I’ve been playing drums since I was 12 and while I stopped at around the age of 18 and only dabbled for the next 30 years I still know good sound.
My first kit, to my parents dismay, was a red sparkle Raven 5 piece with some horrible sounding no-name cymbals. After that working as a fry-cook at Micky D’s earned me enough to buy a Wesbury 6 piece kit. As you know my good reader, these kits sound like shit. They are for beginners and back then beginners had very little. Still they didn’t sound bad with the guitarist’s Raven Les Paul.
Anyway after that it was construction and I was making more money. I slowly replaced all the components with Gretsch cherry shell toms. Back then the toms only had one head too. I was up to 6″ (why don’t they make these any more?) 8″, 10″, 12″, 13″, 16″ and a kick. All Zildjian cymbals by now and as a disciple of Peart I had many. And I sold the lot. Ever make a dumb discussion? This was mine.
In a fit of panic I bought a Pearl Maple 5 piece kit. Nothing to write home about. The set was slowly increased with Pearl Export components until it consisted of an 8″, 10″, 12″, 13″, 14″, 16″ toms and 2 22″ bass drums. Rounding it out are 13″ New Beat hi-hats, a 20″ Ping ride, 16″ and 17″ Rock crashes, an 18″ Medium Thin crash and 8″ and 10″ splashes. Zildjian again (the 10″ is a Sabian B8).
Because I wasn’t playing much I felt that this kit was sufficient to pull out of storage and bang on every few years. Now, however, that I’m playing often and recording more the Pearls sound a little less sufficient than I’d like. Why would they? They’re an entry level beginners drum kit. There was only one thing I could do. Go for the Gretsch!
Before venturing back to my old favourite though I did a bunch of research. Lots has happened in the world of music since I really paid any attention but with drums, the more that things change, the more they stay the same. New mounts, more standardization and of course, more vendors. But that’s about it. Oh yeah. And everything is made in China. What the hell is up with that? But I won’t go there today…
Fortunately with the Internet it is easy to check out lots of technologies before heading out to buy them. I stumbled upon Green Briar Music. They had a pile of videos of Stephen Whitesides demonstrating all kinds of kits in the same environment (although sometimes they were micd different). I listened to a few Sonor and DW and Ludwig kits before locking in on a few Gretsch sets. Sorry but I still love that Great Gretsch Sound. The kits were the New Classic, the Renown and the Renown ’57. These are Gretsch’s mid-range, professional kits and they sound incredible. While I didn’t buy my kit from Green Briar Music (it would have been too much to ship and duty is a nightmare) it was their videos that made my purchase run smoothly. Thanks guys!
Next I had to find a set. Everywhere I looked there was a 6+ week lead time. I called the guys I’ve been dealing with since I first busted a snare drum head at the age of 12; Just Drums in Toronto, Canada. Grant (the guy I was dealing with) told me he could have a kit in the Autumn Burst finish by the end of the week, early next week at the latest. Only the core Fusion kit, the 10″, 12″, 14″, 20″ and snare were available at this time but I could order the rest which I did. The next thing morning the phone rings and it Dave Hamilton, the owner. I was floored. He saw my name on an order that came across his desk and remembered me after all this time. You have to understand I must have seen him only 2 or 3 times in the past 30 years. Still, Dave remembered me. Now that I think about it, most of the shopping I did at Dave’s was at his old store, The Drum Shoppe, before he opened Just Drums. Talk about great customer service!
Dave also did my deal one better; he got the kit there the next day! In fact I had to wait a day until my schedule allowed me to get to Toronto.
Now it’s here and set up. I have to say there is NO COMPARISON between my old Pearls and these Gretsch drums. When my wife, who has never commented on my drums in all our time together, comes downstairs to tell me how rich and full my new drums sound I know they sound good!
So now I’m waiting on my 8″, 13″ and 16″ toms. Until then though it’s great practice to play a more scaled down kit and to work on placement of all the components. Next up it looks like some decent mics are required. A couple of overheads does not do this kit justice.