Cooper’s Vintage Drums
In the early 1920’s, Leedy offered very few snare drum options and their main snare drum was the “New Style Multi-Model”. The earliest versions of this drum had a very simple strainer mechanism. The drum pictured below is a 1925 or 1926 Reliance model which shows the Utility strainer. The Utility strainer was first used around 1912 and saw use on various drums over the years. By 1925, it was mainly used on lower line drums.
Toward the end of 1924, the “New Style Multi-Model” snare drum was improved by the introduction of a new snare strainer called the “Presto Strainer”. This new snare mechanism incorporated a whole new concept in that a lever was added allowing much better throw-off action.
1924 Leedy Presto Strainer
Photo by Dave Zima
In 1926, a new and improved snare strainer was introduced. Called the “Speedway” (a reference to the famed Indianapolis Speedway race track), it featured a long adjustable throw-off lever. This new strainer was designed so that it could be purchased and installed on older models, replacing the Presto. This design would be used on all “Floating Head” model drums for another four years.
A variation of the Presto strainer was offered in 1928 on intermediate model snare drums. In the 1928 Leedy catalog, it is referred to as just the “muffler strainer”.
1929-1930 was an important time for the Leedy Manufacturing Company. After the company was sold to Conn, the entire operation was moved from Indianapolis, Indiana to Elkhart, Indiana. The new Leedy company immediately introduced several important design changes which placed them firmly on the cutting edge of drum technology.
1930’s FLYER ANNOUNCING THE LEEDY BROADWAY DRUMS
The new Broadway line of snare drums offered a revolutionary and radical departure in snare strainer design. The Broadway Parallel strainer was a somewhat complicated one that allowed constant tension of the wires even when disengaged. A long rod connected both strainers which allowed the parallel action. The pages below are from the 1930 catalog. Leedy offered three new Broadway models. The Broadway Dual, (which had a second set of snares just under the top head), The Broadway Parallel and The Broadway Standard. The Broadway Standard strainer was really just an updated version of the Speedway strainer and incorporated an additional two mounting screws for extra stability.
1930 Leedy Broadway Dual with gut snare strands
EARLY 1930’s BROADWAY MODEL WITH SPEEDWAY STRAINER (four hole version 1929-1936)
During the 1930’s, Leedy also offered a lower line, less expensive model called the “Reliance” model. It featured an updated version of the Presto strainer. Listed in the 1930 Leedy catalog, they were offered with only six lugs. By 1933, two more lugs were added.
In 1932, the Parallel strainer was totally redesigned. The wire snares were now enclosed in a flat box at both ends and were adjustable from both sides of the drum with an adjustment knob. Around 1935, the knobs were increased in size a bit.
ENGRAVED “BLACK ELITE” BROADWAY PARALLEL (1933 Catalog Illustration)
LEEDY 1934 CATALOG
UNDERSIDE OF 1935 BROADWAY PARALLEL
SPARKLING GREEN BROADWAY PARALLEL (Catalog Illustration)
BLACK DIAMOND PEARL BROADWAY DUAL
1934 CATALOG ILLUSTRATION OF A PARALLEL MODEL
1934 RELIANCE MODELS WITH PRESTO STRAINERS (THESE WERE NOW EIGHT LUG DRUMS)
As with most drum companies, oddities exist. Below are two examples of 1935 Broadway models with Presto strainers instead of the newer four screw Speedway strainers which came out in 1929.
Around 1936, the Speedway (now called the Standard Strainer) also received a total makeover.
In 1937, a third version of the Parallel design came out. It featured a thick non-adjustable throw-off lever. This eliminated the tendency of the lever to fall off. It was basically a combination of the 1935-36 strainer and the solid lever of the new strainer.
1939 saw the introduction of the most elaborate Parallel design so far which had more moving parts than any previous version. In addition to the thick non-adjustable lever, this new design had a “box” that protected the ends of the wire snares and also kept the lateral movement to a minimum. Individual snare adjustment was now possible, as well.
Also, a new strainer was introduced called the Standard strainer for their Broadway Standard model snare drums. It replaced the Speedway or Standard strainer and the new design allowed the snare wires to extend beyond the edge of the bottom drum head for increased sensitivity. This new design was undoubtedly Leedy’s response to the very popular Radio King extended snare design.
1937-1945 Parallel mechanism
WORLD WAR II
World War Two began in 1941 and soon, drum production pretty much ground to a halt due to the U.S. Government restrictions on the use of metal for non-essential items. While drums were still being offered by most of the drum companies, the availability was extremely limited- WWII drums were made up of older, simple parts combined with wooden components. It would be several years before drum production would return to normal pre-war levels.
After the war, Leedy resumed normal operation by offering drums with the pre-war Broadway Parallel and Standard strainers and the old reliable Presto strainer. The new 1946 Leedy catalog showed mainly old 1941 products, using the same pre-war photos and illustrations. The Broadway would be their main “top of the line” offering for the rest of the decade. The Standard strainer offered extended snare wires that covered the entire surface of the drum head (like the Parallel), along with the simplicity of operation and design of the previous Standard strainer design.
By 1946, the Leedy Broadway Parallel snare drum was discontinued after almost twenty years. The Broadway Standard became Leedy’s main top of the line model until the company was sold merged with Ludwig & Ludwig in 1950.
1949 Leedy Broadway Standard (L) and a 1949 Reliance model sporting a Presto strainer
In 1950, C.G. Conn combined its two drum divisions (Ludwig and Leedy into one company called Leedy & Ludwig. Then in 1954, Conn made the decision to get out of the drum business entirely. Leedy & Ludwig was then sold to both the Slingerland Drum Company and the William F. Ludwig drum company. For more information on the Slingerland-owned Leedy line, see the “Ludwig Lugs” and “Ludwig Strainers sections” of this article.
LEEDY MAUFACTURING COMPANY - 1895-1950
LEEDY & LUDWIG DRUM COMPANY – 1950-1954
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