Slingerland is a drum manufacturer originally based out of Chicago, Ill., that has produced quality drum sets and snare drums since 1928. The drum brand was famously played by Buddy Rich, who's still considered one of the greatest drummers of all time. Clues to be used in dating a Slingerland drum can be found all around the drum and can help you occasionally home in on an exact date of the drum. The lack of accurate serial number recording and large overlaps and reissues of shell veneers and labels can make dating the drums slightly more difficult than other drum brands.
Take a look at the badge on the drum. The drum badge is one of the easiest ways to accurately date a Slingerland drum. The shape of the badge is a great identifier. From 1928-1948, Slingerland used metal badges with a more floral shape. In 1949 they switched to round badges in solid metal colors. From 1956 on the company began using the oval badge with a black background that you still see on Slingerlands today.
Date your Slingerland drum by identifying the veneer of the drum. The veneer is the exterior covering used to protect and color the drum. Slingerland experimented with veneers more than any other company. They have a much larger range of coverings for their drums than almost any other company and many veneers from different years are extremely similar. The veneers were also reissued occasionally and can make dating a Slingerland drum difficult. The best way to date a drum by veneer is to find a veneer guide online, such as the Slingerland finish guide on www.vintagedrumguide.com, and compare pictures of your Slingerland drum with pictures of dated veneers. These photos, together with the shape of a badge, can help you narrow your date down considerably.
Look at the bottom of your badge and note where the drum was manufactured. Slingerland drum company manufactured drums at many different locations throughout the years. For example, from 1928-61 their drums were manufactured in Chicago. From 1961-86 they were manufactured in Niles, Ill., and for one year from 1965-66 they manufactured their drums in a plant in Shelby, Tenn.
Check advertisements that show Slingerland drums. Copies of original Slingerland ads that show the drums in their original condition and note the dates they were sold can easily be found and purchased online. This is an accurate way to compare and date Slingerland drums.
Be cautious when buying vintage drums. Many drums that are not manufactured by the Slingerland Company are refurbished to look like vintage Slingerlands and sold at unjustifiably inflated prices.