As the only living Ludwig in the drum business today, Bill Ludwig III (B3 to many of his friends) is bringing back the craftsmanship and legacy of America’s First Family of drum building.
Starting in 2016 with little more than a dream and the experience of over sixty years in the industry, Bill III set out to redesign the classic drums of his family’s past using traditional processes for modern drummers.
William F Ludwig Sr. founded Ludwig & Ludwig™ in 1909 with his brother Theobald. The company’s first major product was the bass drum pedal, invented by the brothers, drummers themselves, to meet the increasing needs of drummers worldwide.
By the 1920s, the company had become the largest drum company in the world. The end of the 1920’s was a turbulent time for not only the music industry but the country as well. The country was entering what would become the worst depression in its history and the new advent of “talking movies” was putting theater drummers out of work.
In 1930, William Ludwig decided it was time to sell his beloved company. Then, in 1937, with a burning desire to continue innovating for the drummer Community, Ludwig Sr. along with his son Bill Ludwig II, co-founded a new company and named it WFL Drum Co.™
Due in large part to this new company’s success, the Ludwig family was able to buy back their original company in 1955. The Ludwig Drum Company™, under the leadership of Bill Ludwig II and Bill Ludwig III, would go on to become the most dominating drum company in history through the 1960’s and 70’s before it was sold in 1981.
At 59 years old, Bill Ludwig III was at a crossroads. Unfulfilled in his current work and longing to re-enter the drum business that he so loved. As a young man, B3 saw the fortunes of the American drum industry rise and fall and he knew the difficulties of starting a new company. But, like his grandfather before him, B3 knew that, as a Ludwig, he had to build drums.
Soon, B3 turned to his good friend and drum designer Mike Dorfman to create a unique and classic metal snare drum. Soon, the 1909 series of aluminum snares with the laser-cut "III" cut through the shells were introduced. Critics have called these drums reminiscent of the classic snare drums of the past.
The next line was the classic 1728N series of maple snares, Bill III recreated the classic 6-ply thin maple shells developed by his grandfather. Due to their thin plies of American Hard Maple and mahogany, these drums have been described as “classic”, “vibrant”, “resonant” and “full-bodied”.
So, in 2014, taking a cue from his grandfather, B3 named his company WFLIII Drums™ and set a course to continue his family’s legacy of innovation and world-class drum manufacturing.
“WFLIII Drums is more than just a company. It’s the resurrection of a family legacy and creating a new breed of drums my forefathers would be proud of.”
- William F Ludwig III