Vintage Drum Time Line
Major American Drum Manufactures of the 20th Century
Principals and Companies
This page is intended to be a resource for any vintage drum collectors,
historians or anyone else with an interest in thedevelopment of the major
American drum companies of the twentieth century.
Any comments or corrections welcomed. Please email at firstname.lastname@example.org
1809 - Porter
Blanchard, Concord, N.H. One of the first drum maker on the American continent
to make military parade drums. Porter Blanchard was succeeded by Eli Brown &
Son, of Windsor, Connecticut.
1849 - Joseph Rogers immigrates from Ireland to form the Joseph Rogers and
Son Co. in Manchester, New Jersey
1854 - Silas Noble and James P. Cooley begin building toy drums in Silas' Massachusetts
1856 - Silas Nobel and James Cooley form the Noble and Cooley Co.
1872 - Freidrich Gretsch immigrates to the US from Mannheim, Germany
1875 - Sonor founded in Germany
1883 - Friedrich Gretsch founds a small musical instrument shop in Brooklyn,
1885 - Friedrich Gretsch dies while vacationing in Heigleberg, Germany. His
son Fred (Sr.) takes over the company at age 15.
1889 - Noble & Cooley Co. moves factory to Granville, Massachusetts
1890 - U.G. Leedy goes to Fostoria, Ohio to play with the Empire theatre orchestra
1890 - George B. Stone founds the Geo. B. Stone & Son Co. in Boston, Massachusetts
1890 - Fred Gretsch moves the operations to a three story plant at 104 South
4th Street in Brooklyn.
1894 - U.G. Leedy goes to Toledo, Ohio to play with the Peoples Theatre Orchestra
1895 - U.G. Leedy and clarinet player Sam Cooley meet while playing with the
orchestra of the English Opera House in Indianapolis.
1896 - U.G. Leedy makes first Leedy drums in Toledo, Ohio
1898 - U.G. Leedy opens Leedy-Cooley Mfg. Co. in basement of the Cyclorama Building
in Indianapolis, Indiana
1903 - U.G. Leedy buys out Cooley's interest in Leedy-Cooley Manufacturing Co.
1903 - Leedy moves the Leedy Co. from the Cyclorama Bldg. to the factory at Palmer
and Barth streets, both in Indianapolis, IN
1909 - William and Theobald Ludwig begin Ludwig and Ludwig marketing a bass drum
pedal of their design
1910 - George H. Way goes to work for George B. Stone & Son Drum Mfg. Co. of Boston,
1915 - (approx.) Geo. H. Way moves north to start Advance Drum Co. in Edmonton,
1916 - Gretsch once again outgrew its facility and Fred built a ten story factory
& warehouse at 60 Broadway, where it remains today.
1918 - Theobald Ludwig dies
1922 - Geo. H. Way leaves Advance Drum Co. to take a job a Leedy Drum Co.
1923 - Geo. Way, Leedy sales manager at the time, starts the "Leedy Drum Topics".
The company newsletter and 'drum magazine'.
1927 - H.H. Slingerland of the Slingerland Banjo Co. begins making drums due to
Ludwig & Ludwig Drum Co. entering the banjo market
1928 - H.H. Slingerland changes the name of his company from the Slingerland Banjo
Co. to the Slingerland Banjo & Drum Co.
1928 - Gretsch opens sales office in Chicago, Il
1929 - October - U.G. Leedy sells Leedy Manufacturing Co. to G.C. Conn Manufacturing
Co. of Elkhart, Indiana due to health and the economy.
1929 - (late) William F. Ludwig sells Ludwig & Ludwig to Conn
1929 - Cleveland S. Rogers (Joseph's grandson) takes over Rogers and Son Co.
1930 - Spring - C.G. Conn Co.'s president, C.D. Greenleaf, orders Leedy factory
moved from Indianapolis to Elkhart, IN.
1930 - U.G. Leedy forms the General Products Co. (L&S) with long time Leedy employee
Cecil Strupe (who later worked for WFL, Gretsch and Ludwig)
1931 - Conn moves Leedy and Ludwig and Ludwig operations to Elkhart, Indiana.
1931 - January 7, U.G. Leedy dies leaving L&S under control of his son, E.H. (Hollis)
1935 - Duke Kramer joins the Chicago office of Gretsch. Later he becomes vice
president of the Chicago office.
1936 - Cecil Strupe leaves General Products (L&S) to go to work for W.F.L.
1937 - Gretsch & Billy Gladstone announce partnership & introduce the Gretsch-Gladstone
Drum, shown in the Gretsch catalogue of 1939.
1937 - Incorporated on April 15th 1937 Wm. F. Ludwig
and Bill Ludwig, Jr. leave Conn to form William F.Ludwig Drum Co. (W.F.L.)
1939 - December 14, Wm F Ludwig Drum Company is to be called WFL by a special
meeting at 6:00 P.M. of the stockholders
1942 - Fred Gretsch, Sr. retires & names Fred Gretsch Jr. president.
1942 - Geo. H. Way leaves Conn's Leedy Division to start George H. Way Co.
1946 - Phil Grant is hired as head of promotions & sales of Gretsch's drum department.
1946 - Geo. H. Way leaves George H. Way Co. to take on a job with Slingerland
1948 - Geo. H. Way returns to Conn/Leedy at their request
1948 - Gretsch introduces 20" bass drum.
1950 - Geo. B. Stone Co. ceases operations
1950 - Ralph G. Eames buys Geo. B. Stone Co.'s tooling
1950 - C.G. Conn Co. merges the Leedy Co. and Ludwig and Ludwig to form Leedy
1951 - Geo. H. Way is put in charge to merge Conn's interests in Leedy and Ludwig
& Ludwig to form Leedy & Ludwig
1953 - Cleveland Rogers sell Rogers and Son Co. to Henry Grossman, of Grossman
Music, who moves the company to Covington, Ohio
1954 - Geo. H. Way leaves Conn, purchases the factory operated by Conn's Leedy
and Ludwig Div. in Elkhart, IN and reopens George H. Way Co.
1954 - Bud Slingerland buys Leedy Co.'s dies and patents from C.G. Conn Co. for
195? - Mid 50's Gretsch switches from 3-ply shells (made in the Brooklyn factory)
to 6-ply shells made by Jasper Wood Products, Jasper, Indiana. About this same
time, Gretsch began painting the interior of the shells silver. Prior to that
the interiors were natural.
1955 - Conn Co. sells Leedy and Ludwig inventory to Indiana Music after the knob
tension drum fiasco.
1955 - early - Leedy & Ludwig cease operations. Conn sells Ludwig & Ludwig name
with all designs and patents and tooling to W.F. Ludwig, Jr. for $90,000US.
195? - Henry S. Grossman buys the Rogers Co. from
1957 - Gretsch celebrates 75th anniversary with a "Diamond Jubilee Edition" catalogue.
Special sets were covered with "Anniversary Sparkle" pearl. About the same time
Gretsch sponsored "Gretsch Drum Nights" at Birdland.
1957 - Geo. H. Way Co. begins producing Aristocrat and Spartan model snare drums
1957 - Geo. H. Way Co. begins producing bass drums
and tom toms (Printed Flyer States On or About
Nov. 20, 1957)
1959 - Slingerland moves from Chicago to Niles, Illinois
1961 - John Rochon, pres. of Camco, buys controlling interest in Geo. H. Way Drum
Co.-Camco expands from hardware into drums.
1962 - Geo. H. Way loses control of George H. Way Co. to Camco Drum Accessory
Co. of Oaklawn, Illinois due to debt owed Camco
1962 - Camco moves all production from Elkhart, Indiana to Oaklawn, Illinois.
1962 - Geo. H. Way goes to work for Rogers for a short time
1963 - (approx.) Geo. H. Way starts G.H.W. Drum Co.
1965 - Slingerland discontinues Leedy as its second line drums
1966 - Rogers is purchased by Columbia Broadcasting Company, Inc. (CBS)
1966 - Fibes Drum Co. comes into being in Farmingdale, NY through the efforts
of Bob Grauso and John Morena.
1967 - Fred Gretsch, Jr. sells Gretsch to Baldwin Piano Co. who moves operations
1969 - CBS moves entire Rogers operation to Fullerton, California
1969 - George H. Way dies
1970 - Fibes Drum Co. is sold to C.F. Martin Co. Martin closes the company soon
1971 - June - Kustom Electronics Co. buys Camco and moves them to Chanute, Kansas
1972 - (approx.) Selmer buys Ludwig Drum Co.
1973 - William F. Ludwig, Sr. dies. William F. Ludwig, Jr. takes his place on
the board of directors of Ludwig division of Selmer
1973 - August - Beckman Musical Instruments buys Camco and moves them to Los Angeles,
1977 - (approx.) Joe McSweeney buys the Geo. B. Stone Co. from Ralph Eames
1978 - Don Lombardi buys Camco's tooling and begins mfg. Drum Workshop Drums (DW)
fashioned after the Camco style.
1978 - Hoshino of Japan, a.k.a. Tama, buys the Camco name from Beckman Musical
1979 - (approx.) Slingerland is sold to Gretsch
1979 - Wording on Gretsch badge changed.
1979 - Rogers moves to Monrovia, California
1979 - C.F. Martin Co. sells the Fibes fixtures & tooling to Jim Corder who moves
the company to Huntsville, Alabama.
1980 - (approx.) Fred Gretsch acquires all designs, patents and rights
to both the Leedy and Slingerland names
1981 - Rogers entire operation back to Fullerton, California after an unsuccessful
attempt to produce drums in San Luis, Mexico
1982 - Baldwin sells Gretsch to Charles Roy.
1983 - Gretsch celebrates Centennial Anniversary with special sets with numbered
1983 - Baldwin is forced to take back Gretsch.
1983 - Fred Gretsch III buys Gretsch from Baldwin and moves the company to South
198? - Jim Corder sells Fibes to Sammy Darwin who renames the company Darwin
1986 - G.W.H. (Geo. H. Way's Co.) is sold to Witmer Mc Nease Music Co. of South
1987 - CBS licenses the Rogers name to Island Music who imports drums of the
Rogers design from Tiwan
1990 - Corder sells Corder Drum Co. to Sammy Darwin of Darwin Drums. 1994
- Gibson U.S.A. buys Slingerland name and patents from Gretsch and moves the
company to Nashville, Tennessee
1994 - June - Sammy Darwin sells Darwin Drum Co. to Tommy Robertson who returns
the company to the Fibes name and moves operations to Austin, TX.
2006 - Geo H Way is sold to Ronn Dunnett of Dunnett Drums.
2006 - Rogers Drums is sold to Yamaha Drum Company
2007 - Leedy Name and Manufacturing taken over by Steve Maxwell
2008 - March 22, 2008 William F Ludwig II Passes - March 23, 2008 Walter Robert
Slingerland Jr Passes
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Page and artwork created and maintained by Marc Thompson
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