I'm in need of an intermediate kit, a single Bass drum pedal, and a new pair of high end hi hats. My original plan was to buy the Pearl Export that came with the hardware pack for $650 and then buy my Meinl Byzance Traditional Thin Hats. My other option was to buy the hats, the bass drum pedal (DW 5000 $200), and then a better kit, between the PDP Concept Maple $729, Yamaha Stage Custom Birch $650, and the Gretsch Catalina Maple $779. Which option would I be better off with? The shell material isn't a big factor because I love the sound of all 3, with the right heads you could pull off a good sound with any of these kits, I'm more concered with which kit has Better quality and is closer to a professional sound. Opinions?.


Platinum Member
I think you'd be better off with the latter option, though it is more expensive: more for the quality of kit than the quality of the hardware (the Export's included hardware is good by all accounts). The 3 latter kits you listed all are very good kits, though I think the Catalina is simply "good" whereas I see more enthusiastic praise for the Stage Custom and Concept kits.

Great choice of hi-hat, by the way ;)


Platinum Member
Honestly, they're all nice intermediate kits. This forum seems to have a soft spot for the Stage Customs.

Based on personal preference..

If I were to go for the Pearl Export, I'd spend the extra money on the lacquer because I do not care for the wraps they offer. I tried an Export EXL at my local GC and was impressed with both the kit and bundled hardware.

I like that the Catalina Maple offers a $999 MSRP shell bank, but it has few other redeeming features. The largest downside of the Catalina is that used Renowns are so cheap and miles ahead in terms of performance and quality.

I've heard very good things from Yamaha owners. From what I've seen and heard of the kits, I tend to agree with them.

Have you considered a used shell kit? You save a great deal and/or get a lot more for the money you spend.
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Silver Member
I actually reviewed 3 of the 4 kits you are looking at for purchase.. As soon as I found out the Export kit was make out of poplar, I excluded it immediately! I wanted a real drum wood in my drums. Out of the 3 remaining kits on your list, and after literally months and months or research, and playing all 3 at Guitar Center and reviewing mounting systems and other hardware, I ultimately went with the PDP based on a lot of recommendations on this forum and other forums and my personal desires. In the end it was really a toss-up between the Catalinas and the Concepts with a very slight edge leaning towards to Concepts.

After all that, ultimately it ends up being a choice you have to make for yourself. Between what you read and hear and how you like the differences of each of the manufacturers, and even the choices of finishes they offer.

Good luck with your decision.. take your time, because most all decent drums are at least a little expensive and unless you have unlimited money to toss around, you'll probably be living with your decision for a long long while.

Peace, Defender

P.S. If you are buying new, I would suggest waiting for a holiday sale.. we is the US are coming up on memorial day, which is always a big sale at GC.


Gold Member
Out of the 3 you listed I'd go with the PDP Concepts. The PDP's are a great semi pro kit and won't break the bank. I'd also look at Tama Superstar Maple if I were you as they seem to be well priced and offer a good product for the money. Everyone on this site always says buy used and in the sense that you can luck out and get a used kit for half the price, they are correct. But what you want isn't always available used in the condition that you want it and in your area. I also understand the desire to want a brand new kit.


Platinum Member
As soon as I found out the Export kit was make out of poplar, I excluded it immediately! I wanted a real drum wood in my drums.
New Export is Poplar/Mahogany. When I sat down at one, I thought "Haha, this is going to sound like my POS Ludwig Accent". I was shocked.

I'm glad you were able to recommend the PDP kit. I tend to skip over them due to their modern look.


Gold Member
I'm a fan of all the kits you mentioned except for the Exports - even though Pearl offers fantastic fixtures and hardware, I've just never warmed to the sound of the Exports. My vote would go to the PDP Concepts. They sound great, have a nice variety of beautiful finishes, and a nice choice of sizes.



Hey thanks for all the advice but sadly I think I might have to go with the second best option, the stage customs. Every Meinl Cymbal has gone up in price, and I'm not sure why but I only have enough to pay for my pedal $200, kit $650, and the hi hats $390.


Gold Member
Are you looking at 5 piece setups including the snare? Drum Center of Portsmouth NH has deals going on Mapex Meridian maple with black panther snare for $650. They also have a deal on the Byzance traditional heavy hi hats.

Im not affiliated with the shop, but Ive been checking their site for some Mapex and Byzance stuff for myself.