Ludwig is a majorly popular drum brand that has been around for over a century. The brand pioneered many aspects of the drum kit that we know and love today, including the iconic bass drum pedal.
Ludwig drums have a popular reputation for being US-made drums, boosting their quality over many other brands. However, not all Ludwig kits are made in the US, and the same can be said for the hardware that the brand uses to hold their drums together.
Ludwig drums are made in the US and China. All their higher-end lines of drums are handcrafted in the United States, while their lower-end entry-level and mid-tier kits are made in China. Ludwig hardware is also made in China, as no metal is made in the US factory.
History of Ludwig Drums
The Ludwig company was originally started by two brothers, Theobald and William F. Unfortunately, Theobald died in the 1918 pandemic, leaving William F. to take over the company entirely and drive its name forward.
The two of them had a German dad, but they grew up in the United States. So, that’s where the company started, and its history is deeply rooted within it. Before Theobald passed away, the two brothers invented the classic bass drum pedal that we all use today. There were attempts at pedals by other brands before then, but William F. Ludwig is the one who nailed the design, making history regarding the instrument.
That piece of equipment started out being made in the US, but other brands started making it all over the world. The Ludwig company was eventually sold due to the Great Depression, but William F. Ludwig bought it back in the 50s.
The Ludwig brand became incredibly well-known after The Beatles made their first appearance on US television. Ringo Starr was proudly playing a Ludwig drum set, and thousands of drummers gravitated toward the brand after that.
The Ludwig name passed through a few companies throughout the 20th century, and a few factories started because of this. While Ludwig drums are primarily an American brand, the drums aren’t made there alone.
Where are Ludwig Drums Made?
For most of the early 2000s, Ludwig drums were made in a factory in LaGrange, Illinois. You may still find many Ludwig drum kits floating around that were made from that Ludwig drum factory. However, the factory moved to Elkhart, Indiana, in 2013.
All of Ludwig’s top kits are made in this factory, which is why all their top kits are proudly advertised as US-made drums. When looking at the most prominent lines from the brand, you’ll see that the drums have been handcrafted, which is an amazing point to note.
While American-made drum kits are typically quite expensive, a notable kit on Ludwig’s product line is the NeuSonic. It’s a mid-tier kit that blends maple and cherry wood in its shells. It’s incredibly affordable, allowing a wider range of drummers to get that US-made quality that Ludwig kits are known for.
The other Ludwig kits that are made in the US are the Legacy Series and Classic Series. These are Ludwig’s top-tier kits that are available in a select number of shell types. Most drummers who play these kits are fully invested in the history behind them. It makes the playing experience a lot better as they’re proud of their sets.
Are All Ludwig Drums Made in the USA?
No, not all of Ludwig’s drums are made in the USA. Ludwig has a factory in China where their lower-tier drums are made. Instead of being handcrafted, they’re made on production lines where labor is less expensive and more drum sets can be made over time.
The kits that are made here are the Pocket Kit, Accent, Breakbeats, and Element Evolution. All these kits are made with either poplar wood or hardwood, making them a lot more affordable. The resources used in China are also more affordable, keeping production costs down.
While it may disappoint drummers that the Ludwig kit that they have isn’t US-made, it’s good to think that having a few of their drums made in China allows Ludwig to sell more of their kits around the world. The brand grows this way.
The best way to know if a Ludwig kit was made in China or the US is to check its price tag. If it costs over $1000, it was undoubtedly made on US soil.
Where is Ludwig Hardware Made?
Something interesting to note about Ludwig is that the US factory doesn’t have a metal foundry. So, all the metal parts are imported, including all the hardware. All the hardware that you find on Ludwig kits is made in China.
So, Ludwig is mostly referring to their drum shells when they say that their kits are US-made. That’s not to take away from the hardware, though. All of Ludwig’s stands and pedals are incredibly good, especially the Atlas hardware.
If you’ve ever played on a Ludwig kit, you’d know how solid all the hardware feels. Naturally, it’s a bit wonky in the lower-priced drum kits, but the top ones feel excellent.
Some drummers argue that the drums aren’t fully US-made with the hardware being imported. However, importing parts is a massive aspect of creating instruments, and the majority of the components needed for the drums are all made in the US.
Where Are Ludwig Vistalite Drums Made?
The Ludwig Vistalite drums are also made in the US factory, but I’ve put this kit in its own section as it has a rich history with the Ludwig brand. Ludwig started selling the Vistalite kits in the 70s, and they were what popularized acrylic drum sets.
While Ringo Starr was one of the first massive drummers to boost the Ludwig brand, John Bonham followed suit. Bonham was the drummer for Led Zeppelin, and he had iconic Vistalite drum sets that he was well-known for playing on.
The making of Vistalite kits slowed down for a while, but a replica of John Bonham’s set started being sold around the early 2000s. To this day, most drummers associate the Vistalite kit with Bonham, showing the impact that he had on the brand.
Which Drummers Play Ludwig Drums?
Apart from John Bonham and Ringo Starr, there have been dozens of popular drummers who have played Ludwig drums over the years. Ludwig was one of the biggest drum brands in the 20th century, yet other brands have provided strong competition in recent times, taking Ludwig off the pedestal. In modern times, several drum brands sit at the top.
So, you’ll find that many highly regarded drummers played Ludwig kits back in the day, but not as many do today. There are still some great modern drummers that play Ludwig drums, though!
Here are the drum legends that played Ludwig:
- Ringo Starr
- John Bonham
- Ginger Baker
- Buddy Rich
- Clyde Stubblefield
- Keith Moon
Here are a few modern drummers who play Ludwig drums:
- Nate Smith
- Jason Bonham
- Meg White
- Tré Cool
- Kevin Parker
- JD Beck
- Rory Doyle
Something interesting to note is that most of the drummers I mentioned above are Americans. While there are many non-American artists on the Ludwig roster, most of them are from the US.
Ludwig is an amazing brand. No matter which Ludwig kit you get, know that all of them are backed by a rich 100-year history full of innovation and boundary-pushing.
While only the top Ludwig kits, like the Classic and Legacy Series, are made in the US, all of Ludwig kits are incredible options for drummers of all types.
The Vistalite is one of the most notable sets from the brand as it reminds everyone of John Bonham, and the Breakbeats kit was one of the most popular compact kits in the world for a good chunk of time. One of those kits gets produced in America, while the other gets made in China.