Ludwig vs. Pearl vs. Gretsch


Junior Member
I have gone through the threads in the past that are similar; however, I have a very specific situation that I was hoping I could get some educated opinions on.

I have been playing in 2 bands over the past 2 years on a Pearl Vision that doesn't quite cut it for the sounds I'm trying to get and the 10-15 shows I'm playing a month. Over the past year I have been putting together the hardware I really want in the long run (Pearl 2000 series boom stands, Iron Cobra hat stand, DW9000 double bass) and I'm playing on a ludwig supraphonic snare. It has come to the point where the only thing that I need to beef up is my kit. I play about 2-4 shows a month in an original band that sounds along the line of Tom Petty and Wilco. Then I play upwards of 10 shows a month in a 90s centric cover band (from Nirvana to Garth Brooks to Britney Spears and everything in between).

The kits I have been looking at are the Pearl Masters MCX, the Gretsch Renown, and Ludwig Classic Maple. I am aware that a 5-piece Classic Maple is in a higher price range. I have played both the Masters and the Renown and do like both, but haven't played the Renown as much as the Masters. Sounds very similar to me, but I feel the Renown's toms may allow for a little more of the variety of music I am playing. My real concern comes with the Classic Maple. I have priced out the exact configuration (2 up 2 down) I'd prefer at approx. 2200 which is about 700 more than the others I've looked into. I have limited experienc with the Classic Maple, but I do remember adoring the sound I got the 2 times I sat down at one.

Sorry this was long; however, I do value the opinions of the forum members here and just wonder if the Ludwig is indeed that much better than the others or if my experience (and memory of it) may be a bit faulty. Finally, there are finishes in all 3 that I am fond of so that does not matter at all in my comparison.

Thanks in advance!


Platinum Member
I'm a Ludwig "lifer" for a few reasons.

#1, the Sound.
I have a kit of Super Classic 4ply's and 2 kit's worth of CM's.
I can put any head I want on them and they always sound great.
I can also mix and match any drum I want and they all sound like they're supposed to go together (which is VERY helpful when you add drums on at later dates).

#2 Quality of the product.

I can only speak for myself, and what I have experienced with Ludwig products, but I've had most of these drums for 20 years, and not ONE part of any of it has "failed" in any way. These drums not babied, they are used for gigging, so they don't just sit at home all set up and left that way.
Set-ups, take downs, moved hundreds of times, and everything works great like it's supposed to.
You have to keep them clean and check things once in a while, but if you didn't on ANY kit, you'd not be very smart IMO.

I also really like the medium thickness straight shell. Lots of dynamic range, tons of tone, great projection, wide tuning range, excellent resonance....

Other companies may have fancier finishes and just about any exotic wood veneer and a sparkle fade burst finish with a twist....but would you really want to take a kit with an extra $500-1000 worth of paint out of your house to gig with?

I'll put my CM's with a wrap up against any kit sound and performance-wise any day.
People will all have different preferences and opinions, but after playing at shops, and gigging on tons of backline kits of every different brand, Ludwig gets my vote.

They feel great to play on too, and I NEVER have to think about anything letting me down.
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Mike St.Clair

Senior Member
Read up on opinions from Renown owners. I've read many who own those and higher end kits and swear they like the Renowns as good if not better than the big money stuff.


Senior Member
I've got Ludwig CM's and Gretsch Renown kits...The Renown's for the price are an excellent set of drums...Great tone and loads of volume...However, The Ludwigs, for the extra cash, are at another level...I've 1 up 2 down with 18 x 24 kick and 8 x 14 snare and each drum has it's own distinct tone...Truly Pro sounding kit with the ability to fit into any type of music...Plus they are beautifully finished...I Love 'em...Renown's, for the price, you can't go wrong...All the Best...

Mike St.Clair

Senior Member
$700 buys a whole extra kit, so I'd say stick with the lesser expensive two, or step up your comparison including drums that $2200. That is where things get crazy.


Silver Member
Renowns are excellent. Spend the extra cash on the best cymbals you can afford.
I agree....
These are my renowns - I'm using a simple little digital camera (sounds like it - I know - haha) resting on my 1616 floor tom. Using the Steve Smith Signature Tala Wands - Birch.

Just a little sample - not enough cowbell??? Anyway - you get the picture - I love my 2007 PWAM Renowns
Video taken a few years ago - not long after I bought them. They are killer - the sound - in "real life" is just like very nice sounding drums.
Sharing: DRUMS/?action=view&current=nowIllgotomyCowBell.flv


Junior Member
Most modern drums are well made. I have a new Ludwig Classic Maple kit in White Pearl (2018), a DW collector kit (2012) and a Gretsch Brooklyn (2014). I used to own both Pearl and Yamaha.

To my ears, the Ludwigs have the best cut through the mix in live performance without mics. They just sound great, with a balanced spread of lows, mids and highs.

The DWs collectors have a lot of bottom end and mic up very well. Their acoustic projection in a room is a bit more limited than the Ludwigs but miked they are spectacular.

The Gretsch Brooklyn are somewhere in the middle. They project a solid attack, but with a fairly rapid decay. The bass drum sound is really big on the Gretsch kit.

My Yamahas were Absolute Maple Customs, very well made but the tone was pretty generic. The drums functioned well and were easy to tune. They were just kind of there, without a lot of tonal character.

My Pearls functioned very well and I had no complaints. I've forgotten the line, that said, I personally prefer the sound and build quality of the Ludwigs, Gretsch and DWs. Today, its hard to go wrong with any of the higher line kits from the major manufacturers.


Senior Member
I have Renowns, Pearl Session Series and Mapex Meridians. The Renowns are great drums but they are very heavy and don't take low tuning very well. The Sessions are the most versatile of the three. Change heads and you can get just about any sound you want. I ditched the standard hardware and upgraded it. The Mapex Meridians (replaced by the Armory) is fat, juicy and has a giant sound that is very musical. All three are different but if I had to sell two and keep one I'd keep the Mapex.


Platinum Member
I say get the Classic Maples, but as this is an 8 year old thread, I'm sure you've bought something by now.