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Ludwig Classic Maple vs. DW Collector's Maple- Studio Review
Old 15th March 2009
  #1
Gear Nut
 

Ludwig Classic Maple vs. DW Collector's Maple- Studio Review

I posted this on a drum forum, but my friend who is an engineer, suggested some people over here might find this info useful.

Background- I recently recorded a few drum tracks (I brought my Ludwig for the first session and my DW for the second session) for my band in the studio. I had to go back to lay down one more track, so the engineer asked if I would bring both kits so we could experiment. We tuned the drums as close to each other as we could manage. (Even used a Drum Dial at one point.) We also ran the exact same head combos (even swapped the heads between drums just for sh!ts and giggles.)

The participants

2008 Ludwig Classic Maple in gold sparkle wrap
2008 DW Collector's (Maple) kit in green sparkle wrap.
The kits are exactly the same sizes (18X22 kick-virgin, 8X12 rack-mounted on a snare stand, and a 14X16 floor tom with legs and a 6.5X14 snare.)

Heads for toms- coated Ambassadors on the resos for the toms with and coated Emperors or coated Ambassadors on the batter side of the toms,
Snare- Ambassador snare side head and coated Controlled Sound head on the snares,
Kick- Remo PS3 clear on the front and smooth white on the reso for the kick. (One piece of felt on the reso side of the kick.)


General observations:

Without a doubt the DW kit had a lower fundamental tone-on every drum.

The DW's kick drum- "Now that's rock and roll" was the first thing the engineer said after he heard the DW's kick drum. It wanted to be tuned low and had a thunder/rumble sound to it that would work great for rock. The engineer described the kick drum as the lowest sounding kick he has ever recorded. (Same thing he said the last time I brought it.) He loved the DW's kick and even asked if I had made any modifications to it. (No, I did not.)

[B]The DW floor - again this drum did not want to be tuned high. It sounded nice when the whole kit was played, but not so much when it was isolated. The floor really rumbled, but it also sounded just a bit muddy and indistinct, even when we tuned it higher. This drum definitely wanted a coated Emperor as it sounded too thin with the Ambassador.

The DW's rack tom- It wasn't terrific or terrible, but rather good and worked fine. It had a pleasant tone and sounded good on recordings, if a bit generic. Interestingly, its fundamental tone wasn't necessarily low like the floor and kick, albeit it was lower than the Ludwig. The rack really wanted to have a coated Ambassador on it, and when I put the Emperor on the rack it tended to get boxy and kind of choke the drum a bit.

The DW's snare - Very flexible, if just a bit boxy depending on the head combo we tried. On the recording, it didn't have "the snap" or "the bite" the engineer was looking for, but it certainly sounded good to me. I had to run the snares looser than normal to get them to cut through in the mix, which I thought was interesting. This drum also had a low fundamental tone, which gave it a feeling of "power" if that makes any sense.


The Ludwig
As I mentioned the Ludwig kit did generally not have as a low of a fundamental tone. Having said that, the drums had a lot of "...character and body.." as described by the engineer. I would describe the Ludwig kit as having a "round" sound, if that makes any sense. My wife described it this way, "..you can hear some highs, some mids and some lows..." which I think is accurate. That is not to say you couldn't hear those different tones with the DW, rather they were not as pronounced.

The Ludwig kick drum - very clear and articulate, albeit not as low as the DW. The engineer described it as "punchy" and "lively" whatever that means. The drum still had a nice body to it but the engineer preferred the DW kick for the tune we were recording. (Sort of a rockin' Calexico kind of tune.)

The Ludwig floor tom- definitely not as low of a fundamental tone as the DW, although this had a "cleaner," more distinct tone. We wound up using this because I played sort of a train beat/Gene Krupa thing on the floor tom and the engineer wanted the hits and pops to be a bit more articulate. Honestly, we could have gone either way on this choice.

The Ludwig rack tom- both the engineer and I agreed the Ludwig's rack tom was better sounding than the DW's. The rack was very clear, yet still warm with a lot of character and a "rounder" sound. This drum was probably the most flexible of any of the drums we tested, as it sounded good tuned high or low. We used this on the recording.

The Ludwig snare- This one surprised me in that it sounded terrific on the recording. It was surprisingly articulate and full-bodied with a woody tone. I was worried since it sounded a bit thin while I was playing, but on the recording it didn't come across that way. We wound up using this on the recording. Listening back, I thought this drum had just a bit more character than the DW, but either would have worked for the tune.

Quick observation-
I was surprised by the lower fundamental tone provided by the DW kit, since it didn't seem significantly lower to me when I had played the kit previously. It was a bit addicting, I'll admit, to get the drums to rumble and shake. The clarity of the Ludwig kit it was what made the drums so appealing to the engineer and myself-at least on this recording.
Attached Thumbnails
Ludwig Classic Maple vs. DW Collector's Maple- Studio Review-dw-green-sparkle.jpg   Ludwig Classic Maple vs. DW Collector's Maple- Studio Review-ludwig-gold-sparkle-recording.jpg  
Old 15th March 2009
  #2
Gear Maniac
 
Stixxs's Avatar
 

Very cool...Thanks!

I've had both the Luddies and the DW Collectors...The DW's just speak to ME more.

I've also had the 3-ply Ludwig's, and while nice for some recording apps...The DW's just work better for me both live and for tracking. I'd like to try the Legacy's...maybe the best of both world's

...And Yes! That DW kick is to die for
Old 16th March 2009
  #3
I think it's always good to use specialised snare drums for recording.
I don't think I've ever used a matching snare.

I also think some kits require different tunings and different heads. In the end, both of these kits should record well (and it seems they did), but I wouldn't go out of my way to use either on an important session.
Standard contemporary kits are of a very high standard. I will say that.
Old 16th March 2009
  #4
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisso View Post
I think it's always good to use specialised snare drums for recording.
I don't think I've ever used a matching snare.

I also think some kits require different tunings and different heads. In the end, both of these kits should record well (and it seems they did), but I wouldn't go out of my way to use either on an important session.
Standard contemporary kits are of a very high standard. I will say that.
I should say on my last couple of times in the studio I ran through seven snare drums. (Ayotte w/wood hoops, 1962 Ludwig mahogany, 2006 Gretsch USA Custom, Ludwig Black Beauty, DW Collector's, Ludwig Classic Maple, 1963 Slingerland)

Most of the tracks (9 out of 14) were done with the Ludwig Black Beauty. I used the Ludwig Classic on four of the other tracks and the DW on one track. I did a bunch of A/B testing before we went into the studio, so I had a little idea of what to expect from the snares. For this track I personally wanted more of a woody tone, so from my previous experience I found that the Ludwig Classic and the DW were going to be my main choices. The fact that they were also part of the kits was merely a coincidence.

I agree with the comment about the tuning. We tried different head combos (which is often overlooked) and different tunings. I found that -at least for these kits- the drums had a "sweet spot" where they sounded the fullest/best/whatever. For the DWs, that "sweet spot" was when they were tuned lower. That's not to say we didn't tune them higher, since we tried a bunch of different tunings, but rather the drums seemed a bit choked off when we tuned them higher. The Ludwigs on the other hand didn't sound articulate when we tuned them low. (I would describe the floor tom on the Ludwig as flabby when we tuned it low.) The "sweet spot" was generally higher, although not like a rack tom or anything of that nature. Of course these results are only for these kits in this one environment.
Old 16th March 2009
  #5
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chunkaway View Post
Most of the tracks (9 out of 14) were done with the Ludwig Black Beauty.
Yes, it's a classic. thumbsup
Old 16th March 2009
  #6
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by chrisso View Post
Yes, it's a classic. thumbsup
Absolutely agree. Just a terrific sounding drum. Every drummer/studio should have one. heh
Old 16th March 2009
  #7
Lives for gear
 
Nutmeg II.'s Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chunkaway View Post
...Of course these results are only for these kits in this one environment.
This one gets often overlooked.
Old 16th March 2009
  #8
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stixxs View Post
Very cool...Thanks!

I've had both the Luddies and the DW Collectors...The DW's just speak to ME more.

I've also had the 3-ply Ludwig's, and while nice for some recording apps...The DW's just work better for me both live and for tracking. I'd like to try the Legacy's...maybe the best of both world's

...And Yes! That DW kick is to die for
Don't get me wrong, I love my DW kit. I think it sounds terrific and is very well made. This is just one recording situation with these particular kits. I just found the a/b comparison very interesting.
Old 16th March 2009
  #9
Lives for gear
 

I don't find DW to be very good for recording at all....I think the attractive thing is that when you are sitting behind the kit, they feel fantastic and seem to really speak well....the way a microphone sees it though is a completely different story and DW's don't hold up and will never become a classic recording kit....sorry to all DW dealers/lovers...I'm sure you don't need my endorsement.

Nick
Old 16th March 2009
  #10
Lives for gear
 

It's really not a fair comparison - ask any drummer and they'll tell you that green sparkle is louder than gold sparkle. Silver sparkle would've been a completely unfair comparison - as it's known to be the loudest of all.

Seriously, though - great post - nice to hear a detailed comparison.
Old 18th August 2009
  #11
Here for the gear
 

Even in an engineer's head, it all comes down to preference. Some would prefer the DWs and some the Ludwigs. I own a set of classic maples, ordered just before the Legacy series was announced. The classic maples definitely have a more modern sound with their sharper edges than the legacy. The "open" sound described earlier would be accurate. The drums have a wide tuning range allowing for a thuddy 70s sound on the low end to a cracking Stewart Copeland with 13" tuned tightly. These drums do not choke at all under very hard playing and cut through loud guitar amps easily. I opted for a 22" x 14" kick, which I would describe as fast. Using an Evans kick pillow, it has plenty of thud and sounds big for its size. The 13" tom has much more tuning range than a 12. I have not recorded these yet, however listeing to other drummers play my kit at shows, I am quite happy. I am also using coated emperors on the top and coated ambassadors on the bottom. A 6.5" black beauty rounds out the kit.

I have only played a DW kit once, but have heard them live many times. The kick was massive and the drums sounded fairly lively considering they had pinstripe heads on them. Not to generalize, but it seems that every kit I have heard sounds somewhat the same. Maybe if I could play a kit and spend some time tuning them I would like them more.
Old 28th April 2018
  #12
Here for the gear
In terms of this review, I own a DW Collectors with a 20" bass and a Ludwig Classic Maple with a 20" bass as well.Both drums kits are white pearl wrapped and both were bought new. The review above is very accurate in my view.

My DW drums have lower pitched fundamentals in the tone which are great for recording. The Ludwig maple classics are more balanced in tone across the spectrum and have more cut. Also, to my ears, the Ludwig snare has much more of a woody tone with great projection. Rim shots are punchy. My DW collectors snare sounds very good but more boxy with less projection. For the record, I also own an old mahogany Ludwig kit (bought new in 1967) and a Gretsch US Brooklyn kit. Without a doubt the modern US Gretsch, DW and Ludwigs are very well made and sound great.
Old 8th August 2019
  #13
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stixxs View Post
Very cool...Thanks!

I've had both the Luddies and the DW Collectors...The DW's just speak to ME more.

I've also had the 3-ply Ludwig's, and while nice for some recording apps...The DW's just work better for me both live and for tracking. I'd like to try the Legacy's...maybe the best of both world's

...And Yes! That DW kick is to die for
I've just turned green with friendly envy! I hope to buy DM Collector over the next few months.
essay typer
Old 4th September 2019
  #14
Lives for gear
 
s12512's Avatar
very accurate review. i play on 2 different dw collectors kits and an old ludiwg 3-ply kit extensively. Live and in the studio. the ludwig hardly leaves the drum booth. the ludwig sounds a lot clearer and articulate for sure. i'm not a fan of dw at all. i can't stand the feel and a lot of drums always sound better. i can tune pretty well. but everything else always gives a nice articulation, warmth, and crispiness that i can't get out of dw drums. i might get flamed for this but i like several of their pdp/design kits more than collectors.
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