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View Full Version : "Gretsch Drums are a drag."


jay norem
10-23-2008, 07:50 PM
Has anyone seen this: "But Tony’s dead and Gretsch drums are a drag, as far as I’m concerned; they’re not made well, OK? "
Billy Cobham in the November issue of Jazz Times.

http://www.jazztimes.com/columns_and_features/before_and_after/index.cfm?artist=58&track=506&action=after

Of course, he's entitled to his opinions on Tony Williams and Cindy Blackman, but I don't think you could say that Gretsch drums aren't well made, not that I've ever owned or played Gretsch drums.

Vintagedrummer
10-23-2008, 07:57 PM
Must have been one of his 'blue pill' days. Gretsch kits are the bomb. I pay Sonor's but am looking closely at the Gretsch Renown Purewood Bubinga kit.

Peace

Bruce M. Thomson
10-23-2008, 08:29 PM
My biggest regret was selling my vintage Gretsch, 18" Bass, 12" Tom, 14" Floor.
I sort of had a cranial cramp and sold them. I miss the sound and the all around simplicity of setting up and tuning and even though I'm on my 5th kit I may very well go back to them. It's a weird thing to say about another brand but I still love Billy. I read a great interview with him back in the late eighties from the now defunct "Musicians Magazine, Player & Listener" He talked about how he and his marching band buddies would para- diddle a quarter on the wall and take turns keeping it there. He also mentioned that when he teaches (This was in Switzerland), the first thing he does regardless of level is teach breathing and posture. At that time he was playing as it was described in the article; "a forest of Mapex".

I still have the article but I am having a hard time figuring out how to copy and paste once I scanned it; any suggestions as I have a few I would like to share.

Vipercussionist
10-23-2008, 09:05 PM
Has anyone seen this: "But Tony’s dead and Gretsch drums are a drag, as far as I’m concerned; they’re not made well, OK? "
Billy Cobham in the November issue of Jazz Times.

http://www.jazztimes.com/columns_and_features/before_and_after/index.cfm?artist=58&track=506&action=after

Of course, he's entitled to his opinions on Tony Williams and Cindy Blackman, but I don't think you could say that Gretsch drums aren't well made, not that I've ever owned or played Gretsch drums. Like any other company, they had some issues, one that comes to mind is the self STRIPPING screws they used on the drum lugs for a while. But other big companies had their bad quality concerns too, so pointing out one isn't fair.
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That Guy
10-23-2008, 09:46 PM
Like any other company, they had some issues, one that comes to mind is the self STRIPPING screws they used on the drum lugs for a while. But other big companies had their bad quality concerns too, so pointing out one isn't fair.
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__________________
Most respect the badge, but all fear the drum.

Yes, that is the only incident that I could recall (though I didn't research anything else) that would give someone a reason for complaint. But, I do understand how upset someone would be if they spent a good piece of jack for a kit and it had quality control issues.

harryconway
10-23-2008, 10:09 PM
Well, everyone's got an opinion, right? If Gretsch kits aren't well made, I guess I've been lucky then to only hear the 20 or so good kits they ever produced. But I do live a charmed life.

GRUNTERSDAD
10-23-2008, 10:30 PM
Let's hope he never has to look for another endorsement. Burning bridges is not the way to go.

Muckster
10-23-2008, 11:59 PM
Someone pooped in his cheerios.

bjparadiddle
10-25-2008, 11:45 PM
It's rather sad to hear those nasty comments from Mr. Cobham. He's evidently one very angry and frustrated drummer. Billy was all the rage in the early/middle 70s. However, as an artist, he's not contributed to the music anything NEAR the innovations brought to the instrument as Tony Williams. And Cobham's comments about Gretsch drums are mean spirited and untrue. I've played Gretsch throughout my life and have yet to find a better drum. Last night, I heard Eric Gravatt at the Artist's Quarter, in St. Paul. He was playing the same Gretsch kit he had in Weather Report, back in the early 70s. He could play as quiet on them as he pleased, yet would nearly knock your fillings out when he gave those old tubs a punch. "Don't sing?" Try "Nefertitti," "Miles Smiles," "Filles de Kilamenjaro," "Four and More," then get back to me. The poor guy has blown a fuse.

foursticks
10-26-2008, 02:58 AM
Anyone else find it a bit ironic how Billy accuses Tony of over playing and playing too loudly when he is equally guilty of it, and maybe even more?

He sites Tony as an influence as well.. 'Tis very odd..

GRUNTERSDAD
10-26-2008, 03:13 AM
Just for fun.....

http://www.gretschdrums.com/?fa=dvd

jay norem
10-26-2008, 03:38 AM
Just for fun.....

http://www.gretschdrums.com/?fa=dvd

Okay, so here's my question. I want a set of Gretsch drums that are made with the exact same process that video described. Drums that are made by those same people using those same tools. Those are the drums I want. What are those drums? Certainly not the Catalinas. Which ones are they then? What are they called? I'm guessing that these are the top-of-the-line Gretsch drums, the classics, the best. What are they called and where do I get them?

GRUNTERSDAD
10-26-2008, 03:44 AM
My guess would be the USA Customs. I would hope that the Renown factory and the New Classic factory are using the same processes and care for quality, but one could only guess.

jay norem
10-26-2008, 03:59 AM
The USA Customs look pretty nice, pretty damn nice.
I'm assuming that if you want you can have a suspension-mount for the "floor" tom as well. I've often wondered why drums companies still make floor toms with legs if suspending the toms for increased resonance is so important, you know?
Anyway, those drums seems quite well made to me. So what's Billy Cobham's problem?

Steamer
10-26-2008, 04:16 AM
Well his comments about Tony are just plain to be completely straight up blunt mean spirited and totally just plain wrong and off the mark Take another kick at his grave stone Billy, pretty bad. Tony was all about the music, loving or hating his approach is another issue since it's fine not to dig it but his musical contributions were highly significant as noted by many and the recordings are still a "living" proof of just that. Same with taking shots at Cindy. Sounds like sour grapes to me about another drummers current success.

Somebody in need of a long overdue operation for a troubling butt problem perhaps me thinks? later...

trkdrmr
10-26-2008, 04:56 AM
All The Gretsch endorsers would definately disagree. Gretsch is enjoying a rebirth with some incredible imports and domestic made drums. They have never been better, and I see no evidence that they are anything less than the best.

That being said, Billy is entitled to his opinion, I just have no idea how he derived that conclusion. Billy is a drum God, but look at all the brands he has waded through in his career. Fibes, Tama, Yahama and so on.

The only drummers opinions I trust are those guys like Steve Smith that use one brand (in his case Sonor) for 20-30 years or more. Guys like Steve aren't brand sluts with the "Kit du jour." Every few years.

How sincere can a drummer really be if they swear by different brands all the time?

zzdrummer
10-26-2008, 06:03 AM
Someone pooped in his cheerios.

Hahahaha that made me laugh for awhile, I liked the guy with Mahuvishnu but I don't even think he is playin now and sounds bitter, maybe personal life struggle or something? Just takin shots at eveyone involved.

criz p. critter
10-28-2008, 08:01 AM
Well, I play Gretsch and maybe I should be offended, but I find it hard to be pissed off at the guy cuz he really opened my head up back when he was with Mahavishnu. Let's just say his better days are behind him and take his comments with a grain of salt.

serpicojam
11-21-2008, 06:23 PM
Cob used to play Gretsch!

It sounds to me as though Cob feels a little overshadowed by Tony's legacy. He and Tony were contemporaries, and in the 70s and 80s Cob enjoyed more commercial success. For 30 years, Vinnie has been everywhere,. Vinnie's always been a Tony freak, and that has done a lot to hip people to Tony. And after his switch from Yamaha, Vinnie has also helped to hip people to Gretsch. Cindy's a Tony/Gretsch freak as well.

I think Cob's words here, their harshness, reflect that he's not feeling as relevant. He needs to know how huge he was to the world of music. Tony, I think, before he died, suffered a little from the same problem. These guys don't know how important they've been, how they've changed people's lives.

To me, Cob can pretty much say anything he wants. Most important, I respect what he has to say about music. If he's not digging Cindy's track, he probably has a reason, and solid footing for it. He changed the way we think about drums, and, more important, he changed the way music thinks about drums.

Incidentally, I've played Gretsch drums for the past 10 years, and they definitely play unlike any other drums. I certainly had to get used to them. Some guys dig them. Some don't.

aydee
11-21-2008, 06:38 PM
Anyone else find it a bit ironic how Billy accuses Tony of over playing and playing too loudly when he is equally guilty of it, and maybe even more?

He sites Tony as an influence as well.. 'Tis very odd..

Though he is right - and all overplaying isn't automatically bad-it is very odd indeed coming from the ultimate overplayer!

I do like all the 3 drummers in question including Mr. Overplayer, it seems obvious that there's something personal that went down for him to be frothing like this.. so whats the behind-the-scenes-story? Anybody know?

On the Gretsch bit, the only issue they ever really had was very poor marketing and poor dealer relationships some years ago. Nobody wanted to keep Gretsch for a while. Its all good now, I believe.

tomgrosset
11-21-2008, 08:15 PM
I'm getting the impression Cobham is a little jealous...

sshu
11-21-2008, 08:28 PM
... If he's not digging Cindy's track, he probably has a reason, and solid footing for it. ...

FWIW - The Cindy Blackman album that Billy is referring to is awesome IMHO. The comments by Billy should not scare people away from getting her album. Very good album to introduce people who don't know her into her playing. May not be everyone's style preference, but it is not something you hear everyday by any means. Billy could have complimented Cindy more on that one instead of ripping into her first (what it seemed like to me). She is a very skilled player and artist.

Steve

rogue_drummer
11-21-2008, 09:55 PM
Like any company that lasts, Gretsch has had its problems over the years. I remember back in the late 70's - mid 80's Ludwig drums were garbage. Now they've recovered. Gretsch has done the same.

I was actually thinking about getting a Gretsch maple kit...after I steal some money! Ha!

Vipercussionist
11-21-2008, 10:06 PM
Okay, so here's my question. I want a set of Gretsch drums that are made with the exact same process that video described. Drums that are made by those same people using those same tools. Those are the drums I want. What are those drums? Certainly not the Catalinas. Which ones are they then? What are they called? I'm guessing that these are the top-of-the-line Gretsch drums, the classics, the best. What are they called and where do I get them?
No, not the Catalinas, they are an import drum, I have a set of them, and they're great, but I doubt they have the materials and workmanship quality control that Gretsch in the USA has. I once owned a kit of 1980's Gretsch, I SHOULD have kept them, but I was a noob.

I bought a kit of the Catalina Rock, they sound more like old Slingerland drums to me, most likely due to the Mahogany in the shells. Nice drum, but not a REAL Gretsch.
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__________________
Most respect the badge, but all fear the drum.

Ekim
11-29-2008, 10:11 PM
I think too many folks are commenting on the comments and NOT how they came about. The whole "Before & After" page solicits comments from the person before they know who the artist is. Then after they tell the person the artists' names and then get more comments.


Track 4 - Before

Billy Cobham's Comments:
There’s nothing there for me. This is jazz in a way that I don’t particularly care for. [heavy sigh] It sounds like five individuals."

THEN he was told who it was.

If you click on the other comments, you get a better idea of where his head's at. He seems more blunt and honest than a jerk.

wy yung
11-30-2008, 12:35 AM
Who is actually making Gretsch drums these days, is it Keller?

drumguyfromWI
11-30-2008, 01:57 AM
well, my brand new Gretsch Catalina Club Mod shell pack certainly is NOT a drag. I love it!

tasty mahogany goodness :)

and I don't care that it's not made in the USA, it still sounds amazing. and I got it for a really good price too.

jay norem
11-30-2008, 02:15 AM
I think too many folks are commenting on the comments and NOT how they came about.

I can't see how that would make any difference. However how his comments came about, he said what he said. There's no context issue here.

stasz
11-30-2008, 02:37 AM
Well, everyone's got an opinion, right? If Gretsch kits aren't well made, I guess I've been lucky then to only hear the 20 or so good kits they ever produced. But I do live a charmed life.

I'm with harry. I'm not going to say anything about Billy regarding what he said-- if he really thinks Gretsch isn't putting anything to his interest out there on the market, then he doesn't have to play them. I think a listen to my new renowns might change his tune, but that may just be me. Probably just a bad day for him and he felt like he needed to say something nasty.