Ludwig Signet vs Gretsch Catalina Maple

Which of these kits would YOU prefer?

  • Ludwig

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Gretsch

    Votes: 1 100.0%

  • Total voters
    1
  • Poll closed .

moldmaker

Member
Hello, all. This is my first post and I'd like to see about getting some community feedback about a decision I'm facing.

I have owned my first kit, a 5pc CB Maxx since 2003. It has run its course and one of the snare lugs has broken in half. With five lugs on the toms and six on the kick, tuning was approximate. There was always a better kit wherever I was playing, and so the CB never left the house.

I am borrowing this kit from a friend and one of his friends. Ludwig Signet, 12/14/20 and a 13x7 ddrum Dominion snare. Coated Emperors on toms, PS3 on the kick, Evans HD Dry on the snare and stock resos. It would be $500, $450 for the shells and $50 for the snare. Cymbals are mine. Sorry about the basement pictures. We just had a baby, so the gear had to get moved.
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Then last week, while still borrowing the Ludwigs, I came upon a local Craigslist deal; 6pc Catalina maple, cymbals, hardware, double bass pedal and cases for $650. I couldn't say no. 10/12/14/16/22, Studio-X batters, SK2 on the kick, can't remember the snare offhand and stock resos.
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I'm sure the heads have something to do with it, but I think the Ludwig sounds absolutely fantastic. They tuned up much better and just sound clearer. I tuned them all just above wrinkle or buzzing. I like a thuddier sound. The kick on the Gretsch is awesome. I don't know how to describe it; it's just stronger and deeper than the Ludwig. I am more of a 4pc/3 cymbals player, and I like the simplicity of the Ludwig, but I know I could set the Gretsch up with less too. I don't like the rack tom mount on the Gretsch. I do like the idea of owning an affordable US maple kit. I might not get that chance again!

That's my decision. Again, I own the Gretsch and am borrowing the Ludwig. That could change either way. What are some of your thoughts and opinions on either of these kits?
 
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KamaK

Platinum Member
The Ludwig Signet is in an entirely different sonic league than the CM's. A much better drum set. Look for the Signet 105 thread and give it a read through.

If you're going to get a used Gretsch, I'd look at the Renown/Marquee tier.
 

Chunkaway

Silver Member
I agree with KamaK. I have owned a Gretsch Catalina, and while they are fine drums, they do not sound as nice as the Signets. Unless you specifically want a six piece kit in those sizes, I’d go with the Ludwigs.
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
Given those two choices, I'd go with the signet. That's the best looking finish on a Signet I've seen. All the others look like wallpaper or curtains to me.
 

markdrumz

Junior Member
Signet hands down. Terrific set hampered by people’s fear of the DIY lugs that are pressure fitted. You can make that bass drum boom with the right heads and good tuning, and the 15” depth is much punchier than the deeper Catalina kick.
 

ineedaclutch

Platinum Member
You already own the Catalina, no? If you scored everything in the Cat pics for $650 you did extremely well. If you dig the Signet why don't you sell off the Gretsch drums? I had the Mk1 Catalina Maple when they first came out and I never got along with them. The hardware was prone to stripping and the suspension mounts were not helping. They sounded like drums though, so I kept them around for outdoor stuff. I ended up turning the 16" into a bass drum by drilling it for spurs and a tom mount for the 10". I took the ft hardware and transferred that on to the 12". I had a sweet little bop kit that was ultra compact (16bd, 10rt, 12ft). This was about 12 years ago.
 
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KEEF

Senior Member
If you paid 650 for it - chances are someone else will no? Maybe more if you part it out. So either way you won't lose out moneywise. You said the signets were 'fantastic' but had a number of 'issues' with the cats........ there's your answer imo.
 

trickg

Silver Member
You owe it to yourself to try that Gretsch with different heads IMO. Those look like Aquarian Performance II series heads, and those are some of the darkest, most dampened heads I've ever played. I will contend that the Gretsch is going to sound great with something a little less dampened. The Ludwig might be the "better" kit, but I don't think it's going to be so significantly better that the Gretsch can't sound just as good with the right heads and careful tuning.
 
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moldmaker

Member
I agree with KamaK. I have owned a Gretsch Catalina, and while they are fine drums, they do not sound as nice as the Signets. Unless you specifically want a six piece kit in those sizes, I’d go with the Ludwigs.
No, I am not specifically looking for a 6pc. 4 is enough for me.

Given those two choices, I'd go with the signet. That's the best looking finish on a Signet I've seen. All the others look like wallpaper or curtains to me.
Thanks. It does look really pretty in person.

If you paid 650 for it - chances are someone else will no? Maybe more if you part it out. So either way you won't lose out moneywise. You said the signets were 'fantastic' but had a number of 'issues' with the cats........ there's your answer imo.
That was the idea. At that price, I either get a fantastic deal, or a fantastic flip.

I read the entire 25-page thread on the Signets. I honestly hadn't heard of them when the opportunity came up. The DIY nature of it and the drop-in lugs don't scare me. I thought it was a neat idea, even though I didn't put it together myself.
 

trickg

Silver Member
I just went back, read a bit more carefully, and saw that those are Studio-X heads. I'm not sure if I've ever tried those, but I still think you should give them a run with a different set of heads - something a bit less dampened.
 

AzHeat

Platinum Member
I just did a search on GCs website for used for both models. 82 catalinas and 5 Signets. The signets used are going for the same price as the Catalina’s new. The two aren’t even in the same league. Not that price is an indication, but there’s a reason why there are 82 of one and 5 of the other. With that in mind, the Studio-X heads are surprisingly dead for a single ply. I put a set on my Brooklyn's for a couple of days. My mics loved them, but I didn't, so I pealed off the dampening and voila! Nice and resonant.
 

Rattlin' Bones

Gold Member
The ratio 82 vs 5 the reason is that's probably close to % sold: Signet representing a much small piece of market. There are just more new Gerstch Cat kits sold than Signets. Signets were a niche product. The Signets represent a very very very tiny small fraction of the market so it's no surprise there are so few for sale now.

I was always skeptical of putting together a Signet kit and maintenance etc. after that. I dunno I think I'd sleep better at night with the Catalina if I had to depend on a kit for gigs. Plus the Cats sound great I don't think the Signets are in a whole different sonic sound class.

QUOTE="AzHeat, post: 1643956, member: 259847"]
I just did a search on GCs website for used for both models. 82 catalinas and 5 Signets. The signets used are going for the same price as the Catalina’s new. The two aren’t even in the same league. Not that price is an indication, but there’s a reason why there are 82 of one and 5 of the other. With that in mind, the Studio-X heads are surprisingly dead for a single ply. I put a set on my Brooklyn's for a couple of days. My mics loved them, but I didn't, so I pealed off the dampening and voila! Nice and resonant.
[/QUOTE]
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
I think you will find a difference in the bearing edges which will make the two sound different.
 

AzHeat

Platinum Member
The ratio 82 vs 5 the reason is that's probably close to % sold: Signet representing a much small piece of market. There are just more new Gerstch Cat kits sold than Signets. Signets were a niche product. The Signets represent a very very very tiny small fraction of the market so it's no surprise there are so few for sale now.

I was always skeptical of putting together a Signet kit and maintenance etc. after that. I dunno I think I'd sleep better at night with the Catalina if I had to depend on a kit for gigs. Plus the Cats sound great I don't think the Signets are in a whole different sonic sound class.
I was more referring to the Catalinas being a price point product, which is why there are so many. The signets are a niche and higher priced, but that also makes them a bit more interesting...to me anyway. You're right though. There's certainly something to be said about availability and peace of mind. Also, if you're looking to add on...
 

AzHeat

Platinum Member
Funny you mention that. Stage Custom was what I was originally wanting before either of these came along.
Then it's settled. Great price, plenty of available sets to chose from, fantastic hardware and my absolute favorite...light as a feather!
 

IBitePrettyHard

Senior Member
You NEED to try different heads on the Catalina before you make a decision. Studio-X batters are terrible for assessing the true tone and resonance of the kit IMO. More standard heads like Ambassadors will change the way they sound completely. Take the heads off the Signet if you have to and put them on the Catalina to see how they sound. That will give you a better idea on how the Catalina really sounds.

I am not sold on the Signets. They're made in America (which is great) but that means they have an invisible "USA tax" added to the price because the cost of labor and doing business here is so much higher than it is in Asia. That means that the kit costs roughly $100-300 more than it would if it were manufactured in Asia. I hate it, but it's true. Meaning, I don't believe Signets are really much of a step up from the Catalinas.

But the main reason I'm wary of the Signets are of course the snap-on lugs. I think it's possible they may develop issues 5 or 10 years from now. All that tension.....the metal lugs rubbing directly on the wood shell for years and years...what does that do to the sound over time? Will it cause cracks, or rattling? Only time will tell.
 
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