Feel free to contact me at Rick@GretschDrumDatingGuide.com if you have comments. You can obtain a copy of either paper from Rebeats www.rebeats.com or by contacting me.
January 17, 2018
Date Code numbers revised. Now at 269 reports.
January 2, 2018
"A Brief Study of Serial Number Ranges of “Factory Born Together” Vintage Ludwig Drum Sets" is added to the site.
August 4, 2017
I continue to gather information. Current totals:
Gretsch - 7,100 total, 3,409 Round Badge
Ludwig - 10,450 total, 2934 with date stamps and serial numbers, 211 with Date Codes
Ludwig Standard - 948 total, 152 with date stamps and serial numbers, 42 with Date Codes
Slingerland - 68 with serial numbers and date stamps (yes, I track Slingerland also)
People continue to provide incorrect information about their drums when offering them for sale. Usually I can figure out where the obtained their incorrect information, but not always. Inform yourself about vintage drums so that you do not pay too much for a drum that had undisclosed modifications (throw-off or hoops changed, rewrapped, interior repainted) or is not as old or new as represented.
May 31, 2017
During a fun weekend at the Chicago Drum Show I had a chance meeting with Dick Schory, who spent about fifteen years at Ludwig during the late 1950s through the 1960s. I hope to follow up with him and seek answers to some of the questions I have about date stamps, serial numbers and Date Codes. While at the Show, I also reconnected with Gary Astridge, Ringo historian, and listened to his presentation about some of Ringo's gear. This was even more interesting this time because I had just acquired an all original circa 1965 Oyster Black Pearl Super Classic set, complete with period Ludwig hardware and Zildjian cymbals. This is much like Ringo's 3rd and 4th Ludwig sets used during the Beatles era.
November 19, 2016
The databases continue to grow. As of today, the totals are:
Gretsch - 6,740 total, 3,250 Round Badge
Ludwig - 9,500 total, 2757 with date stamps and serial numbers, 161 with Date Codes
Ludwig Standard - 793 total, 134 with date stamps and serial numbers, 38 with Date Codes
Slingerland - 58 with serial numbers and date stamps (yes, I track Slingerland also)
I have recently been looking into the oft-repeated statement that Ludwig began to use serial numbers in the early 1960s as a response to a government regulation. I have communicated with a number of people about the issue and believe I have a fairly complete case for showing that this statement is not true. I am still working on the project and would welcome any information from anyone with actual knowledge of the topic.
May 13, 2016
I was recently exchanging correspondence with an original owner of a set of Ludwig drums purchased in 1977. As I tried to explain the issues with Rob Cook's Ludwig dating guide for the Blue/Olive badges, I reported the information which appears on page 6 of my Ludwig guide. He indicated that the February 1972 report of a drum with serial number 916XXX did not make sense to him. This surprised me, as it is usually the Paolo Sburlati alleged 1976 red/white/blue sparkle set that is the issue with Cook's guide. This inspired a fresh look at some of the raw data graciously shared with me by Rob Cook and Mike Machat. It dawned on me that the February 1972 date on the 916XXX drum reported to Rob Cook was likely incorrect. That particular drum appears on Mike Machat's long list as serial number 916457 with a February 1972 date. While I was vetting the information I was using for my project, I figured out that about twenty of Mike Machat's drums had dates which were actually converted Date Codes. I discussed these with Mike in 2013 and decided to remove them from my list of serial number/date stamp pairs that I used when developing my guide. I instead listed them in the Date Code section of the paper. It turns out that the 916547 drum is one of these drums with a converted Date Code. In this case, Mike's unpublished notes revealed that this drum had Date Code 21720. [I strongly suggest in my paper that Date Codes should not be converted to dates until someone cracks the mystery of what exactly the Date Code represents.] I do not believe that the application of a February 1972 date to the 916547 drum had the profound impact that the Paolo Sburlati drums did on Rob Cook's guide. This is because there are a more than twenty reports of drums with date stamps after September 15, 1971 and serial numbers above 900000. These reports suggest that the February 1972 date should not be far off for a drum with serial number 916547. Nonetheless, it hit me as something quite interesting and worthy of sharing. It also points out how nice it would be to be able to figure out the true meaning of the Date Code. Anyone with a good theory on the Date Code?
[Note that I am grateful to Rob Cook and Mike Machat for their efforts of gathering data, creating their dating guides and then sharing their thoughts with me. They built the foundation upon which I built my own guide. I only point out discrepancies in order to improve the information available.]
April 18, 2016
Data collection efforts continue. The Gretsch list now includes more than 6600 drums, with over 3150 from the Round Badge era. The Ludwig Main Line list includes more than 2600 unique entries with both serial numbers and date stamps, 179 with serial numbers and Date Codes, and over 9000 entries overall. The list of Ludwig Standards has grown to almost 800 entries, with 113 serial number/date stamp pairs and another 36 with serial numbers and Date Codes. Please keep the information coming. I receive reports from an average of two or three people each week and continue to scour eBay, my local Craigslist and the drum forums for data to add to the lists.
September 23, 2015
Daniel Assis and Mike Layton continue to provide reports and I am still collecting information from ebay and other sources. The Gretsch database now contains more than 6,470 entries. The Ludwig main line database contains more than 2300 unique serial number/date stamp pairs and over 7,000 drums in total. The Ludwig Standard database now has more than 740 entries. I am pleased that I have been able to provide improved information to help vintage drum enthusiasts to date and authenticate their vintage drums. Work continues on questions like the Date Code used by Ludwig in the 1971-72 time frame. Refinements are being made to the guides as more information is gathered. Once enough new information and insight is gained, I plan to revise both guides. I try to share information on vintagedrumforum.com and drumforum.org as questions arise. Feel free to contact me if you have reports of drums or questions about what I have written.
October 17, 2014
I wanted to thank Daniel Assis of Brazil who has just shared with me information from 77 drums he has owned or are owned by friends. Many of these have serial numbers and date stamps. Daniel contributed information on a number of Gretsch drums toward that project (See note from February 1, 2012 below). Mike Layton has also added several drums to the list that he has shared. Data collection is an ongoing acivity and will allow for further refinements to the guides. I add drums to my lists just about every day by watching eBay, inspecting drums or receiving emails from other vintage enthusiasts. Keep the information coming!
April 16, 2014
I will be speaking at the Chicago Drum Show on Saturday May 17 about dating of vintage Gretsch and Ludwig drums. The talk is at 11:00 AM in the Master Class Room on the second floor of the show building. Rebeats is running a second printing of the Ludwig Dating Guide so there will plenty of copies available at the Show.
December 23, 2013
The Serial Number-Based Dating Guide for Vintage Ludwig Drums is published.
December 10, 2013
The number of Gretsch drums included in the database now exceeds 6,000. The Ludwig main line database has over 5,000 entries. Keep those reports coming!
August 15, 2013
The Serial Number-Based Dating Guide for Vintage Ludwig Drums has been expanded to include a section on Ludwig Standards from 1968-1973. This paper should be published in the Fall of 2013 by Rebeats.
Rob Cook and John Sheridan just released their book The Gretsch Drum Book. I contributed to the section on serial numbers, labels and badges.
June 5, 2013
A new paper entitled "Gretsch Round Badge Variations" was added to this site. I have completed the initial draft of a paper entitled "Serial Number Based Dating Guide for Vintage Ludwig Drums 1963-1984." The third edition of the Gretsch Dating Guide was printed in May.
May 5, 2013
Rob Cook and John Sheridan's book on Gretsch drums is moving toward publication. Rob has used some of the information from my paper in his section on serial numbers. I sent a revised paper to Rebeats so it can be printed prior to the Chicago Show. It includes 2,670 Round Badge drums and over 5,700 drums in total. Other than the revisions below, none of the major conclusions have changed based upon the added data. The additional drums confirm the patterns described in earlier editions of the paper.
January 1, 2013
There are now over 2,550 Round Badge drums in the log and more than 5,450 Gretsch drums in total.
August 28, 2012
There are now over 2,400 Round Badge drums in the log and more than 5,170 Gretsch drums in total.
Table 13 has one correction to add. In the year 1970, the High value of the Approximate Serial Number Range (third column) should be 133800 rather than 134800. This provides more consistency with the reminder of the table. Please be mindful that the values represent approximations and should not be given more precision than intended. For example if you have a drum with serial number 133799, it does not mean it was made in 1970 and not 1971 - it could have been made in either year. As was pointed out repeatedly in the paper, one of my frustrations with serial number based dating guides as that people latch onto a false sense of precision and accuracy. Do not do this with this guide. I am fairly confident that it provides date estimates within a year or so. This is the current limit of the ability to estimate a Gretsch drum's date.
July 31, 2012:
Rob Cook shared with me a Gretsch internal marketing memo from September 1983 which indicates a few changes in the Gray/White label. The label itself changed appearance (so future discussion of G/W labels should identify two different styles) and the serial number began to be printed with a dot matrix printer. The changes occurred in the 143000 serial number range in the Second Sequence.
May 24. 2012:
page 26 - The correct name for the finishes identified as White Satin Flame and Ruby Red Pearl on page 26 are Silver Satin Flame and Red Wine Pearl, respectively.
May 19-20, 2012 - CHICAGO DRUM SHOW: I moderated a discussion on Gretsch drum dating at the Chicago Drum Show on May 19, 2012. Thanks for those that attended and the others who talked with me about the project over the weekend. Lee Ruff provided some very keen insight on a number of points on vintage Gretsch drums. He indicated that he had identified at least five different variations of Round Badges, at least three variations of the grooves in bass claws and several slightly different versions of the microsensitive throw through the years. These variations are difficult to distinguish when one does not have the drum available for personal inspection or have high resolution pictures of these parts. I do not anticipate that I will be able to track these variations in the future or add these to further delineate the changing characteristics of Gretsch drums, but was very interested in what Lee had to share.
February 1, 2012: Ed Ball has identified another block of drum labels used in guitars. There are four labels with serial numbers 26019, 26093, 26367 and 26398, all appearing on mid-70s era guitars. I contend that the serial numbers are simply sequential numbers, at least when they are used with drums. In the guitar world during this timeframe, there was date code logic within the serial number. If these were guitar labels, they might be interpretted as indicating guitars from February (2) of 1976 (6) and the 19th, 93rd, 367th and 398th units produced. I do not think that this imbedded logic applies when drum labels were borrowed. The previously identified pair of labels (23051 and 23099) were initially interpretted as being from February 1973 because of the first two digits. Ed and I will continue to share information when vintage Gretsch drums and guitars intersect.
Also, much thanks to Daniel of Brazil, who provided me a detailed log of his 45 vintage Gretsch drums.
Revisions and updates to the 1st Printing (November 2011):
note 3. Publisher name is Centerstream.
note 18. Publisher name is Centerstream.
Throughout. Based upon additional reports, the end of Second Sequence should be at about serial number 148500.
note 78. As more labeled drums with no interior silver sealer are reported, the number that are not champagne
sparkle finish has grown. The initial anectdotal observation that many such drums had champagne sparkle finishes
should not be considered as any particular indicator or trend, just an early observation based upon a small number
Table 13. L2 throw was introduced in 1973 and should appear with L1 in 1973 and alone from 1974 through 1984.
The cause of the light/dark printing variations seen in the first printing has been determined and the problem will be corrected in future printings.
The Second Printing (January 2012) addressed all of the above.
Bookmark this page and check back periodically to see what additional updates or revisions are available.
Some Files Removed - not downloadable