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Classic: Slingerland Radio King

Slingerland Radio King

ERA 1930s–’40s
FINISH White Marine Pearl
DIMENSIONS 14" x 4"
NUMBER OF LUGS 8

I purchased this drum from noted collector/historian/author and good friend, Harry Cangany. Harry was nice enough to give me his thoughts and opinions about this drum, so I defer to his expertise: “Slingerland was probably the best example of a drum company that built products not featured in any catalog and in finishes that were not supposed to be available. The 14" x 4" Radio King was never in any catalog. There were 13" x 4" snare drums, but no 14" x 4" models. The pre-WW II badge only makes it more confusing. We know that Slingerland tried hard to get Max Roach away from Gretsch. In the late ’40s, Roach was the reason Gretsch invented the 14" x 4" size for the emerging bebop music. The size existed in the ’20s, but then drums went big – 14" and 15" x 6.5", 7", and 8". Drummers forgot about the 14" x 4" size. My feeling has been that this 14" x 4" – and I have only seen two of them – was made for an endorser. Gretsch had to use tube lugs initially to make their drum work. Slingerland was able to just barely make the streamline lugs work. Look at how closely they sit to each hoop! Not much room to spare. I think the 14" x 4" is a great size and the collectability of this drum rests in the fact that it is a Radio King, rare in size, the most sought-after color and, no doubt, created for someone whose name we’d recognize if only Slingerland had kept records!”

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