A Questlove Christmas story – with a Ludwig beat


Questlove’s love affair with Ludwig drums stretches back to childhood.

Long before he grew up to lead The Roots, house band for “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” he was a kid in West Philadelphia worried that his folks couldn’t afford Christmas.

Money was tight in 1978 when he was 7. The family didn’t even have a tree. He remembers feeling “resigned to getting some socks and a sweater from Aunt Barbara.”

But waiting downstairs was a seven-piece Ludwig Vistalite kit that had belonged to a former drummer in his dad’s doo-wop group.

“I saw it sitting there in all its glory, and ahhh the sound,” Questlove told the Observer. “It was probably the last time I was just ambushed with joy.”

He played Ludwig drums on his albums and called his Ludwig snare “my first love ... It’s such a crisp, snappy sound. That’s my trademark sound.”

In 2012, Questlove signed with Ludwig and felt like he was coming home. “It’s a love affair I’ve always had.”

He also helped design a compact, portable drum kit for Ludwig called Breakbeats by Questlove. It’s affordable (about $400) and aimed at musicians in urban areas living in small spaces, Questlove said.

Last fall, he and The Roots came to the Metrolina Expo Center for Charlotte Funk Fest. At the last minute, Questlove changed his mind about which drum kit to play.

After a call from artist relations, Ludwig quality technician Wade Carpenter grabbed the kit Questlove wanted from the Monroe plant and drove it over in time for the show.

“That’s how hands-on they are,” Questlove said.

Adam Bell: 704-358-5696, @abell

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