How to Score Vintage Drum Deals on Reverb

Guitar players may be the notorious ones when it comes to chasing the gear of their idols, but drummers are no different. We, too, spend hours analyzing the minutia of iconic setups in the hopes that one day we can recreate them, finally achieving the tonal perfection of our heroes – from Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich to Keith Moon and John Bonham.

But this endless quest for vintage drum nirvana can be quite costly, as the popularity of famous kit/finish configurations has driven some prices up to astronomical heights. You can expect to pay anywhere from $2,500-4,500 for a Ringo-spec 1964 Ludwig Downbeat kit in Oyster Black Pearl depending on condition and completeness, for example.

Thankfully, there are alternatives to emptying your savings account to finance your vintage drum obsession as long as you’re willing to be flexible and get a bit creative. Here are a few tips to help you improve your gear hunting skills and save some cash on vintage drums.

Think “obscure” – not “rare.”

'70s Pearl Jupiter

'70s Pearl Jupiter

Certain kits command lofty prices due to their rarity. But with a bit of patience, you can find uncommon models with similar features for much less. Instead of a pre-serial brass Super Ludwig, how about a ‘60s Slingerland Sound King brass snare for less than half the price? Or a ‘70s Pearl Jupiter brass snare for less than a third?

If a pristine ‘60s Ludwig Super Classic is outside of your price range, aim for a set of Ludwig Standards – the shells are exactly the same 3-Ply layup, and you can end up saving quite a bit of cash.

Entry-level prices, professional tone.

What do the Ludwig Acrolite, Paiste 505, and Premier Olympic Series all have in common? They were all originally marketed as “student” products but were made alongside their flagship counterparts out of essentially the same raw materials.

In other words, the sonic differences between the two models are more or less indistinguishable. If your budget doesn’t allow for a vintage Ludwig Downbeat and Jazz Festival snare (you Ringo nut, you!), a Club Date and a Pioneer will get you most of the way there.

Feed your needs.

Reverb’s Feed and Gear Alerts are two powerful tools for finding the gear you need at the price you want. For example, search “Ludwig Supraphonic,” filtered by “Snare,” “1960s,” and a maximum price of $250. Even if no results come back, add the search to your Feed, opt-in to Gear Alert emails, and voila: every time a vintage Supra bargain pops up on Reverb, you’ll be the first to know.

If you want to get even more specific with searching and filtering, check out our advanced search page to help laser-focus your Feed.

Let Reverb work for you.

In addition to customizing your Feed, you can also search and filter through our Handpicked Collections. By going to the famous Deals and Steals page, you’re able to filter by “Drums and Percussion” on the left and add that to your Feed for carefully curated bargains.

Better yet, you can curate even more specific Deals and Steals for yourself when you filter by brand and year. Anytime we find a killer deal that fits into the parameters you’ve set, you’ll see it prominently displayed on the front page of Reverb whenever you log-in. If you want to be notified about these deals right away, set up a custom Gear Alert for an email directly into your inbox when a deal shows up.

Don’t be afraid of player grade.

Here at Reverb, we're constantly combing the site for well-loved or modified vintage drums for our Player Grade Vintage Drums Handpicked Collection. As the name implies, these kits are fully functional and sound every bit as good their museum-quality brethren. Who really wants to gig out at local dives with a mint 1950s Radio King kit anyway?

Many sellers on Reverb are willing to negotiate (even when it comes to player grade vintage kits), so don’t be afraid to click the “Make an Offer” button if you are, too. You might just walk away with a deal you were never expecting to find.

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