Ludwig Classic Maple "Fab Four" Outfit (2003) Reviews 5

I acquired this set at a local drum shop in Flint, MI for about $1450 (USD) for the four drums and snare stand on which to mount the small tom. I acquired this kit because I own two other Ludwig Classic kits and love their sound, quality, and value and wanted to purchase a more compact version for smaller gigs and recording.

My outfit is wrapped in a beautiful "vintage" blue sparkle finish (which incidentally matches my home's decor). Drum sizes are as follows: 14x22" bass drum, 9x13" mounted tom (placed on a snare stand), 16x16" floor tom, and a 5x14" snare drum (I substituted this for the stock 6.5x14" simply out of personal preference). Headwise, I am doing something I normally don't: using two-ply heads on the batters of the toms! Both have coated Remo Emporers on the batters with Diplomat resonants. I outfitted the bass drum with a clear Powerstroke 3 on the batter and left the smooth white vintage script Ludwig resonant head in place. I placed a Remo coated Ambassador batter on the snare and left the stock snare side head in place. I tuned all the drums fairly tight (not quite bebop tension, but they're snug), with the resonant heads being tensioned a bit more snug than the batter. Wow, what can I say? It seems as though each Ludwig set I buy improves in terms of quality and sound. The toms have a sound I can only describe as "honey"; sweet, resonant, and musical, yet with a perfect balance of stick attack and articulation. The twin ply heads give a bit of added fullness and body to the drums. The floor tom was a particular gem; even at a tight tuning it sounded broad and full bodied with good stick attack and was minimal on the "nasty" overtones. The bass drum sounded great at ALL tuning ranges: fat and boomy at the medium range and tight and punchy (think of a bebop drum with more body and resonance) when tensioned more tightly. The wooden Ludwig snare drum is definitely an underrated instrument, as their focus has always been on their legendary metal snares (e.g., Super-Sensitive, 400, 402, et. al.). It is rather unfortunate, because these are beautiful instruments, as well; crisp, sensitive, throaty, woody... all components of that Ludwig sound! Plus, when tuned in a certain way, one can make these snare drums sound similar to brass drums. Fantastic!!!

About the drums themselves, nothing, really. The one issue I have with Ludwig is their Weather Master Heads. Although, admittedly, their coated heads have a tone far superior to their clear brethren, their durability is still extremely questionable. I am not a particularly hard hitter, and within a week of owning the kit I slightly pitted the snare batter head. Moreover, the "coating" of the tom heads (which apparently was created with latex enamel) chipped off while playing patterns the day I took the kit home.

The shells, which are manufactured in Ludwig's facility in Monroe, NC, are fabricated from 9 plies of maple, which stack up to approximately 6.3 mm. Both toms are ink stamped on the inside: Feb (I'm assuming, it's smudged, but that's when I picked it up) 2 03. The snare has a date stamped inside, but it's illegible. The bass drum has no date stamped inside. All drums have the large classic lugs (as opposed to the mini-classics: NO THANK YOU) and the bass drum has the classic curved spurs (for that "vintage" attitude). Overall quality of the kit is excellent. The bearing edges on the snare drum and small tom had some filler and a coule of very small nicks, but were true (they passed the "glass table test") and the heads seat well and tune evenly. The bass drum and floor tom were absolutely flawless. I couldn't believe it! In fact, when I opened the floor tom, the pattern of the grain was so beautiful, and the bearing edges so nice, I was ecstatic! The bass drum had a similar effect on me. Ludwig is improving the quality of their products. This may be the best I've seen from them yet!

For under $1500, I received a beautiful, well-built, top-of-the line drumkit. It sounds phenomenal, draws compliments, and makes its owner very happy. There are many other manufacturers building very fine products in this industry. However, none of the others elicit the kind of recognition and admiration from the general public that Ludwig garners.

M rated this unit 5 on 2003-03-17.

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