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Ludwig Drums

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Ludwig Drums is a US musical instruments manufacturers, focused on percussion. The brand achieved significant popularity in the 1960s due to the endorsement of the Beatles drummer Ringo Starr.
Products manufactured by Ludwig include drum kits and hardware. The company also commercialises other percussion instruments (from the Musser Mallet Company acquired in 1965) such as marimbas, vibraphones, xylophones and bar chimes through its parent company Conn-Selmer.Mallet instruments on Conn-Selmer website Our brands on Conn-Selmer website, 11 Nov 2019


The Ludwig Drum Company was established in 1909 by William F. & Theobald Ludwig, sons of a German immigrant to the United States. William Jr. had been a professional drummer, playing with circuses and touring vaudeville shows, along with the occasional skating-rink gig. Since this work was irregular, he and his brother, Theobald, opened a drum shop in Chicago; they called it Ludwig & Ludwig. The company started with a concept for the design and manufacture of a functional bass drum pedal.
The company added new products to its catalog, such as snare drums and timpani, in 1916. In 1917, Ludwig signed a deal to build rope drums to support World War I. Theobald Ludwig died in 1918, and William continued on his own. By 1923, the factory was the largest drum manufacturer in the world, employing 240 workers.
In the late 1920s, the company was sold to the C.G. Conn instrument company. William Ludwig stayed on to run the company for Conn (which also owned the Leedy Drum Co. at this time). Eventually, William Ludwig decided to leave Conn and start a new company of his own. He was unable to use the Ludwig name since that trademark now belonged to Conn who continued to market Ludwig & Ludwig drums.
{{multiple imagecaption_align=centerheader_align=center
header= A Ludwig banjo in the Jazz Age
align = right
image1 = Ludwig Big Chief Banjo (1930), American Banjo Museum.jpg
width1 = 154
alt1 = Ludwig Big Chief Banjo (1930), American Banjo Museum
caption1 = From about 1921 to 1931, Ludwig made banjos, such as the Big Chief Banjo (1930), displayed at the American Banjo Museum.
image2 = Body of Ludwig Big Chief banjo (1930) at American Banjo Museum.jpg
width2 = 154
alt2 = Body of Ludwig Big Chief banjo (1930) at American Banjo Museum
caption2 =The Big Chief banjo was highly decorated, with gold plating, engraving, and decorative inlayed wood patterns.
image3= Back of of Ludwig Big Chief banjo (1930) at American Banjo Museum.jpg
width3= 154
alt3= Back of Ludwig Big Chief banjo (1930) at American Banjo Museum
caption3=The back, in wood inlay. The banjos are highly prized today, but were ultimately a financial failure, the market having disappeared.
In 1937, William bought a factory building and started The WFL Drum Company (his initials). The company continued producing drums at a small scale for the duration of World War II, but William got back to the idea of making the company a large drum manufacturer after the armistice. WFL was a competitor with Ludwig and Ludwig. Conn combined their two drum brands into one in the early 1950s, forming Leedy & Ludwig, and then decided to quit the drum business altogether. In 1955, William and his son Bill Jr. were able to buy the Ludwig trademark back from Conn, and over the next few years their company and its products transitioned from the WFL brand to being called "Ludwig" again.
Despite initial success, Ludwig's global breakthrough would occur February 9, 1964, when The Beatles made their historic American TV debut on The Ed Sullivan Show."The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964" on Ed Sullivan website "The Beatles’ first Ed Sullivan Show" on The Beatles Bible The Ludwig logo, displayed on the front of Ringo Starr's bass drum, could be seen by the television audience of about seventy-three million people. "The 1960s" at Vintage Ludwig Drums "The origins of Ludwig drums" on The Chicago Reader As it happens, Starr chose that brand upon joining the band simply because he liked the oyster pearl black color of the drum kit he chose.
The publicity resulted in Ludwig's sales doubling quickly to $13 million, which prompted production to increase to a 24/7 production as the company became the foremost drum manufacturer in North America for twenty years.
Ludwig acquired the "Musser Mallet Company", a manufacturer of xylophones, marimbas and vibraphones, in 1965. Ludwig was a strong presence in the marching drum market. Their drums along with their Slingerland rivals. During the 1970s, Ludwig's “Challenger” line of snare drums offered sophisticated tuning and strong build quality. Ludwig drums were used by many leading drum and bugle corp.
On 4 November 1981, William F Ludwig II sold the business to the Selmer Company (now Conn-Selmer). Selmer closed the Damen Avenue factory in the ensuing years and moved the drum production business to Monroe, North Carolina, in 1984.Selmer's History, 7 Dec 2011 In 2002, Ludwig merged with Conn-Selmer, becoming a brand of Conn-Selmer, Inc.. About: 2000-2009 on Ludwig website
The Musser manufacturing facility remained in LaGrange, Illinois, until 2013, and was then moved to Elkhart, Indiana.


Some of the musicians that currently or previously played Ludwigs include:Artists on Ludwig website "A Century of the most famous names" on Ludwig website
  • Richard "Pistol" Allen (The Funk Brothers)
  • Jerry Allison (Buddy Holly & The Crickets)
  • Carmine Appice"Carmine Appice, an exclusive interview", Glide Magazine, 8 Jul 2013
  • Mick Avory (The Kinks)
  • Ginger Baker
  • Derek Ballard (A Band Called O)
  • Danny Barcelona (Louie Armstrong)
  • Barriemore Barlow (Jethro Tull)
  • Carlton Barrett (Bob Marley & The Wailers)
  • Frank Beard (ZZ Top)
  • Fred Below
  • Pete Best
  • Hal Blaine
  • Jason Bonham
  • John Bonham (Led Zeppelin)Drum set up on John Bonham website "10 Ways To Sound Like John Bonham" by John Natellion Drum Magazine, Nov 2008
  • Cindy Blackman (Lenny Kravitz)
  • Don Brewer (Grand Funk Railroad)
  • Bill Bruford (Yes, King Crimson, Genesis, Earthworks)
  • Tony Buck
  • Clive Bunker (Jethro Tull)
  • Clive Burr (Iron Maiden)
  • Larry Bunker
  • Jim Capaldi (Traffic)
  • Eric Carr (KISS)
  • Nameless Ghoul (Ghost)
  • Luis Cardenas (Renegade)
  • Bun E. Carlos (Cheap Trick)
  • Patrick Carney (The Black Keys)
  • Karen Carpenter
  • Vinnie Colaiuta
  • John Cowsill (Cowsills, Beach Boys)
  • Mark Craney (Jethro Tull)
  • Peter Criss (KISS)
  • Dino Danelli (Young Rascals)
  • John Densmore (The Doors)
  • Michael Derosier (Heart)
  • Bobby Elliott (The Hollies)
  • Gregg Errico (Sly & The Family Stone)
  • Rob Finch (Elemental Joe)
  • Mick Fleetwood (Fleetwood Mac)
  • James Gadson
  • Charlie Hall (The War on Drugs)
  • Roy Haynes
  • Don Henley (The Eagles)
  • Rob Hirst (Midnight Oil)
  • Barry Jenkins (musician) (The Animals)
  • Jimmy Johnson, Jr. (Duke Ellington Orchestra)
  • Papa Jo Jones
  • Kenney Jones (Small Faces / Faces)
  • Uriel Jones (The Funk Brothers)
  • Brian Keenan (Chambers Brothers)
  • Joey Kramer (Aerosmith)
  • Bill Kreutzmann (Grateful Dead)
  • Eric Kretz (Stone Temple Pilots)
  • Gary Lewis (...and the Playboys)
  • Stan Levey
  • Nick Mason (Pink Floyd)
  • Nicko McBrain (Iron Maiden)
  • Jim McCarty (Yardbirds)
  • Rob Minnig (The Ocean Blue)
  • Mitch Mitchell (The Jimi Hendrix Experience)
  • Keith Moon (The Who)
  • Joe Morello
  • Fabrizio Moretti (The Strokes)
  • Steve Negus (Saga)
  • Jerry Nolan (New York Dolls)
  • Ian Paice (Deep Purple)
  • Carl Palmer
  • Kevin Parker (Tame Impala)
  • Melvin Parker (James Brown)
  • Neil Peart (Rush)
  • Cozy Powell (Jeff Beck Group, Rainbow)
  • Questlove (The Roots)
  • Marky Ramone (Ramones)
  • Buddy Rich
  • Max Roach
  • Ed Shaughnessy
  • Jerry Shirley (Humble Pie)
  • Mike "Smitty" Smith (Paul Revere & The Raiders)
  • John "Jabo" Starks (James Brown)
  • Eric Slick (Dr. Dog)
  • Ringo Starr (The Beatles)
  • Clyde Stubblefield (James Brown)
  • Roger Taylor (Queen)
  • Ed Thigpen
  • Mick Tucker (Sweet)
  • Alex Van Halen (Van Halen)
  • Bill Ward (Black Sabbath)
  • Charlie Watts (Rolling Stones)
  • Sandy West (The Runaways)
  • Max Weinberg (Bruce Springsteen)
  • Alan White (Yes, Plastic Ono Band)
  • Andy White
  • Woody Woodmansey (The Spiders from Mars)
  • Meg White (The White Stripes)
  • Tré Cool (Green Day)
  • Danny Wagner (Greta Van Fleet)
  • Jim Riley (Rascal Flatts)

  • Omar Abi Hachem
  • Gallery

    File:1918 Ludwig drum sets.jpg1918 Ludwig drum set.
    File:Beatles Ludwig drumset, Vox Super Beatle amplifier, Museum of Making Music.jpgLudwig drum set, in Black Oyster Pearl, used by Ringo Starr with The Beatles.
    File:Ludwig transparent Drum-kit @ FUZZ Guitar Show 2009.jpgLudwig Vistalite drum set.
    File:Ludwig Amber Vistalite.jpgLudwig Vistalite drum set in Amber.
    File:Luis Cardenas Ludwig Drums.jpg114 piece Guinness Book of World Records Ludwig drum set used by Luis Cardenas with Renegade.
    File:Ludwig Green Sparkle.jpgFive-piece Ludwig drum set, in Green Sparkle, as used by John Bonham of Led Zeppelin.
    File:Van_halen_drum.jpg Ludwig drum set used by Alex Van Halen.

    External links

    • Official site
    • NAMM Oral History Interview with William F Ludwig II July 9, 2002
    • NAMM Oral History Interview with William F. Ludwig III January 16, 2009

    Category:Percussion instrument manufacturing companies
    Category:Musical instrument manufacturing companies of the United States
    Category:Manufacturing companies based in North Carolina
    Category:American companies established in 1909
    Category:Manufacturing companies established in 1909
    Category:The Beatles' musical instruments

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