What makes one shell pack vastly more expensive than another (same mfg)?

avedisschwinn

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In general, I am a "B+" buyer. I never seem to pick the highest or lowest priced in any product. That is where the best value is (for me). My family always had used cars, and I went with my dad to test drive. He never bought a car off a lot, he went for good quality cars, sold by their owners, and he a had an eye for quality. He loved and knew cars, but didn't have gear lust around them. I think that rubbed off on me. ( I had a series of Dodge Darts and Plymouth Valiants back in the day, then a run of Volvo wagons, and now an 18 year old Honda Element. Almost all my drums are "players grade" used vintage.

On the specifics of the thread, I own a vintage Gretsch bop kit. Where I rehearse there is a Catalina Club bop kit, and is well tuned, good heads, etc. We record our rehearsals, and I am always amazed at how good those Catalinas sound. I know I could be happy playing a kit like that, so why not sell my old kit and come out ahead financially? It is romance. The Catalina has those smaller lugs with rubber gaskets, stuff like that. It just doesn't tweak the part of me that is still pretending to be Elvin, Tony, Blakey, etc.
 

Dirk

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I think your premise may be wrong as the biggest difference I see is where it is manufactured. A single brand: Ludwig, Pearl, Yamaha, DW, etc, may have drum lines manufactured in multiple countries. Quality of wood, hardware and finish also play a part.
Thats embarrassingly obvious to me now and explains, like in neon lights, how a 1k$ kit, which I now realize would be manufactured in a country with much lower mfg costs than anywhere in the West (regardless of the drum company name), can be so good. Doh!
 
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bassanddrum84

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I’ve owned a few high end kits. One being a dw collectors and you know what. I rarely gigged them out. Only special occasions. I was to scared to mess them up this also lead to me getting rid of them.

What’s even crazier is some drum companies budget kit might be 1500 is another companies top line. That’s crazy to me.

Dw has some very innovative shell technology layups and finishes. But I don’t think they’re worth 4+K then look at sjc where you can change a just a wrap and the price will jump insane. They’ll charge 5k+ for a full custom kit.
 

cruddola

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I've always seen drums like cars. Fancy costs more. Options cost more. Be prepared to pay for it. Buying a new car or truck ain't for me either. I've bought only two new vehicles in my 66 years of stupid. Back in 96 I bought a 4X4 F250 pickup and a 4X4 F350 with service body at the same time. I still drive them today. Still less than the cost of a fancy King Ranch model.

I see buying drums the same way. I look for overall sonic character and quality build. The finish or color doesn't even come into the picture in my case. Fulfilling my ear's need is most important to me. My ears decide what I will buy. I'm not into vintage drums either. I like the newer gear better.

Drums were nothing more than tools of the trade. When I outfitted my room at my sister's house, I had to acquire another drumkit to keep there for when I visit. I could've bought any high-end kit five times over. But why? It's not a need. I'd rather have grilled Rib-eyes three times a week for a mighty long time and a backup generator instead.

I decided to put up my first vintage Joe Morello Paiste cymbal set bought back in the 70s to a used Yamaha Tour Custom kit in Natural Maple. 10, 12, 13, 14 FT, 16FT and 22 BD. I'd put them up against the twice-owned Maple Customs and even my current Maple Custom Absolutes anytime. Got the used Tour Customs in excellent condition at Guitar Center online for 890 dollars. They're right next to my sister's piano in the basement studio. They were, and still are, in perfect shape. Good enough.

Drums are like vehicles to me. Don't need no stinking Rolls-Royce to go to the market when my 2006 Crown Vic Interceptor will do. Or my bicycle. Got another 2007 Interceptor and a beater F150 in Wisconsin. Good enough.

No way in Hell would I pay anything over 13 hundred for any new or used kit today. I wouldn't buy a high-end kit today for tours and gigs either. I'd buy a Tour Custom kit for their wide tuning range. The venue's acoustics and/or FOH guys are gonna change the character of the drums anyway. In my 4 decades of drumming professionally, I've learned one constant. Maple drums and a Supra will go with anything.

Bottom line: To each their own. Buy what gives you an eargasm, eyegasm or both.
 
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Browny

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Labour rates are a part of it, but also associated expenses when compared to the lower cost areas. General overheads, leases, paying off off equipment, maintenance, occupational health & safety, etc. The difference in overall labour/overhead/associated costs is pretty staggering.

There’s also tariffs to consider, particularly for American companies.

There’s economy of scale, the more of the exact same thing you can make in one go the cheaper it is. The less options the better. Every time something is different, there’s setup and management costs involved.

Different processes have different thresholds where you effectively have minimised the cost per unit. Higher automation often has greater efficiency and more likelihood of a lower cost per unit.

Material cost is becoming a bigger factor by the day, and then there’s shipping which has gone through the roof

It does cut both ways, businesses set up for automotive style production lines with a select number of options are going to find it harder to create bespoke pieces, short of operating a seperate production line, which is going to negatively affect the bottom line unless those custom jobs have a crazy mark up.

Anyway, there’s a hell of a lot of factors that contribute to the price differences, and I haven’t got close to mentioning them all, or in any level of detail that addresses the complexities of each. While there are almost certainly going to be some differences in profit margins across different lines, the idea that ‘it’s just marketing’ is pretty naive.

Just some quick thoughts from an industrial designer…
 

DavedrumsTX

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What makes one shell pack from a given manufacturer more expensive than their other offerings?

Take a major manufacturer’s 4k$ shell pack and their 1k$ pack with the same piece count. What are the meaningful differences relating to cost? Does it boil down to seriously expensive woods on one and far less expensive woods on the other? Is the process, shell construction or hardware so different as to cause such a price difference? Is it more expensive finishes? Seems to me that in this day and age even relatively inexpensive shells would have to be made on state of the art machinery, with high quality materials and to exacting tolerances, if only from a production quality assurance perspective; I mean, how else could a company cost efficiently produce them any other way? If the expensive stuff was “hand made” or had lots more hands on finish work then that could explain it but that's largely not what I saw on the Sonor factory visit video from Sweetwater.

I know what it is in the world of one-at-a-time hand made, hi-zoots bicycle frames, vs higher production (but still small) outfits like Davidson used to be and Toei still is; but for a factory that does drums from silly money to 1k and even less it's puzzling me.

I’m curious, and not without a fair bit of drum kit lust.

Thanks for any insights.

I’ve been drumming for 50 years and in manufacturing for over 30 years. I don’t care what product you are making, the price of any product comes down to a few basic elements:

-Labor-The time and manpower required to build the product. The more time, the more it will cost. The geographic location of labor and skills required will impact this cost greatly.
-Cost of Materials-The cost of all components. This can very greatly based on the availability of materials. An exotic drum shell will cost more due to the limited availability of that type of shell.
-Overhead-excluding labor, this is everything else you pay to design, manufacture, market, distribute and Service a product. Rent, utilities, manufacturing equipment, etc.

I have over simplified for the forum, but these are the primary cost drivers. Yes, premium brands can ask more based on reputation, but have to be careful not to out price themselves.
 

Gordie59

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I've always seen drums like cars. Fancy costs more. Options cost more. Be prepared to pay for it. Buying a new car or truck ain't for me either. I've bought only two new vehicles in my 66 years of stupid. Back in 96 I bought a 4X4 F250 pickup and a 4X4 F350 with service body at the same time. I still drive them today. Still less than the cost of a fancy King Ranch model.

I see buying drums the same way. I look for overall sonic character and quality build. The finish or color doesn't even come into the picture in my case. Fulfilling my ear's need is most important to me. My ears decide what I will buy. I'm not into vintage drums either. I like the newer gear better.

Drums were nothing more than tools of the trade. When I outfitted my room at my sister's house, I had to acquire another drumkit to keep there for when I visit. I could've bought any high-end kit five times over. But why? It's not a need. I'd rather have grilled Rib-eyes three times a week for a mighty long time and a backup generator instead.

I decided to put up my first vintage Joe Morello Paiste cymbal set bought back in the 70s to a used Yamaha Tour Custom kit in Natural Maple. 10, 12, 13, 14 FT, 16FT and 22 BD. I'd put them up against the twice-owned Maple Customs and even my current Maple Custom Absolutes anytime. Got the used Tour Customs in excellent condition at Guitar Center online for 890 dollars. They're right next to my sister's piano in the basement studio. They were, and still are, in perfect shape. Good enough.

Drums are like vehicles to me. Don't need no stinking Rolls-Royce to go to the market when my 2006 Crown Vic Interceptor will do. Or my bicycle. Got another 2007 Interceptor and a beater F150 in Wisconsin. Good enough.

No way in Hell would I pay anything over 13 hundred for any new or used kit today. I wouldn't buy a high-end kit today for tours and gigs either. I'd buy a Tour Custom kit for their wide tuning range. The venue's acoustics and/or FOH guys are gonna change the character of the drums anyway. In my 4 decades of drumming professionally, I've learned one constant. Maple drums and a Supra will go with anything.

Bottom line: To each their own. Buy what gives you an eargasm, eyegasm or both.
You can't go wrong with a Supra
 


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