Review: Ludwig Classic Oak Drum Series

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Review: Ludwig Classic Oak Drum Series

Words By Sam McNiece

Dynamic Music | Expect to pay: $4,899

It wouldn’t be a conversation about the GOATs of drum manufacturers without Ludwig’s name being thrown in the ring. In this regard, Ludwig are basically the Fender of drum kits, both being industry standards and producing consistently quality products time and time again. Hell, Ludwig themselves say they’re “The Most Famous Name on Drums” and with their legacy, how could you not??

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Dating back to 1909, Ludwig has produced some of the most iconic pieces of drum related equipment, including their Black Beauty Snare Drum, first released in the 1920s, which are still produced to this day. 

By 1923 Ludwig were the biggest drum manufacturer in the world and they hit the masses in the ‘60s as The Beatles’ Ringo Starr performed on live TV bashing on a Black Oyster Pearl Ludwig kit. Ringo was so proud of owning this drum set that he left the Ludwig logo upon the skin of the bass drum (something not common at the time).

From this success Ludwig grew exponentially and bolstered their place at the top of the market with quality, durable drum sets that have stood the test of time. 

Continuing this legacy, Ludwig have released the Classic Oak Series, a combination 5-ply 6.5mm cross-over shell with 3-ply maple core and American red oak inner and outer plies. A reasonably thin yet dense shell capable of handling a lot of stress and still leaving the drum sounding tight with an even decay over time.

This line of drums is made using Ludwig’s Radio Frequency Shell Technology, a unique bonding system which cures shells evenly and a historic bladder model from the ‘60s to create that ‘Ludwig Sound’: a sound most people will know all too well from famous drummers including Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham and Keith Moon from The Who.

Using a 6.5mm shell thickness places this drum set smack bang in the middle of kits out there. It has good resistance to energy transfer between shells and has a greater stiffness than ‘thin’ kits, which means it’s suited for all purposes including both studio recordings and gigging on the road.

These shells feature double-45 degree bearing edges, in which the skin will hit the aforementioned maple core. Maple is common among high quality kits for its boost in the low frequency range while remaining smooth on the mids and highs. The result of this is even head to edge contact which provides longer sustain and a wider tuning range than standard bearing edges.

When the sound waves travel through the drum, the oak outer core maximises attack while the maple inner adds more control and low end, with the result being a well rounded tone. Volume, attack and control were forefront to the design of this kit and upon hearing it, it sounds as you’d want the drums to sound from the other side of the recording studio glass.

This series ships as a shell pack without Snare which means you get a Kick Drum with Rack and Floor Toms, featuring all the hardware necessary to get you on your way. I could see this pairing well with a classic Ludwig snare like a Black Beauty or Acrolite, but when the general tone of the kit is this good, you’d have a hard time sabotaging the overall sound. Just no St. Anger snare sounds please.

The Rack toms feature ATLAS PM0048 hardware designed to reduce vibration loss and let the drum resonate all the way through. Floor tom’s have low-profile Triad brackets to decouple them from the floor resulting in a cleaner and deeper sound response. Both Toms give users the choice between Ludwig’s Large Classic Lugs which give an old school feel to embody the namesake and Mini-Classic Lugs for a more contemporary vibe.

Speaking of choice, there’s plenty of it with regards to sizing. Bass Drums are available in 20, 22 and 24 inch diameters with the 22 inch version featuring an option for extra depth, from 14 to 18 inches. Rack toms come in at 10, 12 and 13 inch diameters, again with more choices for depth available, while floor toms come in with 14, 16 and 18 inch diameters. For most drummers I’d say there’s a kit here to suit your style of playing, whatever it may be.

Drummers who like to keep it stylish, or match your Ludwig snare to the rest of the kit there are a tonne of variations. From the new Tennessee Whiskey finish, which has gorgeous deep brown streaks through a mahogany looking base, to the Blue Olive Oyster finish, which has teal and army green flowing graphics over a cream background which almost resembles a camouflage print. Overall there are 23 different finishes available and there’s enough here for just about everyone!

This kit would be perfect for hard rock and gospel drummers alike where more accentuation won’t affect the overall sound. Large, bold and punchy tones shine true here and drummers of many other genres will definitely feel right at home playing these both on stage and in the studio.

In most instances, you can’t go astray choosing a Ludwig kit, and this Classic Oak Series is no exception. With so much flexibility allowed to customers in diameter, depth and colourway, there’s something for everyone here and from the trusty hardware, stylish designs, combination wood shells and Ludwig proprietary design, this one’s surely a winner.

For more information check out Ludwig Drums and for local enquiries get in touch with Dynamic Music.