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