Most of today’s drumkits include at least one rack tom, a floor tom, a hi-hat, and a ride cymbal. But back in 1938, renowned American drum manufacturer Slingerland’s most popular setup, the Hollywood Boulevard Outfit, came only with a bass drum, a snare, a Chinese tom, and various percussion instruments. Our featured kit this month is a pristine example of the Hollywood Boulevard Outfit that looks just as it would have when it left the factory floor nearly eighty years ago.
Slingerland featured the Hollywood Boulevard setup in its catalogs from 1938 to 1941. Our kit includes a 14×28 Artist Model bass drum and a 6.5×14 Gene Krupa model Radio King snare in white marine pearl. Sitting on top of the bass drum is a trap table that’s also detailed with white marine pearl edges. The kit is complete with the correct snare stand, an Epic model pedal, cymbal arms, a 10″ Chinese tom and holder, a 12″ sizzle cymbal, a 13″ thin cymbal, a woodblock, and Korean temple blocks.
Matt Sinyard of the Georgia-based Bonzo Drum Company is responsible for the impeccable restoration of these drums. While the drums arrived in near-perfect condition, he stripped and painted the trap table, reapplied the pearl to the edges, and added a wood-grain veneer to the top. All of the hardware for the tray was freshly plated as well.
An artist who has worked in the White House was commissioned to restore the temple blocks. I was told he researched Asian paint ingredients and mixing techniques of the late-’30s to make sure the blocks were restored as accurately as possible.
The 1938–41 Slingerland catalog shows that the bass drum for the Hollywood Boulevard drumset was single-tension, and there was a stud in the center of the drum. But beavertail lugs, like those used on this kit, were also employed as the receivers for the single-tension rods. They have holes on both ends with no spring or lug nut. The heads are tensioned by long T-rods that are threaded into claws on the front hoop.
The snare drum offered in 1938 with the Hollywood Boulevard kit was a 5×14 Radio King. The 1941 catalog shows this outfit with the 6.5×14 model. The 6.5×14 is the more highly sought-after version, mainly because swing-era superstar Gene Krupa played that size.
These drums were well taken care of for many years. The white of the marine pearl finish has no glimpse of yellowing or other discoloration, and the Krupa Radio King snare will always go up in value.
I don’t know what Sinyard is capable of doing with less pristinely kept drums, but the finished product for this project is beautiful, classy, and a great tribute to the Chicago craftsmen working at Slingerland before World War II.