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In the Illinois Store - Call 630.778.8060 for more info
Billy Gladstone 6x14 birdseye/gold John Noonan snare drum

SOLD. Call Steve at 630-865-6849 for pricing and more information.See our video of this drum HERE.

THIS DRUM IS THE FINEST EXAMPLE OF THE FOUR DRUMS BILLY BUILT WITH BIRDSEYE MAPLE AND GOLD HARDWARE.

ORIGINAL GLADSTONE 6x14 SNARE DRUM ORIGINALLY BUILT FOR JOHN NOONAN, OF THE CHICAGO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA.

Note: After you read this and review the photos, click over and see more information about Gladstone snares and why they have remained so desirable and valuable over the years: HERE. Then, check out Steve's podcast about Billy and his drums HERE

As you know if you have been following us lately, we just sold two incredible Gladstone snares, one of which sold in 48 hours and the other sold in only ten days. Both of those drums were 7x14 black lacquer with chrome hardware, which was the standard for most of Billy's drums. 

As incredible as it sounds, we have yet another Gladstone snare for sale and this one is even rarer. The drum we currently have was originally built for John Noonan, formerly of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and was built in 1950. The current owner acquired the drum many, many years ago when John Noonan decided to sell it and has owned it ever since. He now wishes to sell the drum and hopes that the next owner will not only become the care taker of this fine instrument, but hopefully will also use it. The drum is 6x14 and is one of only four drums that Billy created with birdseye maple and gold hardware. I owned an original superb example of one of the birdseye/gold drums and I can say with absolute certainty that this drum is even better than the one I owned. It is absolutely superb in every respect and exceedingly rare. The only Gladstones rarer than this are the one-off 5x14 (only one ever made in this size) in white marine pearl which I sold some years back, and Billy's personal 7x14 gold lacquer drum. This is as rare and desirable as it gets. Additionally, I can tell you with absolute certainty that there has been no other time in all of my career when Gladstone snares were on the market so close together. These almost never come up for sale since so few of them exist (only about 25 of the original 50 drums) and most of these are in private collections and not for sale. At this juncture, the stars have aligned and some drums have been available. If you have ever had the desire to own one of these incredible instruments now is the time, since I can not imagine when (if ever)  we will see an opportunity like this again.

This original Gladstone snare has a fabulous provenance. This drum has all of the Gladstone features as described below. Additionally, with the birdseye maple shells Billy did not treat the interior with black lacquer as he did on the interior of the black lacquer drums. On the birdseye drums the interior is clear. Also, this drum is equipped with gold plated wire snares rather than gut or cable. As you look at the drum you will see the way the wires have been coated at the ends where they pull up to the strainer and the butt side. This is the way Billy treated wire snares so that the snare wire sound would be even more focused onto the drum head itself. The conditon of the drum is absolutely superb. All parts work properly and appear literally as new. The plating is in remarkable condition as is the shell. There is one very slight surface split in the outer veneer in one spot. That's it. The drum looks like it is new and it is literally 63 years old. There is none finer and it is by far the finest of the four birdseye/gold drums built.  Call Steve at 630-865-6849 for price.  

Here is some background information on Billy Gladstone's snare drums:

Background on Billy Gladstone Snare Drums:

Billy only built approximately 50 drums, many of which have not survived. His drums were prized possessions for serious drummers both then and now, and for many vintage drum collectors an original Gladstone snare drum is the “Holy Grail”.

Billy’s innovative ideas transferred directly to the instruments he built. He was a perfectionist and was a phenomenally talented drummer, as well as an inventor. Billy’s goal was to design the finest sounding snare drums with unique, practical features designed to make the drummer’s job easier:

3 Way Tuning System: Billy invented the 3 way tuning system by which tuning of either the top head, bottom head, or both heads together is accomplished by using a 3-way tuning key that allows all tensioning to occur from the tension rods on the top head. This concept was born out of necessity when Billy played at Radio City Music Hall. In those days, the orchestra pit was three stories below the main stage and when the pit was raised, the changes in humidity had significant impact on the calf heads, therefore requiring tuning. Tuning the drum required removing it from the stand to tune the bottom head. The percussion section area was small and cramped, and Billy thought that removing the drum from the stand did not look professional, so he designed the 3 way tuning mechanism to solve this problem.

Simple Snare Strainer: Billy designed a beautifully simple snare strainer that allowed for quick and easy throw off and engagement of the snares. The snare strainer arm moves away from the drum and is simple and extremely efficient.

Adjustable Internal Muffler: Billy designed an internal muffler that was unique. The muffler utilizes a small lever on the outside, which points to a series of numbers. The numbers allow for the player to remember a particular muffler setting rather than having to guess. For orchestral work this feature is excellent.   

Billy used thin Gretsch shells, which had no reinforcement rings. Billy felt that the drum resonated better if the reinforcement rings were left out. He viewed the bearing edge of the drum the same as a bridge on a violin and felt that reinforcement rings would interfere with the natural vibrations. In almost all cases he lacquered the inside of the shell because he felt that it helped with sound quality. The exterior of the shells was typically natural wood and they were lacquered, typically in black. Clear lacquer was used for the few birdseye maple drums he built.

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This product was added to our catalog on Sunday 15 December, 2013.
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