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Any Gretsch Broadkaster players out there?

smythe5

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I recently scored this Gretsch Broadkaster bop set and am loving their sound. VERY melodious and resonant. I had a Gretsch kit from the 70's in bigger sizes that I sold (sadly) so I could find something in smaller sizes, (I mostly play jazz). So far, I feel like these drums compare really well with the vintage stuff. I have a friend with two stop sign badge bop kits and he's in love with my drums. I've been told that the Broadkasters of the 90's were actually the very last drums made by Jasper. I believe this because for a minute I had a USA Maple set made around 2001 that was really disappointing in sound and build quality. These Broadkasters look and feel much, much higher quality. Anyway, I'm curious if anyone else plays these? How long did Gretsch make them? Are they really the last of the Jasper shells? Do they compare in your opinion with the vintage stuff?
 

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Bigsecret

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I have a Broadkaster kit in rosewood - 10-12-14 and 16x22 bass drum (wish I could find a matching 16" floor tom). That was my first Gretsch kit and I would never sell it. Some dislike the gunmetal finish. I like the earthy understated look. That kit was my initiation to Gretsch drums and the first time I gigged with them I got it.

I also have a newer USA Custom and two different guitar players have told me the Broadkaster kit sounds better even though the newer USA shells are supposed to be the same formula. It may be that the Broadkaster shells are 1 inch deeper all around. It's is a great sounding kit that always gets compliments.
 

Skyrm

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As far as I know, those are the exact same Jasper shells as the customs. It was an attempt to get the Gretsch sound on a slightly cheaper kit, but using the gunmetal hardware finish, limited sizes and the matte finishes.

If I could find a set cheap, I'd get them. :)
 

TommyWells

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They are not the last of the Jasper shells. And the new Keller shells are exactly the same as the 6 ply maple/gum Jasper shells. The Jasper shells made it into the 2000s, before the Jasper Company got out of the drum shell business instead of updating their shell making equipment.

Broadkasters, as stated above, were made to be just a notch less expensive than the USA Customs drums. This was acheived by offering them in satin finishes only, which is far less labor intensive than a gloss lacquer finish. Plus the gunmetal hardware. Gretsch had a stockpile of blemished chrome hardware. The gunmetal finish was a way to reclaim and use this stockpile of unusable hardware. It was much more inexpensive to do the gunmetal finish on it than use new chrome hardware. Other than the finish of the drumshell and the hardware, those are exactly the same drums as a USA Custom, and sound exactly the same.
 

smythe5

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They are not the last of the Jasper shells. And the new Keller shells are exactly the same as the 6 ply maple/gum Jasper shells. The Jasper shells made it into the 2000s, before the Jasper Company got out of the drum shell business instead of updating their shell making equipment.

Broadkasters, as stated above, were made to be just a notch less expensive than the USA Customs drums. This was acheived by offering them in satin finishes only, which is far less labor intensive than a gloss lacquer finish. Plus the gunmetal hardware. Gretsch had a stockpile of blemished chrome hardware. The gunmetal finish was a way to reclaim and use this stockpile of unusable hardware. It was much more inexpensive to do the gunmetal finish on it than use new chrome hardware. Other than the finish of the drumshell and the hardware, those are exactly the same drums as a USA Custom, and sound exactly the same.


Thanks for the info. I've heard some of those points from another person here, about the reason for the gunmetal, etc. Well, in my opinion, these drums DO sound different than the USA customs I used to have. Just a tad warmer and more resonant. When I took the heads off these Broadkasters, the craftsmanship of the shells and bearing edges just looked a tad finer. Plus there were build quality issues with the USA's - mainly the bass drum hoops were too thick and I was unable to tune them with my drum key without making in indentation on the hoops! Pretty crappy. I'm sure this could be attributed to just the occasional lemon slipping through, but still, that was my experience. Of course, I'm nitpicking.
 

JCKOriollo

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I owned the USA maple which was like the broadcasters without the gunmetal hardware. It sounded great, but I sold because I was after bigger sizes

I'd love to find a broadcaster in a 13,16,24 in the walnut.
 

TommyWells

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In the factory in Ridgeland, S.C., the Broadkasters and the USA customs were made on the same little assembly line. There was no clear lacquer applied to the Broadkasters, just the satin stain finish, and the hardware came out of a different bin. That is the only difference. At the time, only 6 or 7 people were working in the drum factory, and they all made the same drums out of the same shells, and the bearing edges were cut by the same person on the same machine. The finishes were done by the same people. It is a little place. So Broadkasters and USA Custom drums of that time period are identical with the exception of the finish and re-plated gunmetal hardware.

You MAY have had an older USA Custom drumset that was made by the Baldwin Company in Arkansas. That was a different time, different drum builders and a different Gretsch Drum Company. The shells came from Jasper, but then they were turned into drums by a different set of people and sold by Baldwin. If they were from that era, all I can say is, they weren't well finished, in all likelihood. There were a lot of untrained and partially trained people making drums in Arkansas, and Baldwin didn't have a good product manager to make it happen. A bad era for Gretsch. They made good drums before and after the Baldwin era. If you have a Baldwin era Gretsch set, let them be re-furbished by a great drum builder. Sam Bacco is the best at doing this with Gretsch drums that I have ever seen. Sam is the principal percussionist with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra. He has also worked with Gretsch on special projects, as well as was production manager for Slingerland in Nashville. A very talented and smart drum guy.
 

smythe5

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In the factory in Ridgeland, S.C., the Broadkasters and the USA customs were made on the same little assembly line. There was no clear lacquer applied to the Broadkasters, just the satin stain finish, and the hardware came out of a different bin. That is the only difference. At the time, only 6 or 7 people were working in the drum factory, and they all made the same drums out of the same shells, and the bearing edges were cut by the same person on the same machine. The finishes were done by the same people. It is a little place. So Broadkasters and USA Custom drums of that time period are identical with the exception of the finish and re-plated gunmetal hardware.

You MAY have had an older USA Custom drumset that was made by the Baldwin Company in Arkansas. That was a different time, different drum builders and a different Gretsch Drum Company. The shells came from Jasper, but then they were turned into drums by a different set of people and sold by Baldwin. If they were from that era, all I can say is, they weren't well finished, in all likelihood. There were a lot of untrained and partially trained people making drums in Arkansas, and Baldwin didn't have a good product manager to make it happen. A bad era for Gretsch. They made good drums before and after the Baldwin era. If you have a Baldwin era Gretsch set, let them be re-furbished by a great drum builder. Sam Bacco is the best at doing this with Gretsch drums that I have ever seen. Sam is the principal percussionist with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra. He has also worked with Gretsch on special projects, as well as was production manager for Slingerland in Nashville. A very talented and smart drum guy.


Thanks again Tommy! I wonder, where did you acquire so much inside Gretsch info? Word of mouth? Is there a good online source or book to read? I'm interested.

The drums I had were called USA Maples. They were the slightly less expensive custom built drums featuring the classic shells made after the Broadkasters. Around 2001 or so. Aside from the bass drum hoops and cheapo taiwanese looking die cast hoops, slightly rough bearing edges on some drums, they were pretty nice. I sold them a long time ago.
A note on refinishing: My friend bought a 70's Gretsch bop kit that had a snare that had refinished bearing edges so that the shell was even thinner. It is the nicest and most responsive Gretsch snare I've ever played. I wonder if it was done by Sam Bacco?
 

Bigsecret

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I think the USA Maples were the replacement for the Broadkaster. Same satin finish only, in limited sizes, had a pewter badge and a little less expensive. They must have run out of blemished hardware and didn't need to the use the gun metal powder coat any longer. But still the same Jasper shells as far as I know. I also think some of the early ones came with triple flange hoops.

Loving my Broadkaster kit I bought another kit - USA Custom - from Fork's. If I didn't visit this board regularly I wouldn't have known to ask about having Sam Bacco check out the edges. I paid a little extra to have Sam Bacco fine tune the edges before the drums were shipped. Exceptional sounding kit.
 

K.O.

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Thanks again Tommy! I wonder, where did you acquire so much inside Gretsch info? Word of mouth? Is there a good online source or book to read? I'm interested.

Tommy is a Nashville studio cat and a long time Gretsch endorser...so he knows a thing or two about these drums.
 

TommyWells

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Thanks K.O.

Smythe5: And I've known Sam Bacco for years as well as Paul Cooper, the production manager at Gretsch. Also, my friend and drumshop owner, Gary Forkum is a Gretsch expert. Gary and Sam have the enterprise known as GRETSCH CENTRAL. 100% refurbished old Gretsch drums. I am also old enough to have lived through the many Gretsch periods. Fortunately, we are a great time for Gretsch drums right now.

Also, the USA Maples were the first drums that had Jasper shells, were built in the USA, but had the import hardware. Now ALL Gretsch drums including USA Customs have the import hardware. The fact is, the import hardware turned out to be better than the old USA made hardware. The die-cast hoops, the chrome is better. The lugs are springless, therefore noiseless. So, it was just smart to change over 100%. The first USA Maples, and thi was the very 1st batch only, had the Gibraltar triple flanged hoops on them. Nothing wrong with that. They sounded a little different because of that, but were all Jasper shells. I had a USA Maple kit and it was absolutely great for that time of my career. 18 x 22 bass drum and the 10, 12, toms were power toms and the 14 and 16 were nice floor toms. I play different sized drums now, as the recording world that I live in moved to larger diameter, shallower depth toms and bass drums.
 

Thwack

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About 10 years our local music shop had a nice set of Broadkasters they were selling at 1/2 price to move out. I never pulled the trigger and have been sorry ever since...
Someone got a great deal.
 

smythe5

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Thanks again for the info Tommy. I was in a similar boat with wanting to go back to the shallower bass drum size. I am primarily a jazz player, have been on the local scene in san francisco for close to 15 years. For years I used a 20" bass drum and then the usa maple kit i had had an 18x16 bass drum that just never felt right. The broadkaster bass drum is 18x14, just like the pearl kit i had when i was a kid. For me, the shallower bass drum is a bit more responsive. I also prefer a 22x14 when im playing rock. Indeed, i am very satisfied with the broadkasters, feel like i scored a decent deal, and have gotten many comiments on them on gigs, both the sound and look. All the best, Smith Dobson
 

JCKOriollo

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Great info tommy. I didn't know a lot of that and I owned USA maples as well. Thank you!
 


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