Innovation and the Old Days

“They don’t make em’ like they used to.”

Ludwig Drum Factory WWI

Drummers (and musicians in general) have a lot in common with wine snobs (no offense to people who enjoy wine and aren’t snobs.) There always seems to be a longing for something that has passed. A “back in them good ol’ days” kinda thing. We criticize drum companies for lack of innovation and then whine when they lack that “vintage” sound/feel when they change something. It must be difficult trying to please consumers with such schizophrenic desires.

Maybe that’s why there have been rereleases and re-rereleases of old lines of products from all these different companies. Paiste rereleased their Giant Beat series & Zildjian’s new Armand line is meant to capture the sound of cymbals from the 60’s and 70’s. DW now has a jazz line of drums and a classics line of drums & is once again offering their 7000 series line of hardware. Remo recently put out their A vintage ambassador line that is a call back to their original ambassador design. Same thing with the Ludwig Legacy Classics line of drums. Yet some drummers turn up their nose attempts to give them what they want. Are these vintage style drums that different from the genuine article? If anything the new stuff sounds better and lacks the problems that the old stuff had (again, my opinion).

I think that this comes from a misconception on our (the musical consumer’s) part. We kinda got a notion that to get a vintage sound we need an authentic vintage instrument and newfangled imitations won’t suffice. I just don’t understand why. New Zildjian Ks with the benefit of modern production methods sound much better (my opinion) and are way more consistent in quality and sonic range. It used to be that you would have to go through 8 different cymbals (of the same make and model) and none of them sounded anything like the other. I understand that part of the beauty of cymbals is their uniqueness, I get it. But back then, they weren’t even in the same ballpark as one another!

Similar situation with drums. Back in the old days they couldn’t produce thin shelled drums without the use of reinforcement rings. If they did the drums would would go out of round after being tightened up and played for awhile. These days we have the technology to produce thin shells that are strong enough to negate the need of reinforcing rings. You aren’t looking for old equipment, after all that stuff was all the cutting edge back when it was used on the records that you heard them on! You’re looking for the sound that comes from a particular style of production that was prevalent back “in them good ol’ days.” Granted you might not be able to get the particular woods that they used in drums back then, but still. You can get very close.

In summary, my recommendation is to do some research into what makes a vintage drum sound like a vintage drum and see if you can find that in a modern drum (assuming you want and can’t find a vintage drum-set.) Give some of these “new vintage” (Re: oxymoron) drums a try. Most of these things sound allot better in their modern incarnation (you should already know that this is my opinion by now) then they did in their first go round.

“They don’t make em’ like they used to… Hooray!”

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