How to make small drums sound bigger, fuller, warmer? (Gretsch Catalina)

Bran

Junior Member
Hey everyone,

My drum kit is a Gretsch Catalina. It's a glorious little guy, with an 18" bass to boot.
It sounds pretty good miked, and, provided there's good acoustics in the room, sound good unmiked.

My only issue is it... often doesn't. I got my carpet removed and I'm seeing the whole extent of my drum technician-ignorance.
They sound awful.

My question is, can I make my smaller drums, espically the bass, sound fuller, more complete, with a deeper, warmer sound? Any heads, tuning suggestions?

Thanks!!
 
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Anthony Amodeo

Guest
I have the same kit

mostly use it for jazz gigs and lighter rock stuff.....but for the rock stuff I change the tuning a bit and get a pretty big sound

I put an Emad on the kick and tune the batter head much looser than the reso....I also keep the reso complete do to playing jazz gigs ...I think this helps bring out the fullness of the drum....and being an 18" you need all the body you can get

coated Remo Emperors top ...clear Ambassadors on the bottom for the toms and tuned the same way.....top head about 50 to 100Hz lower than the bottom....if you desire more ring ....less Hz difference between heads

they sound great...that beautiful woody Gretsch tone

then I can totally switch gears and crank them up and get that legit bebop sound

very versatile drums

that 18" will never sound like a 22"..........but you can get it to punch
 
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Drumolator

Platinum Member
I have the same set. Here are the heads I use:

Bass drum: Evans EQ3 batter, EQ3 Resonant (tuned a little higher than the batter), Evans EQ Pad (modified) in the bottom, not touching the heads

Toms: G2 clear on top, EC Resonant on bottom (tuned a little lower than the top)

I do not use the snare. In fact, I no longer own it.

As said above, it will never sound like a 22" bass drum. Mine sounds deep and punchy. When I used it outside, we had to mic it, but we also had to mic a 22" bass drum when I had one.

If a room has bad acoustics, there is not a whole lot you can do if you are not micing it. My front head has a built-in hole. A solid bass drum head, such as an Evans EQ1 Resonant may provide a deeper sound. The stock heads are OK, but I ended up replacing all of them. When I tried a Remo Powerstoke 3 as the replacement for the original bass drum batter head, it sounded better than the stock head but not as good as the EQ3 I have on it now. The EQ 3 Resonant sounds better than the stock front head.

I watched some videos on the Evans web site that helped me get the most bass from the bass drum. An Emad batter may give more bass than the EQ3 I am using.

I really like my little Gretsch set. I hope you can get yours sounding the way you want. Peace and goodwill.
 
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plangentmusic

Guest
There's a saying in boxing -- "the good big man will always beat the good smaller man."

Having said that, once miced, a small kit can sound huge.
 

drumdevil9

Platinum Member
One thing I have to say, if you have the stock batter on the kick, toss it. Get a Powerstroke or Emad like Gvd said and it'll be a big improvement. I have this kit and I use a Remo Fiberskyn Diplomat Powerstroke on the kick. Sounds good. Right now I'm using it for a rock band rehearsal/writing session so I'm using Evans G2s on the toms tuned fairly low. This also sounds pretty good. I also have a set of Fiberskyns for the toms which sound great too. I have G1 resos.

I am a fan of the snare. I get a nice "pop" out of it and have gotten compliments from sound men. Right now I'm using a coated Ambassador and stock reso.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
That'll be a little bit of a challenge-- I've honestly never been thrilled about the sound of the Catalinas. Do what Gvda says-- the Emperors should fatten them up as much as they can be. For that sound I tune the bottom moderately high, and the top wherever you want it-- very low to high.
 

johnnylaw

Senior Member
+1 on the (Clear Single-ply) EMAD. The bonus is the resonance is quickly tuneable with foam rings in or out. Still with stock reso which one member thought might be a Powerstroke 3 (?).

I put Vintage emperors on the batter side of the toms, and a coated Ambassador on the bottom of the floor tom. I have to say, they sound good to me!

I do not play really loud in giant rooms, but I get a good versatile sound, so its easier to play a variety of music.

The Kit is a Yamaha Tour Custom maple (18", 14", 12").

Tune carefully, and have fun.

Cheers!
 

bigiainw

Gold Member
Hey everyone,

My drum kit is a Gretsch Catalina. It's a glorious little guy, with an 18" bass to boot.
It sounds pretty good miked, and, provided there's good acoustics in the room, sound good unmiked.

My only issue is it... often doesn't. I got my carpet removed and I'm seeing the whole extent of my drum technician-ignorance.
They sound awful.

My question is, can I make my smaller drums, espically the bass, sound fuller, more complete, with a deeper, warmer sound? Any heads, tuning suggestions?

Thanks!!
Trade them in for bigger, fuller sounding drums? Just sayin....
 

JBoom

Senior Member
Regardless of the heads you use, the way to get the fullest, biggest sound out of a drum is to tune the top and bottom heads to the same pitch, and have that pitch match the fundamental pitch of the drum itself.

Obviously, that's easier said than done.

That said, it may not be the warmest sound, but it's a good place to start and tweak from there. Also, if the room you're in has bad acoustics, you may not ever get a pleasant sound. One thing I do, because my room has bad acoustics, is to wear studio headphones while playing. It's not ear protection, but it does get rid of the bad overtones flying through the room and lets me better judge the sound coming from the drums.
 
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Anthony Amodeo

Guest
Regardless of the heads you use, the way to get the fullest, biggest sound out of a drum is to tune the top and bottom heads to the same pitch, and have that pitch match the fundamental pitch of the drum itself.

Obviously, that's easier said than done.

That said, it may not be the warmest sound, but it's a good place to start and tweak from there. Also, if the room you're in has bad acoustics, you may not ever get a pleasant sound. One thing I do, because my room has bad acoustics, is to wear studio headphones while playing. It's not ear protection, but it does get rid of the bad overtones flying through the room and lets me better judge the sound coming from the drums.
that is not necessarily how to get a bigger sound

that will get you the most resonance ...but not the biggest sound

to make a small drum sound more full and punchy , and a bit more like a bigger drum .... your best bet is reso head about 50 to 100Hz higher than the batter
 

JBoom

Senior Member
that is not necessarily how to get a bigger sound

that will get you the most resonance ...but not the biggest sound

to make a small drum sound more full and punchy , and a bit more like a bigger drum .... your best bet is reso head about 50 to 100Hz higher than the batter
Fair enough. I guess "biggest" is subjective. I interpreted it as "most resonate."
 

OX Han

Junior Member
I know this is an old thread, but I recently had the same problem with a 14x14 Gretsch Catalina club floor tom. If you use a double ply head on the tops and something a little thicker on the bottoms, you'll get a fuller and deeper sound.

My solution was an Aquarian modern vintage Deep Vintage II on top and a coated ambassador on bottom. I'm pretty happy with the sound I'm getting. Well, happy enough I'm not going to run out and buy a 16"......yet

Good luck.
 

beyondbetrayal

Platinum Member
Deeper and warmer?

coated heads, tune the batters super low..

reso's just a tad higher.

I have a Sonor Bop kit with an 18 inch kick and it sounds awesome.. I use an EMAD just above wrinkles. I have a kick port on the reso instead of using a blanket inside and it helps a ton.

You will have a tad less volume with an 18 inch kick. but if you mic it it sounds so punchy and good. It can still sound BIG, just don't be as loud.

When I bought my kit it had coated heads on the batters and resos. it was very warm but for the type of music I play I put clear resos on it.


Just noticed you brought back a post from 2012. hahahah oops
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Beings that people hear with their eyes, you could get a big ass magnifying glass so your drums look bigger. I'm serious.

(not)
 

tcspears

Gold Member
I have the Catalina Club Jazz, and I love the sound I get out of it, but then again, I'm playing mostly jazz...

I kept the stock bass heads on and just tuned it low. It has a nice low thud to it and it can withstand playing non-jazz music that requires a strong bass drum sound (funk, latin, rockabilly).

As for the snare and toms, I use the Aquarian American Vintage single ply heads and have them tuned up pretty high, although not quite as high as most jazz guys. I left the stock resonant heads on, as they aren't that bad... Also, I'll second what others have said about that snare, I get compliments on it all the time; it sounds great!

As other have mentioned, tuning them lower and using coated heads will help, but it's worth mentioning that this is jazz kit, and jazz kits aren't really meant to sound big, full, or warm.
 

proxmire

Junior Member
I also have a catalina jazz kit. The only way to make it sound "bigger" is lower tuning and miking. I don't even play acoustically anymore, it's impossible to get the sound I am going for. I like the mics right up on the heads to get the full resonance and depth of the harmonics of the drums, except for the kick. On the kick, I use a powerstroke ambassador on the kick side and fiberskyn dip on the res side. Then I put these things called "tablatone" dots on both heads, which lower the fundamental significantly, much more than any other accessory I have seen. High tension on the res side, and as low as the batter will go without falling off. Also I cheat when i am at home by putting a huge chinese lion drum in front of the kick.

I have experiments with many different drums, heads, tuning, etc, and other than sizes, bearing edges, and tuning, all drums are VERY similar. I have two snare the exact same size, one is maple and the other is steel, they sound the exact same at the exact same tuning (using a tune bot). I have done A/B tests with a $50 snare I got off craigslist and my buddy's $1000 craviotto snare, he could not tell the difference not could I when i used the tunebot to tune both to the exact same frequency using the exact same heads.

I have been looking for a "better" kit for a long time, but have not found anything that is any better. Slightly different, but not better. It's all about tuning, heads, and sizes and bearing edges to some extent. One can get a million different sounds out of just tuning and changing heads on a single drum. Which makes me laugh when people have a whole rack of snares they switch out thinking it's necessary for variety.

What happens is that people test different drums and they are ALWAYS at the very least, slightly different in tuning, but most often very different, and this makes people think it's the material or brand. I play bass as well, and the same goes for basses such as cheap p-bass knockoff vs the real deal. Like the guy said above, we hear with our eyes, and also with our wallets/gearlust.

Drums are actually a much cruder instrument, primitive even, no matter how fancy they look. in the end it's just a membrane stretched over a cylinder, not much different from the very first musical instruments man ever played. That's what makes them very spiritual to me. I sit down at the kit like a primitive caveman banging on a drum made from the hide of an animal it killed.
 
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