The music products industry is constantly striving to create new customers while, at the same time, satisfying the needs of seasoned musicians. As such, MI manufacturers spend much of their creative capital devising user-friendly, entry-level instruments that will appeal to young people and beginners, as well as innovating on tried-and-true designs to create specialized products that will “wow” experienced players and jaded gearheads alike. Less attention is paid to instruments for intermediate-level players, who often have to graduate to professional-level gear once they outgrow their starter instruments.
As any businessperson worth his or her salt will tell you, an underserved market segment can equal increased profits for a brand that fills the niche. That truism was the inspiration behind Ludwig Drums’ latest offering, the Evolution drum set. According to Ludwig’s Brand/Category Manager, Adam Weems, “Ludwig’s niche is in the higher-end drum market. Because of our long history, coming up on 110 years, we currently live in a place in that market where players are looking for that legendary sound they grew up on.” However, the company was not content to continue to cater mainly to high-end drummers, so it decided to broaden its reach. “Not everyone can afford an expensive drum set,” Weems remarked. “So, releasing the Evolution in this price range is part of our strategic plan to introduce a new generation of drummers to our brand at a price point that fits most budgets.”
However, Ludwig wanted to make sure that the Evolution not only retained the high level of quality that drummers have come to associate with the brand, but also offered drummers something different from what they could get with other middle-tier kits. “The central theme behind this project was, ‘How do we get back into the intermediate marketplace with a drum set that hits that price point while offering something a bit different?’” Weems explained. “We achieved that by thinking about what that beginning-to-intermediate drummer looks for in a drum set, from a sound and playing-experience standpoint.”
Rather than rushing the Evolution drum set through the development process in order to expedite Ludwig’s foray into the intermediate market, the kit spent nearly a year in the R&D phase. “The longest part of the development process was getting the small things right,” Weems revealed. “Some of our major concerns during design were getting clean, consistent bearing edges and placing the vent holes to provide the sound we wanted. Also, making sure we kept a Ludwig look and feel…one that will give the player the best possible experience.”
The emphasis on creating a mid-tier product that offers a top-shelf feel is evident in the various components of the Evolution drum set. The kits feature poplar drum shells with triple-flanged hoops and Remo Pinstripe tom batter heads. They also come with a double-braced hardware pack that includes two cymbal boom stands, a hi-hat stand, a snare drum stand, a bass drum pedal and a drum throne. And, each kit includes a Zildjian ZBT cymbal pack, composed of a 20-inch ride, a 16-inch crash and a pair of 14-inch hi-hats. “By partnering with Remo to provide batter heads for the toms and Zildjian to provide the ZBT upgraded cymbal pack, we have created a great-sounding drum set that will give the player a better user experience from the first time he or she sets up and plays the kit,” Weems enthused.
Much like all Ludwig drum sets, development of the Evolution was a true team effort. In fact, Ludwig prides itself on a holistic approach to bringing new products to market. “We spend a lot of time talking about the marketplace and listening to dealers, artists, educators and consumers as it relates to what they want in a new or redesigned product,” Weems explained. “As we gather that information, the sales team, marketing team, engineering team and our plant managers all get together to vet the new product and talk through designs to determine the feasibility and marketability of any given project.”
He continued, “Although the Evolution drum set is an import, having our own manufacturing in the U.S.A. allows the sales and marketing teams to work with our engineers to vet the prototypes in the plant, before signing off on finished products. That gives us another level of comfort that our whole team is standing behind the products that fly the Ludwig badge. It’s also pretty cool that I can walk into the plant at any time and watch a shell being made from scratch, and then turned into a Ludwig drum.”
Some of the early feedback Ludwig has received about the Evolution leads the company to believe it made the right choice in going ahead with this particular product. “I was speaking with longtime Ludwig artist and friend of the company Bun E. Carlos about the Evolution, and he said, ‘I wish I had something this nice when I was starting out,’” Weems shared. “Our dealers at NAMM this year were super excited to see Ludwig offering an intermediate drum set again. And, with the upgrades we are offering, they all thought the Evolution would be hard to beat.”
The company has also developed marketing efforts to help support the Evolution drum set. “We have created some in-store marketing and sales tools for the Evolution that dealers can use to help draw attention to what this drum set has to offer,” Weems affirmed. “And, one of our longtime artists and a great drum educator, Pat Petrillo, has produced a video that introduces the Evolution and discusses its high points and versatility.” Keep an eye on Ludwig’s YouTube page for the release of that video.
Ludwig is shipping three different models of the Evolution drum set. That includes two five-piece sets that start at $1,079 MSRP: a 10-inch/12-inch/16-inch/22-inch configuration with a five-by-14-inch snare, and a 10-inch/12-inch/14-inch/20-inch configuration with a five-by-14-inch snare. The third model is a six-piece, 10-inch/12-inch/14-inch/16-inch/22-inch configuration with a five-by-14-inch snare; it has an MSRP that starts at $1,229. All three models come with the full hardware pack and the Zildjian ZBT cymbal pack. Available finishes are Black Sparkle, White-Silver Sparkle, Wine Red Sparkle and Blue Sparkle.