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Craviotto/Gladstone Limited Edition Exclusive


As many of you know, I am a huge fan of Johnny Craviotto's work. I am also a huge fan of the great Billy Gladstone and I have been honored to have sold more of his very rare drums than anyone in the world. Billy was a genius in much the same way that Johnny Craviotto is a genius. Billy's genius focused on unique and very innovative hardware designs for the snare throw off, internal muffling system, special venting system, and most notably, his 3 way tuning design. Johnny Craviotto's genius relates to his unique ability to produce the finest steam bent solid shells in the world. It seems only logical to combine Billy's genius for the mechanics of the drum, with Johnny's genius for shells. Today (and for more than 20 years), Arnie Lang produces faithful replicas of the Billy Gladstone snares. Now, through our exclusive arrangement, we will offer a limited run of Craviotto/Gladstone snares with the solid steam bent shells built by Johnny, and the hardware crafted by Arnie Lang.   

Each shell is hand crafted by Johnny, and each durm is hand built by Arnie Lang. Each drum combines all of the traditional Gladstone features: 3 way tuning, unique strainer, unique internal muffling system, unique venting system, and choice of all-wire snares or unique wire/gut combination developed by Billy.

Each drum will have a name plate that reads "Steve Maxwell Collection, #1" or #2, etc. The run will be limited with our initial estimate being no more than 25 drums, but this may vary with customer demand.

The price for each drum is $2200 with wire and $2350 with the wire/gut/wire combo. Customers will have the following options available to them so that they can customize their drum:

- Sizes: 5.5x14, 6.5x14, 7x14, 8x14.

- Shell: Choice of maple, ash, cherry, walnut. Satin oil finish and shell inlay.

- Bearing edges: Choice of 45/45, 30/30, BB/45.

- Snares: Choice of Puresound all-wire, or the Gladstone style wire/gut combo with shielding of each strand over the bearing edge for more focused sound. Wire/gut combo is 2 gut, 6 wire, 2 gut. Wire/gut combo adds $200 to the standard $2200 price, so these are $2400. 

The two prototypes that we built were cherry. The 5.5x14 had wire and the 6.5 had the wire/gut. Both drums sold almost immediately. See the video and listen to the wire/gut 6.5 snare HERE.

Call Steve at 630-865-6849 or email me at to place an order and select your serial number.

The combination of Johnny's superbly musical shell with Billy's hardware designs makes for a wonderful instrument with amazing versatility.

Background on Billy Gladstone Snare Drums:

Billy only built approximately 50 drums, many of which have not survived. His drums were prized by 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. (Of course, Johnny Craviotto's shells were not availaible at this time, so Billy was limited to choices at hand). 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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