Saturday, May 1, 2021

Stone Special Thumbscrew Rod Orchestra Drum, early 1910s

Before separate tension snare drums became widely accepted in New England, single tension drums ruled the market. Highly common during the 1910s, particularly in the early part of the decade, were thumbscrew models such as the orchestra drum seen here from Boston's George B. Stone & Son.
1910s George B. Stone Thumbscrew Rod Orchestra Drum
Early 1910s George B. Stone & Son Drum Catalog
The debate between single tension and separate tension was very much an open one around the time this drum was munufactured. George Burt Stone discussed the matter in a 1913 column for Jacobs' Orchestra Monthly and evidently found his own article relevant enough to republish it in George B. Stone & Son "Catalog H" (ca. 1915). Previously, Stone "Catalog G" (ca. 1912) lead off with the "Stone Special" Thumbscrew Rod Drum indicating its signifigance within the Stone product line.

Further inspection of Stone & Son's early catalogs reveal that badges first appeared around the mid 1910s. This characteristic, in addition to the early McIntosh strainer stamped with the inventor's name rather than Stone's, helps date this example to the early 1910s. A leather snare anchor holds the snare wires in place against the bottom counterhoop opposite of the strainer.

Early 1910s Geo. B. Stone Snare Strainer
Early 1910s Geo. B. Stone Snare Anchor
The single-ply maple counterhoops employed here feature a stained outer face recalling a motif often seen on late 19th century drums produced in and around Boston. This look gradually fell out of favor with Stone and others instead opting to use matching colored hoops and shells. A rapid move toward metal counterhoops followed, an evolution which Stone never embraced.

A diminutive makers label, not much larger than a postage stamp, is visible inside the drum. A larger label would not have fit inside the 3" deep, one-ply maple shell.

Upon arrival, the drum was outfitted with a Geo. B. Stone & Son 'Special Transparent' snare side head, a style last offered in Stone Catalog I (ca. 1919). Unfortunatly the head was split beyond repair, so a new skin was tucked onto the existing flesh hoop.

Early 1910s Geo. B. Stone Drum Label
1910s Geo. B. Stone & Son Drum Head
The drum is unfortunately highly out of round and when found was missing several tension rods and claws but is otherwise complete and in very good condition. A classy but simple overall appearance is offset by a polished rosewood grommet adorning the airvent.

The original 'flexible waterproof woven' snare wires are intact and in excellent working order. The sound achieved is something brighter than traditional gut, but darker and drier than coiled wire.

Early 1910s Geo. B. Stone & Son Snare Drum Grommet
Early 1910s Geo. B. Stone & Son Flexible Waterproof Woven Snare Wires

Do you have a Stone & Son drum? I would love to hear from you! Feel free to send Lee an email at And for more on George B. Stone & Son and the other turn of the century Boston-based drum makers, please visit or follow us on Instagram: @old_boston_drums.