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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

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 farmhouse.
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, New York
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, Mass.
1915 - (approx.) Geo. H. Way moves north to start Advance Drum Co. in Edmonton, Altberta, Canada
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) Leedy
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 and Ludwig.
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 $90,000US.
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 Cleveland Rogers
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 to Arkansas.
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 thereafter.
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, California
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 Instrument Co.
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 badges.
1983 - Baldwin is forced to take back Gretsch.
1983 - Fred Gretsch III buys Gretsch from Baldwin and moves the company to South Carolina.
198? - Jim Corder sells Fibes to Sammy Darwin who renames the company Darwin Drum Co.
1986 - G.W.H. (Geo. H. Way's Co.) is sold to Witmer Mc Nease Music Co. of South Bend, Indiana
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
Copyright MCMXCVI-MCMXCIX Marc B. Thompson - Last Updated