Winthrop Students Tour Ludwig Industries

The Winthrop University percussion studio recently toured Ludwig Industries in Monroe, NC. I remember touring Ludwig when they were located on N. Damen Avenue in Chicago while attending graduate school at Northwestern University in 1976. In the early 1980s the entire facility was moved to North Carolina. Many of those old machines I saw in action at the Damen Avenue facility are still in use today. “We had some incredible engineers designing machines,” said plant manager Jim Kinsey. “When we moved to Monroe, we figured ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’ so we’ve just kept using those great old machines.”

Some little-known facts I learned on this tour:

Since there is such limited demand for 20″ fiberglass timpani, they don’t use a mold for the 20″ drums. If you order a complete five-drum set of fiberglass timpani, the 20″ will be made of aluminum and painted the same copper color. The original color of the fiberglass is whitish grey, and the original color of the aluminum is a dull silver.

Rack of timpani bowls ready for drilling

Drilling timpani bowl for the tuning gauge assembly

It takes two hours of sanding on a specially-designed machine to bring a copper timpani kettle to the mirror-like finish we are accustomed to.


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Artie Lieberman’s Mallet Instrument Service

Artie’s father was a bread deliveryman in Manhattan. One of his best customers was Lionel Hampton, who liked to have his breakfast at a certain coffeeshop in Greenwich Village at 4:00 AM, when Mr. Lieberman typically delivered fresh bread. Artie’s father asked Lionel Hampton if he would recommend someone to teach his son to play drums. Hampton referred Mr. Lieberman to Freddie Albright, who agreed to teach young Artie, on the condition that they must begin on the xylophone. Once Artie learned to read music on the xylophone, they could begin to split the lessons between xylophone and drums. Lessons progressed nicely, and later on Mr. Lieberman again approached Lionel Hampton asking about the purchase of a used vibraphone for his son. Hampton replied that he happened to have one he wasn’t using and would sell it for $300.00. The recently refurbished instrument remains in Artie’s collection and is pictured above.

Artie has dozens of vintage and new instruments in his collection, including many one-of-a-kind instruments such as those pictured below. Highly sought-after instruments such as Deagan roundtop bells, Deagan songbells, specially-made bass marimbas and extended-range chimes are available for rental. (more…)


Shumba Ya Ngwasha Revisited

Hello All,

I recently revisited Chartwell’s Shumba YaNgwasha in nemakonde tuning and discovered some errors in my original transcription. Check out the original post and you’ll find the corrected version, which includes some funky additions of the RT 1 key  (on beat 2 in the 3rd and 4th quarters) that I had simply neglected earlier, as well as an easier movement to UL 1 on beat 10 of the 2nd quarter. This correction makes for a much nicer harmonic movement that I simply didn’t hear the first time. Check it out and let me know how you like it.