I've owned RB, Renown, New Classics, and S/S badge sets. I've gotta say that the New Classics may have been the best. The S/S is very good, but I've gotta rewrap them and haven't played with them much. The R/B's were very good, but I needed to mess around some to get them there. I recently played a a very nice USA set next to a a Catalina jazz. I'd tuned them both, had time to really tweak them. It was a *very* small call between them. And at $300.00 vs $1600.00....... I shoulda grabbed the Catalina's. they were blue/white onyz. Just couldn't do it!
So would most people say they don't notice a sonic difference between old RB era Gretsch kits and new Gretsch USA kits?
i think it really depends on how they were treated over the years. one of the rb kits took a little bit of tweaking but once i got it dialed in it was good to go. The other 2 kits, i just had to slap the heads on and give an even # of turns - awesome sound - no tweaking whatsoever. That same kit even sounds outstanding when tuned unevenly. one of the early 60's kits bass drum would not fit a coated remo ambassador, so i had to do the "breaking the collar trick" by sawing the metal ring in an 4 spots equally distant from each other .. and it sounded ridiculously good.
the usa customs are great - no doubt .. and they cost about the same as a good round badge kit. Is there anywhere you can try either of them in person?
is this gonna be your main kit or just an extra one to play on?