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Questions for Gretsch bop kit owners

ARGuy

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I have a chance to pick up a Gretsch RB 18-12-14 player's grade kit. The original finish was stripped long ago and modern tom mounting hardware was installed. It looks like the bass drum and mounted tom are 6 ply, and the floor tom could be 3 ply.
What I'm wondering is, what have you found to be unique about those kits - is there something about the sound and feel that other drums just don't have? Or is it just their rarity?
I'm not really a jazz player, so it's not a kit that I would be playing on a regular basis. Since it's been modified it doesn't have collectors value, so it just comes down to whether it has something extra special that's a must-have.
Any and all input greatly appreciated.
 

K.O.

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I think that for RB bop kits it is mostly about the rarity of the 18" bass drums. The 12 and 14 would be no different than those found with other sets. Those 18" RB bass drums bring quite a premium, even ones that are "swiss cheesed" with extra holes. They are deemed as very desirable. I have never owned one so I can't say why for sure. The basic "recipe" for these drums stayed the same through the stop sign badge era and, really, right up to today but it is the RB ones that command the biggest bucks.

So consider yourself lucky I guess and try to find the magic that is apparently inherent in these drums.
 

Pink69

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If it’s cheap just buy it, if it’s not your taste you will always be able to sell it.
 

Matched Gripper

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I have a chance to pick up a Gretsch RB 18-12-14 player's grade kit. The original finish was stripped long ago and modern tom mounting hardware was installed. It looks like the bass drum and mounted tom are 6 ply, and the floor tom could be 3 ply.
What I'm wondering is, what have you found to be unique about those kits - is there something about the sound and feel that other drums just don't have? Or is it just their rarity?
I'm not really a jazz player, so it's not a kit that I would be playing on a regular basis. Since it's been modified it doesn't have collectors value, so it just comes down to whether it has something extra special that's a must-have.
Any and all input greatly appreciated.
IMO, Gretsch drums are notable for their round, focused, musical tone. But, they can sound a bit boxy at a distance. I don’t think the ply layup makes much difference as long as the bearing edges have the same shape.
 

bjisteve

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60s RB toms have rounded edges. Gretsch went to their current 30 deg with round over edge in the late 60s/early 70s. So the RBs are warmer/rounder and a bit less articulate. I haven't owned them but I've played them and the difference is notable.
 

K.O.

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60s RB toms have rounded edges. Gretsch went to their current 30 deg with round over edge in the late 60s/early 70s. So the RBs are warmer/rounder and a bit less articulate. I haven't owned them but I've played them and the difference is notable.
So could a modern Gretsch Keller "jasper" layup shell with the edges recut to the earlier profile replicate that sound?
 

JazzDrumGuy

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Probably. I have 12/14/16/20 RB drums but no 18 yet. I have an early 80's 18's (both a bass and a FT convert) and they a "the sound" too.
 

bjisteve

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So could a modern Gretsch Keller "jasper" layup shell with the edges recut to the earlier profile replicate that sound?
Jasper is the company that used to make shells for Gretsch. They closed a while back and now Gretsch gets their shells from Keller. Same ply layup. But yeah, you could have a modern Gretsch re-edged and except for the age of the wood, you'd have the same drum, except better hardware, round shells and no problem fitting standard heads.
 

K.O.

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Jasper is the company that used to make shells for Gretsch. They closed a while back and now Gretsch gets their shells from Keller. Same ply layup. But yeah, you could have a modern Gretsch re-edged and except for the age of the wood, you'd have the same drum.
Yes, Keller is making the same maple/gum/gum/gum/gum/maple shells as Jasper Furniture co. used to make. My point was that it should be relatively easy to replicate the sound of the 60s RB 18" bass drum using a "Jasper spec" shell and having the edges done to the older profile. The age of the wood might have an effect but even the 80s drum are getting well aged.
 

bjisteve

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Yes, Keller is making the same maple/gum/gum/gum/gum/maple shells as Jasper Furniture co. used to make. My point was that it should be relatively easy to replicate the sound of the 60s RB 18" bass drum using a "Jasper spec" shell and having the edges done to the older profile. The age of the wood might have an effect but even the 80s drum are getting well aged.
I'm pretty sure sure RB bass drums had modern edges, not round over. But there is something special about gretsch bass drums. I have a 90s broadkaster kit with the gunmetal hardware. The whole kit sounds great but the bd is like no other. It has a certain boing that I love.
 

PPF

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I have a chance to pick up a Gretsch RB 18-12-14 player's grade kit. The original finish was stripped long ago and modern tom mounting hardware was installed. It looks like the bass drum and mounted tom are 6 ply, and the floor tom could be 3 ply.
What I'm wondering is, what have you found to be unique about those kits - is there something about the sound and feel that other drums just don't have? Or is it just their rarity?
I'm not really a jazz player, so it's not a kit that I would be playing on a regular basis. Since it's been modified it doesn't have collectors value, so it just comes down to whether it has something extra special that's a must-have.
Any and all input greatly appreciated.
I have a stripped Gretsch RB bop kit too - without mufflers. and that thing sings for days!
you won't regret it! As many others already wrote, there's something special about these 18" Gretsch BD. best sounding BD & kit in general I ever had.
the thing about buying a RB - it won't lose its value, they are always sought after.
 

Rik_Everglade

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For me, it is the ease of moving a bass drum through narrow hatch openings, narrow doorways, around people and such. They sound good, a distinctive sound, not necessarily a better boom, and it doesn't matter for a lot of music.
 

paulwells73

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I have a Round Badge 12/14/18 as well as a 2017 USA Custom 12/14/18. While they both sound great and are both unmistakably “Gretsch sounding", there is absolutely a difference between them. It’s especially noticeable with the 18" bass drums. I’ve spent hours (yes, literally hours) comparing the new and old drums, particularly the bass drums, with the exact same heads, tuning, pedals and beaters, in the same room right next to each other. The Round Badge 18 has a noticeably greater amount of bottom end warmth and ‘woofy-ness" that the new drum doesn’t have. The USA Custom bass drum sounds fantastic and I use on gigs all the time, but it is a thinner and twangy-er sound with more high end cut.

When I added a small moleskin patch to the area of the head where the beater makes contact, the gulf narrowed considerably between the two and I’m quite happy using either on gigs.
 

wflkurt

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I know that re-wraps and such aren't exactly favored among collectors but an original 18,12,14 Gretsch done up in a classic color that Gretsch offered could probably bring some decent money. If this was me, I would probably try to replicate a color that either Max, Elvin, Art or Tony used as I feel that a collector might jump all over that. I'm sure even a nice black nitron finish would look good and it would be my goal to make the set as factory original as possible. Sounds like a wonderful opportunity to have a very desirable set.
 


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