Monday, February 27, 2012

Stone Master-Model Nuts

UPDATE: 6/7/15 - A comprehensive Master-Model Dating Guide has been posted!

One of my longer term projects is to develop a dating guide for the George B. Stone & Son Master-Model snare drums. We know that they were first introduced in 1922. And we know that they were produced through the at least the mid 1930s albeit in decreasing numbers after the company's prime in the mid 1920s. But there were changes made to the Master-Model's design over the course of that time, some more significant than others, which can be used to date a particular drum more precisely. One of the more apparent evolutions was that of the nuts used to tension the claws which tensioned the heads.

There were three clearly different versions of these nuts with more subtle differences within the second generation presumably from different batches of parts. Pictured below are the three easily definable generations with approximate dates based on the examples I've seen. Muddling things a bit, some drums appear with a mixture of second and third generation parts hence the overlapping dates.

1st Generation, ca. 1922 - 1924

2nd Generation, ca. 1924 - 1926

3rd Generation, ca. 1925 - 1930s

Do you have a George B. Stone & Son Master-Model drum? I want to hear from you! Send Lee an email at

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Vintage Drum Geography

It's interesting to note where vintage drums turn up these days. Even in the case of the drums produced by the Boston Drum Builders nearly 100 years ago, many of them haven't traveled all that far. Of the 35 drums in my collection built by Bower, Dodge, Nokes & Nicolai, Stromberg, Stone, Ditson, Haynes, and Thompson & Odell, 13 of them came from sellers in Massachusetts. 11 others were turned up in the neighboring states of Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.

It makes you think about how drums traveled back in the day. You couldn't just have a drum overnighted from anywhere in the world vie UPS or FedEx. (And there certainly was no internet with which to locate a drum, purchase it, and track the package!) So geography is one reason that so many of these antique instrument haven't traveled all that far over the course of time.

This was the world according to George B. Stone & Son as of 1914:

Friday, February 17, 2012

Stromberg Invincible Orchestra Drum Project

A new Stromberg drum has arrived! Some initial thoughts just after disassembling the drum:

The shell is fascinating. It's basically a two ply shell with three 3-ply reinforcing rings so that at the bearing edges it is five plys thick which was unheard of in a high end drum at that time, circa 1920. The shell was originally a natural maple color which can clearly be seen at the edges of the shell with the heads off. Hopefully I can get this yucky brown paint/stain/finish off and preserve what's left of the original finish.

The label inside is very well preserved and lists the address of 40 Sudbury Street. And there is a name on the back!!!

The hardware has been painted but it's not that hard to remove. And the good news is that after getting the paint off of a few pieces, the original nickel plating is about 80% intact and should polish up reasonably well. No need to re-plate anything which is a relief. And I may well be the only person on the planet who has a matching replacement claw for the one missing original. I have two extra replicas left from another Stromberg drum I had restored a few years ago.

Some pics on arrival:

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Scollay Square

Welcome to Lee's Boston Drum Builders Blog! This is where I'll post my ramblings about this, that and the other including drum projects as they come in and move along. You never know what you're going to find when you open up a 90 year old drum . . .

So to kick things off, and since this seems like the logical place to start, here are two pictures from the MIT Library Archives dating from the 1950s overlooking Boston's Scollay Square. A few years later, most of the buildings in the neighborhood met their demise due to so called urban renewal. All of the Boston drum companies were long gone by this time (okay, Elmer Stromberg was building guitars until his death in 1955 and George Lawrence Stone still operated the Stone Drum School even after the drum building equipment was out of use and eventually sold off), but both Stone and Stromberg operated out of this neighborhood in their respective heydays.

The second photo looks down Hanover Street in the direction of the address occupied by Stone for most of their existence.