Heads for vintage Gretsch Kit?

snowfall

Junior Member
I play regularly in a jazz band "class" hosted at a local music school. The house kit is a vintage Gretsch Progressive Jazz kit, probably mid-60s. They aren't in the greatest shape, and sound like crap. I believe this is due to modern heads not fitting the shells properly. The shells seem slightly oversized, so that the hoops of the heads are jammed up against the shell, which not only chokes the sound, but makes it impossible to tune up well. Has anyone else experienced this issue, and if so, what did you do about it?
thanks,
snowfall
 

Drifter in the Dark

Silver Member
The shells seem slightly oversized, so that the hoops of the heads are jammed up against the shell, which not only chokes the sound, but makes it impossible to tune up well.
This is the main reason Evans came out with their "Level 360" design. There's just a little more wiggle room built into them, so the flat part of the drumhead film will sit flush with the bearing edge all the way around the circumference of the drum. Remo drumheads tend to fit a little tightly in comparison. And here's the thing: Remo finalized the specs for their drumheads in 1957, and they've made them exactly the same way since then. Back then, many drums (Ludwig, Slingerland, Rogers, etc.) had an old-school style bearing edge that was rounded over on the outside, and it was considered the standard. Over the years however, the 45-degree bearing edge, with no outside roundover, has become the standard (Gretsch, incidentally, was one of the first companies to do this). Drums have changed, but Remo's design hasn't, and that can present a problem, depending on the drum. Just to be clear: I'm not dogging on Remo; they do make good heads, and I still use Coated Ambassadors on my snare drums pretty often, but I've found that other brands just work better for me most of the time.
 

Tamaefx

Silver Member
I didn't know about the remo design but it's true that on my snare (Premier), the remo don't sit as well, a bit too tight with a rounder collar, Evans and Aquarians don't even need any sitting, they centers "automatically" whereas the remo need a more, let say, cautious sitting at first. I think it's just the shape of the collar. But my kit is specific : largely undersized toms versus precisely sized (à la Gretsch) snare and bass.
 
I recently picked up a 60's Gretsch Round Badge Progresive Jazz kit in the Red Glass Glitter wrap.

I ordered Remo Classic Fit Ambassador (single ply) heads and they went and tuned up fine. An unplayed regular Ambassador was on the rack tom and I had a hard time removing it.
 

snowfall

Junior Member
Over the years however, the 45-degree bearing edge, with no outside roundover, has become the standard (Gretsch, incidentally, was one of the first companies to do this). Drums have changed, but Remo's design hasn't, and that can present a problem.
Interesting, I didn't know that. Also, thanks everyone for the replies, looks like I have a few options.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
You should go even more vintage and tuck your own calf heads. Get yourself some wood hoops, then some calf, soak them in water and tuck 'em yourself. You'll love the process and will have that vintage sound so sought after!
 

trickg

Silver Member
You should go even more vintage and tuck your own calf heads. Get yourself some wood hoops, then some calf, soak them in water and tuck 'em yourself. You'll love the process and will have that vintage sound so sought after!
That's a lot of effort to go to for a kit that doesn't belong to the OP, but on the flip side, talk about the sound and the vibe it would have for a jazz setting! That would be pretty cool IMO.
 
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