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Ludwig "Black Beauty" snare drum from 1920's needs Nickel Plating

Intro / synopsis: The re-plating is fairly routine, but the poster's question includes whether the engraving can be saved. Although one reader thinks not, the owner of a large drum manufacturing shop as well as the editor of the website feel that saving the engraving is possible

"History of the Ludwig Drum Company"
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RFQ: I own a 1920's Ludwig snare drum that's called a "Black Beauty" [adv: Ludwig black beauties on eBay]. It has a brass shell which was then nickeled in black then engraved exposing the brass. All the hardware on this drum is in copper. A beautiful drum. My problem is someone removed the black nickel and what I have now is an engraved brass shell. Is there a way that I can have it electroplated in black nickel and not damage the engraving or cover it? Also, I was told that the prep, the buffing of the shell may remove some or all of the engraving. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Michael Guedes
- Monroe, New York, United States

A. It is possible to replate the drum and to save the engraving at the same time!

Adrian Kirchler
AK drums - Olang, ITALY

A. Hi Michael,
You could re-plate the drum, but you cannot save the engraving, per se. Preparing the shell would require buffing the metal shell to a high luster. This will give you the shine you want out of the finish. After plating the shell, you might contract John Aldridge of "Not So Modern Drummer" to engrave over the existing pattern. That is the best approach, next to leaving the drum in its original state.


- Castle Rock, Colorado, USA

Ed. note: This forum enjoys a 35-year legacy of camaraderie & warm aloha; we ask readers to please use their full real name & town.

A. ...and I tell you it is possible (take a look at my website under "restoration" ⇩)


Adrian Kirchler
- Olang, Italy

Ed. update Dec. 2023: That website is still active although the 'restoration' page isn't. Thankfully,'s wonderful Wayback Machine saved a copy of that 'restoration' page for us smiley face
These days information often never sees print, then simply disappears forever. If you are unhappy about that please consider a donation to The Internet Archive.

thumbs up sign Hi. I think Adrian is more correct than Curt. Plating is thin, even very heavy nickel plating is under 0.001" thick, which is small compared to most engraving, and it's possible to mask the engraving if necessary so it doesn't get plated; it's not necessary to buff to a high luster before nickel plating, but would be for perfect authenticity because it was necessary to buff in the 1920's when Michael's drum was built :-)

Good luck, and Regards,

Ted Mooney,
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha - Pine Beach, New Jersey

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