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First time buying vintage drums - Gretsch RB value and general tips

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#1
1Dinosaur

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Hello everyone!


First post here. I registered with Vintage Drum Forum and asked the same thing over there, but almost no response, so I'm hoping this place is livelier!
 
I'm just getting into the vintage drum thing, and though I've always had a soft spot for them old Gretch drums, now is the first time I'll probably get my hands on some. Just wanted to check with you guys about the estimated value, so I don't get ripped off. 

The drums are a set of Gretsch round badges in midnight blue pearl. Not sure about the exact production year, but 60's (exact year can be found when I get my hands on the serials right?). Sizes 22-13-16. Good condition, original parts. No extra holes or modifications. Stickers, badges and mufflers all in great shape. Only "drawback" is a loose wrap seam on the 13". Not buying from the first owner.

What do you think price wise?

The problem is I have to buy them without seeing them personally, which is a risk for sure, but it's just not possible for me. Someone else is doing it, and I'm sending them instructions to what to check for: making sure the shells are round and bearing edges intact (which the seller confirmed they were), hardware okay etc. Anything else I should think about?
 
I've read a lot about the drums, and a bit concerned about choking of the toms. I'm mainly playing rock, although I'm not that heavy a hitter. Any input?

Cheers.

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Edited by 1Dinosaur, 11 July 2017 - 01:27 AM.

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#2
charlesm

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Welcome! And beautiful kit you have there.

 

I have the same kit in 20-12-14 and love it. The toms are stop-sign badge but essentially the same shells.

 

The loose wrap is no problem. Easily re-glued/fixed.

 

Based on the condition of your kit and the sizes, I would say the $1400-$1700 ballpark would be the expected value.

 

As for "choking": Many people seem compelled to only evaluate Gretsch vintage drums based on how they perform at cranked-up bop tuning. Most drums tend to be a bit choked at that tuning, although I do find Gretsch to retain a lot of liveliness despite that. That's one reason for their reputation.

 

However, at least with my own kit, I find that once you start to down-tune the drums, they open up a lot and take on a lot more sustain. I can get much more sustain with my drums than I was expecting, considering all the talk of the inherent "choked" sound of vintage Gretsch.

 

One thing I discovered is that these drums are not as forgiving as other brands when it comes to the traditional rules of tuning. That is, in order to get longer sustain, both heads really have to be close in tuning to one another, regardless of pitch. Once you start deviating from that, the sustain begins to quickly disappear. And when you do tune, they respond much better to very small increments.

 

I'm sure a lot of this comes down to the die-cast hoops vs. triple-flanged. On my Ludwig and Rogers kits, you could pretty much leave the reso heads alone and still get a wide tuning range and good sustain just from the batter.

 

However, having figured all this out about Gretsch and knowing what to do, I have no problems with it because the tone is so fantastic.

 

Barring any structural issues, I would think the same would apply to your drums and you should be fine.


Edited by charlesm, 11 July 2017 - 01:56 AM.

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#3
tillerva

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They look good. Some of the glue they used hasn't held up over time, so if you go to disassemble and clean them, the wrap may fall right off. And then you may find that the wrap has shrunken. You can work with them though. This was my experience with a kit. Some heads will likely not fit as well, which may be aggravating. Ah, vintage Gretsch drums.
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#4
1Dinosaur

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Thanks guys! charlesm are you saying your kit has SSB toms, or that this one has, but with the wrong badge? In that case, what difference is there and how did you notice?
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#5
charlesm

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Thanks guys! charlesm are you saying your kit has SSB toms, or that this one has, but with the wrong badge? In that case, what difference is there and how did you notice?


Yes, I have SSB toms with a RB kick, all in the original factory configuration. It was not uncommon for Gretsch to mix badges on kits during that badge transition period around '69-'70.

Nothing unusual about your kit at all.

The RB shells and early SSB shells are exactly the same. Badge is the only difference.
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#6
1Dinosaur

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Ok, thanks! Someone mentioned briefly that the floor tom might be a later version because of the hidden screws in the diamond plate. Any input on this?

I'm getting my hands on the serials soon, so maybe no use guessing around before that. Because with serials in hand it's possible to find the exact year of each drum?
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#7
KCDrumDad

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Until recently, it was widely believed that the serial numbers provided no guidance when determining the age of Gretsch drums.   That thinking was first challenged by John Sheridan's and his theory for Round Badge era drums about the numbers of digits in the serial numbers providing an indication of the manufacture date.  Additional work followed, leading to my serial number based dating guide for vintage Gretsch drums, published in 2011, some of which was incorporated into The Gretsch Drum Book by Rob Cook and John Sheridan (with Lee Ruff), published in 2013.  Patterns are evident in Gretsch's use of serial numbers based upon study of several thousand drums, making possible reasonable estimates of manufacture dates.  Note that these are still approximations and my not be precise down to the year. 

 

The comment about the hidden screws on the leg mounts was in your VDF thread on the same topic.  The type of leg mount on your drums would be consistent with a later 1950s through 1970s drum.


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#8
1Dinosaur

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Thanks guys! My guitar player picked them up today, so now I'm officially the owner of these sweet things! Won't get my hands on them before Friday, but then I'm setting them up for a session. Can't wait! I'll post some new photos then.

I got the serials, as you can see below. Do you agree with the theory about 60's RB that says the first digit is production month, second (or third if the drum is from oct/nov/dec) is last digit in year (i.e. 5=1965) and last digits are the number of that drum in the particular year? Sorry if that was explained poorly.

Hey KCDrumDad, I just noticed your signature. Can I aid you somehow with any other information?

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Edited by 1Dinosaur, 17 July 2017 - 08:56 AM.

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#9
KCDrumDad

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I got the serials, as you can see below. Do you agree with the theory about 60's RB that says the first digit is production month, second (or third if the drum is from oct/nov/dec) is last digit in year (i.e. 5=1965) and last digits are the number of that drum in the particular year? Sorry if that was explained poorly.

Hey KCDrumDad, I just noticed your signature. Can I aid you somehow with any other information?

 

Congratulations on your new-to-you drums.  

 

The serial number approach you describe only applies to guitars, and only for those made after about August 1966.  This approach does not work for drums or earlier guitars.  Ed Ball (www.gretschguy.com) has done extensive work with Gretsch guitar serial numbers.  Gretsch drums used sequential numbering, but did not necessarily apply them in strict sequential order.  Also, Gretsch reused serial numbers, restarting the sequential number system a few times.

 

I am always happy to gather new information from vintage Gretsch and Ludwig drums.  Once you have the drums in your possession I would appreciate knowing more about them.  PM me and I will let you know what information I gather or you can go to my website and go to the "Report Your Drums" page for a complete list.


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