Why did Ringo choose Ludwig drums?
About old equipment and prevailing trends - Interview with Fabian Hämmerle
Were there any formative events that sparked your passion for the old?
Well, I've been playing the drums for over ten years now and used to spend days in the music business. I knew almost better about the stock and the novelties than the salespeople who worked there. Accordingly, I always bought and played new things and after about five years, I saw an old set for the first time and thought wow. That was a Ringo Starr black-oyster set from Ludwig. After seeing that, I bought an old drum kit for forty-five euros. An Olympic from Premier. It was in really bad shape when I got it, so I figured I'd put some love in there. When it was restored or revised in front of me, I played it and thought to myself: "Damn it, the part sounds a lot better than my Pearl, which cost one and a half to two thousand euros". This is where love appeared for the first time and I then immediately climbed into it.
Over the years you will surely meet one or two like-minded people. How can you look at the sceneimagine the vintage drum collector?
In the last 5 years this has come up more and more. The young musicians also see that the old sets sound just great. It's a different quality too. Of course a shell is warped from time to time, but there are also new drum manufacturers, without naming names, who also deliver warped shells.
Aside from the trend you're noticing, is there a collectors' scene?
It is still rare in Austria. I already know a few of them, but there is less of a real scene in Austria. In Germany, on the other hand, it is big, there are quite a few. The Vintage Drum Meeting always takes place in Frankfurt. There is also a trade fair for vintage and custom equipment in Mannheim. I've made a lot of friendships at events like this and you get the impression that there is a scene here. Otherwise in the USA, of course. The scene is huge there. For example, I would like to go to the Chicago Vintage Show myself.
You already mentioned that there is a certain trend right now. Hence the questionAs a collector, do you feel a change in the market and how do you explain this hype?
Oh yeah. You can tell. I would explain the whole thing by saying that we live in a throwaway and consumer society and so much rubbish is produced. It doesn't just get on my nerves. People are starting to notice the wrong system. That's why I think people don't want to throw things away and are more likely to use the old stuff. Other than that, this old stuff just has style. If you look at it closely, all the little adornments, you don't do things like that anymore. If they do, they cost a lot of money. And so it is with the drums. There are some who have used African mahogany. What would that cost today? That would be crazy. That's why the vintage market is on the rise in all areas. And as already mentioned, back then I bought such an old bowl for forty-five euros and it just sounds better than the expensive new one. In general, it's definitely a good trend that is emerging. People notice that it cannot go on like this in all areas. I know I am digressing here, but it is important that it be said.
You have been working with old equipment for a few years now, and as a result, you already have itto experience a lot. Were there any highlights?
I've had the privilege of working with a few better-known people. In this sense, I have put drums in better hands, such as the drummer from Frittenbude (Moritz Baumgärtner). I was also allowed to take part in the Yamaha Recording Session with Little Konzett, from Little Big Beat Studios. My collection was used as a sample basis for vintage sounds. How Yamaha continued to use these they couldn't tell me at the time, but I think they were planned for the vintage sounds on the electric drums. It was a great honor to be able to participate. Otherwise I have a snare drum from the drummer from Nazareth. It was acquired from his original set from the 1970s. That makes you a little proud to be in possession of something like that.
After trying countless different old drums, the question now remainsopen, how such equipment affects musically. Is there a classic vintage sound?
I would say so. The boilers are different. E.g. in the 1960s three-layer kettles with reinforcing rings were made. Manufacturers are even starting to build things like that again at the moment. The new Legacy Shells from Ludwig, for example. They are also recreating the old jazz festival series. I myself played in bands and switched to old equipment and found that they are very versatile and sometimes very interesting in terms of sound. Despite the individuality of every single drum, there is, in my opinion, this classic vintage sound.
If the manufacturers are now building the old boiler dimensions again, the question arises as to whether that isAge of the material really does matter.
That does play a role. Simply because the wood is already used. It's like an old Fender guitar. When the wood has settled, it sounds better and feels better too. The guitarists can tell you a thing or two about it. I also love every scratch on a drum. It's just part of their story. For me it is always interesting what kind of story such a drum brings with it.
Finally, another probably important question for all drummers: What is your personal favorite piece?
Difficult to decide there. I always have different phases, so once this finish, once this drum. At the moment it is probably the Blue-Oyster foil from Ludwig at a jazz festival or downbeat snare drum from the 60s. When you see them, you have the feeling that you are standing in front of a painting. Otherwise, I also like the 20s snare drums.
Photos: Adam Zehentner
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