was the day the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show.
Their television debut ushered in not only a new era for rock
and roll, but something more. With the name "Ludwig" painted
on Ringo’s bass drumhead, it marked also the beginning of
the Ludwig Drum Company’s largest boom in their production
history. "Even though we stepped up our production, the orders
for our drums came in faster than we could make them," said
William F. Ludwig II who was then the company’s General Manager
and Vice President.
new surge in Ludwig’s production and sales coincided with
a new government regulation enacted at about the same time
(The regulation was brought to our attention by drum historian/insurance
agent, Harry Cangany). These overlapping events would intertwine
to have a direct effect on the collecting and dating of 1960’s
Ludwig drums. Prompted by the insurance industry, the new
regulation mandated serial numbers on certain goods – including
drums. (badge photo here) "Up until then," said Mr. Ludwig,
"some of our drums were date stamped and some weren’t - but
none had serial numbers. Our dealers begged us to put them
on, so we had our badge manufacturer imprint sequential numbers
on the badges for all of our drums."
the debut of serial numbers, Ludwig helped the dealers comply
with the new law. But unforeseen then to the drum company,
these serial numbers would also be a key to unlock the mystery
of how to date post-’63 Ludwig drums that weren’t date-stamped.
Though in actuality, the way to pin down the elusive age of
these drums would call more for the sharp pencil of a record
keeper than the skill of a Sherlock Holmes.
by a growing number of customer inquiries about dating 60’s
era Ludwig drums, as well as our own historical interest,
we took on the task of record keeper. We began in the late
1980’s by monitoring all of the 60’s Ludwig drums that came
into our shop. Thanks to the production boom of the 60’s,
we had a large sampling of drums which provided enough data
to do our research. When we found a drum with both a serial
number and complete date stamp present, this data was entered
into a serial number index. We hoped that, in time, the index
would reveal a consistent chronological order in the serial
number sequence. The reasoning for our optimism was that since
the serial numbers were imprinted on the badges in a sequential
order (of lower to higher numbers) and since the badges were
installed over a duration of time – as represented by the
date stamps inside of the shells, a direct relationship between
the serial numbers and date stamps was inevitable, even though
the Ludwig factory did not intend it.
our record keeping continued and more serial numbers and dates
were added to the index, the correlation between them became
increasingly evident. Although we did find some discrepancies
in this correlation - which we'll discuss later in this article
- a general pattern emerged. The serial numbers increased
as their corresponding date stamps moved forward in time.
a recent conversation with Jack Lawton, restoration specialist
and owner of the Lawton Drum Company (Sudbury, PA.), I discovered
by chance that Jack had, over a 10 year period, also developed
a serial number index like ours.
decided to exchange and compare indexes. To our mutual relief,
we found that the serial numbers and date stamps corresponded
with one another and that the sequence of the serial numbers
in both indexes followed the same general path through time.
Article Continued: How to Date Ludwig Drums - Ludwig Serial Number Chart #1 plus more history