MIJs - getting sucked up into collections?

yetanotherdrummer

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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.
When I was young I just would have made one large double bass set out of the two drum sets. That would solve the "only one drum set" problem.
 

retrosonic

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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.


I think the answer is obvious...the thin shells that provide a different sound than the thicker mass market drums.
 

JDA

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In a sense "MIJ" drums have never really gone away.. I see- still "see" them in (new) Yamaha, Tama, Pearl...
the flashy/unique colors, the value bargain for buck (lower lines) and in their imitation-still- of older USA and European makes..

MIJ still exists (adding Taiwan +China) Still exists.
What makes the 60s MIJ really unique to me----was they operated at the time of "traditional sizes" 8 x 12 14 x20.

STILL Exists:

what's the difference.
At least with a fresh MI "J"..you'll probably get better mileage from them ; )
 
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yetanotherdrummer

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I guess my 2012 Ludwig Club Date SE set would qualify as a modern day "MIJ" set. I only paid $500.00 for them brand new, and they have a unique finish. Of course they were made in Taiwan, not Japan.

DSCN3257.JPG
 

CaptainCrunch

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I guess my 2012 Ludwig Club Date SE set would qualify as a modern day "MIJ" set. I only paid $500.00 for them brand new, and they have a unique finish. Of course they were made in Taiwan, not Japan.

View attachment 404709
I think that is very much the vibe they were going for with these. Same as the center-lug Gretsch Catalina Clubs.
 

charlesm

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I think that is very much the vibe they were going for with these. Same as the center-lug Gretsch Catalina Clubs.
Club Date SE are the cherry/gum shells, though, correct? Those really aren't the MIJ sound at all. The CD shells put out a louder, rounder sound with a warm, soft attack quality.

MIJ (luan) shells, while warm, tend to also have a little more brightness and are definitely more moderate in volume. It's a lighter overall impression to the tone, whereas those Club Dates are very full-sounding drums.

The Gretsch Catalina Club series drums with luan shells, while not exactly so, are definitely closer in sound to the prototypical MIJ tone. The Cats are also louder and fuller in tone, though. They're kind of like a modern, pumped-up version of the MIJ thing. No question about pro legitimacy with those, as Tommy Wells often related in his enthusiasm for and use of those drums.

I actually prefer the sound and vibe of those drums over a number of top-shelf, "pro" drum series.
 
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Big Beat

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It is simply a matter of time marching on. I too, am old enough to remember the mantra of 1970s Gibsons not being any good, etc. Back then, the "old" used instruments you found at flea markets and pawn shops were about 20 years old. Just the right age to make their way into basements and attics after some use and then years of neglect by the original owner, then to be re-discovered as useless junk and sold off. In the 1980s, when I started out, this meant 1960s stuff. That was the right time to get great deals on classic Ludwigs and Fenders. Or U.S. Mercurys and Teiscos - but few people cared about those, because there were enough old Ludwigs and Fenders out there to go around.

Today, the instruments at flea markets and pawn shops are STILL about 20 years old. This means Mapex drum sets and Ibanez guitars - or Sunlite and First Act. So now, when a 1960s U.S. Mercury set turns up, it's old enough to be unusual and interesting. Plus, we now have this thing called the Internet, where you can get info about whatever you have found and talk about it on forums. Where other enthuiasts will make you feel cool for five seconds because you found those sparkly old drums. So where before an MIJ set might get passed up as cheap and common, like today's Sunlite, now somebody will definitely pick it up.

In another 20 years, a real gosh-darned U.S. Mercury in collectible condition will be priced out of most casual buyers' budgets, and we'll start seeing some interest in vintage Sunlites. There's already a First Act guitar collectors group on Facebook.
 
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CaptainCrunch

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It is simply a matter of time marching on. I too, am old enough to remember the mantra of 1970s Gibsons not being any good, etc. Back then, the "old" used instruments you found at flea markets and pawn shops were about 20 years old. Just the right age to make their way into basements and attics after some use and then years of neglect by the original owner, then to be re-discovered as useless junk and sold off. In the 1980s, when I started out, this meant 1960s stuff. That was the right time to get great deals on classic Ludwigs and Fenders. Or U.S. Mercurys and Teiscos - but few people cared about those, because there were enough old Ludwigs and Fenders out there to go around.

Today, the instruments at flea markets and pawn shops are STILL about 20 years old. This means Mapex drum sets and Ibanez guitars - or Sunlite and First Act. So now, when a 1960s U.S. Mercury set turns up, it's old enough to be unusual and interesting. Plus, we now have this thing called the Internet, where you can get info about whatever you have found and talk about it on forums. Where other enthuiasts will make you feel cool for five seconds because you found those sparkly old drums. So where before an MIJ set might get passed up as cheap and common, like today's Sunlite, now somebody will definitely pick it up.

In another 20 years, a real gosh-darned U.S. Mercury in collectible condition will be priced out of most casual buyers' budgets, and we'll start seeing some interest in vintage Sunlites. There's already a First Act guitar collectors group on Facebook.
YUUUUP to all of this. So many things were crap new, and used crap thereafter, and have now become vintage crap. The only way to stay ahead of the curve is to buy absolute trash - those First Act collectors are really showing how it's done (as I have 4-6 First Act guitars in my basement, since that's what shows up at Goodwill now). My bold move in this direction is to invest in some $50 Taiwanese Royce drums that match my first kit, then calculate what it would cost to rewrap them (NOTE: Several multiples of what I paid). Sometimes I'm such an unbelievable business genius I want to blush.
 

dustjacket

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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.
Well said. Certain ones do have a vibe that I think can be unique, warm, lo-fi.
 

charlesm

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YUUUUP to all of this. So many things were crap new, and used crap thereafter, and have now become vintage crap. The only way to stay ahead of the curve is to buy absolute trash - those First Act collectors are really showing how it's done (as I have 4-6 First Act guitars in my basement, since that's what shows up at Goodwill now). My bold move in this direction is to invest in some $50 Taiwanese Royce drums that match my first kit, then calculate what it would cost to rewrap them (NOTE: Several multiples of what I paid). Sometimes I'm such an unbelievable business genius I want to blush.
Or, another way to look at it is that the stuff that was once popularly assumed to be "crap" turns out to actually NOT be crap after all. Especially when it has the backing of reputable players.

There ARE a lot of legitimately bottom-barrel "vintage" drum kits out there. I would say any of those real bland-ish, generic Taiwan-made kits from the '70s-'80s like Royce, CB 700, Maxwin, Percussion Plus, etc., etc., are never going to have a collector market. They just don't stand out in any way. Especially those with power toms, solid loud colors, etc. Sure, they can be made to sound good but there was no initial buzz or excitement about them to begin with.

The thing about the MIJ stencil kits that is different is that they came out concurrent to the first initial wave of hysteria for Ludwig, Slingerland and other U.S.-made drums. They were often copying the look of those drums. Cool pearl and sparkle finishes, similar-looking hardware, etc. They were a cheaper alternative.

So, in today's vintage market, they are seen as a subset of that era of the real "classic" vintage drums. They have a much more classic aesthetic appeal that way.

Plus, once again, it turns out that these kits, when well-maintained and well-functioning, with good heads, actually can sound pretty great.

Vintage tone, classic looks and historical cachet for notably less money...the appeal is pretty understandable.
 

rondrums51

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60's MIJ drums were a collector's fad for a while, until everybody realized what junk they were. Cheap wood, poor shell construction, substandard flimsy metal parts and chrome plating. Just embarrassingly cheap copies of American and European drums.

I never understood the fascination with them.

You could play them on a gig and they would sound OK, but compared to real quality drums, they were a joke.
 

costanzadrums

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60's MIJ drums were a collector's fad for a while, until everybody realized what junk they were. Cheap wood, poor shell construction, substandard flimsy metal parts and chrome plating. Just embarrassingly cheap copies of American and European drums.

I never understood the fascination with them.

You could play them on a gig and they would sound OK, but compared to real quality drums, they were a joke.
I think there was a lot of substandard on American brands. 60s Ludwig drums have the hump. Edges can be iffy - lush and badges drilled off center. Slingerlands now have started to split. Sure luan is cheap wood, but cheap doesn’t often mean something sounds bad. Acrolites were supposed to be student drums. Ludwig standards were b-stock shells. Sometimes hush the way it works
 

CaptainCrunch

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I think there was a lot of substandard on American brands. 60s Ludwig drums have the hump. Edges can be iffy - lush and badges drilled off center. Slingerlands now have started to split. Sure luan is cheap wood, but cheap doesn’t often mean something sounds bad. Acrolites were supposed to be student drums. Ludwig standards were b-stock shells. Sometimes hush the way it works
Ludwig shells were out of round the day they were made (though the secret, I believe, is that the bearing edge machine ignored the hump when it did the edges so where head touched shell was round). Rogers lugs cracked until they fixed them, and even then their wraps were always prone to exploding off the drums like a Rip Taylor confetti ambush (only slightly exaggerated) until glass glitters, oysters, stratas, etc. fell out of favor for solid colors. Gretsch used 1940's bass spurs/FT legs/tom mounts up until almost the 80's, and they'll still use them if you ask nicely. Slingy were actually probably the least troublesome of the 60's big American drum companies.

Not that I don't love or own all of these, it's just that I know perfection is unachievable and you gotta take the good with the bad. And since they're drums, they're mostly good.
 

charlesm

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I think there was a lot of substandard on American brands. 60s Ludwig drums have the hump. Edges can be iffy - lush and badges drilled off center. Slingerlands now have started to split. Sure luan is cheap wood, but cheap doesn’t often mean something sounds bad. Acrolites were supposed to be student drums. Ludwig standards were b-stock shells. Sometimes hush the way it works
I had a set of '60s Slingerlands in BDP that looked stunning and sounded about as limp as I've ever heard a drum set sound.

If I had to choose between those particular Slings and my MIJ kit, it would be the MIJ kit without even a question. By comparison, they sound lively, dynamic and much more open and responsive. Kick drum, especially, is in a different league.

Just goes to show: On paper, sight unseen, the Sling is supposed to be the no-brainer while the MIJs are relegated via the common company line to being "junk".

In actual, real-world use, though, the opposite turns out to be true.

This is not to say that ALL Slingerland drums sound bad, obviously, nor that ALL MIJ drums sound great. It's just to demonstrate that reality often contradicts the foolish blanket assumptions we make.
 

Toast Tee

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I'm sure some of us are old enough to remember when Japanese cars first flooded the US. Nissan were Datsun, and were looked at as trash. People bought em as they were cheap transportation. Fast forward to today. Only the Lexus (and that class) of Japanese cars are still MIJ.
Why? They lasted "forever" great on gas, cheap to fix etc....
Now the lower priced models (Nissan, Toyota etc) are made in the US in large part.
You can look at MIJ drums very similarly. Look at Tama for instance. If you want a MIJ kit, you're very limited, but they're looked at as top quality (Star series). Since CITES on Bubinga, I've been collecting Bubinga kits. When I find a great condition MIJ Starclassic, at a reasonable price, I feel like I've hit the jackpot.
For those of of us who have been played 30+ years, who would have thought?
If I say "made in China" drums will one day be sought after", I'd probably be laughed at. Like anything, there are some dam good drums coming from China, and lots of garbage.


Knowing then what we know now.....
Well I can say that about lots of things.
 


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