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Ludwig Super Classic Kit


Ludwig's latest version of their Super Classic includes some new bits, some not quite new bits, and a couple of old bits. The old bits are partly responsible for having created the company's mystique (it was THE kit in the 1960s and early 1970s) the power of which has survived even the determined and enterprising efforts of the Japs. Pearl, Tama, Yamaha and the rest might dominate sales figures but Ludwig is still a respected name, synonymous with quality of both sound and structure.

The new bits are the toms and bass drum. A thinner, 4-ply maple shell than the 6-ply birch versions made since 1978, beautifully sanded, jointed and stained with a matching mahogany finish inside and out to stunning effect. It may be cosmetic but I also welcome the reversion to the small, pre-'67 gold name badge. It's eminently more stylish than the green/blue rhomboid version.

Equally pleasing is the lighter, louder, more responsive and melodic sound of these drums in comparison to their predecessors. My three year old kit never sounded this good. Nor did it ever benefit from trying Pinstripe batters, so I commend Bill Ludwig for avoiding what is otherwise a ubiquitous choice by makers, and sticking with Silver Dot Rockers instead.

Much smugness in the marsh, too, for taking notice of drummers who regularly hacksawed at least half of the drum end of their tom holders off (in search of unhampered resonance). Now they do it for you.

I've never been quite so enamoured with the bass drum spurs. Two pairs do seem a little excessive and tedious when you discover that they stick out too far to case when retracted. Why not just pinch the Pearl or Yamaha swivel job? God knows Ludwig has launched a few imitations over the years.

Take the Speed King bass drum pedal — our first old bit. A rudimentary pedal was the item that started the company off in 1909 and this model was positively revolutionary when unveiled in 1937. Twin, adjustable springs, ballbearing action, reversible heel plate. A gift for the foot and plenty good enough for the likes of Led Zep's John Bonham 30 years later. Even now its simple, direct, downright playability more than compensates for the tedium of a fixed footplate angle or small beater-holding wingnut. It just works.

It was also in the late 1960's that the deeper snare drum arrived. Until then Ludwig had it sewn up with their 5½in metal 400. Then pose-conscious players started using march-band side drums (supposedly for more volume), and Ludwig acknowledged this by producing the 402, a 6½in version of the 400, and our second old bit.

These days optional die-cast hoops are available (good for more crack factor), and the old 20 strand, all metal snare has been superseded by 12 metal strands set in plastic - good for reducing the dreaded sympathetic buzz every time you hit a tom. Unchanged, though, is the much laughed at and apparently primitive string straining mech. I love it, and as the owner of four Ludwig snares I can tell you that it and they are, simply, unbeatable.

The not quite new bits are the heavy duty items of Taiwanese hardware first imported in 1985. Double-braced legs, nylon bushes between extensions, a chain-driven hi-hat with twin adjustable springs, a snare stand which can be set low enough for an 8in snare and high enough for players who like to be seen over the kit. All solid, utilitarian stuff. The boom cymbal stands offer an astounding eight feet of height but this necessitates a very wide leg spread and above average bottom-half weight. Not much cop for me, but good for HM drummers and for suspending a 22in Chinese at a daft/impossible angle.


If you can afford this kind of money for a drum kit you probably don't need me to tell you what you might or might not want. But you can, justifiably, expect the best and I'd be hard pressed to recommend six better sounding drums than these. If I don't find the triangular tom and bracket holder design attractive and the hardware rather too hefty this is purely a matter of taste and other alternatives are available should you (miraculously) agree with AD. Finally, how utterly groovy to be able to order this kit in any one of 32 finishes. Everything from this lustrous mahogany to the old glitter and pearl. Really, what more could you ask?


PRICE: Cat. L3169S £1874
SHELLS 4 ply Maple
SNARE. 402 14 by 6½ Steel
SIZES 12x11, 13x12, 14x13, 16x16 & 22x16 BD
HEADS Toms & BD; Silver Dot Rocker batters, Heavy Clear Rockers underneath, White, rough - coated Rocker snare batter, Clear Rocker snare
HARDWARE: Modular Taiwanese Snare, Hi-hat & 2 boom cymbal stands. Dog bone single tom holder & double holder. Speed King BD pedal. Pair of Ludwig sticks & wire brushes.
FINISHES 32. Natural x 3, Colour x 5, Glossy Col x 6, Cortex x 6, Pearl x 3, Sparkle x 5

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Drums (Acoustic) > Ludwig > Super Classic

Review by Andy Duncan

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