Gretsch Drum Lines Compared To Others


DFO Master
Double Platinum Supporting Member
Dec 28, 2010
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I have owned a remarkably large number and variety of drum kits over the years.
It’s been a lot of fun trying out the drums of my youth and such.
There have been a few that moved me and I remember them fondly.

I finally picked up a real Gretsch kit (1980) … thanks to a very sweet member here.
I’ve read the copy … heck, I’ve even read the books … it’s supposed to have a great sound.

I’ve been connecting with it over the past few months.
I honestly didn’t expect it to play and sound this good … or “great” … but it sure does.
Phenomenal feel.
Outstanding sound.
Soft touch or power hits … just a really cool feel under the stick.

Now … the bummer.
I can’t imagine looking for another Gretsch (USA line equivalent) kit.
I’ve got one that is sweet.
The sound is great.
I‘m not much for owning the same shells with different finishes … it’s redundant.

So … how do the other Gretsch lines compare? Broadcaster and Brooklyn?
Anyway … is there an across the aisle kinda comparison out there?
I’ve seen the side by side video comparing the Gretsch lines.
That doesn’t really answer my question.
I’m curious what builders they are closest to.
Such as … one line sounds like a “better” 3ply Ludwig? Maybe?
That kinda thing.

I’d be interested in researching it and considering those if they measure up to other sweet shells.
Appreciate the input.

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That's Me, The Silent Son
Mar 16, 2018
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Drumline in the Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging
If I understand your premise correctly, I can think of four examples of when somebody else sounded like a line from Gretsch.

I've cynically imagined that the Gretsch Brooklyns were Gretsch's way of saying, "Oh, you say you prefer the Ludwig sound? Okay, we can build that."

Reputedly, the specs on the original series of Gretsch Renowns (RN1) were modified into the RN2 version once Gretsch realized, "Oops, we accidentally made a more affordable version of the USA Custom. Maybe we should swerve this Gretsch line into its own lane."

One DFO member once observed astutely that, whenever Noble & Cooley CD Maples are released with die cast hoops, they sound like Gretsch (USA Customs) on steroids." A few months after he said that, a drum shop uploaded this clip, and I was convinced he was right.

For months, I kept waiting for someone to upload a clip of Noble & Cooley's Tulip wood Union Series tuned to a higher bop sound. When this guy finally did it, I was specifically impressed by how similar they sound like Gretsch Broadkasters.



Very well Known Member
Mar 3, 2016
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The South
I ordered my USA shells in February of 1977.....they were delivered that I've had them for 46 years this August.
During that entire time, I have played on all the other pro-line shells I could possibly try and (while there are some shells out there that are definitely just as good), IMO, there are none better.
I still enjoy playing the old Gretsch kit I (luckily) decided to buy a long time ago.

John DeChristopher

DFO Veteran
Double Platinum Supporting Member
Jun 3, 2013
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Cohasset, Mass. USA
I own eight vintage/real Gretsch kits. I love them all and they are indeed redundant:)

The closest sounding kits to Gretsch that I own are my mid 60s Rogers Holiday and 1971 Camco. They share a lot of the same properties. Beautiful, full tone, wide tuning range and overall easy to get a great sound. Just a joy to play.

I also have a 1969 Ludwig, a mid 70s Premier and an early/mid 70s Hayman, all in the same sizes and while they sound good, they don’t sound as great as my Gretsch, Camco and Rogers kits. That’s been my experience.


Very well Known Member
Sep 3, 2017
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Keswick, Ontario
I'll add my $.02 for what it's worth.

I learned to play on my uncle's 1960's RB kit. While I'm not sure I fully appreciated them at the time due to my under-developed teenage brain, I knew I liked the sound and feel of them a lot. They were the kit I learned on, and as a result they earned a special place in my heart.

When it came time to buy my own first set I knew I wanted Gretsch, but needed an affordable entry point and went with Catalina Clubs. They served their purpose and were a fun little bop kit. That said, they had very little in common with the RB kit I learned on, and were significantly quieter as well. I sold them along with some other gear to step into USA made Gretsch when I had the opportunity, and got myself a Brooklyn kit.

The Brooklyns are beautiful drums and right away I was blown away by the exceptional build quality that easily surpassed the Catalinas. They had a wide tuning range and loads of tone. The 302 hoops were nice as well, and all the hardware was stellar. That said, while they felt tangentially related to the RB kit I learned on, in many ways they felt and sounded more like some Ludwig kits I had tried than a USA custom. Especially in terms of the round tones coming from the toms, with big blooming notes and a gushy playing feel. They felt very modern and sounded great overall, but definitely did not have the attack, mid-range and "twang" I remembered from the RB kit. Once the afterglow of finally getting a USA made Gretsch kit wore off, I wanted the real deal. Once again, an opportunity came up to get a mint used USA Custom kit, so I sold my Brooklyns to fund the purchase.

My USA Custom kit is absolutely everything I remember about the tone and feel of those RB drums, and it instantly brought me back in a magical way. To me they are positively archetypal, and the proof in the pudding of "that great Gretsch sound". Something about the shell lay up and the die cast hoops makes a significant difference in feel and sound. The Brooklyns felt gushy, like you were playing into the drum (if that makes sense). The USA Customs feel stiffer, and seem to have far more projection and articulation, like you're playing off of the drum. My USA Customs are much bigger sizes than my Brooklyns were, yet the feeling of responsiveness, sensitivity and mid-range projection is far better. They are very nuanced and sensitive drums that respond very well to dynamics in your playing, but also require a bit more intention and sensitivity in your approach as a result.

I have not tried Broadkasters, though I hear very good things about them. I have nothing bad to say about the Brooklyn line, they're quality drums in every way and nobody should be disappointed in their performance and value. That said, there's really no substitute for the sound and feel of USA Customs, they are THE Gretsch sound!
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