Ludwig drums are one of the most well-known percussion manufacturers in the world today. After fans saw Ringo Starr playing them in the early 60s on T.V., the brand gained a significant following. Since Ludwig launched in 1909, many people have wondered if the manufacturers have moved at all and where their drums come from today.
Ludwig’s handcrafted drums are made in Monroe, North Carolina, while the lower-end, non-handcrafted sets are made in facilities in China. Ludwig initially manufactured their handcrafted drums in Chicago, Illinois, before moving production to Monroe in 1984.
The rest of this article will discuss where Ludwig drums come from in more detail. I’ll also dive into the history of the Ludwig drum company, including where it was founded and where it is today. There’s a lot to learn, so let’s get started.
Where Ludwig Drums Come From
Ludwig drums come from the Monroe site, where woodworking experts handcraft the kits. Many of these workers are very knowledgable, with more than 30 years of experience making the Ludwig drums, so you can trust that they’re quality instruments.
After William F. Ludwig II retired from the drum business and sold Ludwig to the Selmer Company, they moved the manufacturing site from Chicago to Monroe in 1984. More experienced woodworkers in the area could handcraft the drums with very high standards. Plus, the factory would be closer to the wood suppliers.
Moving closer to wood suppliers made it more cost-effective for Ludwig to have North Carolina wood shipped to their woodshop. They could now access and use high-quality mahogany, cherry, and oak, without having to pay to send it across the country first.
Today, the plant includes 105,000 square feet of space in four buildings, including:
- Drum hardware storage
- Employee offices
- A woodshop
- A shipping building
In short, today’s Ludwig drums come from the Ludwig woodshop building in Monroe, North Carolina. You can find plenty of different drum sets in varying price ranges. Ludwig has a broad drum line, allowing you to choose from entry-level, low-cost drums and high-end, expensive drum kits.
Are Ludwig Drums Still Made in the USA?
Ludwig drums are still mainly made in the USA. Even though the company is well over 100 years old, production has only ever moved once (from Chicago to Monroe in 1984). However, some of the drums’ hardware comes from overseas, as there’s no metal production in the Monroe factory.
People have been speculating where Ludwig gets their metal from for years, but finding a direct answer is challenging. While the wooden body of the drums is handcrafted in the U.S., the metalwork on the kit comes from other places like China.
However, that doesn’t mean you need to worry about the quality of the drums. The Monroe, NC experts combine most parts themselves on site, even if they don’t source the metal from anywhere nearby. These woodworkers take great pride in their work and carefully assemble the drums, getting great results with each order.
You can trust that all of the high-end Ludwig drums are handcrafted by experts in the U.S. factory. Your new, handcrafted Ludwig drum kit probably comes from the Monroe site unless you have a vintage model from the brand’s time in Chicago. However, some of Ludwig’s entry-level kits come from China. Still, all their drum sets are very high-quality, so you’ll get a great kit no matter where it came from.
Overall, much of Ludwig’s drum production is still done in the U.S., although the drums’ hardware comes from overseas metal plants.
What Ludwig Drums Come From the USA?
The Ludwig company makes many different drum sets in the USA. Some of these options include the NeuSonic, Legacy, Classic Series, and the smaller children’s drumsets.
The NeuSonic Series is a mid-level kit that is more affordable than many other drum sets. The goal of the set is to provide beginners with a cost-efficient kit to start getting into drumming. These sets are still very high-quality for the price, and you can pay in installment plans.
The Legacy Series costs nearly twice as much and includes the vintage Black Oyster design that Ringo Starr popularized. Lastly, the Classic Series is known for consisting of oak, like the drums they produced in the 1970s, giving them a classic sound. These two American-made sets are considered high-tier instruments, meaning you get the best quality with them.
In short, the handmade drum series come from manufacturers in the United States. You can check where your drum will come from before you order from Ludwig.
Are Ludwig Drums Made in China?
Ludwig makes their lower-end, non-handcrafted drums in automated facilities in China. However, their handcrafted drum series is made in the USA. Still, some parts come from China since the Ludwig factory doesn’t have a metalworking site— they would need to outsource the metal for their drums.
The low-end Ludwig drum sets may come from factories in China instead of being handmade in Monroe. These drums go through production lines and use hard or poplar wood, making them more affordable. Some of these sets include the Pocket Kit and the Breakbeats set.
The more expensive sets are handmade in America, while cost-efficient Ludwig drums usually come from production lines in other countries. That said, no matter which set you have, you can still get outstanding sound from Ludwig drums.
The History of Ludwig Drums
This brief history of the Ludwig Drum Company will help you determine where your drum set came from. The company did move its manufacturing site at one point, so you’ll want to know more about Ludwig’s background to understand where they made your kit.
The Beginning of Ludwig Drums
The Ludwig Drum Company has a long history in the United States. The company was founded by William F. and Theobald Ludwig, two brothers of German heritage. Initially, the drum company had the name Ludwig & Ludwig, although they would shorten it later.
The two brothers started as professional drummers and would occasionally play for shows at circuses and other events. However, these gigs weren’t coming in often enough, and the brothers needed to make more money. They decided they would open their own percussion manufacturing site and store.
The Ludwig brothers would start their first drum shop in Chicago in 1909. To make their drums more appealing, the brothers invented the modern drum pedal we see on kits today. Although there were multiple attempts by others to create the pedal, William F. Ludwig was the first one to make the most effective design.
Ludwig Drums Gains Fame
After that, the brothers would add more instruments to their store. Along with their bass drums, they also decided to sell timpanis, snare drums, and more. Soon, they were selling entire drum kits for beginners and professionals alike.
Sadly, Theobald Ludwig died during the flu pandemic in 1918, so William F. took over the manufacturing company. By 1923, the Ludwig Drum Company was one of the largest drum manufacturers in the world at the time.
However, during the Great Depression, William F. Ludwig sold the company due to financial issues. Still, he was able to repurchase it in the 1950s, changing the name from Ludwig & Ludwig to simply Ludwig.
The company would become recognized across the United States when Ringo Starr performed with a Ludwig drum set in the 60s. He endorsed the brand, causing its popularity to skyrocket. In particular, Ringo Starr had a Black Oyster Pearl drum set, making it famous among Ludwig’s broad line of drums. This endorsement, along with Ludwig now producing drums for schools and marching bands, greatly aided in their current success.
Ludwig Drums Moves Locations
The company passed through the family, reaching William F. Ludwig II. Once he retired and sold to The Selmer Company (now Conn-Selmer), the Ludwig Drum Company moved its operations to Monroe, NC, in 1984.
This decision placed the manufacturing site closer to the company’s natural wood supplies, allowing them to get better-quality wood at a lower price.
Where the Ludwig Company Is Today
Later, in 2009, the company celebrated 100 years of business by creating new drum products and collectors’ items to sell. Many of these items are worth a decent amount of money today.
Most Ludwig drums come from the Monroe site, where the primary drum production remains to this day. Your new drum set would likely come from this location if you were to purchase a modern one from the Ludwig company.
What Is Ludwig Drum Company Known For?
The Ludwig Drum Company has a long history in the United States, making the drums iconic in the music industry.
Ludwig drums are most known for being Ringo Starr’s favorite drums; he chose the kit for its quality and design. After he appeared with the drum set on the Ed Sullivan Show, Ludwig’s Chicago production site had to stay open 24/7 to keep up with orders.
Many drummers love the brand today because of the outstanding quality of the handcrafted drum kits. Plus, a company with humble beginnings like Ludwig appeals to most people, and seeing famous drummers enjoy the kits makes it even more appealing. Today, the drum company has massive success, making it one of the first brands drummers think of. Essentially, Ludwig drums are known for being some of the best in the business.
Overall, Ludwig drums are known for being Ringo Starr’s (and many other famous drummers) instrument brand of choice— and for a good reason. The drums are top-quality, making them unmatched by other percussion manufacturers.
What Are Ludwig Drums Worth?
Most Ludwig drums are worth about $500 to $2000, although you can find vintage sets worth much more. Some sets from the 20s and 30s have more attractive, brighter colors and designs, making them more sought-after and expensive.
While these vintage designs are popular, drums played by famous musicians are worth much more than other used drum sets. Some musicians signed their drums, which caused their value to skyrocket.
The Ludwig drum kit that Ringo Starr used for more than 200 performances sold for $2.1 million in 2015. However, you can still buy a replica of this drum kit for a fraction of that price. The Ludwig Black Oyster Pearl set costs between $2,000 and $3,000. You can get it much cheaper if you go with a used one.
Suppose you have a vintage Ludwig drum kit that you want to sell. In that case, it’s a good idea to have an expert appraise it first because the value can change depending on several factors. Some of these older sets are worth more than others, and you won’t want to miss out because you didn’t correctly identify the kit first.
You can roughly determine where the drum came from if you know when the Ludwig company made it. Ludwig drums made before 1984 would have come from the original Chicago factory, while ones made after that year likely would have come from the Monroe one.
Overall, Ludwig drums can be expensive, but you’re paying for a high-quality instrument that will last you decades. Ludwig is a widely recognized name brand in the drumming world, so they’ll cost more than many other drum kits of similar quality.
How To Tell When a Ludwig Drum Was Made
There are a few different ways that you can date your Ludwig drum. Knowing when it was crafted can help you determine which factory it probably came from.
Until the 1970s, Ludwig drums contained a date stamp. These stamps are on the shell and show the exact date the company crafted the drum. However, these stamps can wear off with time, so you might not be able to read what it says, especially since these drums are older. You can check the serial numbers on the drum’s badge if there are no date stamps.
You might also be able to tell when the drum was made by checking the shell design, although this won’t work if the drum went through refurbishing at any point. Between 1961 and 1968, the inside of the shells was white. Then, from 1968 to 1975, the drums consisted of maple instead of mahogany.
The best way to date your Ludwig drum would be to use serial numbers, which are the most accurate. Once you know the year the drum was made, you can tell which factory it came from. Before 1984, the drum came from the Chicago factory; after that year, it came from the Monroe one.
You’ll want to know what year your drum is if you plan on selling it. Conversely, it’s good to know how old a drum is before you buy it.
Where Can You Buy Ludwig Drums?
You can buy Ludwig drums all over the United States— you don’t need to live in Monroe. You can order from the Ludwig site directly and customize the drum kits, then have them shipped to your home.
However, you can also find cheaper, preowned Ludwig drums in outstanding condition. For example, Guitar Centers (and similar brands) usually have some used Ludwig kits in stock. You might even find them in your local drum shops.
In short, Ludwig drums is a massive percussion company, so you can find their drums just about anywhere you can buy instruments. You’ll want to find places offering them near you since it can be expensive to ship premium drum kits. Plus, you can discuss what the store has in stock with employees, which is necessary if you’re looking for a particular drum set.
Still, if you don’t mind paying more, you can always have Ludwig ship a brand new set to your front door.
Who Owns Ludwig Drums Today?
Today, the Conn-Selmer company is the parent organization of Ludwig drums. The Ludwig Drum Company’s headquarters are in Charlotte, North Carolina, about 40 minutes from the Monroe production site.
Conn-Selmer has many manufacturing facilities, including ones located in Elkhart, Indiana, and Eastlake and Cleveland, Ohio, on top of the Ludwig facility in Monroe. These sites manufacture woodwind and percussion instruments for students, beginners, and pro musicians.
If you’re looking into where your Ludwig drums come from, these other facilities often pop up because of their connections with Conn-Selmer. However, your Ludwig drum would’ve come from the Monroe, NC location since this is the only American site that makes their percussion instruments.
Other than Ludwig drums, Conn-Selmer owns many other famous instrument brands. They also own Armstrong, Leblanc, and more well-known instrument manufacturers. If you own an instrument, there’s a high chance it came from a Conn-Selmer brand.
To summarize, you can find the manufacturers of Ludwig drums in Monroe, North Carolina. The founders created their business in 1909, along with the modern bass drum pedal, to make performing music easier for drummers. Later, in the 1960s, Ringo Starr endorsed the brand, making the drums well-sought after.
This drum company has a long history in the music world. It continues to produce high-quality drum kits after more than 100 years in business. If you want a fantastic drum set, you won’t go wrong by choosing one from Ludwig.