"special" drum companies

StaggerLee

Silver Member
I want to start off by apologizing. The content of this post will likely make no sense to most people because I am going to write it in an unusual way. I have synesthesia and I am going to write this using expressions and words that are not commonly associated with drums, so I am sorry.
The content of this, is really do you think some drum companies deserve the massive reputation they get? The first "special" drums that come to mind are: Ludwig, Gretsch, Brady, Craviotto and Dunnett. I see these as generally the companies that are thought of as special. Now I have played at LEAST 3 drums of each company, and I have to admit some have a much more adverse effect on me that others. For example, when I hear a high end ludwig, like a supra or a black beauty, i hear crunch. Its a nice sound, quite grating and yet pleasant and a sound I don't hear anywhere else. With Gretsch I hear a lot of boing in the drums. Its a round sound with pleasant overtones. Dunnett I find has a lot of... clarity in the shells. I can only say it sounds like crystal, a fragile but beautiful sound. Craviotto I find has a nice musky sound, often reminds of me of old man haha. But Brady.... they are pretty but... there so boring? I mean I think your paying for a name that really isn't that well deserved. They weren't the first to do exotic shells, solid shells or stave shells, so why are they so famous? They use a new wood in drumming... so what? So did yamaha with Kapur. Does anyone else find a famous brand just a bit.... blugh?


As an afterward, 2 more companies that are as far aside as can be:
DW and Guru.
DW.... I am not a hater, I have a DW/PDP bubinga snare, and its great! Sounds like a balloon pop! But the drums? I think im hitting a cardboard box....
Guru on the other hand.... I have tried them twice now? Once at the LDS and once on a friend of mines snare. Now I will say this though it is not meant as an insult, but the drums to me were VERY inconsistent in their characteristics. But I will say they have a lovely and unique sound, it is quite cold and raw like natural wood. That is the only way I can describe it, almost like you are playing a living instrument. It sounds like when I hit it, the wood is breathing. Anyhow, sorry if this ramble made hardly any sense.... there is a question in there, and sorry if I horribly confused people. As for the colours:

Craviotto: Pale yellow
Ludwig: Grey
Dunnett: Clear
Gretsch: Green
Brady: Boring red
DW: A haze of red and brown
Guru: Pleasant brown
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Companies & builders have reputations based on several factors, with their sound being only part of the equation. Various marketing tactics affect drummers' perception, as well as the romance of a particular brand because of its popular and legendary players, such as Ringo with Ludwig, Buddy Rich with (mostly) Slingerland, Tony Williams with Gretsch, etc.

I do my best to be objective about gear and listen with my ears, but I admit that certain brands bring certain emotional perceptions about quality, sound, and suitability for particular genres. I guess we wouldn't be human if we didn't feel something and form opinions as a result.

Do the brands deserve such subjective reputations? Well, the drummers with those opinions would say they do!

Bermuda
 

KarlCrafton

Platinum Member
Interesting how we hear things.

Two things that came to mind when I read the post, that you may have, maybe "going for you" in your observation.
You aren't in the US, & you are maybe younger, and not affected by the "history" of some companies (Gretsch, Ludwig, etc...).
Sounds like you're not "clouded" by any nostalgic feelings people can get towards companies.

I've played many kits, from many companies like a lot of people here.
I can say, really, a kit that is gonna "do it" for me is Maple, with around an 8 ply shell thickness, and a regular, single 45 degree edge. Those specs, and Coated Ambassador heads, and I'll get the sound I hear in my head.

The brand I buy is Ludwig, because FOR ME, since buying the first kit new in '89 (and the many drums I've purchased since), I haven't had one issue with them.
The drums are easy to tune, stay there, have a wide, sensitive range, and sound freakin' GREAT to me.
From a whisper, to as loud and fat as you can go, they stay with you, sound great behind them, and out front. Small sticks, big sticks, brushes, whatever, they all work....and then, some people will have the exact opposite experience from me!

I can't say "WHY", but a Ludwig snare sounds like "what a snare should sound like" to me. It just does.
There are a lot of great snares from companies, some super great (and you PAY for them!), but a Ludwig 6.5 Bronze, or a 6.5 Brass Black Beauty is all I'd ever need (unless I could part with $2500+ for a Craviatto 5.5 AK Diamond snare haha!). That's it. 2 snares. They just make the sound I want, and there's ZERO hassling trying to get "IT", ya know? A 402 sounds cool when others play it, I don't get much from it. Over the years I've had 3. I like the 6.5 Brushed aluminum Acro Classic more.

I actually wasn't a real Ludwig-head until after I got the first kit. I liked them before that, and all the kits I played were nice, but they weren't the only drums I was into.

Craviatto sounds full and earthy to me.
DW Collectors generally sounds cold, don't know why, but, DW's Jazz shells sound a bit fuller to me than the Gretsch they are modeled after.
Yamaha is kinda cold feeling to me, but they get a fat, clean sound out front...
Pearl is generally fat and full, but not so clear.
Gretsch is clean and crisp.
Tama is odd for me, because they sound good when other people play them, but I really don't like them when I play them...
...And they are all great builds. It's interesting to hear what others have to say about their own experiences with the feeling they get from kits/brands.
 

keep it simple

Platinum Member
2 more companies that are as far aside as can be:
DW and Guru.
DW.... I am not a hater, I have a DW/PDP bubinga snare, and its great! Sounds like a balloon pop! But the drums? I think im hitting a cardboard box....
Guru on the other hand.... I have tried them twice now? Once at the LDS and once on a friend of mines snare. Now I will say this though it is not meant as an insult, but the drums to me were VERY inconsistent in their characteristics. But I will say they have a lovely and unique sound, it is quite cold and raw like natural wood. That is the only way I can describe it, almost like you are playing a living instrument. It sounds like when I hit it, the wood is breathing.
I get your colour associations, nothing weird about that. We all associate certain sound palates / voices with other things we're more familiar with, or often more readily understood by others.

Not wishing to major on Guru, but I must enquire further about your "very inconsistent" observation. If you encounter big differences between drums because they're a different shell construction, wood species, or bearing edge profile, then I can understand where you're coming from, There are large (to many, exaggerated) differences, as how we do things tends to amplify or at least focus attention. However, if you mean inconsistencies within drums in the same shell set, then that's the polar opposite of what we're trying to achieve, so I'd be very interested to hear more details :)
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I don't think that you can classify a drum sets tone from one tuning. Drums can make a myriad of tones and to arrive at a conclusion without experimenting with different tunings and heads...is incomplete. That's like playing a guitar set to fuzz tone and labeling that guitar based on that one tone. That guitar can make many different tones, same with drums.

When I see drum sets in a local Guitar Center, a lot of time they are tuned like crap. You have to look past that and realize that's just one possible set of frequencies this drum can create. Recently I started tuning my toms way higher than I ever have. From my recordings, they sound like a completely different set of drums compared with the other tunings I previously used. I mean the whole timbre changed. I'm liking it. So, my opinion of my shells are different now because I got a completely different tone from them.

So in a way, I don't think that one go round on a set is nearly enough sonic information to label that set, as there are so many other possibilities.

When I get my Guru's you can bet that I will be experimenting with the wood hoops, metal hoops, different tunings, different heads, to see what frequencies they can really produce.

Plus the room where you evaluate your drums in plays a big role in how the drums sound. If you take a set of drums and play them on a rugged concrete floor with a low ceiling and narrow dimensions, they will sound quite different from the same set at the same tunings on a raised wooden stage in an auditorium.

Probably outside, I'm guessing, is the only way to evaluate a drum because that way the room can't color the resolved tone. I don't think it's quite fair to say that so and so's drums sound like this and that's it. There's a lot more to it than that.
 

tamadrm

Platinum Member
I don't think that you can classify a drum sets tone from one tuning. Drums can make a myriad of tones and to arrive at a conclusion without experimenting with different tunings and heads...is incomplete. That's like playing a guitar set to fuzz tone and labeling that guitar based on that one tone. That guitar can make many different tones, same with drums.

When I see drum sets in a local Guitar Center, a lot of time they are tuned like crap. You have to look past that and realize that's just one possible set of frequencies this drum can create. Recently I started tuning my toms way higher than I ever have. From my recordings, they sound like a completely different set of drums compared with the other tunings I previously used. I mean the whole timbre changed. I'm liking it. So, my opinion of my shells are different now because I got a completely different tone from them.

So in a way, I don't think that one go round on a set is nearly enough sonic information to label that set, as there are so many other possibilities.

When I get my Guru's you can bet that I will be experimenting with the wood hoops, metal hoops, different tunings, different heads, to see what frequencies they can really produce.

Plus the room where you evaluate your drums in plays a big role in how the drums sound. If you take a set of drums and play them on a rugged concrete floor with a low ceiling and narrow dimensions, they will sound quite different from the same set at the same tunings on a raised wooden stage in an auditorium.

Probably outside, I'm guessing, is the only way to evaluate a drum because that way the room can't color the resolved tone. I don't think it's quite fair to say that so and so's drums sound like this and that's it. There's a lot more to it than that.

+1^ This.There are many variations possible with different tunings/heads/bearing edge profiles and different model lines within respective companys.

Croviotto offers several different bearing edge profiles on their drums,which result in a wide veriety of tonal variations.

Other companys such as Ludwig and Gretsch offer different ply layups and construction which result in completely different sounding drums from model line to model line.

Guru are in a different class totally from off the shelf offerings and their sound is unique and beautiful.They truly offer something that other companys don't.

So ,I think trying to pidgeon hole each company is somewhat nieve given the extensive combinations of all the factors involved.

Not ALL Ludwig or Gretsch or any brand of a given maker sound the same.

Just look at it like a rainbow of sound.

Steve B
 

StaggerLee

Silver Member
First of all, thanks for replying and reading guys! Now to address things:

1) I have played at least 5 snares of Guru and Craviotto. I begged my dad to let me take home a guru ash snare but alas he wouldn't let :( Most Guru snares I played at the LDS. As for kits I have only played one guru kit and one craviotto kit, so my opinion was based around snares only. As for the rest I have played on:
2x Gretsch USA kits
1x Gretsch Renown
1x Gretsch New Classic
2x Gretsch Brooklyn
1x Gretsch catalina jazz
1x ludwig Epic (own)
2x Ludwig Element (owned)
1x Ludwig Classic Maple
1x Ludwig keystone (I dont count this as I thought this was a TERRIBLE drum)
4x Ludwig Acros
1x Supra 400
1x Supra 402
1x Black beauty
1x 15x5 supralite
1x Ludwig legacy classic
1x Ludwig Club Date
1x Dunnett steel trusart
1x Dunnett steel
1x Dunnett titanium
1x Of each George Way snare
2x Brady Sheok snares
1x Brady Jarrah Ply
1x Brady Jarrah Ply drum kit
1x DW Collectors in red sparkle (owned and sold on)
1x DW collectors jazz (when I was looking for a kit I was told to look at DW so I tried a lot of DW kits)
About 4 other DW collectors.

So I have tested the waters and thats just how I see them. I have sat down and experimented with tuning and thats how I responded to them.



2) Guru drums, well what I meant is in no way negative. It was as if each drum, even of the same wood and construction, had a life and personality of its own. Each wanted to be played it's own way. Now although I didnt notice any tonal differences between 2 snares of the same, I did notice a character difference. One seemed to prefer light playing where as the other wanted to be struck hard. I have no idea why, I must just be mad, but all I can say is Guru drums WANT to be played, they have a life of there own, a personality and character of there own. Its as if for the first time ever drums have souls. And one day I WILL have one of these snares and a bob henrit sig kit from traps.
 

opentune

Platinum Member
Sorry if I misinterpret but it sounds to me like you went to a food tasting, maybe only one food tasting. A little of this, of that, all at one big long table. It was one table, on one evening, the chef made things one way that eve (i.e. the drums were all tuned like that, on the floor etc.). The real test of this chef might be to try again, on a different night and so on.

The real sound of a kit only sinks in after you've played it for some time, tuned it this way and that. Then, like Karl said, you either really dig that kit/snare/cymbal/whatever, and its really "you" or not.

It takes a long time to sample the spectrum of sounds of drums, and even then what you come up with is subjective to your ears. I have played only one Dunnett snare at a music store. To me the cheaper Ludwig beside it sounded better, but I would never judge the Ludwig or the Dunnett companies over that very limited experience.

i think all those companies you list earned their names.
 

keep it simple

Platinum Member
2) Guru drums, well what I meant is in no way negative. It was as if each drum, even of the same wood and construction, had a life and personality of its own. Each wanted to be played it's own way. Now although I didnt notice any tonal differences between 2 snares of the same, I did notice a character difference. One seemed to prefer light playing where as the other wanted to be struck hard. I have no idea why, I must just be mad, but all I can say is Guru drums WANT to be played, they have a life of there own, a personality and character of there own. Its as if for the first time ever drums have souls.
You're not going mad at all :) For example, on that show stand there were three ash snares. One steam bent & two stave. One stave was 12mm straight shell, the other was 6mm with solid steam bent rerings. I don't know which two you played, but the combination of characters you listed are to be expected, as they're deliberate design decisions.

It takes a long time to sample the spectrum of sounds of drums, and even then what you come up with is subjective to your ears.
This is very true, & the further away from the generic a drum is, the longer it takes to dial in to your liking. Of course, you can pick up a lot from initial trial, especially comparing in a similar room/space, but it's only half the story at best.

Then there's the issue of tuning at trade shows. I've already had my little rant about this elsewhere on the forum. It applies mainly to kits, & also to the bigger companies for some reason, but there's certainly a wide range of tuning ability amongst a selection of exhibiting companies, plus, some of those kits have been wailed on mercilessly during the day :(
 

Ham

Member
This is all very inconclusive subjectivity, these drums manufacturers have not earned their legacy from drumshop showrooms with self indulged audiophiles sitting behind kits and banging away, they've earned it from acoustic treated studios with sound engineers spending a long time to round out a certain sound that a drum may or may not be capable of. They've earned it from the numerous times there drums have appeared on stages infront of millions of people.

For every person who says they don't like the sound of a drum, their's 10 people out there that love the sound. That's why these drum companies are successfully famous.
 

StaggerLee

Silver Member
Opentune: Most of this experience came from working in a drum store, so I sat behind them and tuned them and played around with them for a while

Simple: Explains a LOT. (ps If I got through to my second year of uni and my grant falls through, then I am looking at a few snares and 5 of them are Guru)

Ham: Yes it is subjectivity, I was just pointing out a different view of how I personally see drums and wondered if everyone else had alternative views on them.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
You have played a lot of drums and your opinion of course is noted. However one thing I will mention only becuase it happend to me. All of the drums I have tested, I have tuned. So they all have my touch on them. However my tuning may not be the best for that drum so it could sound better. Same goes for you. I asked the question once in a thread about tuning the heads to the same tightness regardless of drum size. Should I tune a 5 inch snare the same as a 7 inch snare and let the depth be the difference in sound or should I tune the 7 inch deeper to help it sound deeper. Maybe if someone else tuned some of the drums you weren't too happy with, in a different way you may have liked the sound better. Just a question and a thought.
 
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