70 's Ludwig Supraphonic 14x5


Senior Member
Hi All, I have an opportunity to get one of these at a good price. I've searched through the threads here and it seems they are an iconic snare. I've also noted they come with some issues ie the snare mechanism and sometimes some pitting on the shell. Are they iconic as such and is there other matters I should look for when inspecting the drum. Any comments are welcomed. Many thanks


Silver Member
Check out the shell for dents - I’ve found a lot of these old Supras were sometimes bounced around over the years and not always stored in cases...


Senior Member
I have two Supraphonics from the 70's. Both are 14 x 5. One is from 1976 and is show room mint. The other is a '78 and except for a lightly bent lever on the throw off is also mint. Both sound great with the classic Ludwig sound. The P85 isn't as bad as people claim, at least not to me. I've never had a problem with one. Worst case you can replace it with an Inde or Dunnett and never worry about it again.If you don't have a Supraphonic in your arsenal you really need one. It's my desert island snare.


Platinum Member
Yeah, "iconic" is a good word for the Supraphonic. It's been on literally hundreds of records, if not thousands. Hal Blaine, John Bonham, and Steve Gadd, among others...

Most rock guys like to point to the 6.5" deep Supra (the LM402) as the holy grail iconic Supra, but I think the 5" deep Supras are just as coveted, because they're good, all-around, versatile drums.

The chrome flakes off the "Ludalloy" (aluminium) shell after so long, and there's nothing that can be done about it. The handle of the throwoff (whether it's the older P-83 or the P-85) can be bent fairly easily, and a number of folks simply don't care for the P-85. I've never experienced any issues with mine, though. If you get one and it doesn't work well for you, you can upgrade to the new P-88, or to an aftermarket throwoff like the Trick, Dunnett, or INDe.

Bottom line: If you are being offered a Supra of any size, so long as it's generally structurally sound it's always a good deal. Other than shell and lugs you can easily replace or fix anything else that might be the matter with it and have a superb, versatile snare in your arsenal.


Senior Member
The primary issues with the P-85 throw-off are the lever catching on the back of the cover when being engaged (due to insufficient lubrication and/or wear at the pivot pins) and/or a bent tension knob shaft. However, it can easily be replaced with another P-85 or the new P-88AC so this shouldn't be considered a concern.

Regarding chrome pitting, sometimes it may be more superficial than it appears and until you have the opportunity to clean and polish it properly, it can be hard to tell just from inspection. Sometimes a good bath in Dawn dish detergent followed by a polishing with Flitz or Simichrome can bring life back to what initially may seem like a lost cause.

Other things to look for are:

- Shell indentations/dents behind lugs (often an indication the drum has been dropped)

- Out-of-round shell (not exclusive to this drum)

- Un-level/uneven bearing edges (not exclusive to this drum)

- Warped/dented/out-of-round hoops, most notably the batter (due to heavy-handed rim shots and their thinner 1.6/1.8 mm thickness)


Senior Member
...and they still sound great with pitted chrome.

The chrome just didn't get along well with the Ludalloy (aluminum.)


Senior Member
Thanks for all the tips folks. The seller has just contacted me to say he has been advised not to sell the snare. Probably good advice judging by some of the remarks here ! I'll note all the comments for next time - if there is one!


Platinum Member
Unlucky dude, re the strainer I had the same problem until I oiled it.

Problem solved.