George Way

George Way (left) inspecting Leedy & Ludwig Knob Tension drums in 1951

The Leedy Drum Company -

In the aftermath of WWII, which had totally disrupted Conn's drum divisions, it was decided to combine Ludwig & Ludwig with Leedy, creating the Leedy & Ludwig drum company. This new division became operational in 1951. A cornerstone product for Leedy & Ludwig was a new series of drums with a unique tuning system, the "Knob Tension" line. The concept can be attributed to George Way, although Way was not responsible for the final engineering which proved to be lacking, and the line was a spectacular and expensive failure. Knob Tension drums were discontinued within a year. Conn decided to discontinue the unprofitable Leedy & Ludwig division four years later in 1955.

Wm. F. Ludwig II (of the WFL drum company) and Bud Slingerland (of the Slingerland drum company) teamed up to make Conn an offer. The Ludwig family got the Ludwig name back, and Slingerland purchased rights to the Leedy name. Ludwig and Slingerland spent weeks going through the plant to debate the division of tools, equipment, and inventory.

Slingerland tried to introduce Leedy as a second line. They wanted to sell Slingerland drums to the top dealer in each town, and Leedy to the secondary dealers, leaving Ludwig the third-tier dealers. That plan did not work out. Except for a new lug design and badge, the Leedy drums that were produced by Slingerland from 1956 to 1965 were basically Slingerland drums. Slingerland quietly discontinued Leedy production and use of the name in the mid 1960s.

The Slingerland family sold the drum company in 1970 in what was to become the first of numerous ownership shifts over the next 25 years. Each time, the purchase agreement included the Leedy name, patents, trademarks, and parts. Each time, that is, until Fred Gretsch sold Slingerland to the Gibson company in 1994. He retained ownership of Leedy and began to consider how he could bring this once great American drum name back into the marketplace.

Leedy Namm 2003
The New Leedy debuts at Winter Namm in Anaheim 2003!

Recognizing the value and prestige of the Leedy name, Gretsch has taken carefully measured steps in bringing Leedy back into the marketplace. The first few drums were shown at the 2002 Nashville NAMM show where they were enthusiastically received by dealers. At the 2003 Anaheim NAMM show, 25 drums were displayed and, again, received an enthusiastic response. Gretsch expects to begin shipping the new Leedy drums to expectant dealers and their customers in mid-2003.

The history section of the Leedy website written by Rob Cook, author of The Complete History Of The Leedy Drum Company, ISBN 0-931759-74-9. This book and other drum history materials are available from Rebeats at www.rebeats.com.



The Leedy Trademark Logo was updated in 1925.
Leedy Logo pre-1925
Leedy Logo post-1925
Leedy Logo pre-1925
Leedy Logo post-1925

A Way invention found on nearly all drums today; the "self-aligning lug".

Beaver tail

Leedy Logo
Leedy Ludwig  Badge
Conn-Era Leedy Badge 1930-1951
Leedy & Ludwig Badge 1951-1955

CONN-ERA LUGS
Leedy Lug
Leedy Lug
The "box" or "X" lug,
1930-1939
The beavertail lug,
1937-1966

Leedy Slingerland Badge
Slingerland-Era Leedy Badge 1956-1966


The  New Leedy 2003
The New Leedy Badge Made In USA 2003