42 strand wires, Gretsch 4160, and snare cord

Seb77

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Few months ago, I got a COB Gretsch 5x14snare, with the special twist that it's got New Classic lugs. I guess the shell, and the snare beds, are the same as on the other COB issues Gretsch offers. Used a standard 20 stanrd wire set for a while, which was fine.

I was just curious to try the classic 42 strand wires, the set-up the original 4160 came with. With plastic straps on both ends, thre drums, sounded choked. I replaced one end with snare cord, and the drum opened up. (This is to say, snare cord mounted the standard way, not the the "snare addict"/M.Tarrani way, which, see this link, is highly questionable if you ask me: http://snaredrumz.blogspot.com/2010/03/how-to-properly-thread-snare-cord.html ). Snare cord mounted properly does pull the end plate edge away from the head, but it consequently pushes the wires into the head, that's simple mechanics. The wires thus require less tension to sit properly, whcih lead to a more open, full sound.

I used to think 42 strands tend to choke the drum, but it seems it's just a matter of mounting them, or a matter of snare beds, or rather, both in tandem. No special tuning of the bottom head ("Sounds like a drum" on yt had a video on this), just snare wires in proper contact with the snare side hea and the drum sounds crisp, fat, full etc. Gretsch knew what they were doing when they equipped this shell with 42 strand wires.
 
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SKINZ

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I have them on my 62 round badge 5 1/2 x 14 Black Diamond Pearl sound killer original snares :cool:
 

Seb77

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The 42 Wide band was no doubt created to bring some life and zest into these otherwise dead and boxy sounding snare drums

as he ducks and runs lol lol
:) Maybe it has to do with the tube lugs (I had a hunch when I bought it): the NC version doesn't sound boxy at all to my ear, see my snare shootout thread. With a narrower wire set, there was more tone - and less wire, obviously.
 

Seb77

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what in your opinion is the optimal way to string snares?
There are two way you can thread the cord through the mounting holes on the end plates: coming from the strainer or butt end, it can go in between the head and the end plate (what I consider the standard), or you could end up with the end plate in-between head and cord, see the link above - which imo wouldn't work well.

The fallacy is to think the end plates, or even the snare wires, need to be flush againts the head over the whole length. My ears tell me this is not that important. It's the pressure of the wires against the head that matters (see for example the mechanism on the LP micro snare).
 

Johnny K

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Few months ago, I got a COB Gretsch 5x14snare, with the special twist that it's got New Classic lugs. I guess the shell, and the snare beds, are the same as on the other COB issues Gretsch offers. Used a standard 20 stanrd wire set for a while, which was fine.

I was just curious to try the classic 42 strand wires, the set-up the original 4160 came with. With plastic straps on both ends, thre drums, sounded choked. I replaced one end with snare cord, and the drum opened up. (This is to say, snare cord mounted the standard way, not the the "snare addict"/M.Tarrani way, which, see this link, is highly questionable if you ask me: http://snaredrumz.blogspot.com/2010/03/how-to-properly-thread-snare-cord.html ). Snare cord mounted properly does pull the end plate edge away from the head, but it consequently pushes the wires into the head, that's simple mechanics. The wires thus require less tension to sit properly, whcih lead to a more open, full sound.

I used to think 42 strands tend to choke the drum, but it seems it's just a matter of mounting them, or a matter of snare beds, or rather, both in tandem. No special tuning of the bottom head ("Sounds like a drum" on yt had a video on this), just snare wires in proper contact with the snare side hea and the drum sounds crisp, fat, full etc. Gretsch knew what they were doing when they equipped this shell with 42 strand wires.
Good to know. I just bought a new 4160. Stock with 42 strand snare and Gretsch branded Permatone heads. I pulled it out of the box and it sounded like wrong sounding Muppets compared to the vintage 60's 4160 I played at Maxwell's Drum Shop back in May. (I guess I should have bought it...but anyway). I have replaced the plastic straps with cloth straps I had on hand and re-headed the drum with new Ambassdor Vintage batter and a Diplomat Hazy snare. It sounds much better and sounds great if you hit it dead center. When I hit it off center I get annoying wire buzz. I have some cord so I will try that next to see if that will help. If not, I'm going to try a Prosound 20 wire strand like I have on my Catalina maple snare with the same heads. Otherwise, I love this snare.
 

bongomania

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I use all different types and sizes of wires and ribbon/cord, depending on the drum. For my Gretsch bronze, the best combo I found was Fat Cat 30 strand, "with pitch" (bent endplates) and grosgrain ribbon. It gives plenty of snap and sizzle, without any choking or too much buzz/rattle. If 30 is too much for you, try their 24.
 

Johnny K

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Following up. I ended up going with a Pure Sound 24 strand brass strainer and cord. Sound great! Great snare for cross sitck and brush play with the Ambassador 2 ply Vintage Coated head I put on it. I was hoping the Pure Sound ribbon would fit but they are to wide for the Lightning throw off spacing, leading me to my next question. Is it worth bying a genuine Gretsch Micro Sensitive TO and butt plate? I have to say I'm not really a fan of the Lighting TO, but I am getting used to it the more I play with it. Also, just asking to ask, when did they ditch the internal muffler on the 4160?
 
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bongomania

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The new design of Micro Sensitive is excellent, really easy and ergonomic to use. I don’t know if it has the same hole spacing as the Lightning.
 

K.O.

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The new design of Micro Sensitive is excellent, really easy and ergonomic to use. I don’t know if it has the same hole spacing as the Lightning.
It does not.

I much prefer snare cord to straps. I've also found that the proper way to run the cord is counter-intuitive to what would seem like the best manner. If I run the cord so it doesn't contact the head then the tension seems to make the snare wires bow out away from the head surface. If I run the cords under the snare plates then over the middle the tension seems to push the snares against the head. Some brands of snares have little tubular divets formed in them to facilitate running the cord this way without it being pushed against the head but I'm not sure it makes a big difference either way.

Last summer I bought a 60s COB Gretsch snare that came with a 42 strand snare unit which I believe is original equipment. I did replace the micro throw with a new one (a new one came as part of the purchase deal since the original didn't function) but have otherwise left it alone as it sounds pretty awesome.
 

Seb77

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How did they mount 42s in the 60s? Anyone got a pic?
Just revisited this older thread, and did a picture search: seems like they used plastic straps in the 60s already.

from

See also this special version, supposedly all original:

from
 

Markkuliini

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Metoo! Not a fan of 42's. Also, grosgrain ribbon for me. My 2 cents.
Usually I don't go for wider than 20 strands, on most drums 42's don't work at all.
BUT...I just learned this after getting a Gretsch belll brass that some drums the 42's really work amazingly well! You need to have the patience not to overtighten them and also tune the drum so that it has good "oomph" and body.
When you have it dialed in, It makes a great rock sound, it sounds like it has nice reverb tail to it. But it really requires a certain tension to wires and certain way how to hit the drum. It's not a set it and forget it-type of deal.

Just take listen to this practically new Gretsch 4160 that I just got 2 weeks ago. It was okay with 20 strands but nothing to write home about. I was thinking if I should sell it, but then I decided to try it with 42's, and boom, it suddenly transferred into this GREAT backbeat drum. I just love how it sounds now!
Yeah, it's not the most versatile setup, you cannot get lots of definition or separation to your busier playing. But for this kind of playing it works great in my opinion.

 

Treviso1

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Metoo! Not a fan of 42's. Also, grosgrain ribbon for me. My 2 cents.
It's funny because in general, I am not a fan of 42 strands either, but I do have a few Gretsch snares that just sound so good with them that I won't mess with them. John Bonham used 42 strands on his LM402 and that is pretty much the Holy Grail of snare sounds.
 

Seb77

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When you have it dialed in, It makes a great rock sound, it sounds like it has nice reverb tail to it.
...
you cannot get lots of definition or separation to your busier playing. But for this kind of playing it works great in my opinion.
That's good to hear, I was thinking of rock context as well, going back to 42 strand to brighten up the sound in order not to have to rely on eq, or an extra snare bottom mic. In the driver's seat I like hearing a certain snare sound that is balanced in terms of low/mid/high sound, but recording myself more, I found in the end I actually prefer a brighter sound.
 


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