KENT DRUM MUSEUM
~HISTORY OF THE E.W. KENT MANUFACTURING COMPANY~
The Kent Drum Company was started in 1937 by two brothers, Ed and Bill Kent . Located in Kenmore, New York, The Kent Manufacturing Company produced quality made "entry level" snare drums, drum sets and accessories. Little is known about the company but it has been rumored that the Kent brothers were employed by the Gretsch Drum Company at one time. Rumor has it that their suggestions to Gretsch management concerning adding an "entry level" line of drums fell on deaf ears, so they started their own company, offering affordable, quality drums. Supposedly, the son of Ed Kent was killed in an accident, prompting him to abandon the drum making business in the late 1960ís.
For the young drummer of the 50ís and 60ís, who couldnít afford drums such as Slingerland, Rogers, Gretsch or Ludwig, Kent was often the answer. While they may not have measured up to the "big four", in terms of construction quality (especially the snare mechanisms and tom mounting systems), Kent made some great looking and great sounding drums.
During the 1950ís and 60ís, Kent drums were constructed of two-ply maple shells, providing a very thin and resonant shell, similar to Gretsch drums of the same period. These maple shells varied wildly in construction quality. Some were beautifully finished inside, with true bearing edges, while other drum shells were crudely assembled, with dark brown glue smeared on the inside and virtually no bearing edges. At some point, towards the end of the decade, the shells were being imported from Japan and were no longer made of maple. By the early seventies, the Kent company was selling only Japanese drums that were probably made by the Pearl Company of Japan.
The company definitely cut some corners to keep the cost down, such as using the familiar tin foil Kent logo badge, as opposed to a brass badge. These tin foil badges were white with gold lettering during the 50ís and were changed to blue and gold in the 60ís.
Sometime around 1965, an attempt was made to offer higher quality drums by adding the patented "Adjust-O-Matic" tom tom and cymbal holders, employing hex-type rods similar to what Rogers was selling. A new ,"Ultra Deluxe" snare strainer was introduced, along with eight-lug snare drums, bass drums and floor toms. A complete Kent "Deluxe Professional" drum set , complete with cymbals, stands and pedals sold for $450 during the mid 1960ís. In an attempt to compete with the other American companies, Kent also offered a 15X25 cocktail "Combo" drum, which was double headed with internal snare wires and reversible foot pedal. They even made timbales and had a line of marching drums, including a 10X26 Scotch bass drum and a 16-lug 12X15 parade drum. I believe that Kent made the only 15X15 floor tom available at that time.
Kent finished their drums in basically the same finishes as the other American companies. Sparkle finishes: Red, Gold, Silver, Green, Blue, and Capri. Pearl finishes: White Marine, Black Diamond Pearl, Capri Black Pearl. Other finishes were used but not catalogued such as Rose Marine Pearl and various Oyster finishes.
While the Kent Manufacturing Company is no longer with us, their quirky little drum sets remain a testament to a wonderful period in American drum manufacturing history.
"Made in America by American Craftsman".
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