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If Drum Kits Sound So Similar - Gretsch

charlesm

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One thing I can say about my Gretschs vs. the 3-ply Luds I had is that the Gretschs have a wider dynamic range for sure. The more you lay into them, the more energy they give back, with a feeling of the sound expanding and throwing outward. Very little sense of a "ceiling" to the sound. Lots of air moving.

Otoh, the 3-ply tone, while also a beautiful thing in its own right, seems to have a threshold around medium-loud where it starts to naturally compress and flatten out a bit.

If I tune my 12 and 14 Gretsch toms on the low side and play them with some intensity, stuff in the room starts to vibrate.

The Luds felt a little more contained.
 

Ryneaux

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Anyone who knows me here on the forums (going back to Cymbalholic in the early aughts) knows that I’ve been through a million drum sets, snares and cymbals. During that time, I’ve owned Gretsch... 60’s round badge, modern USA Custom, and Brooklyn. The 60’s and USA Customs had a “thing” that I could feel and hear, which was more apparent when playing them alone. In the music, they sounded like high quality instruments. The Brooklyn’s sounded just like all the Ludwig Classic Maple sets I’ve ever owned.

Ended up getting rid of the Gretsch sets only because something newer and shinier came along. Sad but I can’t even remember what I replaced them with. The USA Custom set had some significant quality control issues but I knew that going in. Was able to get a deep discount on it due to the QC problems.

Didn’t regret owning them and didn’t regret getting rid of them. Not sure I buy into the magical aura some assign them, but if they blow your hair back, that’s all that matters. I’d happily own some more if the opportunity presented itself.
 

New2drumming

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well as a bass player I know didn't really know anything about the difference between say a $500 kit and a $5,000 kit - until I played with a drummer (who was also a drum tech at a music shop) who had a lovely sonar kit that he imported from Germany... he said heads play a part, but to him it was all about the type of wood used in the making of the kit.

but in saying that the drummer in my old band had a 1960's premier kit... he's modified it and put a pearl tom mount on the tom, new legs / feet on the kick drum and it sounded pretty good - he had in his younger days painted it black and white like a zebra and it looked pretty horrible
he then upgraded and bought a new premier kit.... but he just didn't like the feel and sound of the new kit and didn't know what to do with the extra tom... so in the end he sold it and kept his original kit - which IMO did sound better
 

gra7

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I had the opinion since I started playing in the 1980s that certain brands were the go to for certain sounds:

Birch - Yamaha (Recording Custom)
Beech - Sonor
Maple/Gum - Gretsch
Acrylics - Ludwig
Etc.

now I agree with almost everyone that once you enter the top tier drum lines of most companies - it’s differences now are mostly finishes, anything custom, but mostly hardware and overall quality control

I am a Tama and DW player now because in my own personal experience, they are on the money for hardware and quality control. That said, I still think that Gretsch Maple/Gum sound is very pleasing and you notice other companies are copying the wood combination now.
 

David M Scott

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I've had over 30 kits in over a dozen brands go through my hands in almost six decades of drumming. From Ayotte to Yamaha. I've returned to Yamaha eight times. I've always believed that the consistency of character from one drum to another on the kit is Yamaha's strength. Not so much with the three different Gretsch kits that have gone through my hands nor the four DW kits. Gretsch drums with paper-thin heads top and bottom are hard to beat for improv Jazz. That roundness of sustain is killer. Ames is in a a class of it's own just like the Sonor SQ series and Yamaha's Phoenix. For some reason the greater variety of a 'signature sound' comes from the Asian makers. I've always got a wider tuning range with Asian drums. 1st gen Superstars were awesome as were the Genistas from Premier. I believe it's the material used and where it's sourced in their build. I know that Yamaha goes out of their way to profile a similar grain structure on every ply for that particular kit. They do that with their 240 thousand dollar pianos too. Wood grain and spatial consistency is everything to the sum of the parts. That's where the consistency from one drum to the other comes into play. Be it a small or large kit. A tight relationship. Nitto was a retired Yamaha assistant project manager who spent over a decade with the folks at Sakae. He lived upstairs from my sisters in Osaka, Japan. I've made two trips to his factory and it is the reason I've only gravitated to Yamaha drums so many times. I love sustain, the more, the merrier. I love the blending of long-sustaining sounds. I abhor the cardboard thump and lousy clicking kick drum. Drums are supposed to r e s o n a t e. Again, it's only MY opinion and reason to retire to a Recording Custom, a Rock Tour Custom and a Maple Custom Absolute kit via MY experience owning such a vast selection of drum makes. I don't care what make of drum, you get what you put in to it by tuning. Gretsch is as solid a choice as PDP or any other. Tuning makes the difference. Buy what gives you an eargasm.
Yet I had a Yamaha DP kit in the 2000s that while it had typical Yamaha great hardware and construction it had Luan shells. I'm very familiar with Luan as I'd was in the residential door business and we used Luan skins for our bottom of the line product.. even plain brown Masonite were an upgrade. So because the name said Yamaha I paid $700 for a compact 4 piece kit. I should have known better not only from the door business but because I owned, repaired and sold several of those cheap MIJ kits of which many thousands were made... 90#
with Luan shells. As a marketing ploy Luan producers call it Luan Mahogany. I might share some genus with Mahogany but that's all. Luan is very soft and sound absorbing not
brightening. So you ask, did I play them first before buying.. yes I did at the retail shop and with other kits made of Birch, Poplar etc. But I had Yamaha stars in my eyes. I played and kept that set 15 years and tried many different heads and even hoops but it always sounded dead. That was especially true of the 20in kick. About 5 years ago I downsized everything, bought a 4 piece Sonor Safari with Poplar shells, a 10in mounted and 14in floor tom and a 16x16in kick and Baby that little sucker can really project. So like the famous/infamous auto mfrs, brand doesn't always mean your getting the best for your money. And.. the Safari has great build, top o line hardware and beautiful thick wrap. Cost.. 4 Pieces for $379 to my door.
just saying...
 

cruddola

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Yet I had a Yamaha DP kit in the 2000s that while it had typical Yamaha great hardware and construction it had Luan shells. I'm very familiar with Luan as I'd was in the residential door business and we used Luan skins for our bottom of the line product.. even plain brown Masonite were an upgrade. So because the name said Yamaha I paid $700 for a compact 4 piece kit. I should have known better not only from the door business but because I owned, repaired and sold several of those cheap MIJ kits of which many thousands were made... 90#
with Luan shells. As a marketing ploy Luan producers call it Luan Mahogany. I might share some genus with Mahogany but that's all. Luan is very soft and sound absorbing not
brightening. So you ask, did I play them first before buying.. yes I did at the retail shop and with other kits made of Birch, Poplar etc. But I had Yamaha stars in my eyes. I played and kept that set 15 years and tried many different heads and even hoops but it always sounded dead. That was especially true of the 20in kick. About 5 years ago I downsized everything, bought a 4 piece Sonor Safari with Poplar shells, a 10in mounted and 14in floor tom and a 16x16in kick and Baby that little sucker can really project. So like the famous/infamous auto mfrs, brand doesn't always mean your getting the best for your money. And.. the Safari has great build, top o line hardware and beautiful thick wrap. Cost.. 4 Pieces for $379 to my door.
just saying...
Absolutely right on your point. My father was very familiar with resonate wood, he built quite a few Irish concert harps on a custom order. Luan had a look, but to him it was a sonic sponge. Some will call Luan Big Leaf mahogany. Nothing like Honduran mahogany. Same with South American rosewood. Too bad they're pretty much outlawed for import as those forests were destroyed for mining and agriculture. Yamaha did indeed use Masonite plies on their lower-end coffin-lugged Power series drums made at the Premier factory in the UK. I have a 4-piece practice kit I take to the mountains to play to the bears and squirrels. Got it at a pawnshop for 200 bucks including a 900 series hat stand and three 900 series boom cymbal stands. They stay in the truck. I've played the Safari line. They were the house kits on two clubs I gigged. Like the PDPs, they had such a beautiful and unique tone. They were mighty dynamic without going to mud. I've also got a set of re-ringed Philippine 'mahogany' (big Leaf) Imperialstars. I know their sweet-spots and can pretty much get them to their best pretty easy using Evans clear resos on both sides.
 

kerope

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4th) they are not the easiest to play- what with having to "jump" over the hoops and what does Vinnie call it/ say? "the Gretsch Fight". Fine. There's value in that that you have heard in your life a thousand times (on differing subjects)

"If you can play Gretsch you can play anything"
(just substitute word Gretsch for say "Mack" truck
"If you can drive a "Mack" truck you can drive anything"

There's a Work benefit in struggle.
you don't get lazy easily with Gretsch drums, ever..
they keep you in tip top.. fighting shape.
You want something easy play pearls and drive a honda

struggle is good to know.
has it's benefit.

Joe - what happened to (3) ?
 

JDA

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just checking who's paying attent Kerope <- you are : D as always
how are you : )
 

JDA

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march1721 002.JPG
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claytronica

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As a guitar player (drums secondary instrument) - I love these conversations. I have a good friend who is a tremendous guitar player with a deep understanding of gear and the quest for tone. He loves buying cheap guitars and amps and figuring out what that gear does and does not do well.
Yes, bad gear can be a challenge - and from my limited experience, bad cymbals are tougher to deal with than bad shells.
But here's a story for you - and I'm not sure if it's true or just legend - but I love it either way.
Chet Atkins was in a Nashville guitar shop trying out a guitar.
Some dude walks over, listens for a bit, and says "Man - that guitar sounds amazing!"
So Chet sets the guitar down in its stand and says "How's it sound now?"

Same goes for anything where you have the gear - and you have your hands.
 

marc3k

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That's an interesting topic!

I was playing my Sonor teardrop set for a while and thought it sounded great. Today I set up my Gretsch Broadkaster again and wow - I forget what it sounded like! I was amazed about that huge sound, at least from where I'm sitting. It seemed louder and maybe more focused than the Sonor - and the Gretsch is a bop kit, sonor is in bigger sizes.
Maybe there is something about "that great Gretsch sound"...
 

pedro navahas

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When I played my new to me 60’s beat up round badge kit I instantly could hear a difference.
I also play with a friend of mine, a piano player who is blind and he loves the sound of Gretsch drums!
 

alan818

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Here’s a thought.

Lots of discussion online and over coffees about the inherent sounds of different drum kits.
Some feel rather strongly that drum kits are all pretty much the same ... that it’s the head selection and such that makes the difference.
Then there are those that swear by ply makeup for kit sound distinctions ... even bringing the ply directions into play.
And of course, there are the edge groups.

I’m genuinely curious ... where does that leave Gretsch?

If it’s just heads and such, how does one explain the intense Gretsch following?
If it’s indeed the ply specs, couldn’t a builder just run a similar shell? Have they? And why is it that the differing ply layups of the Gretsch lines are lumped together as the great sounds? ... slight differences but still Gretsch.

What is it about those particular drums?
I figure, there has to be something to this ... just way too many legendary artists weighing in on the kits for this to be an anomaly or marketing ploy.
There doesn’t appear to be a division with regard to the different Gretsch lines ... meaning the top tiers. Broadcaster, USA, Brooklyn, whatever

Please discuss. I have been tossing this around for a while.


I stand in the “most all drums sound the same” camp as long as the shell is in round and bearing edges are copacetic.

I think this is particularly true when comparing vintage drums to newer mid-level kits.

As an example, advances in technology in terms of shell construction is much improved when compared to the 50’s-70’s.

Say, compare a 60’s three-ply Slingerland tom to a hardwood Taye mid-level Tom for instance. Do the ol’ blindfold test and we’ll see.

I think the only caveat I might add is snare drums. That’s a grey area for me.

But even then, whether I’m playing a Supra or my beat to hell Jordison, I always sound like me.
 


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