Gretsch “playboy” advice, sound comparison

Framecode

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I bought an gretsch us custom kit in 10/13/16 last year for about 1000$ (Canadian no less, insane deal) & I’ve mostly loved it, except for the tiny kick drum, which I’ve struggled to find a tuning that actually feels good to play while also sounding good. I’m currently waiting on new heads for the kick (coated ambassador &fiberskin) to see if that corrects the issue I’m having with it (feels too tight/ burying the beater even slightly makes it sound like a cardboard box. The toms, even at 10&13, are by far the nicest drums I’ve played in my entire life. Mostly sees use in free improv contexts, tho im trying to learn bop drumming as well.

Currently I’m considering three options:
1 - find a way to adjust tuning and technique & keep the kit
2 - keep the kit & get an 18” gretsch floor Tom to convert to a kick and only use the 16” kick for contexts where it’s the exact thing I need
3 - sell the kit & get a 12/14/18 kit of similar quality (gretsch/yamaha/Canopus are the main contenders for me rn, not really sure what will be the best tonal match)

If I end up selling this, what is it actually worth? ( good condition, only cosmetic issue is snare rim rub on the rack tom). I’ve seen a few reverb listings of similar gretsch kits for way above what I paid but I also know that reverb isn’t necessarily the best measuring stick. The ideal would be a direct trade / trade with money but I don’t know what to value it at.

Here’s some badly lit photos from the jamspace.
 

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mtarrani

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I own the Brooklyn micro kit (exact same sizes) and do not use a riser. Out of the box the bass drum was pretty good. But I play heel down, don't bury the beater and always use a Vater Vintage Bomber (fluffy beater.)

You alluded to the bass drum working in specific contexts. If that is the case if I were in your position I would opt for choice #2, keep the kit & get an 18” gretsch floor Tom to convert to a kick and only use the 16” kick for contexts where it’s the exact thing I need

If you were to sell the kit, though, put it up for sale at the same price as the Brooklyn kit with the same specs. It's sure to move.
 

JDA

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Sell them . They are 6P ( ply) shell not 3P Broadkaster, right?

16" bass (I have a converted 16X16 RB I use) needn't be "tight" It's just a smaller sound. Higher thump. But quieter.
You can hear Jack Dejohnette play live a 20" deep 16" head Hollywood set .
Look up "What I say" from Miles davis Lp Live-Evil.
about as good as it'll get- there's drum solo and groove on the track...)
 
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Framecode

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6 ply im pretty sure. Die cast rims etc. I think its a 13x16? maybe 12 deep? Havent measured. Right now it has a PS3 as the batter head and another 2 ply batter on the reso (the gretsch branded reso with a hole started to rip where the protection grommet was).
 

JDA

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and another 2 ply batter on the reso
get rid of that (imo)
too much muffling) of dear volume you'll need.

and on the other- batter side- a One ply coated Amb. type is what I use. With a (very) small towel wrapped behind a pedal upright.
1 ply coated front and back. Towel muffle. Is about it.

It's funk. Not a Mustang Sally dance band drum.
(not that it can't be done but you might scare someone ; )
 
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AaronLatos

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If those toms really work for you to the point of being "the nicest drums" you've had, I'd avoid getting rid of them unless you want to be chasing that sound for ages.

Sounds like the kick just isn't your thing for every gig. No surprise, it's a 16". I own two 16s and they're both great for certain gigs... but I also own an 18, a couple 20s, three 22s, a 26, a 28, a 32... :)

Can you describe the sound you want (or provide a recorded example) for some of the gigs where this drum doesn't cut it?

With drums that lovely and lifetime-quality, I would suggest being patient, saving pennies, and buying an exactly matching bass drum in a larger size. (Maybe a 12x or 14x 18"... or even skipping 18" and going to 20", since there will be a lot of overlap between 16" and 18"). In the meantime, try to play as many Gretsch kicks as you can to pinpoint what size you want. Any USA customs, Brooklyn or broadcaster you try will sound relatively close, though I think a playboy broadcaster is probably the warmest and juiciest combination. :)

I'll also say that personally, I have a really nice (natural maple, too!) kit built from Ludwig maple-poplar 4-ply kit in 8x10, 8x12, 12x13, 16x16. I wish I had cut the 16" down to 13" deep, and if I built/bought another kick, I'd want it to be shallower. I find that with toms so small and concise sounding, deep bass drums take more muffling than I'd like to get the blend I want from a jazz kit. I don't really love how deep bass drums blend with an acoustic bass, too rumbly, but that's me.
 

AaronLatos

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6 ply im pretty sure. Die cast rims etc. I think its a 13x16? maybe 12 deep? Havent measured. Right now it has a PS3 as the batter head and another 2 ply batter on the reso (the gretsch branded reso with a hole started to rip where the protection grommet was).
Oh yeah! This came through after I started writing. Start here. That's a lot of head on such a small drum.

Try an ambassador on the front before you do anything else, then try switching the batter to a coated ambassador with a 3" square piece of felt/paper towel taped to it near the edge.
 

Framecode

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get rid of that (imo)
too much muffling) of dear volume you'll need.

and on the other- batter side- a One ply coated Amb. type is what I use. With a (very) small towel wrapped behind a pedal upright.
1 ply coated front and back. Towel muffle. Is about it.

It's funk. Not a Mustang Sally dance band drum.
(not that it can't be done but you might scare someone ; )
yeah, waiting on a coated ambassador for batter and a fiberskin for the reso.
 
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Framecode

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one consideration too, is that i like using toms as resonators for bells / cymbals / etc, extended technique sort of stuff, and I find the 13 and 10 can be a bit small for accommodating that. T

heres a set of MIJ oak customs in vancouver in 10/12/14/18 that seem pretty appealing for about 1600 (maybe too high?) that i was considering https://centurydrumshop.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/IMG_8106.jpg . Not sure how the oak compares to the maple? Mostly want resonant toms that have a relatively wide tuning range. Tend towards higher pitched (ed blackwell / max roach territory) but like the option of tuning lower that a 14 would provide.

Big issue with the 16 is that I find it pretty unplayable without a riser, while an 18 works well without one for jazz (& honestly seems like a lot of bop players played higher than center head anyway, seemingly contributing to the tone that elvin / tony got???).
 
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ThomasL

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yeah, waiting on a coated ambassador for batter and a fiberskin for the reso.
Yeah. Then add a moleskin pad where the beater hits. Makes the attack rounder and more forgiving.

The drum is probably 14" deep. I'd start by tuning both heads the same or the reso a bit higher.
 

ThomasL

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Mostly want resonant toms that have a relatively wide tuning range (wow doesnt everyone). Tend towards higher pitched (ed blackwell / max roach territory) but like the option of tuning lower that a 14 would provide.
I would call Gretsch toms quite dry and dark sounding, not resonant, and they clearly favor higher tuning.
 

Framecode

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I would call Gretsch toms quite dry and dark sounding, not resonant, and they clearly favor higher tuning.
I guess this depends on how we're defining bright? With how mine are tuned (higher on top, lower reso) I have a really clear initial attack and, depending on interval, a pretty round sustained not. Would you call the brightness the amount of harmonics vs the fundamental? I feel like my tama superstars are quite "harmonicey" but because of how I tune them I percieve it as a warmth or darkness rather than brightness.
 

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Its a very pretty matching kit you love the toms on, so before doing anything more drastic and expensive I would keep experimenting with heads.

The ambassador you have coming should help with volume on the little drum. I’ve never liked a two ply resonant on any bass drum I’ve tried it on other than my 26” which can use the extra control more than the 16”.

I would definitely try out the two ply you have on the resonant as the batter and a/b it against the ambassador you have coming to point you toward the perfect of option.

On my 17x12” Heads are kind of hard to find, and I don’t want to invest too much into it, so I haven’t experimented too much but so far I prefer a two ply batter with single ply resonant the most. If I could find a 17” pinstripe or hydraulic I think it would be perfect wide open
 

Framecode

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It would be really nice to make this a forever kit. I dont like the spurs or tom mount at all & would love to change them out, but I'm definitely wary to do anything to reduce the resale value of it when im not that attached to it yet.
 

JDA

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Sell them you can always come back to them later in your drum "life".
 

AaronLatos

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Oak vs Gretsch... first thing you gotta remember is that Gretsch, be they USAs, Broadcasters or BK, aren't all maple. They're maple and a softer wood.

In college, there was a time I played 12/14/18 Yamahas in Oak, Birch, Beech all weekly for a couple years, and heard a friend's Maples regularly. So I have opinions, haha. Oak had the most individual character by a mile. I didn't like them then and quite like them now.

Oak might be interesting for you given how you described your ideal tone. They're really centered and resonant, "hard" sounding. Loads of clarity. They give back what you put in. They are transparent, demanding drums: your touch is amplified without much on top. Because of that, they project soft playing really clearly if you have the touch, and if you lay into them, they'll blow your ears off. Big tuning range, can do the Blackwell thing well, and particularly nice for extended technique.

I heard a really loud player totally bury a 21-piece big band on that kit more than once.

The kicks on those are sometimes really deep and hard to tame but if that's a 15x18 or shallower it'll probably work for you in a jazz context. My friend had a 17x20 that was not a particularly versatile drum.

Try em if you can. They're pretty wild.
 

Framecode

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1600 cad + shipping seem good for the Yamaha’s or should I hold out for someone selling theirs on here? I feel like I’ve seen similar size sets go for less, but they also don’t seem that common. This got me convinced I think.
 

ThomasL

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I guess this depends on how we're defining bright? With how mine are tuned (higher on top, lower reso) I have a really clear initial attack and, depending on interval, a pretty round sustained not. Would you call the brightness the amount of harmonics vs the fundamental? I feel like my tama superstars are quite "harmonicey" but because of how I tune them I percieve it as a warmth or darkness rather than brightness.
Using words to describe sounds can be confusing. You know what your drums sound like. I was just wondering whether you are looking for the same sound in bigger sizes, or something with a wider tuning range and more sustain.
 
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JDA

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quick16two 002.JPG


cymbals: Type IV OS old K 16" left
right cymbal.....22" A ....after the 1:32 mark 2-stick click.... Old K NS 22" (as pictured)
 
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