Steven, I could not agree more! You nailed it.I've always found a beater kit to be pretty essential for some of the gigging I do.
(outdoor events; parties, rodeos, questionable festivals, beerjoints, etc...)
I like to keep a full gigging calendar - which often means playing a few hellish locations every year for the bread.. Get in, do the job and get out, asap.
I've actually had lots of pretty darn nice beater kits that I've never felt compromised my ability or sound as a professional musician. I eventually sold most of them thru the years. I suppose now my Rogers XP-8 is the current "beater" rig.
They sound incredible and the cortex wrap is nearly indestructible. They go with me almost anywhere now and I take good care of them... but I save my pristine lacquer finish kits for the grade-A gigs and I'm fine with that.