Vintage Gretsch 4160 or New 4160

Johnny K

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Howdy!

I was in NYC this past weekend for The Five Boroughs Bike Tour and since I came up a day early I made a point to stop into Steve Maxwell's drum shop, near MSG. I've been wanting a 5x14 4160 for sometime and the price for a brand new one is pretty reasonable. While at Maxwell's shop I played a '60s vintage 4160 that is on consignment and it was as the English say Brilliant! The price for the vintage snare is only a few dollar less than a brand new one, like less than 50 dollars difference. I have not played a new one yet, which I why I begrudingly left it sitting in Maxwell's drum shop. I want to know if the old 4160 piece is worth it.

My question to those who have played both is:

1. Would my money be better spent on the vintage 4160 or a shiny new 4160?
2. Aside from the new one coming with a 42 strand snare vs the vintage one with a 20 stand snare, is there a big difference in sound and sensitivity. Seriously, the vintage 4160 made my doubles sound almost pro. It was hard to not buy it.
 

JDA

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Have to take note of what Strainer was on the vintage ( may have been replaced with a Maxwell micro? Original micro, side throw Lightning or center throw lightning?)
When you say vintage what era/ badge
 

JazzDrumGuy

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When in doubt, I go vintage. However, I don't know the beer tap throw to which you refer. The vintage and modern throw are nearly identical, fit the same holes, but the new ones are brilliant in that they lock! The vintage ones have a tendency to loosen up during playing (lateral movement) - most of mine don't but a few do. The vintage lugs, shells, and hoops are fine. The wrap tends to shrink on vintage but the COB has no pitting/tarnish issues unlike the Supra. The one in the link above ($400) has the normal Micro throw and the 4 point knob "butt plate"is an earlier model. As for 20 vs 42, I think both the COB and wood versions sound better with 42 strands. I don't normally go that big but for Gretsch snares, for some reason, they sound better with 42 strands.

Ideally, I'd swap out the throw for a modern one.....that's the only "flaw"to me........I have 2 of the vintage COB RB's (one has the new throw), and 2 SSB 4160's (both have the lightning throw - a totally different beast!), and I have a handful of wood 4160's.......they are all great drums! But $50 less and the Mojo factor, the vintage is a no brainer.....
 

K.O.

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I would be inclined to buy a vintage one assuming it's in good shape. The new one is shiny new of course but it also has imported lugs, hoops, rods, and possibly the shell itself (it seems unclear where Gretsch's metal snare drums come from. I assume the USA Custom and Brooklyn ones are at least still "assembled" in the USA but many [all?] of the parts come from overseas). An older RB or SSB is going to be 100% made in the USA (assuming all original parts). I'm not sure that's important to everyone but it does mean something to me. This doesn't mean I wouldn't ever buy a new Gretsch metal snare (the bell brass one appeals to me deeply and I have a newer cast aluminum one that sounds awesome) just that in the scenario you are proposing I'd lean towards the vintage one.

In fact I bought a vintage 4160 a year or so ago from Steve's Chicago store. I got it for a nice price and a new Micro was part of the deal. With the new throw off in place it's a great snare drum. I was in sort of the same situation as you because he had a brand new Brooklyn version of the 4160 (same drum but with 302 hoops, a lightning throw, and a black round badge) for about the same price. I was all set to buy that when I saw the older drum resting on the floor in the back room and asked Steve Jr. about it. At the price he gave me with the new throw, which he had been meaning to install, I couldn't resist the charms of an original round badged version so that's the one that came home with me.

You really can't go wrong either way, these are just the things that would (and did) effect my own decision making in this "first world" quandary.
 
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VintageUSA

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It has been my assessment over the years that all 4000 series Gretsch USA snare drums are wonderful.
I had a 4160 COB for a couple of years until a collector in NYC just had to have it because it had the "Drop G" badge.
I sold it in perfect condition and when it arrived in NYC, he told me it was exactly what he needed.

Two years ago I ordered the 4169B (6.5X14 bronze/20-lug/42-strand) and I have not played anything else since................seriously.
This is an incredible snare drum and well worth the money.

I also previously owned a 1954 5X14 Gretsch WMP 3-ply maple snare that might be the best snare drum I ever played.

So the answer is this -- buy any of them -- you will like your choice.
And I agree the new micro throw is better then the older version.
And any micro throw (IMO) is better than the lightning throw -- my 4160 had the lightning throw and it is difficult to adjust.
 

AtlantaDrumGuy

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If vintage, just be sure that it functions well. Or that you can replace throw offs if needed, etc. Although I like vintage gear, I usually like modern snares for playing out. Exception is some of the old metal drums, where the parts are still very interchangeable with new stuff...and even then, save for an old COB model that I own...I don’t know how much difference it makes sonically.
 

John DeChristopher

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Another vote for vintage. I have two 70s SSB COB 4160s, one with 42 snares, the other with 20 and I prefer the 42. I have three Gretsch wood snares: a 60s RB, early 70s SSB and a newer one from 10 years ago that Gretsch made to match my 70s SSB MBP kit, all with 42 snares. They seem to sound best and I have to admit the newer MBP wood snare sounds as good and mellow as a vintage drum. You can see it in background...

But for roughly the same money why not go vintage.

fullsizeoutput_4359.jpeg
 

sptucker

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Just curious here; how do 4160 COB snares compare to COB Supras and Powertones?

Do I "need" to get a 4160, too? I've thought about trying one out over the years...
 

Pounder

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Don’t know about new ones. I had a vintage one I found in a pawn shop and it was with the earlier 60s throw. It had been outfitted with a sixties Ludwig wires. I had that drum a long time and it was awesome.

You just asked whether vintage is as good as new. It is just as good or better, although you may need to mess with the existing wires or throw.

HOWEVER I suggest shopping for a better price. As one of the advantages of a vintage drum is not the sound, it oughta have a competitive if not better price than the new one. Don’t be afraid to shop around. Those dealers ask top dollar.
 

Redbeard77

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Just curious here; how do 4160 COB snares compare to COB Supras and Powertones?

Do I "need" to get a 4160, too? I've thought about trying one out over the years...
I've played Gretsch brass snares (both 5 and 6.5 deep) next to Black Beautys and found the Gretsch to be brighter to my ears, even with the cast hoops. I've never played a Ludwig COB though.
 

Johnny K

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Wow, what a bunch of great replies. Thank you. I'll keep shopping. I definitely want a 4160.

So...What head combo do you 4160 owners like? I've been using Remo almost exclusivly for no reason in particular.
 

drummer5359

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I currently own three different vintage 4160 snare drums, all of them came with drum kits. I have played new 4160 snare drums as well and don't see a huge difference. A vintage one might hold it's value better, but make sure that it is in good condition. I like a Remo Ambassador as the batter on these drums.


396080
 

charlesm

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Based on samples I've heard, the vintage 4160s have sounded a little drier to me, whereas new versions seem to have a little more openness.
 

JazzDrumGuy

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I use coated amb. on pretty much all my snare tops and clear bottoms - once in a while, a coated Emperor (usually on metal snares) on top. I have a 4160 COB RB on my practice kit now with a coated Emp. I pulled it out after reading this thread and it sounds amazing. For wood 4160's, usually just a coated Amb......

When Brian Blade last came to Monterey Jazz in 2016, he brought his own black nitron RB/SSB kit and this same VINTAGE 4160 snare! Others also played that kit and the snare was loud, sensitive and warm across the board regardless of player/venue.
 


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