Video and text by Nicolas Grizzle
Chicago Drum Company began in 2011, when Jim Moritz and a friend wondered if they could put their collective experience from working at the Slingerland factory to good use and make a snare drum. Moritz had already been working on drums, doing restoration on vintage tubs, when the thought occurred to make his own. “It sounded amazing,” he says. In fact, it reminded them of that “old school” sound they love about vintage drums like Slingerland, something they felt was lacking in modern drums.
They kept at it, and eventually expanded to making full drum sets. Now, Chicago Drum Co. has built a reputation for making high-quality drums in the vintage style. Moritz stuck with the maple/poplar or mahogany/poplar combo because of its versatility, he says. Plus, it has been a tried and true wood choice for drums for so long, he knew it would work.
Drum Workshop bought the trademark for Slingerland in 2019, but we have yet to see products released from the line. DW has said it’s reboot will focus on quality, and begin with the release of a new Radio King snare drum.
Doc Sweeny Drums released a Radio King-style snare drum in 2018, and continues to make vintage-sounding steam-bent snare drums and drum sets. Chicago Drum Co. is also on that list of drums being made right now that can be compared to the vintage “Slingerland style” or sound. The similarities are not only in the build and wood selection, but the old Slingerland factory was located in Chicago, just like Moritz’s Chicago Drum Co., and he’s got experience actually working at the factory.
Check out the video above to hear more about Moritz’s family history with Slingerland, how he makes his drums, what he feels the most important part of a drum is, and how he came to be the owner of a massive 1980’s Slingerland drum set, which he houses in an awesome drum room complete with tons of Slingerland memorabilia.