When I was a teenager, playing a five-piece drum kit my folks got me from Sears as a combination thirteenth birthday/uprooting me to Kentucky gift, I both loved and hated trips to the music store, where I’d snag issues of Modern Drummer magazine and catalogs from drum companies like Tama, Pearl, and Ludwig. It was a mix of pleasure and pain because I’d see wonderful drum kits, endorsed by folks like Neil Peart (at the time, a Tama player),
Pearl, used by Peter Criss — although I wasn’t a Kiss fan,
and of course, Ludwig, which was for me the most iconic brand, or at least the one associated with the most important drummers:
but I knew I couldn’t afford any of them, and I’d wind up playing my no-name kit until I died or got a job. (When I was in high school, those options seemed more or less equidistant.) In the meantime, I got to hear other high school drummers razz me about my cheap kit, making comments like “You know, you’ve got to mess around on the bad stuff before you’re ready to play the good.” I studied the drum catalogs and endorser listings the way other kids studied baseball statistics, and dreamed of the day I might get a set like the ones from the magazines.
When I was in my mid-twenties, during my first trip through grad school, I came into an mid-five-figure inheritance, which I squandered with remarkable speed — not surprising, as never having had money, I didn’t really know how to handle it. But one of the things I bought was a pro-level Yamaha kit — the same one I use now, 25 years later. As I’ve said over the years, I reached a level of satisfaction when I got gear that was better than I am, and I suspect it always will be.
What made me think of all this was the fact that Ludwig drums — including the kits Ringo uses — are now made not all that far from Mondoville, in Monroe, NC. The Charlotte Observer offers an interesting look at the factory, and the people who work there. It’s worth your time.