Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Early 1900s F. E. Dodge Street Drum

Preserving collector grade instruments is one way to honor Boston's drum building past. Another is to recondition and revive survivng examples as playable musical instruments giving voice to those makers who have been lost to time. The early 1900s F. E. Dodge Street Drum seen here is a case of the latter.
Early 1900s F. E. Dodge Snare Drum
F. E. Dodge Drum Label
Upon arrival, this drum was nothing but a shell. Bruised and crudely refinished, there was little remaining value from a collector standpoint other than the large makers label inside. Eventually a suitible conglomerate of parts was sourced and the drum was pieced back together breathing new life into a drum which had been silent for decades.

Rope Drum Ear 
Rope Drum Ear photo from 1907 Dodge Drum Catalogphoto:

Cooperman Fife and Drums supplied the leather ears which were then stamped and stained to emulate those typically seen on drums by Dodge and others in Boston around the late 19th and early 20th century. (See above photo from the 1907 Dodge catalog.) Calderwood Percussion supplied the faux hemp rope which provides the strength of modern synthetic rope while giving the visual impression of period correct materials. And the wooden counterhoops and calfskin batter head were taken from a donor drum built many years ago by Eames Drum Shells. The finishng touch, a custom lathed wooden grommet, was made up by Mattoon Drums and Percussion.

McIntosh Snare Strainer
McIntosh Snare Strainer and Muffler as pictured in Stone Catalog K
The hoop mounted snare mechanism is not one originally found on Dodge drums but is an intriguing bit of history in itself. Clearly this is an example of the snare strainer and muffler designed by William F. McIntosh, but there are several inconsistancies between this version and the one typically seen on McIntosh's own drums and those by George B. Stone & Son who used it widely through the 1910s and 1920s. The most obvious difference is the coarse, unbuffed exterior which is devoid of plating. The version present here also shows no signs of having ever had a lever installed.

Do you have an drum made by the F. E. Dodge Company? I would love to see it! Feel free to send Lee an email anytime at And for more on the early 20th century snare drum makers of Boston, Massachusetts please visit or follow @old_boston_drums on instagram.