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Gretsch Renown Maple review

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#1
nicmilliner

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I was initially going to get a USA Custom kit with a variety in sizes to be able to mix and match configurations for gigs on the road, in town gigs and recording stuff. As I was trying to narrow down what finish and specs I was going to get I went out on the road for a run of gigs. Many shows this time of year are outdoors and the drums would be subjected to heat, dirt and random stagehands sometimes handling them. Not to mention bouncing around in cases in a trailer. After taking this into account and speaking with some of my drummer friends who have experience with all different lines of Gretsch stuff, I decided to look into New Classics and Renown Maple series kits to have on the road. Both seemed like nice kits but the Renown specs seemed really close to the USA Customs. After checking some out, that is what I decided to go with.

I chose the shell pack that contains 24x16 kick, 13x9 tom and a 16x16 floor tom in Cobalt Sparkle Fade finish. I have owned a decent amount of new drums over the years but this kit is probably the the most flawless new kit I've ever unboxed. It seems like after inspecting my other kits I could always find little things wrong although usually not enough for me to send back or complain about. Not this time around. The closest thing I could come to categorizing as a "flaw" would be that the bass drum hoops outer diameter exceeds the outer diameter of the bass drum head collar by a hair. It's possible this is by design to ensure you never see the collar sticking up over the hoop?

The toms came with clear Evans G2's on the tops and a thinner clear head on the bottom that had no logo. The kick had a clear Evans EQ4 on the batter side and what appeared to be coated EQ4 with the Gretsch logo on the resonate side. I ended up switching out the tom heads to Remo smooth white emperors on top and smooth white ambassadors on the bottom. I'm sure the G2's are great but I didn't have tons of time to play with head combinations so I went with the Remo stuff because I have a lot more experience with those. I kept the EQ4 on the batter side of the kick. Without knowing exact thickness of the plies and stuff it seemed to be very similar to a Remo Powerstroke 3 which I use on most of my kicks. On the resonate head, I removed the plastic ring around the perimeter and cut a hole around 4 o'clock.

The drums have all maple shells, 30 degree edges, silver sealer, die cast hoops. Very sturdy and well designed rims style mount for the 13" and floor tom leg brackets for the 16". Isolation style floor tom feet. On the bass drum spurs, the area that surrounds the key screw is circular and has a round badge type look to it. Hard to explain unless you see it in person but I thought it was a nice touch. The cobalt sparkle fade finish looks pretty awesome in my opinion. Especially when stage lights hit them.

Saturday I had a show and set them up under the mics. After a playing without he tuning a little bit I got them dialed in and they sound GREAT. The tone just jumps out of them. I think mics just love Gretsch drums. I ended up putting a small pillow in the bass drum as well as felt strip on the resonate head. I had read where people said these drums sounded good but maybe lacked that "something" that USA's have. Maybe someone with more experience with USA kits and better tuning skills could change my mind but to my ears these have the Gretsch sound.

My iPhone pictures don't do the finish justice but here is a link the same kit set up at NAMM:

http://www.flickr.co...sic/5370220438/

Edited by nicmilliner, 16 August 2011 - 10:05 AM.

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#2
xsabers

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Congrats on finding a great set and thanks for writing such a thorough review. I recently played a set of New Classics and was blown away. You mention the specs for the Renowns were more like the Customs. Can you provide more details on that point?

I've been a fan of the 30 degree bearing edge but have wondered what affect it really has and why more drum makers don't offer that option in one or more of their lines.
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#3
duanedrum

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Congratulations Nic.... I know you're digging your new Gretsch drums!!!!!
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#4
nicmilliner

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Maybe specs wasn't the right term, but from what I understand the toms on the New Classic drums get thicker the larger the diameter. The Renowns are the same with exception of the bass drums which I believe is the case with USA Customs. Plus the lug casings on the Renowns look like the USA Customs and the New Classic lug has more of a tube lug look.
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#5
xsabers

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Maybe specs wasn't the right term, but from what I understand the toms on the New Classic drums get thicker the larger the diameter. The Renowns are the same with exception of the bass drums which I believe is the case with USA Customs. Plus the lug casings on the Renowns look like the USA Customs and the New Classic lug has more of a tube lug look.

That's interesting because I had heard just the opposite; that the shells got thinner the smaller the diameter of the... :blink:

<_<

...oh yeah
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#6
duanedrum

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Hey Nic, be sure to check out this site.... http://woodshed.gretschdrums.com

Edited by duanedrum, 17 August 2011 - 08:30 PM.

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#7
hansmarius

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Nice review. :)

 

I came home 10 minutes ago from setting up and trying my new Gretsch Maple Renown. Sounds pretty much like we got the same kit, except for one thing; I have an additional 18"x18" floor tom. And a different finish. Same drum heads. I don't think the guy I bought it from played it very much or very hard.

 

I have played a Yamaha Stage Custom for a long time, and the Gretsch kit is now an additional kit. Actually the first time I've owned more than one kit. 

 

I bought this kit on a hunch, really. I've heard some great albums recorded with it, read some good reviews and in general I was attracted to the idea of getting a Gretsch or Ludwig kit. I got a good price on it, plus it included great hardware and soft bags.

 

I'm used to playing with racked toms over the kick and this setup will take som getting used to, but that's kinda what I'm after. I wanted something that was a little more rock, and challenged my style, so that when I alternate my kits it is for a purpose. I've always found a setup with one racked tom and a floor tom was hard because I'm not a big guy, with a big reach if you know what I mean. This kit will take some getting used to. :)

 

My first impression is "man, this kit is loud!"

I think the room I got to try it in is only a little bit at fault here. Where my Yamahas feel more subtle, the Gretsch is perhaps not as dynamic. There's a lot of tone and sustain to it. I like that, but right now I'm thinking it's a bit too much. If any of you have some advice to offer on this kit regarding heads and tuning, I'm all ears.

 

The 24" kick is a handful. I think I'm gonna have to pad it with a pillow or something. The response is totally different from what I'm used to. Hard to explain it, but I think I need less sloppiness.

Not totally satisfied with the snare either. Not sure what it was. It's easily played, that's for sure, but I didn't quite get it to sound how I prefer it. I spent some time tuning both heads in different fassions to see how it responded. Again, it's very loud. Perhaps wetter than I would like. I'm getting a Yamaha Elvin Jones snare in a few weeks.

 

These are just my impressions after a few hours playing the kit. So far I thought it was a lot of fun playing it, but I would perhaps hope for a little tighter sound. Although I definitely hear the unique qualities I've heard on recordings that made me look into this kit.

 

Please, do not hesitate to present any advice. I would love to hear from people who have experience with these kits. Do you pad or dampen your kit, to control volume and sustain more? Do you find any heads work better? Have you found any particular tuning makes the kit sound better/worse? I'm usually pretty conservative about padding and dampening drums though.


Edited by hansmarius, 22 March 2013 - 02:49 PM.

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#8
Dean

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welp Im gonna give you a big star on your forehead for doing research before you posted, Maple drums are loud and deep toned, birch are brighter, we have the renowns and the Cat birch set up right next to each other the renowns are markedly better imo.  Good luck with your new kit.


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#9
hansmarius

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Yeah, I am well aware of the difference between birch and maple. I am just pointing out that I thought the loudness felt a bit "exaggerated" at first. I've played maple kits several times, but when you are accustomed to a kit from playing it week after week, gig after gig, the difference can catch you off guard when you find yourself behind something new. :)


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#10
TommyWells

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They are no louder than the USA Custom drums. The only difference is that the Renowns are 100% maple, and the USA Customs are 3 plies of maple and 3 plies of gum, with the maple being the inner, outer and one of the center plies. They may be just the tiniest bit more focused in the midrange, when the same heads are used. But VERY close. I have used them both in the studios and they are so close that engineers don't usually notice which kit it is. (Was...)

Edited by TommyWells, 22 March 2013 - 07:18 PM.

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#11
ricco

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Great review, Tommy! Thanks.
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#12
TopHatJohnny

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Renowns are great drums. For the "Big Box" kits, so very hard to beat. I'm a big fan! 


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#13
RickP

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The Renowns are excellent drums, well made with some really nice finishes. The sonic differences between them and the USA Customs as Tommy said is very slight. There are some great deals on these kits out there right now. If you want the Gretsch sond but can't afford the price tag these would be a great option.
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#14
cochlea

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Does anyone know when the updated Renown kits introduced at Winter NAMM will be available?


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#15
Doof

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As for the snare question, spend some time with it.   I wasn't happy at all with it out of the box, but since it was 'free' with the shellpack, for the price I figured I wasn't out a lot if I didn't use it.  Now, I find it hard not to bring it out. 

 

Crank the reso tight and you will get a very pleasant 'pop' which just the proper amount of ring - if you like.  If you don't, a half piece of moongel on the edge overlapping that hoop will take care of it.

 

I'm sure Tommy can speak more for these snares, as I believe he has used/still uses them in studio sessions. 

 

The reviewer mentioned the round badge logo on the spur.   I too thought it was a nice touch when I was unpacking the kit.  I snapped a pic, it's not clear but you get the idea.

 

 

 

 

Attached Files


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#16
Stixnergard2

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Great kit, you can't go wrong with Renowns, 98% of what the USA Customs are!


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#17
hansmarius

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I'll work on it some more, thanks for the tip. :) 

I just got back from my rehearsal space. As soon as i got out of bed this morning I drove down there and spent 3,5 hours playing, tuning and having fun. Didn't even shower or brush my teeth before I went down there. 

 

The rehearsal space is new to me, so the room also takes some getting used to. Some of it is concrete. It seems my ears adapted to both the room and the drums today. I really enjoyed the sound today and got pretty close on how I like the snare. I love playing these drums, they're a lot of fun jamming with. And versatile too, when it comes to musical styles. Playing quieter tunes can be more challenging, but it sounds great imo. Looking forward to playing them in a band. :)


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#18
TommyWells

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My "main" snare drums in the recording studios these days are a black over brass 5 1/2" deep 4160 with 42 snares, a hammered brass 6/12,  and a 5 1/2 and a 6 1/2 Renown maple with the stock wires.  I have my personal favorite heads on them.  (Attack Terry Bozzio coated, with a dot/under, on the batter side.  Attack thin snare side on the reso side.)  I occasionally play a 4 x 14 as well, but don't play the 8" deep drums much these days.  I recently bought a new one for a specific producer/engineer and he loved it so much that he bought it from me.  So, I will play that drum when I'm working for him.  He's the only one asking for that deep of a snare drum these days.  BTW:  The FULL RANGE snare drum line is the same as the Renown snare drum,  when it comes to the maple drums.  The difference is that the Renowns are mostly made in the current finishes that match the drumsets.    

 

Hope this helps. 


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#19
skinsman

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For the life of me after having both sets now and the renown being the most recent, I would be shocked if anyone here could do a blindfold test and get it rights 100percent of the time. As far as fit and finish.....top shelf. Considering Catalina maples and where they fall I was not to hopeful about the Renowns, but after seeing them and playing them......wow is all I can say. For that matter even though the Catalina is down the line and an import, they still are better than a lot of stuff out there in that price bracket.
I think Gretsch Renowns are the most bang for the buck in their category.
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#20
K.O.

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I have three USA Custom sets but recently acquired a new Renown set and I am very impressed with them. The only downfall I see is they generally don't have standard depth bass drums (although my particular set does). Otherwise I'm not sure that the extra money spent towards a new USA Custom set over a similar Renown set would be worth it...at least sonically.

Edited by K.O., 23 March 2013 - 03:31 PM.

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