Kent drum kit purchased - revisiting my youth and 1st drum kit in 1968

Discussion in 'Vintage Venue' started by Tama CW, Nov 3, 2018.

  1. Tama CW

    Tama CW Well-Known Member

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    My first drum kit was a Kent, 6 lug, WMP, 3 piece kit, bought new in 1968. Never knew much about its history and quality until this past year when I became interested. Then I got to thinking about maybe finding one. Problem is, most every one I've run across seemed distressed....never mind finding a nice complete kit at a reasonable price.....at least until today.

    This one isn't WMP, nor is it a 6 lugger. I was fortunate to find a Kent Deluxe Professional 8 lug snare/kick kit with the stronger hardware. Apparently, this was Kent's final stand to try and compete with the bigger boys in the later 60's.

    Finish looks to be champagne sparkle. Though with the laminate fading it could also be silver sparkle. It's cool looking though....like Terrazzo was poured on to the shells. Sizes are 12x8, 16x16, 20x14, and 14x5. The neat part is that most items in the main 3 piece kit look factory original. 5 of the 6 E.W. Kent heads are nice and little used...snare reso side is a no-name clear one. I'll try to find an original one or stenciled reproduction. The blue foil badges are all excellent. Kick pedal is a Kent and was minimally used, and sporting a nice black felt beater. The snare has original wires, with black and yellow chord. The snare throw-off works flawlessly.

    Generally, this looks to be a kit that wasn't used much....probably stored a long time. Chrome is brilliant and any rust is hard to find....the snare butt plate has a little bit of light pitting. Chromed stands are nice. Cymbal stands seem correct down to felts and wing nuts. Apparently, the previous owner was meticulous or just never played it. It was recently traded in at a drum shop towards a new kit. Even the throne is nice, with a spring loaded pull knob for height adjustment....unbranded but looks Ludwig/Slingy-like. Hi hat stand says Japan on it so that's probably not a Kent-issued item...or maybe something from their final MIJ years? The old style compression hi hat clutch is unusual.

    After tuning and tweaking the kit sounds good. The floor tom has a close enough finish to fit in nicely.... though is a Mercury with slim lugs. I have to wonder if Kent had those available to them at the time and just sold them as part of kits? They did make drums for other retailers. Some other Kent kits I've run across had the same Mercury floor tom in an otherwise original Kent kit. The heads are supposed to be 2 ply maple. But I can count 6 thinner plies on the snare drum and rack tom...about 5 mm thick on the snare shell. Oddly, the Mercury floor tom does look to have 2 plies, about 9 mm thick...8 lugs as well to match the kick/snare theme. In any case, they sound good...shooting for great. I love the crisp little snare pop and how the floor tom booms.

    The floor tom doesn't sport Kent heads...but they are as old looking though with plastic borders rather than the metal rims the Kent drum heads have. Tried on a new Remo coated ambassador for the FT and it didn't sound right. Put the cheesier "no-name" factory head back on and it improved, less throttled. Everything works well, even the usually weak tom ratchet mount is tight and secure. I don't think my original 1968 kit worked this well by the early 70's when I sold it.

    One significant flaw is some warping on the kick drum batter hoop, the reso hoop is fine. I was pleased to find this original kit for $200, especially being the scarcer 8 lugged Deluxe Professional Kit. I have more researching to do on the kit, shells, hardware, finish, etc. But, it will be fun. I'd love to hear any inputs from Kent gurus (Mouse and others) on some of my questions and findings.
     

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    Last edited: Nov 6, 2018 at 3:34 AM
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  2. Tama CW

    Tama CW Well-Known Member

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    I read some of the old Kent threads from here and picked up some good info. The kick needs some further tuning as with orig heads and no muffling, it's ringy and weak. I used some external muffling between kick pedal and batter head bottom and that did help. The rack tom did show a 1" long dig into the top bearing edge. Would probably best to have that refilled and then tapered. Sort of surprised to see that considering how little play the kit got. Maybe the factory did it and just covered it over? In counting 6 plies on these Kents, maybe I'm seeing what looks like a pair of plies, with each having a 3 ply look to them? There's definitely a slight split in the middle of that pair, with glue showing on some of them.

    Photo below is from 1970 with me and a friend "posing" on New Year's Eve.

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Kent-60s-V...=item2cde1c5617:g:CDIAAOSw7SFbw8Ru:rk:11:pf:0

    This Ebay Kent coffin lug floor tom is interesting. It has the same floor tom mounts, upper leg designs, and wing bolts as my Mercury floor tom. The shell thickness/plies look identical too. Though my drum has vertical grain (luan?) and has a grey interior coating on it. Odd though that the Merc and the Kent have these similarities. The more photos of kits I look at, the more I believe my Kents are Champagne Sparkle. Though the Mercury FT is a tad lighter shade....silver sparkle?

    Here's a fairly original and weathered Kent kit local to me (on CL) sporting a Mercury floor tom with a no name top head. It all looks to have be of similar vintage.

    https://westernmass.craigslist.org/msg/d/1964-drum-set-by-kent/6739563740.html
     

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    Last edited: Nov 3, 2018
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  3. lanebune

    lanebune Very well Known Member

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    Great story and very nice find. Mine is the same wrap which I was told is faded silver sparkle. Mine are all two ply with the exception of the floor tom that I added later that came from a fellow forum member. Mouse and Donny are the ones to talk to for sure, they know a lot about Kent.

    I just wanted to replicate for nostalgia reasons. My first set seen in the second pic was when the silver sparkle was really silver. (Pay no attention to the outfits!) My original kit was 22, 13, 16, 14x5 and 8 lug bass and floor. the nostalgia buy is 22, 13, 16 14x5 6 lug snare CCI00011_edited-2.jpg , 6 lug bass 8 lug floor. Great drums.

    OOPs, pics in wrong order, but you'll get the gist.
     

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  4. Tama CW

    Tama CW Well-Known Member

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    Cool photos Lanebune. I do like those Reveresque outfits.

    Your current kit does look similar to mine. And it has the same darker shadowing in areas across the top. I took my kick apart to day for a tune up. Wanted to see what the insides looked like. A double stamped date was there: "June 6 1966" or could be "June 6 1968." The ink runs a bit on the last 2 numbers. If you didn't know Kent history, you might call them 1988 or 1986. My kick is a bit out of round with a 1/4" of variation around the shell. The reso head fits a bit tight but the kick side spins ok. It's 6 ply/6 mm. The reso side bearing edge is somewhat carelessly made. The batter side is much nicer with a center raised bearing edge and almost no distortions. Looks very similar to the quality of my 6 ply 1980's Yamaha or Tama birch shells. The hoop claws show some rusting, especially as you get closer to the floor. Only noticeable up close. The batter hoop has a lot of paint breaks...and is quite scalloped.

    My snare shows the same type of plies as the kick...definitely 6 of them, though only around 5 mm wide. The rack tom seems to count anything from 2,3,4 ply as i go around it. The top bearing edge is sloppy with many variations. Very confusing...despite all the common knowledge that toms and snares are all 2 ply.
     

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    Last edited: Nov 4, 2018
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  5. lanebune

    lanebune Very well Known Member

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    I haven't pulled the heads in a while, but I'm pretty sure at least the bass and snare are two ply. This was my first
    set in the band pic and was taken in 1966. I had them for at least a year and 1/2 before this pic was taken, so maybe 1964 drums???

    On the kit I currently have the bass and snare are out of round pretty bad. (Maybe because of the 2 ply?) I admire your measuring capabilities and your perseverance. Keep me/us posted.

    And the cymbal in the center is a Kent cymbal. I have all the original heads.
     
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  6. EvEnStEvEn

    EvEnStEvEn ~Lounge Lizard~

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    CW ~
    Mark Cooper of Cooper's Vintage Drums has a pretty good overview of Kent history on his website..or used to.
     
  7. Tama CW

    Tama CW Well-Known Member

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    That's still out there. I read through that article a couple times, and even once last year. Very informative. But I was looking for even more details on Kents.
     
  8. 1966bmx

    1966bmx Very well Known Member

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    Congrats on your Kent set it looks to be in pretty nice shape . It is for sure gingered silver sparkle not champagne and the silver always did that because the flakes were actually metal and patina'd or rusted . Also the floor tom is not a Kent but a MIJ floor tom and very common for people to add a MIJ if they had a set w/o a FT . US made Kent drums were made in house from maple and made from one long sheet of maple rolled and glued as opposed to separate plies . The toms and snare shells were 2 ply and the bass drums were 6 . Not sure why you say the Adjust o matic tom mounts are weak they are pretty damn sturdy I have MANY Kent sets and have never had an issue with on that was not abused . Some of the Kent heads came with a plastic flesh hoop while some with a metal one and were made by REMO . I am not sure if you are on Facebook but I have a Kent page on there for US made Kent drums .
    Donnie
     
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  9. Tama CW

    Tama CW Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Donnie for clearing some things up. Silver sparkle works. And that's a better match for the Mercury Floor Tom finish which does look like silver sparkle. I took a photo of the kick drum finish with the hoop removed so the variation in the finish can be seen. One photo showing the scalloping on the batter hoop. Some date stamp photos too. I'd guess I'd have to call it June 6, 1966 as the last 6 doesn't look quite close on the top....though not 100% sure. If so, this would be 6/6/66 kit. Hmm.....

    My recollection of the tom ratchet mount was one of slippage at toms. This ratchet has nice sharp teeth. Shouldn't ever be a problem. And having the lighter 12x8 tom means less sprung weight on that mount.

    The snare drum shell still has me baffled. I don't see 2 plies. So I took some photos of the kick drum bearing edge here to compare it to the snare drum. I'll post the snare drum photos in the next post.

    I did check out a KENT page on FB, but didn't get too far not being a FB member.
     

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  10. Tama CW

    Tama CW Well-Known Member

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    Now some snare drum photos. Not as clear on the bearing edge while shooting through a layer of plastic. Doesn't look 2 ply to me. Looks more like the kick drum shell with many layers.

    First 4 edge photos show the bottom bearing edge. Last 3 photos are top bearing edge which seems a bit cleaner. Plenty of chunks missing and a few cracks/splits.
     

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    Last edited: Nov 5, 2018
  11. 1966bmx

    1966bmx Very well Known Member

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    Send a request to join the page I have it as a closed group so people have to request and answer the questions . It helps weeds out the fake accounts and spammers .
     
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  12. AaronLatos

    AaronLatos spang spang a lang

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    Count the seams in the shell, not the apparent "plies." Kent shells were often would like springs. I've seen Kent snares that looked like 4-ply drums until you started counting, and would up being single ply.

    Congrats on a cool kit, and you got them from a great shop. Used to live nearby and really miss Village Drum.

    I say go wild with recutting edges, etc, as need be. A friend of mine has a Kent set that he's fully reworked, and they hold up against his Gretsch and Sling kits .
     
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  13. rondrums51

    rondrums51 rondrums51

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    Funny thing about Kent drums. When I was in high school back in the late 60's, there was a discount department store called Woolco. They had a music department with cheap Japanese guitars and amps. The drums were Kent, and looking at them, I wasn't impressed. Flimsy looking hardware and cheap shells, etc. In my young teenage head, real pro drums were Ludwig, Rogers, Gretsch, et al. It wasn't until years later that I discovered that Kent was an American company. The shells were actually good maple wood, although the workmanship was not stellar. Their chrome plating was also better than the Japanese junk.
    Low budget drums, but at least made in the U.S.
     
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  14. Tama CW

    Tama CW Well-Known Member

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    I did see the middle split on all the shells and thought that might make them 2 ply. But Aaron is right that if you count the changes in the wood shading, you'll count a lot more than 2 plies.

    Aaron's suggestion of recutting edges makes sense. Of all the edges I looked at only the kick drum batter head is nice, and showing a peak. The others are mostly flat to rounded, irregular heights, splits, chunks missing in spots, you name it. I can see why sloppy bearing edges are often mentioned. New edges would likely cost more than I paid for the drums. And what are the original specs?

    I too thought these were sort of cheap drums back in the 1960's. And it didn't help that I knew squat about tuning back then. Now that I've owned a dozen or more pro kits, I can attest that the hardware on this kit is pretty darn solid. The lugs, metal hoops, kick drum claws and rods, are all fairly hefty and compare favorably to the top name brands of that era...and even into the 1980's. The items attached to the shell are not light weight MIJ 1960's stuff. The inlay on kick drum hoops has brass tacks 180 deg apart. That looks like a quality step the factory might have done....those are neatly hidden under the claws.

    The "craftsmanship" in drilling into the shells left lots of wood splinters...none of which were attended to....pretty sloppy. Doesn't affect the sound though. Triple chrome plating was used on these (copper, nickel, then chrome). That holds up a lot better than MIJ chrome over bare steel. I worked 2 summers in a chrome plating factory (1972/73)...lots involved in that process and not many companies did it back in the 1960's. The minimal pitting on the KENT tom and snare lugs is comparable or better to my 1980's Tama Superstars.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2018
  15. rpludwig

    rpludwig Very well Known Member

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    nice clean Kent kit, my first as well, having grown up in Kenmore...it's all been said about Kents, great chrome, lousy strainer, quality good to not so good. Your bearing edges look typical, true 'em first, recut as needed, fill the voids, they'll sound much better for your efforts and not hard to do...
     
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  16. Drum Play

    Drum Play Very well Known Member

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    You got a nice deal on those...true the shells and re-cut the edges and those thin shells will sing.
     
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  17. Tama CW

    Tama CW Well-Known Member

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    Got a chance to play the kit this weekend...sounded like vintage drums. The kick drum sounded better with a 2" felt strip along the lower batter head...and a small cloth stuffed between the kick pedal and lower hoop. No pillows or anything. Oddly, using my 1980's Tama or Yamaha pedals/beaters didn't sound as good as what I could do with the clunkier KENT hinged pedal and it's black felt beater....actually a set of 3 felts stacked up, no doubt to save money. More thump with that KENT beater and with less effort. But the throw on that KENT pedal is so short that you have to extend the beater shaft all the way just to get a moderate throw. The kick drum sounds a lot like an 18x16 floor tom when sticked....they have nearly identical cubic inches (288 vs 280). Probably would sound cool with a wood beater.

    KENT pedal is surprisingly rugged and a snap to adjust the tension once cleaned up and lubricated. No dates found stamped in the snare or tom shells. The kick drum has what appears to be a large hand scripted "207" which could also be letters.

    Read some old posts around here on the pros and cons of re-cutting bearing edges. Have to say I'm leaning towards not touching the shells....as I'm more about nostalgia, fun, and collecting original factory-made drums than about studio quality tones. They sound just fine to me as they are....to my ear, no real difference vs. my 1980's pro kits with perfect edges. And it's not like my tonal IQ is very good. Scored a 9 out of 100 on a tonal test administered by the music teacher back in 1970. Everyone else in the school band was in the 40-85 range...lol.
     

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  18. rpludwig

    rpludwig Very well Known Member

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    I've posted this b4, but may give you some inspiration, esp. regarding bearing edges (note b4 & after)...as I restored my original Kent kit several years ago...time, patience is all it takes...good drums, once tweaked...
    http://ronleo.com/kent
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2018
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  19. 1966bmx

    1966bmx Very well Known Member

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    Those are great nice job !
     
  20. Tama CW

    Tama CW Well-Known Member

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    Great series of resto photos rpludwig. Those are certainly inspirational. Interesting having some Gretsch mounting hardware in there.
     

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