~ Sound test ~ RB bebop kit against a SSB#1 bebop kit

Osahead2

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Guys, for the hell of it, I conducted a sound test earlier today putting my Gretsch RB 18/12/14 bebop kit against my Gretsch SSB#1 18/12/14 bebop kit.
0706131318c.jpg 0706131837.jpg

Both kits were dialed-in the very same way with the same type of heads, etc and using no tone control muffler pushed against the 12 or 14 on both kits. But in order to control some ringing in bass drum, I did use some (very little) Jimmy Pratt felt strip on the bass drum.
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Both kits sound amazing! Both kits have that Gretsch sound you would expect from drum shells in this size.
Nice and woody.

But get this... myself (and the other two guys) noticed no true big difference in sound from one kit to the other... so guys... if you are thinking about buying a SSB kit or already own a SSB kit... don't let anybody talk you out of them. IMHO, I think basically both kits sound the same!

The test only applies to 6-ply RB kits and 6-ply SSB#1 kits. Don't know about the other era Gretsch drums but one day, I would like to put my RB 20/12/14 up against my RB 18/12/14 OR vintage Gretsch vs. Austin FIBES.
 

K.O.

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There were some quality control issues when Gretsch moved production out of Brooklyn but otherwise it was just a different badge (and an air vent added on the toms). I'm not sure why SSB drums seem to be considered second class by some folks. Same shells, same hardware, pretty much everything the same except for the people doing the work after the move. Admittedly that is an important difference but once they got things moving smoothly in Arkansas they were turning out good drums again. I'm sure there were a few duds turned out in Brooklyn too. Not every RB drum is an example of perfection.
 

mlvbs

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Is your SSB kit an early one? I'd assume so with that 2 point rail.

A couple of years in to the SSB era, there were a number of changes made to Gretsch shells - they became thinner, and the bearing edges totally changed. Also, the bass drum hoops changed from the super thick 3 ply type to the more standard thickness, 6 ply type. Because of these changes, a SSB kit from 1970/71 will sound a lot closer to a RB kit than, say, a SSB kit from 1975. In my experience, 6 ply RB drums and early SSB drums are less resonant overall, and sound boxier, darker, and deeper. Later SSB drums sound more resonant, wetter, bigger tuning range, more like modern Gretsches. Later SSB bass drums have more of a thin "boom" as compared to a RB bass drum's deep, cannon-like "thump". There are of course huge variations in every era, and many exceptions to these loose generalizations.

The dryness and short notes of RB drums are what make them so popular with jazz drummers, who don't want the long-lasting tom notes...it's always funny to watch people who are accustomed to modern drums, where the toms go, "BOOOOoooooommmm....," play a RB kit for the first time...they often think they're horrible sounding.
 
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DolFan54

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I just had this very same discussion yesterday with a friend of mine that owns a drum shop. SSB Gretsch and late 60's RB sound the same. The only difference is the badge and vent holes on the toms! Both of us have no fear in purchasing a SSB kit and welcome the lower pricing!
 

andrewro

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Bill, how can you tell for sure how early an SSB kit is? Especially when looking at ebay auctions and CL pics Any dead giveaways?
 

mlvbs

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andrewro said:
Bill, how can you tell for sure how early an SSB kit is? Especially when looking at ebay auctions and CL pics Any dead giveaways?
Unfortunately there are no hard and fast rules, since the shell change was a long, gradual transition. But there are some things that would make me lean toward early SSB. The best way to tell is by photos of the paper tags, but those of course aren't always available.

-A 2-point rail will often mean an early SSB kit (but not always, as a number of later SSB kits had 2-point rails added by the owner or dealer).

-Glass glitter wraps, and unusual pearls like Red Wine and Emerald Green, are often early sets. Not a guarantee, but worth looking into.

-If it's a wood finish, look for an inlay in the hoops. Again, not a hard and fast rule, but almost all wood finish SSB kits with inlays in the hoops are early.

-Look for the super thick, 3 ply hoops. This can be tricky since the 6 ply hoops can look deceivingly like 3 ply, even up close.

-The monster/ball mount is almost always going to be the later shells. Same with anything Techware.

-Metal BD hoops and the 4-point rails were both right in the middle of the transition, so you could see either shells. Many kits from this period are mixed shell sets...it's normal to see one RB type tom and one thin-shelled tom with a full roundover edge.

I should also mention that I love the later SSB drums...they're a different animal than the earlier ones, but just as great! One bizarre set I had was a circa 1977 18-12-14 with the later, thin tom shells, full roundover edges, etc, but the bass drum was a super thick RB shell with the RB edge...best of both worlds!

-Bill
 

Sonorholic

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As I said in the mounting systems thread, yesterday I compared SSB and USA Maple 12" toms and they both sounded great. I'd love to see a real blindfold test, but for me that Great Gretsch sound has been there all along.
 

K.O.

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My SSB set has the metal BD hoops and the early double tom mount (placed close to the player) but it is Tangerine Sparkle (glitter) which didn't last too long into the SSB era. I assume it's an early one...probably should check the serials against Rick's book to try to narrow it down a bit more.
 

andrewro

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Thanks Bill, that's very informative. Am I right that a two-point rail means a rail with two screws attaching it to the BD?
 

madchops82

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Thanks Bill. Great kits, again.

I have an early 70s 18 12 14 Natural Maple that I play frequently. The bass drum is a modified floor tom that was chopped down to an 18x14.5. I use old Slingerland Tympani floor tom T-Rods from the 30s as Bass Drum T-Rods.

A 10 Lug Gretsch 18 kick has a ton of thump to it. It's not original, but it does have a 2 point rail and is my keeper.

I'll share pics asap. Great thread.
 

rondrums51

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mlvbs said:
The dryness and short notes of RB drums are what make them so popular with jazz drummers, who don't want the long-lasting tom notes...it's always funny to watch people who are accustomed to modern drums, where the toms go, "BOOOOoooooommmm....," play a RB kit for the first time...they often think they're horrible sounding.
If tuned right, RB's have very good sustain. What they don't have is a lot of stray overtones, due to the mass of the hoops and lugs, which focus the fundamental note. That's why they're so great for jazz: They never sound too ringy or sloppy, and they don't interfere with the frequencies of an acoustic bass, piano, etc.
 

mlvbs

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rondrums51 said:
The dryness and short notes of RB drums are what make them so popular with jazz drummers, who don't want the long-lasting tom notes...it's always funny to watch people who are accustomed to modern drums, where the toms go, "BOOOOoooooommmm....," play a RB kit for the first time...they often think they're horrible sounding.
If tuned right, RB's have very good sustain. What they don't have is a lot of stray overtones, due to the mass of the hoops and lugs, which focus the fundamental note. That's why they're so great for jazz: They never sound too ringy or sloppy, and they don't interfere with the frequencies of an acoustic bass, piano, etc.
Well, it's probably semantics at this point, but I totally agree that they have very good sustain. What they don't have, in my opinion, is long sustain (possibly what you're referring to as "ringy"), and the drummers that tend to dislike them equate long sustain with good sustain. The length of time that you hear a note from a '60s Ludwig, Camco, or Rogers tom, all else being equal, is usually going to be longer than that of a '60s Gretsch tom note.
 

Osahead2

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Okay, here is a Gretsch curve ball...

A very dark walnut late 1970s 18/12/14 bebop kit with SSB#1 badges, matching wooden hoops and W&A rail mount, etc. The "cut" paper tags (serial numbers) are indicating a very late SSB#1 production?

And, I think this late SSB#1 kit was built using the very same 6-ply Jasper shell as with earlier kits. This kit still has it original edges so it sounds pretty good but, I have notice some small QC issues but hey that's just Gretsch especially during that time period.

What, I like most about this bebop kit is that it retains that beautiful early look, sound, and feel of the early style bebop kits... and for some reason it was built without metal bass drum hoops, no JIMMY PRATT, no cymbal mount, and no center post with ball mount... but this kit is truly a late production so maybe it was special ordered? Can somebody explain this one?

1211131446c.jpg IMG_20140510_190529.jpg IMG_20140510_191430.jpg
IMG_20140510_192200 (2).jpg IMG_20140510_192358.jpg
 

mlvbs

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Osahead2 said:
Okay, here is a Gretsch curve ball...

A very dark walnut late 1970s 18/12/14 bebop kit with SSB#1 badges, matching wooden hoops and W&A rail mount, etc. The "cut" paper tags (serial numbers) are indicating a very late SSB#1 production?

And, I think this late SSB#1 kit was built using the very same 6-ply Jasper shell as with earlier kits. This kit still has it original edges so it sounds pretty good but, I have notice some small QC issues but hey that's just Gretsch especially during that time period.

What, I like most about this bebop kit is that it retains that beautiful early look, sound, and feel of the early style bebop kits... and for some reason it was built without metal bass drum hoops, no JIMMY PRATT, no cymbal mount, and no center post with ball mount... but this kit is truly a late production so maybe it was special ordered? Can somebody explain this one?

1211131446c.jpg
IMG_20140510_190529.jpg
IMG_20140510_191430.jpg
IMG_20140510_192200 (2).jpg
IMG_20140510_192358.jpg
The only thing I can tell for sure is that they're drop-dead gorgeous! You should offer tours of your bop kit collection! :)

Gretsch sold a lot of virgin-shell kits in the '70s, and dealers would often complete the hardware installation to a customer's specs. I would imagine these left the factory as virgin shells, and then a store like Frank Ippolito's or Jack's of Boston installed whatever the specific customer wanted. Even the floor tom - those aren't the factory locations for FT leg mounts. Extremely lucky that they installed a 2-point rail and not a giant Pearl mount!
 

Osahead2

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mlvbs said:
Okay, here is a Gretsch curve ball...

A very dark walnut late 1970s 18/12/14 bebop kit with SSB#1 badges, matching wooden hoops and W&A rail mount, etc. The "cut" paper tags (serial numbers) are indicating a very late SSB#1 production?

And, I think this late SSB#1 kit was built using the very same 6-ply Jasper shell as with earlier kits. This kit still has it original edges so it sounds pretty good but, I have notice some small QC issues but hey that's just Gretsch especially during that time period.

What, I like most about this bebop kit is that it retains that beautiful early look, sound, and feel of the early style bebop kits... and for some reason it was built without metal bass drum hoops, no JIMMY PRATT, no cymbal mount, and no center post with ball mount... but this kit is truly a late production so maybe it was special ordered? Can somebody explain this one?

1211131446c.jpg
IMG_20140510_190529.jpg
IMG_20140510_191430.jpg
IMG_20140510_192200 (2).jpg
IMG_20140510_192358.jpg
The only thing I can tell for sure is that they're drop-dead gorgeous! You should offer tours of your bop kit collection! :)

Gretsch sold a lot of virgin-shell kits in the '70s, and dealers would often complete the hardware installation to a customer's specs. I would imagine these left the factory as virgin shells, and then a store like Frank Ippolito's or Jack's of Boston installed whatever the specific customer wanted. Even the floor tom - those aren't the factory locations for FT leg mounts. Extremely lucky that they installed a 2-point rail and not a giant Pearl mount!
Yes, that might be the case with this late 1970s kit because it make sense. And, if this kit was completed by a music store... thank God they actually put the tom mount on the correct panel so that the SSB#1 faces out.

And Bill thanks on the wonderful compliment about this kit but believe it or not this one is not my favorite finish because it is way too dark.
 

mlvbs

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Osahead2 said:
Yes, that might be the case with this late 1970s kit because it make sense. And, if this kit was completed by a music store... thank God they actually put the tom mount on the correct panel so that the SSB#1 faces out.

And Bill thanks on the wonderful compliment about this kit but believe it or not this one is not my favorite finish because it is way too dark.
Excellent point about the badge facing out! That says to me that it most likely wasn't Jack's of Boston that did the hardware, since they always put the small tom badge one panel away from the mount, even back in the RB days. Even Gretsch started configuring the small tom to have the badge one panel away from the mount as the factory default, sometime around the late '70s.

I'm with you, I prefer it to be 2 panels away!

I know what you mean about those really dark, later walnut stains, they can almost just look black, and the wood grain only shows in very bright light. Still love 'em, though!
 

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The construction of Jasper shells may have evolved through the years and the way Gretsch cut the edges may have as well but I highly doubt that these changes coincided directly with the badge change ("Tomorrow we start using the new badge so we need to change everything else too, call up Jasper and tell them to change the lay-up") so seeing a SSB doesn't automatically mean that a drum will sound any different than an earlier RB drum.
 

Osahead2

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mlvbs said:
Yes, that might be the case with this late 1970s kit because it make sense. And, if this kit was completed by a music store... thank God they actually put the tom mount on the correct panel so that the SSB#1 faces out.

And Bill thanks on the wonderful compliment about this kit but believe it or not this one is not my favorite finish because it is way too dark.
Excellent point about the badge facing out! That says to me that it most likely wasn't Jack's of Boston that did the hardware, since they always put the small tom badge one panel away from the mount, even back in the RB days. Even Gretsch started configuring the small tom to have the badge one panel away from the mount as the factory default, sometime around the late '70s.

I'm with you, I prefer it to be 2 panels away!

I know what you mean about those really dark, later walnut stains, they can almost just look black, and the wood grain only shows in very bright light. Still love 'em, though!
mlvbs said:
Yes, that might be the case with this late 1970s kit because it make sense. And, if this kit was completed by a music store... thank God they actually put the tom mount on the correct panel so that the SSB#1 faces out.

And Bill thanks on the wonderful compliment about this kit but believe it or not this one is not my favorite finish because it is way too dark.
Excellent point about the badge facing out! That says to me that it most likely wasn't Jack's of Boston that did the hardware, since they always put the small tom badge one panel away from the mount, even back in the RB days. Even Gretsch started configuring the small tom to have the badge one panel away from the mount as the factory default, sometime around the late '70s.

I'm with you, I prefer it to be 2 panels away!

I know what you mean about those really dark, later walnut stains, they can almost just look black, and the wood grain only shows in very bright light. Still love 'em, though!
mlvbs said:
Yes, that might be the case with this late 1970s kit because it make sense. And, if this kit was completed by a music store... thank God they actually put the tom mount on the correct panel so that the SSB#1 faces out.

And Bill thanks on the wonderful compliment about this kit but believe it or not this one is not my favorite finish because it is way too dark.
Excellent point about the badge facing out! That says to me that it most likely wasn't Jack's of Boston that did the hardware, since they always put the small tom badge one panel away from the mount, even back in the RB days. Even Gretsch started configuring the small tom to have the badge one panel away from the mount as the factory default, sometime around the late '70s.

I'm with you, I prefer it to be 2 panels away!

I know what you mean about those really dark, later walnut stains, they can almost just look black, and the wood grain only shows in very bright light. Still love 'em, though!
Bill,

In my humble drum collection, I have solid proof that Jack's of Boston didn't ruin all the Gretsch kits/toms that they ever touched!
IMG_20140512_113452.jpg

This walnut 12x8 SSB tom actually has two mount holes two panels away (IMO in the correct location)... but rest assured, over the years, I have seen my share of mess-up Jack kits & toms! Now, those holes might not be for a Gretsch mount but for once Jack's of Boston got the location right...
IMG_20140512_113615.jpg
 

mlvbs

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Osahead2 said:
Bill,

In my humble drum collection, I have solid proof that Jack's of Boston didn't ruin all the Gretsch kits/toms that they ever touched!
IMG_20140512_113452.jpg

This walnut 12x8 SSB tom actually has two mount holes two panels away (IMO in the correct location)... but rest assured, over the years, I have seen my share of mess-up Jack kits & toms! Now, those holes might not be for a Gretsch mount but for once Jack's of Boston got the location right...
IMG_20140512_113615.jpg
Oh wow, thanks for sharing that! That's the only one I've ever seen!
 


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