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GRETSCH RENOWN MAPLE SERIES DRUM KIT

GRETSCH RENOWN MAPLE SERIES DRUM KIT
December 3, 2007 | Reviewer: Natalie Trembath
Distributor: PRO MUSIC (07) 3375 6400

gretschrenownThe Gretsch name is one that has been associated with quality musicians for a long time. In fact the company was founded in New York way back in 1883. Some of the world’s finest drummers have sat behind a Gretsch kit including Max Roach, Charlie Watts, Mitch Mitchell from the Hendrix band and Phil Collins to name just a few. The reason they choose this particular brand of drums is not uncommon .. it’s all about the “Great Gretsch Sound.”

For this special issue of Australian Musician I had the opportunity to test out a Gretsch Renown Maple drum kit, and more specifically the very attractive Slate Silver Sparkle model featuring 12” x 9” tom, 16” x16” floor tom, 22 x 20 kick, 14” x 6.5” 10 lug snare, and 10” x 8” tom (which is an optional extra). On taking possession of the kit, I was pleasantly surprised to find how light it was, in particular the kick drum (and even more so as it is an extra long kick drum).  I was so sure it was going to be heavy that I nearly threw it back over my shoulder when I lifted it for the first time.  Anyone who gigs regularly and rehearses a lot could appreciate that. It can be a hard slog carrying heavy gear in and out of venues, up and down stairs and through crowds of people.

I found the kit easy to set up, and this would be the case whether you had the 4 piece or 5 piece version.  The Gibraltar 6 series hardware is solid, well made and fully adjustable so you shouldn’t have any problems positioning the toms to suit your requirements.  The Renown kit has the GTS mounting system which is a non-invasive mounting system, so it doesn’t have any mounting holes in the toms or kick to interfere with their natural sound and resonance.  It actually suspends the drums without penetrating the shell, resulting in a pure and organic sound.

The floor tom has the usual 3 adjustable legs but with a slick, locking mechanism that allows you to fix the leg height so that next time you set up, each leg assembles one way and the height is preset already … quick and easy.  Then there’s the Gibraltar 9 series stool, or should I say “lounge”.  This is awesome!  It’s BIG … the most comfortable drum stool I have ever sat on.  As soon as I sat on it I thought “I’ve gotta get myself one of these”.

The people at Gretsch have really placed some nice touches into this kit such as rubber pads under the tuning lug mounts, clear Evans G2 batters and clear resonant heads. The snare has a coated G1 batter and a Hazy 300 snare side. The bass drum features a clear EMAD batter and an ebony EQ3 resonant head. The painted lacquer finish is well presented, and the lug mounts are small and attractive. There’s nothing gaudy or cheap about this kit at all.

After a quick tune it was time to have a bash.  This kit is comfortable and easy to play.  It doesn’t feel odd or awkward … in fact, it’s really good fun.  Inspiring even.  I like a deep sound to my drums and it was easy to get a warm, deep tone while maintaining a fair amount of rebound in the Evans skins.  Responsible for much of the awesome sound is the fact that Gretsch factor in a 30 degree slant to the bearing edges. The consequence of this is that it increases the head’s contact area and adds resonance to the shell (which feature die cast hoops).  The kick drum is HUGE! Very, very  punchy and beefy.  It did have an Evans head with a dampening ring which I’m sure added to the sound but it was very cool indeed.  Everyone stopped in their tracks when I let rip with the double kicks.  There’s a misconception that the tones you get from a Maple kit are more suited to jazz players, and that Birch is more your rock n roll material. However it should be noted that this very kit came to me having survived use by Pink, The Rogue Traders and Melbourne rockers Jet, who used it to fill the MCG with back beat on Grand Final day.

Overall, the Gretsch Renown kit is an impressive package. Make no mistake, this is no starter kit, it’s a professional drum kit designed with the touring drummer in mind.  It is well made, sounds like a kit of this price range should sound, the speckled finish is a real eye catcher, and at $3795 for the 4 piece kit  with Gibraltar 6 series hardware and $4195 for the 5 piece with Gibraltar 6 series hardware, it’s very good value indeed.

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