that authentic 60′s/70′s sound. Buying a (restored) kit in perfect shape can cost a fortune, unless you get really lucky. About a month ago I found an ad for a vintage Slingerland kit someone was selling for $195. I figured it would be too good to be true but I contacted the guy and he sent me a pic. The shells were in OK state but tom hoops, tension rods and floor tom legs were missing. There was also no snare (which wasn’t a deal breaker). I met up with the seller and the drums were in pretty rough shape. One of the previous owners had glued on some type of faux leather vinyl type wrap and it was peeling off completely. Underneath was some really nasty goo that was used to glue the wrap onto the shells, and obviously failed. The bass drum (22″x14″) and the 12″x8″ tom were both stamped “Jan 20 1959″, but the floor tom (16″x16″) didn’t match, though it did appear to be an authentic Slingerland drum. It had a similar shell construction and the classic Slingerland lugs, but no date stamped inside and the inside of the shell had been painted a light tan color (which I later found out was original). Confused about the whole thing, but still convinced I could restore this kit, I offered the guy $100, and he took it.
Long story short… The floor tom ended up being a so called “orphan” drum, and after some research I managed to find out it was manufactured some time between 1966 and 1970. I also found out it used to be a concert floor tom (meaning that it originally did not have a bottom head and bottom lugs). Someone had added the bottom lugs, which were close replicas of Slingerland lugs but not authentic ones. I spent two weeks restoring the kit, which was an amazing adventure. I had to order many spare parts, including 8 original lugs for the floor tom, bass drum claws and T-rods, tom hoops and tension rods, a suspension mount for the 12″ tom, floor tom legs, etc etc. The biggest challenge were the bass drum hoops. They looked old, but someone had hand-painted them black, and it looked terrible. The original hoops were supposed to have inlays in them. Once I had sanded the hoops down, I noticed that the inlay grooves had been filled with wood filler. After hours of chiseling out the wood filler, painting, sanding, painting sanding, painting, the hoops turned out great and now have inlays as they should.I wrapped the drums with a classic silver sparkle finish and it came out stunning!
Anyway, I’ve been posting pics of the whole process on Facebook, so check it out of you’re interested! The kit sounds and looks absolutely KILLER and I’m excited to be using it for many sessions to come.