MIJs - getting sucked up into collections?

drummerjohn333

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Opinion varies widely on the topic of vintage 60s-70s MIJs.
10 years ago, they were easy to find all over the place.
Nowadays, I can't help but notice how few are for sale......anywhere.

Any ideas as to why?

(I have my theory), I want to hear yours.
 

Trilock_Gurtu

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They've become much more popular in the last 5 or so years. Demand=less kits, higher prices. The fun with vintage MIJ drums was/is the low cost, unique finishes, the discovery of them being able to sound great, etc. I own several of them, I'm by no means a 'collector', though. They're fun without a lot of risk.
 

Tama CW

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Recently sold my Slingerland "progressive jazz" clone MIJ 60's kit locally for $275. I was surprised at how close it sounded to a vintage USA kit. Had it not been drilled for another tom mount, I'd have kept it. The new owner loves it. The snare was killer. Now that I own a Slingerland 60's bop, I can confirm that the MIJ kit was 80% (or more) of the sound of a Slingerland at 1/3 the price. And if you're willing to recut bearing edges as needed, you can get to 90-95%.
 

SKSMITH

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10-15 years ago, they were referred to "Asian firewood".
Now they seem a little more respected. Probably due to the fact that most USA vintage kits have gone up in price during that same time and some boomers are looking for that "1 set".
You can get a decent 60's Star or Pearl stencil for $200 - $400, late 60's Yamaha's are a little higher.
That makes it a little easier to get in the vintage game, without the higher prices of the big USA makes.
Steve
 

CaptainCrunch

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The goalposts move and always will. I'm old enough to remember when people still turned up their noses at CBS-era Fenders and 70's Gibsons. People didn't want 13/16/20 kits, SSB's were trash, and unless it was Bonham-ey, a B/O kit could be had for 1/2 a Keystone. Blue and red sparkle were super-hard sells because they were "too common" a finish. 60's A's were cheap, and later K's were trash-talked as inferior.

Tons of gear people salivate over now was completely dismissed, because the older stuff could still be found then.
Then the older stuff dried up and became too expensive when you did see it. Then somehow, magically, the '69 Les Pauls and '73 Strats all started to sound better. People started getting into funky off-brands, like Traynor amps and Vox guitars. And so on.

This happened again and again as A: A generation gets old enough that they get some money and want to either buy that first Christmas kit or the wore-out-the-catalog dream kit or both and B: The "good stuff" is simply too thin on the ground and you can't collect the stuff you can't find or afford. Look at any hobby. Drums, guitars, vintage automobiles/motorcycles, guns, antique furniture. Some version of this phenomenon across all of them.

It'll happen to current gear, too. People will obsess over the Very Obvious To Everyone "Fact" that only the UK-made cheaper Marshall or Vox amps were any good, or how the Sakae-era Yammies are SO MUCH better than the later ones, or is actually currently happening with online slap-fights over Korean vs. Chinese Epiphones or Fenders or what-have-you. Etc.
 
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retrosonic

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The MIJ sets have gone up in value, that is for sure. Personally, having owned 3 MIJ sets, 3 Gretsch sets, a KENT set and a Trixon set over 46 years (eeccchhhh...I'm old) , I do not have a high opinion of the MIJ sets. The MIJ sets I had had really terrible hardware, the set screws would strip out if you used them alot, and while I did get my MIJs to sound decent, I found that in the middle of a set at a club, they would start to go out of tune and I had to constantly retune. That never happened with my Gretsch sets. Now, the MIJs Do have a big plus, there are some really nice wraps that have ONLY appeared in the MIJ set world. Pearl had that "Dark Pink Sparkle" that was really, really nice and unique, and Noble and Zim Gar had this absolutely GORGEOUS Purple/Grey diamond pearl that remains my favorite wrap of all time. I've only seen 2 sets in this color, and if not for the fact that the Toms were center lug AND 12/14, I would have bought them, and installed quality hardware on them. But I do not like center lug anything, and the 12/14 toms are too small for me, I need 13/16.
 

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mebeatee

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With a bit of hoarding and "market manipulation", along with varying descriptions of what is vintage, or rare or whatever, you could set whatever rules you wanted in the selling/collecting world....lol....
Seriously though....those finishes!!!! That's what they're all about....
Who cares what they sound like....ya gotta look kewl!!!!
bt
 

SKSMITH

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Personally, I wouldn't own anything Star/Hoshino or Pearl pre-about 1975.
After that, Tama & Pearl stepped into the big leagues. The Pearl wood fiberglass are great drums and the hardware from both brands became the standard to meet.
The late 60's Yamaha's pique my interest though. Alas, no more room for any more drums. Or, the bride could end up on "Snapped"! "He just kept buying drums...…"
Steve
 

D. B. Cooper

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The goalposts move and always will. I'm old enough to remember when people still turned up their noses at CBS-era Fenders and 70's Gibsons. People didn't want 13/16/20 kits, SSB's were trash, and unless it was Bonham-ey, a B/O kit could be had for 1/2 a Keystone. Blue and red sparkle were super-hard sells because they were "too common" a finish. 60's A's were cheap, and later K's were trash-talked as inferior.

Tons of gear people salivate over now was completely dismissed, because the older stuff could still be found then.
Then the older stuff dried up and became too expensive when you did see it. Then somehow, magically, the '69 Les Pauls and '73 Strats all started to sound better. People started getting into funky off-brands, like Traynor amps and Vox guitars. And so on.

This happened again and again as A: A generation gets old enough that they get some money and want to either buy that first Christmas kit or the wore-out-the-catalog dream kit or both and B: The "good stuff" is simply too thin on the ground and you can't collect the stuff you can't find or afford. Look at any hobby. Drums, guitars, vintage automobiles/motorcycles, guns, antique furniture. Some version of this phenomenon across all of them.

It'll happen to current gear, too. People will obsess over the Very Obvious To Everyone "Fact" that only the UK-made cheaper Marshall or Vox amps were any good, or how the Sakae-era Yammies are SO MUCH better than the later ones, or is actually currently happening with online slap-fights over Korean vs. Chinese Epiphones or Fenders or what-have-you. Etc.

Well said, man.
 

steambent

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If you take the heads and hoops off and you can accordion the drum I don’t want it.
 

drumtimejohn

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Yes, l’ve collected a few over the years. In fact, a MIJ collector from the east coast has contacted me about obtaining some pieces for a museum he was putting together.

Right now, I have a Gretsch style (w/ stick savers) tangerine/orange 22/13/16/14 Norma w/ badges intact. Beautiful wrap that sparkles! Like many of the Pearl brands, just needs a little glue on the rering joints. My let go of it locally.
 
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charlesm

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I noticed the change in the MIJ stencil market starting around the time that Joey Waronker was first championing them.

Not long after, Aaron Sterling took a MIJ "firewood" kit on an international tour with John Mayer.

I think both of these higher-profile endorsements led to MIJ stencil kits attaining a somewhat higher degree of legitimacy in the minds of many and the market has reacted accordingly.

C&C, of course, went as far as to begin offering a line of luan kits inspired by Joey Waronker's support.

I picked up a U.S. Mercury MIJ blue sparkle 20/12/14/14 kit a few years back to use as a less-worry kit for some theater work requiring leaving the drums overnights at locations.

It's a great little kit and really fun to play. No problems with any of the (original) hardware. No strippings or failures so far. I'm gentle with it. No issues with detuning.

It sounds GREAT. The tone is warm and open. Volume is moderate. Kick sounds a lot better than you might think.

It has become my outdoor kit for Summer gigs, sees quite a lot of use, and it has gotten lots of compliments.

For perspective, it sits beside a vintage Gretsch kit and a USAC Gretsch kit...my three kits right now. Formidable company. And while it is no Gretsch kit, it is also no less a drum set. It is its own thing, sounds great, and is a perfectly fine and good-sounding drumkit and musical instrument.
 

Johnny D

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My first kit was a blue sparkle MIJ kit from the Sears catalog. I got it for my 12th birthday/Christmas in 1972. I put Remo coated Ambassadors on them, which definitely improved the sound, but sounded nowhere near as good as when I got my first Gretsch kit in October of 1974. The difference in tone was night and day, not to mention the difference in volume. I wish I kept them for sentimental reasons, but in my experience, the MIJ kit I had didn't come close to a Gretsch or any pro level kit in terms of sound.
 

charlesm

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My first kit was a blue sparkle MIJ kit from the Sears catalog. I got it for my 12th birthday/Christmas in 1972. I put Remo coated Ambassadors on them, which definitely improved the sound, but sounded nowhere near as good as when I got my first Gretsch kit in October of 1974. The difference in tone was night and day, not to mention the difference in volume. I wish I kept them for sentimental reasons, but in my experience, the MIJ kit I had didn't come close to a Gretsch or any pro level kit in terms of sound.
Well, Gretsch are some of the louder drums out there...that's one thing I've learned. High headroom. Moderate at best with the MIJ.

However, my personal thinking with many things musically these days is not that Product A is inferior to Product B because it doesn't sound like B. It's more like, What does A sound like of its own accord, and is it something legit and useful to me?

My MIJ kit doesn't sound like my Gretschs...but neither do the Gretschs sound like the MIJ.

Take away the whole notion of This is better than That in a case of subjectivity; it becomes, Well, what do these things inherently DO, then, on their own? What are their strengths?

You start to see things differently.

You might think that the MIJ drums are not "pro level"...but then players like Waronker and Sterling are using them in highest-level professional settings, demonstrating that they actually function perfectly well as "pro" drums.

Maybe they're not built to top-shelf quality standards, but that's not the issue...the question is whether or not they function at that level.

I heard a recording of my MIJ kit miked up at an outdoor festival last year and I was floored. Totally "pro" in terms of tone. With mics, could have been mistaken for any high-end kit.

Perception tends to dictate and often does so inaccurately.

Just my opinion.
 

retrosonic

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I would bet you tho, that players like Waronker and Sterling have had their drum techs to go over every inch of those MIJ sets and beefed up plenty of the parts. I'd also bet that they removed all the metric receptacles in the lugs and replaced them with modern fittings, leaving just the MIJ lug casings. I'd also love to see the inside of those MIJ shells now....
 

charlesm

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I would bet you tho, that players like Waronker and Sterling have had their drum techs to go over every inch of those MIJ sets and beefed up plenty of the parts. I'd also bet that they removed all the metric receptacles in the lugs and replaced them with modern fittings, leaving just the MIJ lug casings. I'd also love to see the inside of those MIJ shells now....
Perhaps, but the main point is about the sound. These guys can use any kits they want; why are they using MIJ stencil kits?? My guess is it's not because they think these kits are better than whatever else...it's that they do what they do perfectly well, and there is also probably a big "fun factor" in play in taking such oft-maligned (yet cool!) drums and having them work in serious situations.
 

Paradiddle

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I'd like to find a nice MIJ kit - but you are correct. They seem to have mostly disappeared from the usual selling spots OR are really rough.
 

Mongrel

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Just a heads up for you guys who may be looking-

I have a younger player I am kind of mentoring. He was given a blue sparkle JET kit for Christmas. 12/16/20 with an oddball 13" (Kent?) that matches but has a different badge (I *think* those are the correct sizes). I am waiting for him to send me pics. All original and in decent condition. Original heads if I am not mistaken.

His grandfather gave him a CB five piece and his father said "only ONE kit in the house..."

When I saw this thread I told him I may be able to find a home for them.

Let me know if you are interested and I will put some pressure on him to get me the pictures.
 
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