Historical information

This Marching Bass Drum is mid-size at 68 cm; these drums can range from 35 to 81 cm (14 to 32 inches). A Marching Bass Drum is slightly smaller than a Concert Base Drum and larger than a Kit or Drum Set Bass Drum. The drum is supported by a shoulder harness with a pin that connects to the eyelet incorporated on the shell of the drum, which keeps the drumheads vertical. The drum is played with one or two felt-covered drum mallets. The six tension rods connected between the drumheads can be screwed tighter or looser to change the tension of the calfskins on the drumheads, which changes their tune. This Marching base drum was made in the early 1920s by the firm Ludwig & Ludwig of Chicago, Illinois, USA.

William F. Ludwig was a professional drummer. He and his brother Theobold established the Ludwig & Ludwig drum factory in Chicago in 1909. They became famous for their invention of a bass drum pedal that could play faster beats on the bass drum. Theobald passed away in 1918. By 1923 Ludwig was the biggest drum manufacturer in the world. William continued on when his business was bought by C.O. Conn, but in 1937 he left to begin his own company; the WFL Drum Company. William and his son Bill purchased the Ludwig & Ludwig name back from Conn, and the name William F. Ludwig II continued on. The brand was sold to the Selmer Company and moved to Monroe, North Carolina in 1998, at the time of the 75th anniversary of the Ludwig name. Ludwig drums are still being manufactured over 100 years later. Many famous musicians and bands played the Ludwig bass drum, including Ringo Star who was the drummer in the 1960’s group The Beatles.


This marching bass drum is significant for its connection to Ludwig & Ludwig, a famous and popular drum manufacturer established in 1909. The firm was once the largest drum manufacturer in the world. It is known for supplying drummers of fame, such as Ringo Star of The Beatles.
This is the only drum in our collection. It is also rare, having only six tension rods, where most have from eight to twelve.

Physical description

Marching Bass Drum; the polished shell around the body is one continuous sheet of timber that has been steamed, shaped into a cylinder and joined together. The drumheads on the sides of the shell are strong timber strips joined into hoops that hold stretched, hand-painted white calfskin. Six Long Tube threaded nickel-plated brass tension rods are evenly spaced around the drumheads between the drumheads. A brass eyelet is fitted into the shell halfway between each drumhead, providing a connection point for the drummer’s shoulder harness. The eyelet has an indecipherable inscription. An oval brass plaque with a central formed hole has a stamped inscription. The imperial size is 27 x 13 inches. The drum was made by Ludwig and Ludwig, Chicago, Illinois, in early 1920's.

Inscriptions & markings