Leedy Drums

U.G. Leedy, the founder of the Leedy Drums company, is credited with inventing the snare drum stand.

The Leedy Drums Company was started by Ulysses Grant Leedy in 1898. In the 1890’s U.G. Leedy started his career as a percussionist in Indianapolis, but his personal desire for better instruments led him to start making his own. With encouragement from friends and colleagues, Leedy launched a small business from hit apartment, manufacturing snare drum stands, and later also snare drums. Leedy is credited with inventing the adjustable snare drum stand. Before Leedy introduced the stand, snare drums were routinely put on chairs or hung on slings.

The Leedy Drums Company quickly met with much success, built a factory, and expanded its product line to include drum heads and various orchestral percussion instruments and accessories. Leedy also began selling its products wholesale to stores across the nation. As the Ludwig brothers started their drum company in 1909, they first became Chicago agents for Leedy drums. The Ludwigs later went on to manufacture their own drums and grew larger than Leedy.

In the 1920s Leedy realized the need for full-time sales management, and employed George Way who had been running his own drum company in Canada. In addition to being a salesman, George Way also had an engineering background. He conceived and introduced many innovations into Leedy drums that changed the industry forever. Some of his contributions include the double flanged hoop, the floating drum head, and the self-aligning lug.

In the late 1920s, U.G. Leedy’s health began to fail and he sold Leedy Drums to the GC Conn Manufacturing Co. of Elkhart, Indiana in 1929. Later that year Conn also purchased the Ludwig drum company.

Following difficulties brought on by World War II, Conn sought to reinvigorate its drum division and decided to combine Ludwig and Leedy operations. In 1951 Conn created the the Leedy & Ludwig drum company. But the new venture proved to be unprofitable, and in 1955 Conn moved to discontinue its drum division.

At that time, William F. Ludwig Jr., of the WFL drum company, and Bud Slingerland, or the Slingerland Drum Company, joined forces to buy Conn’s failing Leedy & Ludwig drum division. W.F. Ludwig brought the Ludwig name back into the family, and Slingerland got the Leedy name. They split the the tools and machinery among themselves.

In 1970 the Slingerland family sold it’s business. In the following years, the company switched hands several times together with its Leedy name and patent holdings. In 1994 Fred Gretsch sold Slingerland to Gibson, but retained the properties associated with Leedy. Gretsch then resurrected the Leedy line in 2003.


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