Head recommendation for Gretsch Catalina Birch?

Jackal

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Hello, got a 5-pc set w/ 30 deg. bearing edges for my son about 2 years back and he's just starting to lose some of the coating on the "Gretsch by Remo" imported heads. The kit lives in the concrete basement on a large, expensive, ornamental throw rug, behind a leather sofa. I have little idea what I'm doing honestly, but I tuned the batter heads pretty low, save the snare, so as to get the shells to resonate and for the pitch to "fit in" with the other drums in the kit. I believe the reso heads are lower pitched than the batter heads on the toms, and higher pitched on the snare, though I don't recall what I did with the kick and floor tom. It seems like those resos are also a hair higher pitched than the batter heads, but I could be remembering incorrectly. I have a moon gel pad over each Gretsch logo, except for the kick drum, to tame overtones.

The only "issue" with the setup that my ears are aware of is that the 12" tom is pretty drastically deadened by contact with the rubber bumper it rests on via the suspended mount from the kit. As soon as you lift it off of there it rings out nicely as the 10" tom does regardless of position. Not sure what, if anything can be done about this. If not for this issue, I'd THINK we might even be interested in swapping the 10" out for a second 12" and just tuning them a little differently. I suppose it's also worth mentioning that I feel like the kick drum could probably use a little more umph if you will. That big, deep sounds that hits you in the chest, though maybe this is only when mic'd up behind a wall of Marshalls? ;) The kick reso isn't cut for a mic at all, and I didn't add any filling to the shell, up against the reso head, etc.

I had read at the time that these heads were pretty junky and that most recommended the Ambassador clear heads. I'd like to get a recommendation here if I could. Not sure if just replacing the batter heads is sufficient, or if I should also prioritize the resonator heads. I think I prefer Remo, but open to ideas and tuning tips. I definitely check them often and spend a lot of time pitch matching each lug.

Thanks for your time!

P.S. I also paired the kit up with some Trinity Dark B20 cymbals, but the 20" ride is too low pitched and it rings out forever, so I tuned/tamed it with a set of thin, double stacked, 1/2" diameter rare earth magnets, 1 index finger width below the Trinity logo, and a little bit of mount damper tension. He wants to try swapping it out with a high dollar K or similar eventually.
 
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MaskingApathy

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I would try Remo Emperors or Pinstripes over Ambassadors for the toms, and I really like the P77 for snare. With kick you're not going to feel that kind of bass un-amplified unless the room itself reflects those frequencies well. In general a drum kit isn't going to sound that great in a concrete basement (cymbals included). For heads I like the P3 black dot with the DW hourglass pillow (I don't think you need to change the reso right now if he's just playing at home).

As far as the tom mount goes, is there a way to isolate that point of contact with some foam or something?
 

Jackal

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Thanks! I forgot to mention the Remo slam pad.

I haven't tried isolating the shell from the small surface area of the rubber bumper yet, but I will mess around with it. Thanks for your advice!
 

Jackal

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A quadrupled-over moon gel nearly did the trick! WTH didn't I try that before? :banghead:
 
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Tornado

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Hey man, let me take a stab at some of this.

Tune those reso heads up. You said your batter heads are already low, and if your reso heads are lower than that, they'll sound like crap. If you have low batters, your resos should be either the same pitch or preferably higher. I think you'll match the sound you have in your head if you go with your reso heads tuned higher than your batters.

The issue with the tom mount is a known issue. You can try changing to a RIMS style mount like they used on some years of the Catalina Maples or maybe even the Catalina Birch. That's the problem with the Catalina series. It's hard to even know what you're talking about because so much changes all the time. Anyway, a different mount is the answer.

If you have the money, replace both batter and resonant heads. The easiest combo to make sound good on toms is either Remo Coated Emperors over Clear Ambassadors, or Evans Coated G2s over clear G1s. I'm making an assumption about your ears, skills, and expectations, but I think that double ply batter is going to hit the spot. You could also do coated Ambassadors or G1s on your 10" and 12" toms. That's a little more of an open sound, and maybe a little more difficult to dial in if you're really green. Keep a double ply on the floor tom.

I know nothing about the cymbals you have, but am curious about how you chose/got them.
 

Jackal

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Thanks for the tips guys. Is it best to keep the resos same or higher pitched than the batters on all drums then? I got wrapped up in days worth of drum tuning vids on YT to get to where we landed, so just wondering generally what the best practice is here. It would be nice to get rid of all the moon gel if possible. I will check into these offerings and report back once we get something done here.

I found Trinity recommended on some drum forum and started chatting with the owner and decided to try them, especially on Black Friday pricing. You can listen to each one before you buy so I thought that was cool. Not sure how they stack up to anything else, I just felt like this kit was a solid "entry level" kit for a 10 y/o that he could upgrade as he levels up.
 

Tornado

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Thanks for the tips guys. Is it best to keep the resos same or higher pitched than the batters on all drums then? I got wrapped up in days worth of drum tuning vids on YT to get to where we landed, so just wondering generally what the best practice is here. It would be nice to get rid of all the moon gel if possible. I will check into these offerings and report back once we get something done here.

I found Trinity recommended on some drum forum and started chatting with the owner and decided to try them, especially on Black Friday pricing. You can listen to each one before you buy so I thought that was cool. Not sure how they stack up to anything else, I just felt like this kit was a solid "entry level" kit for a 10 y/o that he could upgrade as he levels up.

It's perfectly fine to have batters higher than resos. Fewer people do that for rock music, but there's nothing wrong with it. If your batters are already low, and that's how your like them, I don't think a lower reso does you any favors.
 

Jackal

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Tornado

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Cats are kind of polarizing here. If you can accept that they have virtually nothing in common with a USA made Gretsch kit except the name, and accept them on their own terms, they are nice kits for the money.
 

Frank Godiva

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Cats are kind of polarizing here. If you can accept that they have virtually nothing in common with a USA made Gretsch kit except the name, and accept them on their own terms, they are nice kits for the money.
Sonor guys are famous for making the clear distinction between the Asian made drums and the German ones. The pushback is often “what’s the big deal?”

my standard reply these days:

does the Catalina have that great Gretsch sound?

then folks seem to “get it”

DCDCC31D-116F-4C2E-BAAC-43EB33A74367.jpeg
 

Jackal

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They're a damn sight better than the early 70's Pearl W-5 kit he had...haha. There doesn't seem to be as much of a rift between the Japanese and Electromatic guitar players and it doesn't seem all that uncommon to see the Electromatics on stage, in videos, etc. Interesting.
 

Jackal

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Well the moon gel lasted a day, but I swapped em out with a 1"x1" piece of butyl rubber and that worked wonderfully. Bringing up the tom resos also made a big difference, and I ended up bringing tuning up on everything except the kick and the kit sounds much better overall.
 


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