This is slow evolution... wood finishes began to proliferate... at some point the tom tom and floor tom bearing edge reversed itself ( experts will know ex when) but evolution in brackets, Finish colors, shift away from pearls an emphasis on wood finishes...Are there any structural, material, or other real differences between say a 60’s RB and a 70’s SSB?
Quality control seemed to become somewhat lax for all the American drum companies by the late 70s. That is one reason why the Japanese drum makers suddenly gained so much of the market. Gretsch in particular had issues because they continued to use outdated hardware designs well after other companies had upgraded theirs. Those slipping floor tom leg brackets had been there for Round Badge owners as well (and you can still order them on a tom today if you so desire). When Gretsch did "modernize" their tom mounting system it was to the unfortunately clunky and aptly named Monster design. Still the drums themselves were generally good (with some exceptions slipping through) and retained their classic sound. People who wanted Gretsch drums often bought just the bare shell pack and had other mounting hardware, legs, and spurs installed. Eventually they did get things turned around. The wood finishes Gretsch started to offer were pretty spectacular looking and by the early 1980s they finally developed hardware on par with their competition. Despite the rocky road they did manage to survive through it all, which is more than Rogers and Slingerland were able to do.Well, I don't really know, but I believe it's generally accepted that Baldwin era drums had the worst quality control. Again, I can't say for sure, but I think that era is mid to late '70's.
Certainly my '78 SSB drums had lots of problems: non-existent bearing edges, an out-of-round 12" tom, slipping floor tom mounts, the sometimes problematic self-tapping screws and the "Monster" tom mounts with giant holes in the drums.
But others have said their SSB's are excellent.