HISTORY OF SHELL
I bought this 6.5x14" original Radio King snare shell from Ebay two years ago. It has been certified authentic by several experts, including Jeff Kirsch, a drum builder in Portland Oregon. It has the telltale circular clamp marks, etc. This shell is from the "Gretsch Vineyard." I do not know the precise year it was made, but Jeff estimated late 50's or early 60's. The shell was kept in various dry, insulated warehouses for about 45 years. After that it was kept in peoples' houses. The shell is about fifty seven years old, and has dried out nicely. As a result, it has a very vintage sound. Everything about the shell is vintage Radio King.
CONSTRUCTION OF SNARE DRUM The shell had no edges when I got it. The edges were square, which is what I preferred. This actually is advantageous because the wood was perfectly seasoned inside, and left plenty to work with to create the perfect edges. I contracted Jeff Kirsch, a builder in Portland, Oregon, USA, to finish the shell with virgin 30 degree bearing edges, and to lathe the sides. Because the shell had never been edged before, the edges turned out perfect and very clean.
The inside of the shell was left untouched, just like all Radio King shells were left alone on the insides of them. The stain that Jeff selected was based on his research and knowledge about Radio King stains. I opted not to go with a wrap because it would choke the shell. It would have been much easier and less expensive to choose a wrap, but that would have limited the sound of the drum. Contrary to what many people know, quite a few Radio Kings back in the day had stained shells instead of wraps, especially the early ones.
VINTAGE-STYLE HARDWARE Jeff then fit the shell with modern vintage-style hardware, selecting tube lugs to match the stain. The throw off is from Drum Foundry and it is designed to look like a vintage Radio King throw-off. The butt plate is also very vintage looking and was selected for its similarity to old Radio King butt plates. The snare was stained with a vintage look to it. It has standard hoops rather than die cast hoops.
A PERFECT MARRIAGE OF ANTIQUE AND NEW With a vintage Radio King shell, modern vintage-looking hardware, authentic bearing edges, and high quality snares, this drum sounds absolutely beautiful. It is fully capable of duplicating an antique Radio King sound, but it can also diversify to some more modern sounds, depending upon how one tunes it, and upon which sort of snares are used. This drum can easily last until 2112. It is built to last, with a perfect blending of an antique shell with modern drum building techniques and technology.
As I've already mentioned, the snare has the same bearing edge as a Radio King: 30 degrees. The bearing edges are only nine months old. They are fresh edges on a shell that never previously had edges. The edges fit modern drum heads perfectly, unlike most old vintage Radio King shells that do NOT fit modern heads very well.
Why don't vintage Radio Kings often have edges that don't fit modern drum heads very well? Because often the old Radio Kings have been re-edged, sometimes more than once, and without much wood to work with. If they have not been re-edged after half a century or so, the edges will lose their shape over time, and sometimes the whole drum can even go out of round a little. Original vintage drum edges were made for calfskin heads that fit differently than today's modern heads with aluminum inserts, etc. Jeff Kirsch designed this Radio King snare drum to work perfectly with modern heads. The edges are impeccable and the shell is nicely round.
Because of its antique Radio King shell, this snare drum is more unique and versatile than a new Craviotto snare drum or an antique Radio King. The price is cheaper than a new Craviotto snare drum.
Additional pictures available upon request. Feel free to email for additional information. I am also happy to chat with US buyers on the phone about this item. Just give me your phone number and...
Items in the Worthopedia are obtained exclusively from licensors and partners solely for our members’ research needs.