Sunday, April 7, 2013

Stone Master-Model Prototype Shell

First introduced in 1922, the Master-Model Drum was George B. Stone & Son's premier snare drum offering and remains the most easily recognizable and iconic instrument produced by the company. Originally marketed as the "All-Weather Drum", the name "Master-Model" was adopted by late 1922. The Master-Model snare drums were built around 5" x 14" staggered three-ply all maple shells, not single-ply maple as is sometimes reported.

But with every rule comes an exception as is the case with this early prototype.

All that remains of this drum is the shell and hoops. There is a paper label inside of the drum and a Stone & Son badge mounted on the top hoop which places the drum no later than 1922. (The Master-Model specific badge appears to have begun use around January of 1924.) What is most interesting about this early example is that unlike every other Master-Model shell I've ever handled, this one is formed from a single, thin outer ply with four reinforcing rings which combine to line the entire inside of the drum.

Now compare the prototype shell pictured above with this late 1920s example. This is the typical 3 ply 5/8" thick maple shell employed by Stone on their Master-Model drums through the 1920s and into the 1930s.

1923 George B. Stone & Son Master-Model Snare Drum Shell1923 George B. Stone & Son Master-Model Snare Drum

The odd thing about the prototype is how the entire inner shell is covered by the reinforcing rings. It's an obvious evolution at that point to then make the inner rings into one complete ply which would yield a two ply shell composed of a thin outer ply and a much thicker inner ply. Stone apparently settled on a three ply version by about 1922 which they would use on all of their Master-Model drums going forward. The production of a staggered three ply shell is a milestone often credited to Brooklyn's Gretsch Manufacturing Company but date stamped examples from George B. Stone & Son appear as early as 1922.

Do you have a drum made by Geo. B. Stone & Son? I'd love to hear from you! Send Lee an email at