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

Dumpy

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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 .
I gigged with a mid line Tama kit and it was fantastic. Hardware was truly punching above its weight class.
 

Jazzcrimes

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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.
I’m not referring to add-ons. I’m referring to a 3 piece kit sold as new with pretty dramatic differences in the stain between the drums.
 

Murat

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As a dealer, I am not seeing a negative trend from any particular brand that go through the shop, just the odd one offs and in many cases, they are shipping related issues. I can tell you , some companies can definitely do a better job packing their stuff. I do see consistently good products from Tama, Sonor, N&C and Yamaha for sure. One issue with lower end Yamahas like the Rydeen and the Stage Custom that I see is packing. Those sets come in one box, all five drums. That makes those boxes very heavy and the courier companies drop them more and that leads to issues.
 

SpinaDude

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My main experience, as far as gear I've owned in the last 10 years, has been Mapex and Tama.

Mapex construction has been sound across the board. Their hardware construction is excellent as well. My bad experience in dealing with them comes with their customer service. I ordered an 8x7 tom when I bought my kit. It took a year to be made and shipped. I also ordered a 13x11 about 8 months after purchase. They said they had exactly what I needed sitting in the warehouse and ready to ship. It took about 4 months for that to come in. So they came in together. Nut that was a long wait. The *' finished matched well, if not perfectly. The big tome was not a perfect match, it was too dark, but close enough. It can also be hard to get Mapex parts. When I needed a spring for by Falcon double pedal last year, nobody carried them. Someone here suggested emailing Mapex direct. I did, and it took some time to hear back (a week or two) but they wound up sending me two springs for free (which was nice). Took about 5 weeks all told.

Tama, their construction is first rate. So impressed with their shells and hardware. All is solid and flexible for ease of mounting. Hi-hat stand is super smooth as is the Dyna-Sync pedal. The only issue I've had with them was that there was a bad crack in one of the floor toms when I bought the kit. It's a bubinga kit, and this is right after they discontinued the starclassic line because of scarcity of wood. I was really upset. It ran vertically up the interior of the shell, right near a leg bracket. The other floor tom had a hair line crack on the interior of the shell running horizontally, maybe an inch or 2 long. If it had just been that, I may not have called about it. I really thought the whole kit was going to have to go back.

It only took a few days for Tama to be alerted to the issue and to agree to make new drums for me. There was really no discussion at all. They saw the pictures and called Alto (Music in Middletown in NY (thank you Dan!)) the next day to let them know I should keep the originals until the new ones were ready. It took about 5 months for them to be built and shipped, They were perfect, and the lacquer finish is exact! So while I was a little shocked the drum with the bigger crack made it past QC, they rectified it immediately and without question. Funny thing is, the drum still sounded amazing. I played it a lot in those few months showing me it was a good thing I called them. The hairline crack never changed, but the big one the was all the way through the drum and had gotten worse. It was now almost a cut-out all the way around the leg mount. I'm assuming it happened when the hardware was mounted. Maybe the screws were over-torqued? I've been told cracks like this can happen with bubinga because it's such a hard wood.

Tama also made me an 8x7 tom. Again, the lacquer finish was a perfect match.

So thumbs up to them. But I will never take another drum home from a ship without inspecting it first. Heads come off, and I inspect the interior of the shell and the bearing edges.

The issues I've had with Gretsch have been on my brother in law's kit. Bad edges, out of round (I think) shells, varying shell thickness, bad finish and awful strainer. It would take a LOT to get me to but Gretsch gear. I'd really have to fall in love with something.
 

Markkuliini

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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.
Wrap isn't necessarily that different, actually.
Here's a new shell and a 10 year old shell side by side. Both made by DW and the wrap is called broken glass. And I want to mention that the old shell was kept in a case for 99% of the time so it has gotten very little UV-radiation.

IMG_20200219_185806.jpg
 

SpinaDude

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I don’t think any company is without some issues.
My vote goes to Yamaha.
Agreed on both points. It's nearly impossible to have mass production without some flaws.

My kit choice came down to the Starclassic Bubinga or the new Yamaha Hybrid Oak. I went with the Tama, but if I ever have the space and money for kit number two, Yamaha will be getting my call.

That's unfortunate to hear about the Armory kit. Again, every mass produced item is bound to fall short once in a while, but three shells in one kit? That's a major fail on Mapex's part. How bad are they? Unplayable/untunable bad?
 

lrod1707

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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.
Actually that can be an issue with lacquered finished add on drums from any manufacturer. So I will give credit to Gretsch for being the only one to actually disclose that up front. At least you won't be surprised when your add-on supposedly Royal Blue drum is actually Aqua, LOL!
Now I'll give my personal recent experience:
My recently bought Ludwig Classic Maple's QC is first rate. Flawless with the exception of that one extra tom I bought that had the slightly crooked badge. No big deal though!
My recently bought Gretsch USA snare: Flawless physically and functionally. But damn, I changed the factory heads and when I opened that thing up it had what looked like metal shavings and was dirty as can be internally. I had to clean it and vacuum the inside of the drum. For a drum of that quality & price, it should have never left the factory like that. It's like buying a new luxury car and taking delivery of it with a dirty interior.
 
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JDA

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I bought them when they were blowing out the jasper/gunmetal hw Broadkasters
Sets?
when exactly was that or did you buy those as singles from Creme City Music (wisconsin..) Warp something on ebay/ authorized Gretsch dealer....
Creme City Music bought all the old stock 6P Bk's- (when they were still inventoried at gretsch (but discontinued)
(that's where / from whom (Creme City) I got my four (drums) and the match (and quality) is/ was/ is purrfect.
 

Jazzcrimes

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Sets?
when exactly was that or did you buy those as singles from Creme City Music (wisconsin..) Warp something on ebay/ authorized Gretsch dealer....
I bought it as bop kit/set. I did not buy singles (if that’s what you are asking). It was not from that dealer.
 


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