The number of options you have is fairly high when looking for a top-quality professional drum kit. Every brand has something fantastic to offer, and I always find myself a bit stuck when I have too many choices. If you want something that has stood the test of time, you should check out the Ludwig Classic Maple drum set.
This kit has been around for a few decades and has received a few upgrades along the way. I’m going to break down everything about it in this review. There are a few different configuration options available, so I’ll give you a quick guide on choosing one as well.
History of Ludwig Drums
Before we get to the kit, you should know about the rich history of Ludwig drums. This history is a large reason for many drummer’s decision to buy a Ludwig drum set. The brand has been a pioneer of drum development since the early 20th century, when it was founded.
While the drums sold fairly well from the 1910s to the 1960s, their popularity skyrocketed when The Beatles came onto the scene. The drummer, Ringo Starr, played a beautiful set of Ludwig drums. Everyone in the world saw this kit being played on TV, leading to everyone wanting a set of Ludwig drums.
Since then, Ludwig has been a prime contender in the drum market. The drums were massively popular in the classic rock era, and Ludwig has now become a vintage drum brand because of that. Many of their kits from back then are still available today, and getting a piece of that vintage quality is something many drummers love.
Even Ludwig’s modern drum sets have a bit of vintage nature to them, so that’s a big reason why drummers will choose a Ludwig set over any other brand.
What Is the Ludwig Classic Maple?
The Classic Maple is one of Ludwig’s many professional drum kit options. This kit gets made in the USA and gets constructed with US maple. Kits with US maple are always higher quality than kits that use exported maple.
It’s a prime maple drum set that can be used in any professional situation. It has a few quirks to it that make it unique from other pro maple kits. You’ll find out about those in the review.
Ludwig Classic Maple Review
Before getting into the specifics, you should know that this is a pro kit that will work excellently for every use. You’ll be happy with how it sounds and how it feels. This review is to explain the specifics of the set. These are the things you need to know that will allow you to decide whether you will prefer this kit or another pro maple set. With that being said, let’s get into the nitty-gritty!
The first thing I noticed about these drums was how much sustain they had. The toms sing out beautifully, and the kick drum resonates powerfully. With no muffling applied, these drums are quite loud and open. Underneath the sustain, all the drums have a good balance of attack, presence, and body. This sound is fairly versatile, making the drums a good fit for any environment you put them in.
The sound comes from the 7-ply maple shells. These shells are molded with Radio Frequency Shell Technology, a famous shell-making process that Ludwig uses for most of their high-end drum sets. This process uses a bonding system to ensure that all the plies of wood are evenly cured around the shells.
The resonance of the drums is also largely thanks to the 45-degree bearing edges. These also allow for a wider tuning range on all the drums.
Overall, I’d say the sound of these drums is very reminiscent of the Ludwig drums in the late 20th century. The ringing tones are exactly what you heard in many classic rock albums. If you’re not a fan of the extended resonance, you can simply apply some tape or Moongels to control it on each drum.
The Classic Maple certainly has the appearance of an older drum kit. It doesn’t have the sleek hardware parts of modern kits. Instead, Ludwig has chosen to keep the drums looking fairly vintage.
One of my favorite things about this kit is the system of mounting the rack tom. It has a thread built into one of the lugs, and you use the included Atlas mount to stick into that thread. The mount then attaches to a cymbal stand. It’s well hidden and acts as a sort of secret mount. The benefit of this is that you can mount the rack tom onto a snare stand as well, and you won’t have any mount sticking out that you’re not using.
Another thing I love about this kit is the bronze Ludwig badges. While they’re fairly small, they look iconic when you get close enough to see them on each drum.
A downside that I’ve found with most Ludwig kits is that they don’t stay in tune for as long as other pro kits do. This is largely due to how they’re constructed. If you’re not keen to tune your drums regularly, this will end up bothering you quite a bit.
The choice of stock drumheads is one of the aspects of the kit that leaves me a bit disappointed. Pro drum sets typically come equipped with high-quality heads from Remo or Evans. The Classic Maple only comes with single-ply factory heads from Ludwig. These aren’t near as good as high-quality drumheads.
So, you’ll need to replace all the heads on the kit if you want to get the best sounds possible out of it. It will set you back a few hundred dollars, so you’ll need to factor that into the price of buying the set. Single-ply heads will keep that resonating tone, while double-ply heads will calm them down a bit.
Ludwig refers to the different configuration options as outfits. There are four of them, and each one has different shell sizes. Here’s a full breakdown of what you can choose:
Ludwig Classic Maple Fab
- 22” x 14” bass drum
- 13” x 9” rack tom
- 16” x 16” floor tom
Ludwig Classic Maple Mod
- 22” x 18” bass drum
- 10” x 8” rack tom
- 12” x 9” rack tom
- 16” x 16” floor tom
Ludwig Classic Maple Downbeat
- 20” x 14” bass drum
- 12” x 8” rack tom
- 14” x 14” floor tom
Ludwig Classic Maple Pro Beat
- 24” x 14” bass drum
- 13” x 9” rack tom
- 16” x 16” floor tom
You most probably would have noticed that none of the configuration options above come with a snare drum. Unfortunately, you can’t buy a Classic Maple kit with a snare. If you want to add a Classic Maple snare drum, you’ll be paying an extra $500 or so.
While this isn’t ideal, it’s a good way of keeping the cost of the kit lower. If you already have a decent snare drum, you could just use that when you buy the Classic Maple kit.
The exclusion of a snare drum also gives you a choice of what snare drum you’d like to buy. You don’t need to get a snare to match the kit. Ludwig has a large range of snare drums to choose from that are all excellent in their own ways. We have a guide on Ludwig snares that you can read here.
Depending on when and where you buy it, you can expect to pay between $2000 and $3000 for a Ludwig Classic Maple shell pack. If you take a look at the different configuration options above, you can gauge the potential prices.
The Downbeat is the most affordable as it has the smallest shell sizes. The larger shell sizes will naturally be more expensive.
I think the price of the kit is very reasonable. It’s a professional drum set that can be used for every possible setting, and it’s way more affordable than the $5000 professional sets from other brands.
There are 18 finishes in total available for this kit. Here’s what you can choose from:
- Vintage Bronze Mist
- Heritage Green
- Heritage Blue
- Diablo Red
- Glacier Blue Pearl
- White Marine Pearl
- Vintage White Marine
- Vintage Blue Oyster
- Vintage Black Oyster
- Sky Blue Pearl
- Silver Sparkle
- Red Sparkle
- Olive Oyster
- Mod Orange
- Digital Sparkle
- Classic Olive Pearl
- Citrus Mod
- Burgundy Pearl
The prices of the set tend to vary across all the finishes. I found this to be one of the unique aspects of the Ludwig Classic Maple. Other drum sets will cost the same no matter what finish you choose. That isn’t the case with this set.
Pros and Cons
- Open and resonating tones
- Vintage appeal
- A large number of beautiful finishes to choose from
- Cleverly hidden tom mount on the rack toms
- Reasonably priced
- No snare drum included
- Disappointing stock drumheads
If you’re planning on getting this kit, you’re going to have to decide which outfit to get. The different configurations cater to different kinds of drummers. I’d recommend the Pro Beat to anyone who plays straightforward rock music. The 24-inch kick drum has a massive punch that caters to that style perfectly.
The Downbeat has the smallest shell sizes, making it ideal for a gigging drummer who would benefit from a smaller kit. Even though it’s smaller than the other configurations, it still has plenty of projection.
The Mod outfit is for anyone who wants a second rack tom, and the Fab outfit is for drummers who want a large kit with a manageable bass drum size.
Whichever version of the kit you choose, know that it’s an excellent drum set that is very versatile in its uses. I’d happily recommend it to anyone searching for a high-quality kit.
If you’re looking for another classic kit with a vintage appeal mixed with modern touches, the Gretsch Broadkaster is a good choice. Similar to Ludwig, Gretch drums have a very rich history. Their top kits are made in the USA, and US kits are generally very high-quality options.
The Broadkaster has 3-ply shells that are a mixture of maple and poplar. These thin shells just ooze tone, giving you a beautiful sounding set. The drums have 30-degree bearing edges that produce a greater sense of attack when you strike the drums. They’re a good alternative to the 45-degree bearing edges of the Ludwig Classic Maple shells.
One clear benefit of the Broadkaster is that it comes with a snare drum. It’s one of the few pro kits on the market that include one with the shell pack. The entire shell pack is a bit more expensive than the Ludwig kit because of this.
- Thin shells produce beautiful tones
- A unique mixture of poplar and maple woods
- Vintage and modern features mixed
- Includes a snare drum
- More expensive than the Ludwig Classic Maple
Tama Starclassic Maple
If you love the sound of maple drums but want something a bit more modern, the Tama Starclassic Maple is one of your best options in the same price range. This is one of Tama’s most popular drum sets, thanks to the beautiful, warm tones the toms produce.
The drums have die-cast zinc hoops that enhance the attack of all your strokes. They also provide consistent tuning. When comparing this kit to the Ludwig, you’ll find that the Starclassic drums stay in tune for much longer.
A lot of the quality of the Tama kit comes out in the hardware features. Things like the rubber-based claw hooks and the Air Pocket rubber feet are aspects that you only realize the benefit of when you get to play the kit. Let me just tell you, they’re amazing!
The Starclassic Maple is a kit loved by rock drummers, but it works incredibly well for all styles of music.
- Fantastic modern maple drum set
- Die-cast hoops on the toms
- Very consistent tuning
- No snare drum included
If you love everything about the Ludwig Classic Maple but find it to be too expensive, you should check out the Ludwig NeuSonic. It’s a much more affordable kit from Ludwig that costs just over $1000. It has most of the same configuration options, making it a worthy alternate option.
The shells are made from a mixture of cherry and maple woods. You get a lot of warmth from the drums mixed with a fair amount of power.
The kits look so similar that you may not spot the difference between them. The big differences are that the NeuSonic doesn’t have the same rich tones as the Classic Maple. It also has mini Keystone badges and mini lugs as opposed to the full-sized ones from the Classic Maple.
Although the NeuSonic doesn’t sound as good, it’s a worthy alternate option that is a lot more budget-friendly. If you put high-quality drumheads on it and tune it nicely, it has the potential to sound fairly good.
- More affordable than the Ludwig Classic Maple
- Warm yet powerful tones
- Made in the USA
- Tones aren’t as rich as the ones from the Classic Maple
Answer: Ludwig kits were incredibly popular in the 20th century, thanks to all the accomplished drummers that played them. The most famous one of those was Ringo Starr. Some other popular drummers from then were Ginger Baker, John Bonham, Charlie Watts, and Keith Moon.
Some notable modern drummers who play Ludwig drums are Carter McLean, Nate Smith, Questlove, and Tre Cool.
Answer: A shell pack is a package that you buy that only comes with the shells of the drums. It also comes with mounts for the rack toms on most occasions. Higher-quality drum sets will typically be sold as shell packs.
A full drum set comes with hardware and cymbals along with the drum shells. A full drum set provides everything you need to start playing with a single purchase. Full drum sets are mostly bought by beginners who are buying drum sets for the first time.
Hardware and cymbals can be used with every drum set, so drummers who already have some cymbals and stands are better off buying a shell pack that has higher-quality drums.
Answer: If the Ludwig Classic Maple seems expensive to you, you’re most probably a beginner or intermediate drummer. In the grand scheme of things, the Ludwig set is fairly affordable, considering the sound and build quality that it offers.
Pro drum sets can cost anywhere from $1500 to $10000. So, the Classic Maple sits near the bottom of that price range. If the price is too high for you, you should consider buying an intermediate drum set shell pack. We’ve done a few reviews here on the site to help you see what those are all about. You can read about the Gretsch Catalina Maple and the Tama Superstar Classic.
Answer: They’re great for every style of music. If you look at all the popular artists that play Ludwig drums, you’ll see a wide variety of musical styles is covered. Drummers like Nate Smith and Buddy Rich have played jazz on Ludwig kits, while drummers like Charlie Watts and John Bonham have played rock.
The main tonal aspect of Ludwig sets is their vintage sound. If you’re a fan of that, the kit will work with whatever style of music you’re playing.
The biggest factor in choosing an appropriate set is the sizes of the shells. A compact set such as the Ludwig Breakbeats wouldn’t be ideal for a rock gig as the drums are too small to be effective in that setting.
I wouldn’t recommend getting the Ludwig Classic Maple if you’re a fan of modern drum sets. Any of the alternate kits I mentioned would be better options in that case. You’ll love the Classic Maple kit if you’re a Ludwig fan. There’s something special about it that only a Ludwig kit can offer.
For more interesting reading on different drum gear, check out the following articles: