Ringo's 1963 Ludwig Jazz Festival
"The Holy Grail" Snare
Photo: Scott Robert Ritchie
Ringo's 1963 Ludwig 5.5" x 14" Oyster Black Pearl Jazz Festival snare drum
It has been established that Ringo owned and used five Ludwig kits during his career with The Beatles:
Oyster Black Pearl Downbeat kit, received May 12, 1963 (8x12 T, 14x14 FT, 14x20 BD)
Oyster Black Pearl Downbeat kit, purchased in NYC and received February 9, 1964 (8x12 T, 14x14 FT, 14x20 BD)
Oyster Black Pearl Super Classic kit, received May 31, 1964 (9x13 T, 16x16 FT, 14x22 BD, 5x14 S)
Oyster Black Pearl Super Classic kit, received August 1965 (9x13 T, 16x16 FT, 14x22 BD)
Hollywood Maple kit, received in 1968 (8x12T, 9x13 T, 16x16 FT, 14x22 BD
The snare that always shows up in photos with all of Ringo’s kits, while with The Beatles, is the snare that came with his first kit (see photo above) This can be determined by looking at the specifics of his snare. One easy way of detecting Ringo’s OBP snare is the positioning sequence of the hardware and its own distinctive swirl pattern that is its fingerprint.
In these photos, you can see the Oyster Black Pearl swirl pattern (fingerprint) verifying that Ringo's original Jazz Festival was used continually throughout The Beatles career. Click here for more comparison photos.
Get your limited edition print of this iconic drum here.
Changes made during 1964 included changing from a red felt muffler to white, replacing chrome over brass (COB) rims with chrome over steel (COS), reducing the gate opening on the bottom rim, repositioning the tone controller and the keystone badge one panel to the left and adding a serial numbers to the badge.
After The Beatles Ed Sullivan Show appearance on February 9, 1964, orders for both Downbeat (Drum sizes: 8"x12" tom, 14"x14" floor tom, 14"x20" bass drum) and Super Classic (Drum sizes: 9"x13" tom, 16"x16" floor tom, 14"x22" bass drum) oyster black pearl (OBP) kits exploded at Ludwig’s manufacturing plant in Chicago causing them to run three shifts, seven days a week to fulfill orders.
Note: Ringo did have two other Ludwig Oyster Black Pearl Jazz Festival snare drums during his time as a Beatle but no photos have ever surfaced showing them being used, lying around in the studio, on tour or anywhere else for that matter. I can verify that one came with Ringo's second OBP kit (Sullivan) and is a 5"x14". Paul McCartney used this snare when he recorded his first solo album "McCartney" and he continued using it on some of his initial Wings tunes. The second Oyster Black Pearl snare drum in question came with Ringo's 1965 Super Classic kit.
There appears to be two separate professional opinions on what model snare Ringo used. John Aldridge, author of A Guide To Vintage Drums, indicates that the Super Classic model had a 5.5" shell depth and the Jazz Festival had a 5" shell depth. According to The Ludwig Book, written by Rob Cook, Ludwig’s Barrett Deems model snare (5.5" d) was renamed Jazz Festival in 1960 and was manufactured through 1970. This model underwent a number of changes over this time. The Jazz Festival’s size was changed from 5.5x14 to 5x14 and the hardware configuration was changed in 1964. Both the keystone badge, (which began displaying a serial number in 1964) and the “Baseball Bat” tone control (now sporting a white felt muffler in mid-'64) were jointly moved one space away from the P-83 Strainer as seen below.
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The Ludwig Downbeat kit traditionally came with a Downbeat piccolo snare drum (4" x 14") and the Super Classic kit came with a SUPRA PHONIC 400 Snare Drum (5" x 14"). Ordering a Jazz Festival was an additional cost. This is another reason why Ringo's snare model has become so very rare and impossible to find.
In all of my many years of research and collecting, I have only come across FOUR 1963 "Ringo Spec" Jazz Festival snare drums with a 5.5" depth shell. This number includes Ringo's. With the amount of attention given to this specific snare drum, a small number of other 1963's have surfaced over the past few years. The reason they are not part of the exclusive club of four is because they have shell depths ranging between 5 3/8" and 5 5/16". Not counting Ringo's, of the three others known to exist, one is owned by a collector in Japan, another by a collector in Chicago and I am lucky to have one. These snare drums are now valued in the five figure range.
Ludwig early 60’s Oyster Black Pearl Sample. NOTE: Oyster Black Pearl (OBP) wrap is made up of varying shades of black, gray, white and transparent portions in which the mahogany wood shell shows through. The swirl pattern also varies considerably from one drum to another.
Ringo's 1963 Ludwig Oyster Black Pearl snare has a pre-serial number Keystone badge and is one lug to the left of the P-83 throw-off. His snare has chrome over brass rims and a calfskin batter side head with a clear resonant bottom head.
Here's a close-up photo of Ringo's Jazz Festival snare taken from the movie A Hard Day's Night.
The current state of the P-83 Strainer on Ringo's snare drum is mildly rusted and the handle has been bent forward
Actual stamp date inside Ringo's snare drum: April 18, 1963
A great shot from the 60's
The bottom of Ringo's 63' snare as it looks today