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INSIDE: LUDWIG Drums
Ludwig is drums. They’ve produced some of the best drums in the world for over 100 years, played by icons like Ringo Starr and John Bonham. Ludwig is synonymous with big names, big sound, and bigger stars, and like many small businesses that grew into giants, the Ludwig brothers started theirs from the ground up. Literally.
As professional percussionists themselves, brothers Theobald and William F. Ludwig had unique insight on what players really need. They developed the first bass drum pedal, an as of then unheard-of piece of hardware, in 1909. They brought the first drum set, the Jazzer-Up, to market in 1918, a groundbreaking innovation as at the time drums were only sold in singles, and they’ve dominated the drum world ever since.
Ludwig Manager of Marketing & Artist Relations Uli Salazar tells us more about how the brothers Ludwig built an empire solely on foresight and how, even 100 years later, listening to the needs of today’s drummers is still the only way to change tomorrow.
What is Ludwig?
The sonic benchmark and “The Most Famous Name On Drums!” For more than 100 years, Ludwig Drums has captivated players with its unrestrained style, design, and sound. From our humble beginnings in Chicago, IL to our historic operation refined in Monroe, NC, Ludwig Drums is dedicated to serving drummers and the fine art of drum crafting. We are the first name in performance, quality, and sound.
Who is Ludwig?
Ludwig was founded in 1909 by brothers Theobald and William F. Ludwig, both professional percussionists who played in a variety of orchestras, circuses, and vaudeville shows. The company was family-owned and -operated for 2 generations. It’s now a part of Conn-Selmer, who is the leading American manufacturer of educational and professional instruments.
When and how did Ludwig Begin?
Ludwig Drums began with the two brothers developing products based on their needs as percussionists. In 1909, the brothers set out to produce the first-ever workable bass drum pedal. They quickly learned that they landed on something that could be valuable to their fellow percussionists and developed a plan to mass-produce. Since then, Ludwig has introduced many proprietary drum concepts and designs that would later shape modern drums as we know them.
How did you get started building drums?
It was sort of natural progression and the inevitable. Shortly after the introduction of the bass drum pedal in 1909, Ludwig would look to what more they could produce that would answer to the demand of American musicians. They brought to market the first pedal-tuned Timpani produced in the USA. This was a big deal as it resulted in this very desirable instrument being more accessible for players in the American music circuit. Ludwig began offering drums in 1912. At this point, drums only existed as single drums: snare drums, bass drums, and toms. The concept of a drum set didn’t exist until Ludwig’s introduction of the Jazzer-Up drum set in 1918.
What inspired you to begin and what inspires you continue?
We are inspired by drummers eager to learn, perform, and educate. The art, culture, and the constant evolution of music are what keep us inspired day after day.
How would you describe a Ludwig drum to someone new to the brand?
What drums sound like. Our portfolio offers a wide range of sonic and performance options in drum kits, snares, and hardware to compliment any musical setting and budget. Ludwig’s diverse offerings helps outfit drummers and percussionists of all backgrounds with the necessary tools to achieve greatness.
What is the spirit of Ludwig?
The passion for the craft that was inherent with our founders. We are lucky to still have many passionate drummers in various roles in the organization, which includes engineers, sales and marketing personnel, and factory operators. It was never about being the richest company, but the most serving company.
What is Ludwig's mission?
Our mission is the culmination of tradition, craftsmanship, innovation, and visionary excellence.
Where does Ludwig go from here?
We are eager to see what tomorrow’s performers will think of next. It’s exciting to see musicians breaking barriers and finding new creative ways to learn and compose music. Anything we can do to provide a better experience with the instrument is always our goal.
Is there anything else you’d like for our customers to know about Ludwig?
Few can claim “first” to many of today’s drum concepts. Our designs over the last 108 years have set the benchmark for many of today’s popular drum offerings. The Ludwig sound has proven to be timeless. Many strive to provide their version of it, but few succeed in excelling past the original. It is something we never take for granted and value tremendously..
The sound of Ludwig drums has helped to shape the music of the 20th and 21st century. It’s ingrained in the DNA of popular song, with drums like the Supraphonic, which is still in production today, appearing on more recordings than any other in history.
Our incredible selection of new and vintage Ludwig Drums pays tribute to this incomparable legacy by tracing the brand’s development over the course of decades, beginning with jazz and big band and followed by bop, rock, and beyond, crowned with what many consider to be the very holy grail of drums: our recently sold 1948 Ludwig & Ludwig Top Hat & Cane Outfit.
We’ve also partnered with Ludwig to create exclusive new Chicago Drum Exchange Club Date Series kits! Available in Downbeat, Pro Beat, and Fab configurations, these kits feature Burgundy Mist wrap and Mahogany Satin finishes, as well as bowtie lugs and white painted interiors for that perfect, modern-meets-vintage Ludwig combo!