Quality Control: Which Companies Are Currently the Best and Worst?

SpinaDude

Very well Known Member
Joined
Jun 24, 2018
Messages
887
Reaction score
736
Location
Northwest NJ
I hope this doesn't start pointless arguments. If it does I'll ask the admins to kill the thread. Let's not slam anyone, let's just have an honest discourse.

Companies fluctuate with these things over the years, I think we all know that. And it seems with the varying tastes on the site, at least all the major manufacturers will be covered.

So, who's getting top marks?

Who's dropping the ball?

Who's gaining ground?

Who's been slipping?

Let's not just focus on drums, bur heads, cymbals, sticks and accessories too.
 

DrummerJustLikeDad

That's Me, The Silent Son
Joined
Mar 16, 2018
Messages
1,007
Reaction score
1,318
Location
Drumline in the Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging
My first heart-response was to say that Gretsch’s reputation for quality is killing it these days.

As you talk about heads, cymbals, everything, I’m very quickly reminded, wow, a lot of companies are killing it these days.

Gear-wise, we’ve been in a bit of a Golden Age. (Covid aside) This has been a great time to be a drummer.
 

Dumpy

Very well Known Member
Joined
Aug 12, 2020
Messages
541
Reaction score
340
Location
Wood River, IL
From what I've read here, I would never buy a Gretsch. Best bang for the buck, would be Mapex (5/$100).
Mapex are kind of the Kia of drums. Very dependable if not slightly dull. No- I don’t mean it as an insult at all! I tend to buy cars like that, and gig with drums like that. My good stuff stays home! And I will never buy an exciting car, either!

But if I needed a set it and forget it kit that I schlepped around the world, it would be a Mapex, or a mid line Tama. I had the mid line Tama and it was a fine kit. Every Mapex backline kit I played was easy to tune where I wanted and sounded great. Every Mapex snare I have had is one that I didn’t know I missed it until it was long gone.
 

NobleCooleyNut

Very well Known Member
Gold Supporting Member
Joined
May 21, 2019
Messages
815
Reaction score
984
I have had more issues with Gretsch drums that I have owned . I still love the sound of a Gretsch Kit but would not buy another . If you get a good agretsfh Kit with no issues they are fantastic drums .

Every Drum Company lets out the odd clinker , who the accompany makes things right is very important and desirable from a Consumer point of view.

With the widespread usage of CNC machinery and automated processes drums are far more consistently produced . Sadly the old growth wood for musical instruments is gone .

I have had great luck with Sonor drums when it comes to quality . No issues whatsoever on any of the professional lines I have owned or seen.
 

hector48

Very well Known Member
Joined
Feb 9, 2015
Messages
745
Reaction score
187
Location
PA
I know this may upset some people, but my biggest issue recently has been with Yamaha.
Stripped nuts on memory locks and tom leg knobs, and a delaminated shell on a new Stage Custom.
This is on brand new equipment.

That said. Stage Customs are still good for money, and I would buy again, but they are not without occasional flaws.
And I'm not sure on this, but from what I can tell from the badges, it seems that Yamaha has plants in multiple Asian countries.
Perhaps a different factory for each line? So, it may just be an issue at one location.
My recent Recording Customs that I purchased are flawless.

I've also purchased from DW, Tama, and Pearl recently. No issues.

Except, I will note that the black nickel and smoked chrome plating on Tama rims does not take too kindly to rim shots.
I have both types of plating on snare drums rims, and both have chipped a little. I love the look of the smoked chrome, but will probably stick with traditional chrome on any future purchases.
 
Last edited:

Dumpy

Very well Known Member
Joined
Aug 12, 2020
Messages
541
Reaction score
340
Location
Wood River, IL
I have had more issues with Gretsch drums that I have owned . I still love the sound of a Gretsch Kit but would not buy another . If you get a good agretsfh Kit with no issues they are fantastic drums .

Every Drum Company lets out the odd clinker , who the accompany makes things right is very important and desirable from a Consumer point of view.

With the widespread usage of CNC machinery and automated processes drums are far more consistently produced . Sadly the old growth wood for musical instruments is gone .

I have had great luck with Sonor drums when it comes to quality . No issues whatsoever on any of the professional lines I have owned or seen.
Yep- we all bemoan the loss of old growth wood. The last crack I had at a drum made of old growth wood was underwhelming, unfortunately. I will not name what or who it was as this builder I hold otherwise in high regard, and saying what it was would give it away.

It’s really bad in guitars right now. I have gotten to the point where I would rather build a kit from high quality wood. Yes- the resale will never be there, but at least I enjoyed putting my blood, sweat and spit into it.

But we are in a golden age with controlled drying of woods, CNC accuracy, and the like; of course we don’t get some of the quirks like slightly out of round shells that still sound good, or Friday before long holiday weekend builds that still had their own charm. Of course some of those things needed to be reworked, as well.
 

Jazzcrimes

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2014
Messages
149
Reaction score
109
Bad - I’ve had some bad experiences with a popular USA drum kit maker but I hesitate to mention specifics because it’s been 15+ years since I’ve bought a new kit and they may now be much better.

Good - I’ve never had a quality or customer service issue with Zildjian, Sabian, or Piaste cymbals. Note, I do not consider differences in sounds (within reason) between 2 cymbals of the same model to be an indication of low quality. Similarly, Vic Firth sticks, Remo, and Evans heads. The Sakae made Yamaha drums are extremely high quality and any Yamaha hardware has been 100% top quality. Tama has also been top quality for me.
 

JimmySticks

Very well Known Member
Silver Supporting Member
Joined
Jun 28, 2019
Messages
801
Reaction score
744
Location
Queens NY
Going by what I hear -

Canopus, excellent attention to detail, great sound and I have never heard anyone say one bad thing about them.

Pork Pie USA Customs, another builder with an excellent reputation and the owner has a hand in every kit that goes out the door.

Sonor, typical German precision and everyone speaks highly of them.

Gretsch and Ludwig get surprisingly mixed reviews on quality and finish.
 

Jazzcrimes

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2014
Messages
149
Reaction score
109
Gretsch and Ludwig get surprisingly mixed reviews on quality and finish.
I am very interested in opinions on this. I have seen this with the finish on stained Gretsch kits. Not that the stain is “bad”, but that the stain color varies pretty significantly between shells on the same kit. It’s unclear to me if this is really a Gretsch quality issue with the staining process or a result of this “shell bank” model where a dealer assembles a kit based on sizes the customer orders from a bank of finished shells that were not actually matched/stained together as a kit by Gretsch.
 

DrummerJustLikeDad

That's Me, The Silent Son
Joined
Mar 16, 2018
Messages
1,007
Reaction score
1,318
Location
Drumline in the Grand Parade of Lifeless Packaging
I am very interested in opinions on this. I have seen this with the finish on stained Gretsch kits. Not that the stain is “bad”, but that the stain color varies pretty significantly between shells on the same kit. It’s unclear to me if this is really a Gretsch quality issue with the staining process or a result of this “shell bank” model where a dealer assembles a kit based on sizes the customer orders from a bank of finished shells that were not actually matched/stained together as a kit by Gretsch.
Does this help shed some light? From Gretsch’s website, under stains and glosses:

*Due to random grain patterns and color disparities in natural maple, drums may vary slightly in appearance. Add-on drums are most susceptible to these inconsistencies.
 

Dumpy

Very well Known Member
Joined
Aug 12, 2020
Messages
541
Reaction score
340
Location
Wood River, IL
Does this help shed some light? From Gretsch’s website, under stains and glosses:

*Due to random grain patterns and color disparities in natural maple, drums may vary slightly in appearance. Add-on drums are most susceptible to these inconsistencies.
I have always felt that on natural finishes, you get what you get. Add on a drum and you’re at the mercy of what they have. If I wanted an 11 piece mega kit and all I saw was a 3 piece kit to start, I would skip adding drums. I would order a kit in the configuration I wanted. Wrap is different. But natural wood, heck no- get what you want the first time.
 

DanRH

Old guy, getting younger
Gold Supporting Member
Joined
Oct 31, 2005
Messages
22,961
Reaction score
3,079
Location
SF Bay Area
Mapex are kind of the Kia of drums. Very dependable if not slightly dull. No- I don’t mean it as an insult at all! I tend to buy cars like that, and gig with drums like that. My good stuff stays home! And I will never buy an exciting car, either!

But if I needed a set it and forget it kit that I schlepped around the world, it would be a Mapex, or a mid line Tama. I had the mid line Tama and it was a fine kit. Every Mapex backline kit I played was easy to tune where I wanted and sounded great. Every Mapex snare I have had is one that I didn’t know I missed it until it was long gone.
Not trying to derail your Mapex statement about great QC but I have a friend that has a Mapex Armory Kit which is less than a year old where three of the toms are out of round. I know the Armory is on their lower end of the scale but I point this out to say Mapex have some issues as well. I don’t think any company is without some issues.

My vote goes to Yamaha.
 

Dumpy

Very well Known Member
Joined
Aug 12, 2020
Messages
541
Reaction score
340
Location
Wood River, IL
Not trying to derail your Mapex statement about great QC but I have a friend that has a Mapex Armory Kit where three of the toms are out of round. I know the Armory is on their lower end of the scale but I point this out to say Mapex May have some issues as well.
My vote goes to Yamaha.
That could easily be. I just always had good luck with Mapex. Yamaha does do good stuff.
 

NobleCooleyNut

Very well Known Member
Gold Supporting Member
Joined
May 21, 2019
Messages
815
Reaction score
984
Tama are making fantastic drums - the Star series albeit out of reach of a lot of drummers price wise are outstanding sounding and the quality is top notch .

Yamaha are just so consistent , it is no wonder they are one of the most requested brands for back line companies .
 


Top