Gretsch Name Band

wflkurt

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I had a few questions about my name band snare drum and I'm curious what other Gretsch snare owners think. I have heard the many stories over the years about how people love Gretsch drums but not so much on the snares. I have my new cleaned up and put together Gretsch Progressive jazz together and it sounds great.... except the snare. I'm having a pretty tough time getting this one dialed in. It's set up with Remo coated heads that fit just fine and the original snares are on the bottom. I replaced the old micro with a new reproduction and have the snares attached with snare cord instead of plastic strips.

When it comes to snares I tend to like the bottom head pretty tight so the snares have a nice buzz to them when I do rolls and stuff. No matter what I do to this snare it sound like the snares are cranked up too tight. If I back off the snare tension then the snares lose contact and it gives me no sensitivity. I don't expect this snare to sound like a black beauty or something it's not but it just feels like the snare sounds restricted no matter what I do with it. I'm not an expert on this but I will say that the snare beds are cut quite deep and I don't know if that has anything to do with it? When I look at the beds on my 2012 Ludwig classic maple, they seem to be almost non existent and I have total control over that thing.

I'm just wondering what others do with their Gretsch snares? I love the way it looks and I know the woody sound will be something I like but I just wish I could get the snares under control more. Thoughts?

Gretsch1.jpg


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JDA

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How to get along with a (real) Gretsch (60s design) snare.

1) Realize you are going to have to 'hit' this drum. It does not play itself (Like a Ludwig snare would- just by letting the stick 'fall' on the head..
2) It takes commitment
3) Once you've established (and remembered) the commitment part now you can delve into the intricacies.
4) Exploring the intricacies you discover the 'ping'. I call it "The Ping"
5) So we have the full hard strokes (commitment remember)
and we also (have discovered and memorized where and how it is found) " the Ping"
6) Between those two you realize this is the most as beautiful as any vintage snare sound you have ever will ever hear In your Life.
7) Other snares are not like Gretsch
 

D. B. Cooper

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I've seen a lot of Gretsch snare with fatter wires on them...
Maybe there's a reason for that? Try 30 or 42 strand?
I've only ever owned one Gretsch snare. Didn't care for it.
 

wflkurt

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How to get along with a (real) Gretsch (60s design) snare.

1) Realize you are going to have to 'hit' this drum. It does not play itself (Like a Ludwig snare would- just by letting the stick 'fall' on the head..
2) It takes commitment
3) Once you've established (and remembered) the commitment part now you can delve into the intricacies.
4) Exploring the intricacies you discover the 'ping'. I call it "The Ping"
5) So we have the full hard strokes (commitment remember)
and we also (have discovered and memorized where and how it is found) " the Ping"
6) Between those two you realize this is the most as beautiful as any vintage snare sound you have ever will ever hear In your Life.
7) Other snares are not like Gretsch

Thanks for this. I knew there had to be some hardcore Gretsch snare fans. I do actually have a COB 70's 5x14 snare that sounds great (plays itself). I'll just have to play with the round badge more until I am happy with it. I don't plan on giving up on it any time soon.
 
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JDA

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The COB (of the era) is not as friendly (or something) (flexible?) (it's not the same) (I haven't warmed up to it the same) as the wood. The wood is myua.glorious when you're in the mood for a serious exposition fanfare fireworks.iT's that strong commitment they demand; Once over that hump; most other snares are secondary.meh.
But it is a commitment whats that saying there's no reward without a good fight or something) I mean I could play it easy 'all the time' with a Ludwood but the Gretsch brings with it another level into the game)Especially with the entire Gretsch set) It's one musical ping to another everywhere you turn one large harmonious Bell..
 
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wflkurt

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The COB (of the era) is not as friendly (or something) (flexible?) (it's not the same) (I haven't warmed up to it the same) as the wood. The wood is myua.glorious when you're in the mood for a serious exposition fanfare fireworks.iT's that strong commitment they demand; Once over that hump; most other snares are secondary.meh.
But it is a commitment whats that saying there's no reward without a good fight or something) I mean I could play it easy 'all the time' with a Ludwood but the Gretsch brings with it another level into the game)Especially with the entire Gretsch set) It's one musical ping to another everywhere you turn one large harmonious Bell..

I hear what you are saying. I play a lot of different musical styles so I definitely like having options. I have noticed that these drums (the toms and bass) seem to like being at a higher pitched bop sort of tuning. That's not to say I couldn't use them for other things but right now I'm liking them cranked up. I was actually playing a lot of jazz around the mid 2000's and I loved it. I certainly wasn't doing things on an Elvin Jones level but it was pretty straightforward stuff out of the fake books. Unfortunately nobody in my area seems to be doing much jazz, and I mean before the pandemic. I used to have a 70's Ludwig jazzette and I sold it because I had some bills that needed attention and I was rarely using it. I missed having a nice jazz set so that's where the Gretsch set comes in. I'm hoping when I get older I can find guys to play jazz with.
 

JDA

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Well, Jazz carries over into New Orleans (Neville bros) and Latin Rock (santana) and Herbie Hancock (funk); all those songs still draw a crowd..and are what the people like in my area.
Yea I lifted my brass COB (1966 year) today and put it up. Worst thing 1st; If you ever drop that snare on your foot say "goodbye" to use of "toes" for a very, long, time.. (heavy..
So I messed with the tuning; never had (in 45 years!) a right head on it. Always a couple areas out. But I put it back 'in the stack' (it goes with my Red Wine Pearl 66 set)
And put my 8L Renown (from 1965) white/blue/ marine pearl back on the stand.
I bought that at a Pa Vintage Show and was a good move on my part. Been a good drum.

Here's it is and how I am today : )
(Gretsch 2000s 6P Broadkasters/14x18/10x12/10x9/12x14/
Tried to get that 'ping' wood/rimshot in there...
(not too inspired today...
https://soundcloud.com/jda56%2Fgsnareb
 
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JimmySticks

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How to get along with a (real) Gretsch (60s design) snare.

1) Realize you are going to have to 'hit' this drum. It does not play itself (Like a Ludwig snare would- just by letting the stick 'fall' on the head..
2) It takes commitment
3) Once you've established (and remembered) the commitment part now you can delve into the intricacies.
4) Exploring the intricacies you discover the 'ping'. I call it "The Ping"
5) So we have the full hard strokes (commitment remember)
and we also (have discovered and memorized where and how it is found) " the Ping"
6) Between those two you realize this is the most as beautiful as any vintage snare sound you have ever will ever hear In your Life.
7) Other snares are not like Gretsch
You Joe, are quite the wordsmith. You are deep, like a mystic or a poet laureate. I never fail to learn something from you. You make me think of things that never crossed my mind. Respect...:salute:
 
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EvEnStEvEn

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No matter what I do to this snare it sound like the snares are cranked up too tight. If I back off the snare tension then the snares lose contact and it gives me no sensitivity.

I'm just wondering what others do with their Gretsch snares?
Nice looking Champagne NameBand, Kurt!
I've owned my NameBand 4157 for nearly 40 years and it was my most often played snare for many of those years. I never employed the muffler, a real tone choker, although it's still there. I usually outfitted it with 1-ply batters like Ambassadors or something similar like a clear blackdot Amb and I really cranked up the resonant head and used 20-strand wires. (I may go back to the Blackdot batter for more body soon)

In my experience a tight reso head helps bring the tonality and feel to life and I'll adjust the batter to a med/high tension. I'd say just keep fiddling with the snare wire tension knob while experimenting with various batter tunings until you find that sweet spot you prefer.

Sometimes mine also has the tendency to sound somewhat choked like the snares are over-tight, so I can understand your frustration, these drums can indeed be finicky and drive you nuts if you're accustomed to more forgiving USA vintage or modern drums like Ludwig and others. I was thinking of trying some 16 strand wires on mine because I still use the drum occasionally for old time's sake but I'd agree these old NameBand snares simply aren't the best drums for dialing in a rich full tone with ease.
 

Johnny D

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Hey Kurt!

Congrats again on completing your kit. They look beautiful.

I'll echo what @EvEnStEvEn said almost verbatim. They're definitely finicky - try tuning the bottom head nice and tight, and then backing off the tension rods closest to the snare adjustment, ever so slightly.

The combination that works for me is a Remo Ambassador snare bottom, Coated Ambassador on top and Gretsch 42 strand snare wires. Others' mileage may vary, but it works for me. You'll get a nice, full, rich sound.

Good luck and stay safe.

F4F0C44A-9E87-4580-9BE5-AA63A014415B_1_201_a.jpeg



575F1B39-89E5-4C2F-A95B-D099335B579F_1_201_a.jpeg
 

retrosonic

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Johnny D: Your snare is beautiful. I have the same snare that I'll be restoring next week. If mine can look like yours, I will be a happy guy! Ps...I'm using the Gibralter 3 point Slingerland copy strainer.
 

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I agree with evensteven and Johnny D. but would add this: my '69 Progressive Jazz kit, original and same config. as yours, had close to the same snare situation. I could only tune it in a narrow range, and it seemed kind of choked. Well, it had a long, hard, but very well-played life before I got it in 1981. Then I played about a zillion gigs on it, with the snare not totally satisfying me. Important note: I am definitely a "wood snare guy," and never liked the Dynasonic/Supra sound. I always appreciated the throatier, un-bright sound that Art Blakey had, as well as certain pop rock guys. Nonetheless, the Name Band in question was too limited in how I could tune it and how much variety I could enjoy from adjusting the snares. I noticed there were some voids in the plies and other wear factors.

At this point (about 2001), I had discovered Jack Lawton, who had been rehabbing and restoring my beat-up vintage kits, which I actively gig with. I mentioned my Name Band woes, and he told me he was quite familiar with the problems and knew what to do.

Indeed he did. I sent him the drum to fix and have enjoyed a wider tuning and snare adjusting range ever since. Eminently playable. I recommend this highly.
 

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Well, Jazz carries over into New Orleans (Neville bros) and Latin Rock (santana) and Herbie Hancock (funk); all those songs still draw a crowd..and are what the people like in my area.
Yea I lifted my brass COB (1966 year) today and put it up. Worst thing 1st; If you ever drop that snare on your foot say "goodbye" to use of "toes" for a very, long, time.. (heavy..
So I messed with the tuning; never had (in 45 years!) a right head on it. Always a couple areas out. But I put it back 'in the stack' (it goes with my Red Wine Pearl 66 set)
And put my 8L Renown (from 1965) white/blue/ marine pearl back on the stand.
I bought that at a Pa Vintage Show and was a good move on my part. Been a good drum.

Here's it is and how I am today : )
(Gretsch 2000s 6P Broadkasters/14x18/10x12/10x9/12x14/
Tried to get that 'ping' wood/rimshot in there...
(not too inspired today...
https://soundcloud.com/jda56%2Fgsnareb
"The Ping"...I get it now. Cool track jOe. -b
 
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Coolvan

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I actually have two Gretsch snares in my collection. One is a early 1990s maple snare with the die-cast hoops. I found that one in a pawn shop for a hundred bucks. The Lightning throwoff had a bent tension screw so I could never get the snares to tighten the way I wanted so I took all that off, replaced it with a DW mag throw off and the three position butt plate, it's an amazing drum now! I've been offered $250- $300 for it while I was actually playing at gigs!
A few months ago I found a Catalina Maple 6 and 1/2 inch shell with no Hardware on it so I bought that, spent about $160 buying a 2.3 mm triple flanged hoop, Gretsch lugs, the tension rods, a 24 strand strainer, and INDE throw off, regular bottom hoop from Gibraltar. I could not find a butt plate that would match the holes pre-drilled into the drum until I used Gibraltar vintage Slingerland copy. That one fit perfectly. I will attach pics of the older Snare when I get home today, but here are pics of my rebuild:
 

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Elvis

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Coolvan,

1596945717776.png


Is that what the inside ply really looks like, or am I seeing the reflection of the room?
Looks like a nice grain pattern, from that picture.

Elvis
 
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JazzDrumGuy

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Sweet snare and kit! I have the same RB kit and many flavors of that RB snare. I don't get how people claim it sounds boxy. I run at least 20 strands generic and, on a few, I have 42 strands. 20 is plenty. Bottom is tight, top is medium tight depending. The classic sound is with die casts, but a nice stick choppper or 2.3mm triple flange also sound very nice. I have my black nitron RB on my kit right now with triple flanges and 20 strands and sounds fabulous - exactly how it should - tight dry woody pop. With die casts, it's super easy to tune and stays in tune. If I can get a coated amb. over the wrap, and a clear/hazy snare side, this drum is a go to I've gigged with many times with no problem!
And good call on swapping out the throws.....I just got 2 new ones and need to do that on a few of 'em.....once done, this snare is unstoppable for a 5x14 wood drum......
 

D. B. Cooper

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I agree with evensteven and Johnny D. but would add this: my '69 Progressive Jazz kit, original and same config. as yours, had close to the same snare situation. I could only tune it in a narrow range, and it seemed kind of choked. Well, it had a long, hard, but very well-played life before I got it in 1981. Then I played about a zillion gigs on it, with the snare not totally satisfying me. Important note: I am definitely a "wood snare guy," and never liked the Dynasonic/Supra sound. I always appreciated the throatier, un-bright sound that Art Blakey had, as well as certain pop rock guys. Nonetheless, the Name Band in question was too limited in how I could tune it and how much variety I could enjoy from adjusting the snares. I noticed there were some voids in the plies and other wear factors.

At this point (about 2001), I had discovered Jack Lawton, who had been rehabbing and restoring my beat-up vintage kits, which I actively gig with. I mentioned my Name Band woes, and he told me he was quite familiar with the problems and knew what to do.

Indeed he did. I sent him the drum to fix and have enjoyed a wider tuning and snare adjusting range ever since. Eminently playable. I recommend this highly.
This is really great advise, coming from someone with as much experience with the drum as you could ask for.
Sometimes, you just have to have the edges re-cut.
I just did it on a set of 12,15,20 Slingerlands and it has made a huge difference.
 

Mcjnic

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I LOVE that kit!
One day, I will be in a position to actually intelligently add something to this discussion. I’ll own a Gretsch USA. One day. One day.
 

studrum

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This is really great advise, coming from someone with as much experience with the drum as you could ask for.
Sometimes, you just have to have the edges re-cut.
I just did it on a set of 12,15,20 Slingerlands and it has made a huge difference.
Thanks, DB. I want to add that Jack knows the proper profile of Round Badge edges. He does them by hand, not a bunch of router slashin'.
 


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