Can old gretschs be tuned low?

niles

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You can do all as said of the above, Or as us oldtimers did, before all the fancy shmansy drumhead options available today, split the seam on the drum hoop so the head would expand around the shell, so you dont have to get the circular saw out to trim the shell, LOL. Or contact Jack Lawton, he is the guy who did all the work on Charlie Watts set, I'm sure he can give you information , to correct your situation , Niles
 

ARGuy

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The shell is pretty consistently round. Sat flat on a table and the edges seem to be in the same shape they left the factory.
I had a SS badge tom that was like your drum. The factory edges were in great shape. The problem was, they looked great but almost had snare beds, something I didn't find out until I took them to a guy that did edges. Once the edges were leveled and recut the drum sounded great.
 

retrosonic

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If the drum measures across both ways to be in the round, then the problem must be in the bearing edges.
 

JDA

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I went looking for the lowest tensioned Gretsch drum set in the History of the World


So far I haven't gotten out of Pittsburgh..
and it was a Broadkaster 3P
 
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1988fxlr

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If the drum measures across both ways to be in the round, then the problem must be in the bearing edges.
Found my problem. Shell is oversized so regular heads aren’t seating correctly. Going to shave down the outer veneer and hopefully that will work
 

1988fxlr

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I went looking for the lowest tensioned Gretsch drum set in the History of the World


So far I haven't got out of Pittsburgh..
and it was a Broadkaster 3P
So if I take it to Pittsburgh it’ll tune lower?
 

niles

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Also please post photos or videos of the process that you are going to undertake. I may need it for future reference. Thanks Niles
 

1988fxlr

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Also please post photos or videos of the process that you are going to undertake. I may need it for future reference. Thanks Niles
This is a no budget rehab of some very rough drums that came out of the garbage on a rainy day. I don’t recommend my intended method when I get time to implement it. I’m just gonna take the outer veneer down with a rasp, file, and sandpaper down far enough for heads to seat. The shell is about 13 3/32 all around so it shouldn’t need major butchery but I’m aiming for decent looking 10 footers that will tune properly, not a perfect resto
 

DamnSingerAlsoDrums

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This is a no budget rehab of some very rough drums that came out of the garbage on a rainy day. I don’t recommend my intended method when I get time to implement it. I’m just gonna take the outer veneer down with a rasp, file, and sandpaper down far enough for heads to seat. The shell is about 13 3/32 all around so it shouldn’t need major butchery but I’m aiming for decent looking 10 footers that will tune properly, not a perfect resto
So this isn't sarcasm? You fully intend to file down the shells without trying vintage-fit heads? I mean they're your drums and all, but even with a dumpster find set I'd try the no elbow-grease option first.
 

niles

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In all seriousness, before you cut the shell, no matter the condition of it, Especially a old Gretsch Shell. first take a old head and break or cut the hoop (collar), with a hacksaw. Try that old trick. Its the collar that is giving you the problem, not the head. The head will stretch and seat the bearing edge. Had to do it myself years ago, on Gretsch and Slingerland drums. Niles
 

1988fxlr

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So this isn't sarcasm? You fully intend to file down the shells without trying vintage-fit heads? I mean they're your drums and all, but even with a dumpster find set I'd try the no elbow-grease option first.
I would rather put in a bit of effort and be done with it instead of being stuck with a limited selections of single ply heads forever. This drum was a walnut finished drum originally so I assume that the outermost veneer was applied after the shell was made much as a wrap would be. If this drum were to be properly refinished at some point the damaged old veneer would need to be stripped anyway so I’m not too worried about stripping back 1/2-5/8” of it from either edge. The shell is only 3/32” oversized, that means 3/64” to be removed at any given part of the shell. I doubt I will actually need to remove any material beyond the already ruined veneer
 

1988fxlr

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Heads will seat without too much pressure now. Still a little snug but more akin to old slingerlands I’ve had that would take modern heads without issue. Going to do a few more passes with 220 to allow a light coat of paint to protect the wood and they should be good to go. The outer veneer was incredibly thick on this shell so no blow throughs luckily. They will still make an ok candidate down the road for a more intensive restoration project but should definitely be alright for a players drum for the time being.

appreciate all the input
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1988fxlr

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Also please post photos or videos of the process that you are going to undertake. I may need it for future reference. Thanks Niles
Forgot to take pictures of the actual process but there really wasn’t much to see. I used a fine toothed 4 way rasp and did very light passes with the grain, checking to see if a head would go on without stress after every few passes. Once the head would go on I used the file side of the four way to smooth out the wood- always going with the grain, then cleaned it up with 220 grit. I’m sure I could have done a much more precise and faster job with the table router at work but any bot of chatter or poor adjustment could have have made a bigger issue. Much easier to remove material than add. Hand tools are slow but very little risk of overshooting your intensions
 
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toddbishop

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Replace that warped hoop first of all. I played Gretsch drums (sets from the early 60s and late 80s) for ~ the first 30 years of my career-- I think you need to redo the bearing edges to get a decent low sound. Still it won't quite be that punchy Yamaha type studio sound everyone wants.

he detunes the small toms down then up
Always detension the drum and tune up to the pitch you want.
 

RIDDIM

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The simple answer is of course they can. I've played Gretsch drums since 1974. I currently own 7 vintage Gretsch kits and they are all tuned low for Rock settings. Most of the kits are standard size 13/16/22 configuration and I'm able to get the toms to a nice low tuning. I suggest you take your drums to someone who knows what they're doing. I thought my edges were all fine, but after having several of my kits worked on, the difference in the tuning range is night and day. Regular Coated Ambassadors on top and Clear Ambassadors on bottom is the magic recipe.

Jeff Porcaro recorded 95% of the time on Gretsch drums and always had big, fat, low tunings. Charlie Watts has been using Gretsch since 1968 and there are a lot of Stones records with low toms. There's a reason so many people use Gretsch in the studio - they have a wide tuning range. If you can't get your 13" tom to tune lower, there's something wrong it. Good luck.
My experiences match John's, except I don't have 7 Gretsch kits (my garage is too small). I've owned Gretsch, Tama Superstar (1978), Sonor Phonic, and Tempus kits; edgework was needed on all of them. All benefitted substantially from it. That said, if they're done right, you will have a serious instrument that sings at all tuning ranges.

The only kit I've had which came from the factory with perfect edges was a Canopus RFM maple.
 

1988fxlr

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What’s the edge cut on your drum? Outside In or Inside Out. I’ve seen Gretsch drums with both cuts at different times. Out to In will force a higher tone.
Missed this reply. The edges are cut as a round over on the outside. Now that heads can seat freely hopefully I’ll get the low range back. Gotta wait for some paint to cure before I can find out. Thanks
 


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