Ludwig Musser

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Ludwig-Musser is a manufacturer of drums and percussion instruments. The company is now part of Conn-Selmer, Inc.


Early years

The American company Ludwig was founded in 1909 by the brothers Theobald Ludwig (1888–1918) and William F. Ludwig (1879–1973), whose family had emigrated from Germany to Chicago in 1887. At first they operated the company together under the name Ludwig & Ludwig . Their first new development was an improved pedal for the bass drum . With this it was possible to play faster without sacrificing volume. The development of a timpani followed , which was completed in 1916. In the 1920s, Ludwig & Ludwig expanded the product range to include banjos , but made losses, which in the global economic crisis led to the company being taken over by CG Conn . William F. Ludwig ran the business on behalf of Conn until 1936 before he decided to start his own company.

WFL Drum Company

In 1937 William F. Ludwig founded his new company in Chicago under the name WFL Drum Company . The first product he brought onto the market was the "Speed ​​King Pedal". 1955 succeeded in buying back Ludwig & Ludwig from CG Conn. The company was then renamed the Ludwig Drum Company .

The Beatles and the rise to a global company

The Beatles logo with the lowered T.

The company achieved world fame by chance. Ringo Starr , the Beatles' drummer , wanted to buy a new drum kit in 1963. Up to this point he played one of the Premier Company . At the dealer Ivor Arbiter , he saw a sample of the color "Black Oyster Pearl", which he liked, but was only available from Ludwig. So Ringo Starr chose this brand. There the famous Beatles logo with the dropped T was designed and painted on the bass drum . As the Beatles became more well-known, the name Ludwig also spread, the logo of which was placed next to the band name on the head of the bass drum . Newly formed bands not only copied the music, but also the clothing and equipment of the Beatles. So Ludwig was able to increase production extremely. This in turn had a multiplication effect, as other bands that played Ludwig also achieved world fame, whose fans then also preferred Ludwig.

In 1966, the business expanded with the acquisition of the Musser Marimba Company . Musser made percussion instruments such as vibraphones , marimbaphones and tubular bells . Ludwig thus covered the complete range of percussion instruments.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Ludwig was the world's leading drum company. Ringo Starr received a special snare from the company as early as 1964 for his services to Ludwig .


Under the name Vistalite , Ludwig offered transparent acrylic drums from 1972 , mainly in the colors clear, amber and blue. John Bonham played it. In 1979 the series was discontinued.

Takeover by Selmer

In 1981, Ludwig was taken over by the Selmer Company .

From the 1980s, Ludwig increasingly lost market share. This was due, on the one hand, to the emerging Japanese competing companies such as Pearl , Yamaha and Hoshino Gakki ( Tama ), and on the other hand to the poor processing quality.

Tom mount

By the late 1960s, Ludwig mounted a slightly curved rosette on the bass drum. Because of its shape, this is known as the "banana tom holder". The mandrel on which the hanging tom was placed and fastened could be pushed and positioned on the bass drum to the left or right using these constructions ("Rail Consolette").

From the end of the 1960s, Ludwig switched to a new tom holding system that is part of today's standard and is used by Tama, among others. This was now attached in the middle. One reason for this was the increasing use of two hanging toms. A long tube was sunk into the bass drum, which now enabled a good height adjustment, on which the corrugated mandrels for the tom recordings are attached. These can be easily adjusted in almost all directions.

Speed ​​King

The Ludwig “Speed ​​King” foot pedal is legendary and has set standards for a long time. She was known to be particularly quick. The machine was registered for a patent in 1936 under the number - POSK - NTC.


Ludwig snares are legendary to this day. Here are the Black Beauty , Super Sensitive or Supraphonic to name. The Supraphonic differs from the Super Sensitiv in that it has parallel lift-off. The parallel take-off also creates a clear difference in sound. The Super Sensitiv was mainly used in the 1960s, while the Supraphonic is / was used by many rock and hard rock drummers such as John Bonham ( Led Zeppelin ), Ian Paice , Ginger Baker , Carl Palmer and Steve Gadd . This is available in the dimensions 14 "× 5 and 14" × 6.5 ". The latter prevailed in the hard rock area because it is more assertive than the 5".

In the 1980s, the Ludwig Coliseum was used a lot. This is a 14 "× 8" wooden snare. It gave the typical 1980s snare sound in many productions.


On the vintage market , Ludwig drums are the most popular percussion instruments and fetch high prices. This is especially true for the Black Beauty snares.

Well-known Ludwig drummers

Numerous famous drummers played or play drums made by Ludwig. Some of them are:

Web links

Commons : Ludwig-Musser  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files


  • William F. Ludwig II: The Making of a Drum Company. Rebeats Publications, 2001, ISBN 1-888408-05-7 .

Individual evidence

  1. Theobald Ludwig ; Retrieved April 27, 2013.
  2. Ludwig Drums ; accessed on February 20, 2020.
  3. ^ Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame: William F. Ludwig ; accessed on February 20, 2020.
  4. a b Ludwig History ; Company history on the official website
  5. ^ Story of CG Conn; Retrieved on December 15, 2008 ( Memento of the original from December 11, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  6. William F. Ludwig II (1916-2008) ; Retrieved on April 27, 2013. ( Memento of the original from December 22, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /