Ultimate Slingerland Solid Maple Snare, Part 2 of 2

Converting a late 1950's Slingerland solid maple snare drum, one of the best snare drums of all time, into a modern player's drum.

This is part two of a two-part story about a legendary drum, the Slingerland solid (1-ply) maple snare.

Now that I know that my late 1950's Slingerland 5.5" x 14" solid maple model No. 153 snare drum shell is in excellent condition, it's time to order some parts.  Since this will be a player's drum and not a museum piece, I am fine with modern reproductions of Slingerland's classic Sound King breadloaf tension lugs and stick saver hoops.  I ordered these, along with new 1-3/4" tension rods, from my friends at drumfactorydirect.com.

TDR throw and butt plate cover original Super clamshell strainer holes
TDR throw and butt plate cover original
Super clamshell strainer holes
As I mentioned in part one of this post, I had already purchased Slingerland's 1970's-vintage TDR throw and butt plate for installation on this drum.  Originally, I planned to fabricate adapter plates using a sheet of carbon fiber, but after test-fitting the TDR parts to this shell, I realized that I could use the top hole drilled for the original clamshell strainer and drill one small hole on each side of the shell for the lower TDR mounting bolts.  Because the TDR gates already protrude over an inch from each side of the shell, I decided to go ahead and drill the two extra holes.  I know a number of Slingerland faithful out there will question that decision!

Fortunately, both the TDR throw and butt plate mounted and aligned perfectly, with the surface notched into the lower bar of each gate lining up perfectly with the snare beds.  This matches the TDR system alignment on my 1979 Slingerland COB snare, so fingers crossed that I got it right.  I had to use smaller washers with the lower mounting bolts on each side because they are close to the reinforcement ring.  Bonus:  The TDR strainer nicely covers all of the holes drilled for the original Super clamshell strainer.

TDR installation required one new hole and smaller washer on each side
TDR installation required one new hole and
smaller washer on each side--
note shell interior is unfinished
I then installed the reproduction Sound King tension lugs, which arrived with decidedly unoriginal lug gaskets and black mounting bolts.  Slingerland always used galvanized bolts to install tension lugs, and rubber lug gaskets are a modern touch, but I decided to install the lugs as delivered.  The brand new die-cast lugs look great without the extra labor involved in refurbishing a set of vintage lugs!

Next up:  Heads.  I planned to use a set of new Evans G1 coated and Snare Side 300 clear heads that I already had, but this is where I encountered my first snag.  These modern heads did not easily drop onto the shell--the metal collars of the heads were extremely snug against the shell, actually scratching the wrap as I tried to press them downward.

Remo Classic Fit snare head fits vintage shell perfectly
Remo Classic Fit snare head fits
vintage shell perfectly
Some Googling revealed that many vintage drums are slightly oversized (larger in diameter), and that Aquarian and Remo sell heads designed to address this issue.  I found 14-inch Remo Classic Fit Ambassador batter and snare heads at sweetwater.com, and they promptly shipped me a set.

Do Remo's Classic Fit heads resolve the problem of oversized vintage drums?  In my case, yes.  They dropped right onto my late-1950's Slingerland shell.  The metal collars on the Classic Fit heads are thinner, which provides the extra clearance needed around a vintage shell while still fitting standard hoops.  And speaking of hoops, the reproduction Slingerland-style stick saver hoops I purchased for this drum have a more rigid, solid feel than standard 2.3mm triple-flange hoops.  I hear that rigidity in rimshots on these hoops.

Pearl's S-025 snare wires fit TDR perfectly
Pearl's 15-inch S-025 snare wires fit
 TDR's extended snare setup
That brings us to the final upgrade:  Installing the Pearl S-025 snare wires.  Slingerland's TDR strainer and butt plate are designed to extend snare wires across the entire snare head for improved sensitivity and response.  Pearl's S-025 snare wires are nearly 15 inches long, allowing the snare wire solder plates to extend off the edge of the snare head on each end, and as a result, only wires contact the head.  I've always viewed TDR as a simpler and more robust approach to extended snare wires, and because Pearl's S-025 fits perfectly, I can upgrade the snare wires and use the TDR system as designed.

Tune-bot tuning:  I tuned the drum up to 3g (196Hz) using Tune-bot.  To achieve this, I first tuned each snare lug to 400Hz and then each batter lug to 286Hz.  I love how Slingerland maple snares bark at 3g.  I also found that this 8-lug drum was easier to dial in from a tuning standpoint than the 6-lug 1964 3-ply Student model I owned a number of years ago.
Finished 1950s Slingerland solid maple snare sounds as good as it looks
Finished 1950s Slingerland solid maple
snare sounds as good as it looks!

The finished drum is a beauty and it sounds even better!  This late 1950s Slingerland model No.153 solid maple snare is ready for the next phase of its life as a player's drum.

Who says you have to slow down after 60?

--Darin

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