A drum was stamped when the shell was finished, providing the most accurate depiction of the age of wood due to the fact final assembly came later.
The difficulty in date stamps is, more often than not, that the stamp has been rendered illegible or removed completely due to the wear and tear of the years.
Ludwig’s expansive past is nearly as long as the line of drummers eager to get their hands on the company’s legendary vintage gear.
However, if you’re lucky enough to come across a particularly clean specimen with the date stamp intact, you’ll know the exact day that drum came to be.
Date stamps are simultaneously the best and worst means to properly date a Ludwig drum from the '60s (use of the date stamp was discontinued ca.
1970 with the introduction of the “Blue & Olive” badge).
Forenote: The first two means of indication, date stamp and serial number/badge style, are the two most accurate for identifying the correct year of production.
Throughout a drum’s life, it may be refinished, re-edged, and re-housed in hardware not from the drum’s era, but the date stamp and serial number will serve as a northern star to correct identification.
The lion’s share of vintage Ludwig drums available on the market hail from the company’s golden years of the '60s, '70s, and early '80s.
The fifty years from Ludwig’s inception in 1909 to the early 1960s deserves its own article, so in order to give you the most pertinent information for dating, we’ll be looking at drums from the early '60s onwards.
Unlike the many components and changing particulars which make dating a guitar difficult, a few key, consistent elements make identifying a drum’s year of manufacture much easier.
In this article, we’ll be looking at the three best ways to identify a Ludwig: date stamp, serial number/badge style and shell construction.
The evolution of Ludwig hardware is a detailed and multi-faceted story.
For this reason and the aforementioned trend of updating vintage drums, hardware will not be covered in this guide.