Saturday, May 23, 2020

1910s George B. Stone & Son Separate Tension Band Drum

This drum has been in the collection since before the days of the blog and is long overdue for a feature here. It's a nicely restored Separate Tension Band Drum from Boston's George B. Stone & Son. The before and after photos depict the dramatic overhaul.

1910s Stone & Son Band Drum Before RestorationLee's Stone Field Drum After Restoration

The drum was found in southern New Hampshire in 2009 and had been neglected for many years. A poorly applied aftermarket paint job masked the original shellac finish and a crack had developed running a third of the way around the shell. Several pieces of hardware were missing and the slotted tension rods on the bottom side of the drum were caked in mud where the drum had recently been placed on the ground. A thorough restoration was in order.

Paint was stripped from the shell, hoops, and hardware. The shell was sent to Joe McSweeney at Eames Drum Company in Saugus, Massachusetts who repaired the crack. After a light sanding on the wheel at Eames, the very same equipment used by Stone & Son generations ago, the shell and hoops were refinished to closely emulate what would have been the original color. The tube lugs were polished by hand and reinstalled with new mounting hardware as the original screws were badly stripped and rusted. New calfskins were sourced from America's last remaining drumhead tannery, Stern Tanning in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and tucked onto the existing flesh hoops. The end result is a drum which may not hold as much collector value as an unmolested one, but is highly playable and remains a visually accurate representation of George B. Stone & Son's work.

George B. Stone & Son Drum BadgeGeorge B. Stone & Son Drum Label

Stone's Separate Tension Band Drums were constructed around thin single-ply shells, typically maple, and utilized four reinforcing rings - one at each bearing edge and one underneath each row of tube lug posts. Slotted tension rods attached to single-ply counterhoops using hooks cast from brass or bronze. A simple but functional Stone Patent Snare Strainer and Muffler allowed for the gut snares to be quickly engaged or disengaged from the bottom head.

William F. McIntosh Snare Strainer and MufflerBottom View of Stone Field Drum and Gut Snares

Stone & Son's Catalog K (1925) listed several models aimed at the band and drum corps market but the use of double post tube lugs is unique to the Separate Tension Band Drums. Far more common for this style of drum in the 1910s was the use of thumbscrew rods adjusted by hand from the underside of the drum thereby tuning both heads simultaneously. Catalogued by Stone under many different monikers through the years, sometimes with center posts and sometimes without, the design of these single tension models remained essentially unchanged from the early 1900s through the 1920s and even into the 1930s.

Stone & Son Catalog K - page 9Stone & Son Catalog K - page 13

Do you have a drum made by Geo. B. Stone & Son? I would love to hear about it! Drop Lee a note at And for more on Boston's early 20th century drum makers, please visit