Ludwig Drums

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Ludwig Drums
Industry Musical instruments
Founded 1909; 106 years ago (1909)
in Chicago, Illinois, United States [1]
Founder William F. & Theobald Ludwig [1]
Headquarters North Carolina, United States
Area served
Products Drum kits, percussion
Parent Conn-Selmer

Ludwig Drums is an American manufacturer of percussion instruments. The brand achieved significant popularity in the 1960s, through the endorsement of The Beatles' drummer Ringo Starr.[2]


The Ludwig Drum Company was established in 1909 by William F. & Theobald Ludwig, sons of a German immigrant to the United States. William Jr. had been a professional drummer, playing with circuses and touring vaudeville shows, along with the occasional skating-rink gig. Since this work was irregular, he and his brother, Theobald, opened a drum shop in Chicago; they called it Ludwig & Ludwig.[3] The company started with a concept for the design and manufacture of a functional bass drum pedal.[4]

The company added new products to its catalog, such as snare drums and a tuning timpani in 1916. In 1917 Ludwig signed a deal to build rope drums to support World War I. Theobald Ludwig died in 1918 and William continued on his own.[4] By 1923 the factory was the largest drum manufacturer in the world, employing 240 workers.[3] In the late 20's the company was sold to the Conn musical instrument company. William Ludwig stayed on to run the company for Conn (which also owned the Leedy Drum Co. at this time). Eventually William Ludwig decided to leave Conn and start a new company of his own. He was unable to use the Ludwig name since that trademark now belonged to Conn who continued to market Ludwig & Ludwig drums.

I stopped at that picture and asked why he (Ringo Starr) put our name on the front of his bass drum head. Arbiter said that he was so proud that he had an imported drum set from America, especially from a famous company like Ludwig, that at the time of purchase he insisted on having the Ludwig name painted on the front of the head!

William Ludwig's grandson [3]

In 1937, William bought a factory building and started The WFL Drum Company (his initials). The company continued producing drums at a small scale for the duration of World War II but after the armistice William got back to the idea of making the company a large drum manufacturer. WFL was a competitor with Ludwig and Ludwig. Conn combined their two drum brands into one in the early 50's forming Leedy & Ludwig and then decided to quit the drum business altogether. In 1955 William and his son Bill Jr. were able to buy the Ludwig trademark back from Conn and over the next few years their company and its products transitioned from the WFL brand over the being called "Ludwig" again.

Nevertheless, Ludwig's breakthrough would happen as late as February 9, 1964, when The Beatles made their debut on The Ed Sullivan Show,[5][6] with the Ludwig logo displayed on the front of the bassdrum.[3][1] The performance was watched by about seventy-three million people.[6]

In 1981 William III sold the business to the Selmer Company (now Conn-Selmer). Selmer closed the Damen Avenue factory in the ensuing years and moved production to North Carolina.[3][7]


Some of the musicians that have played with Ludwig are:[8][9]

Ringo Starr, Alex Van Halen, and Marky Ramone are some of the musicians using Ludwig.



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