Re: Show off your Yamahas!
Here's my Stage Custom from the great brick & mortar store La Baguetterie in Lyon, France. It's 80 miles driving but they were the only ones to provide a decent explanation of the differences between this and an entry level kit like the Gretsch GS-2. Since they had a Stage Custom exposed in the store, I never looked at possible full birch alternatives like Mapex Meridian or PDP. Honestly I don't think it would have made any difference. I had a Pearl Vision on my mind initially, but read too many negative comments on the toms suspension system, whereas everyone on every drums forum seems to love the Stage Custom. Only the finish is boringly black, Stage Customs don't come in fancy finishes and shops don't like to take a risk with a funny color anyway, as far as you think e.g. cranberry red is funny.
Choosing cymbals was much harder. I find comparing cymbals very much like wine tasting, it's hard to describe the differences between two cymbals (except of course for very different ones) and even harder to tell which one you prefer. Initially I had no clue what I wanted. I did know I did not want entry level cymbals as everyone suggests on every drums forum. I love Chad Smith's sound and he plays mostly Sabian AA so my mind was set on the mid range variety i.e. the XS20. Then the guy in the shop made me listen to a whole lot of other cymbals, like for example the Meinl Classics Custom which is I believe B10 and which I liked initially, but in the end I got tired of them being so focused ("ting", "tong"), I think cymbals need a little more wash at least to my ears. Then I heard the Stagg SH and took a long time to compare them to the XS20 starting with the ride, and I found the SH similar but more complex and interesting. I liked the crashes and the ride a lot, less the hi hat but then I tried the next door DH medium 14" HH which is very refined. With Stagg you're not financially tempted to take a package, so I decided I might as well take the DH HH and the rest as SH. And since I was being goofy I took a 15" thin and a 17" rock crash just because I thought they sounded better than their 16" and 18" neighbours. The ride is the usual 20" medium.
It's all set up and tuned now without any muffling, I did not use the ring that Yamaha provides for the snare because I find it chokes it too much (see also the Musicradar review) and all drums sing beautifully now. Only the floor tom has a looooot of resonance, much longer than the rest, I think I will do something about it. I guess you can see I come from an e-kit, it's put up much closer together than many other kits here :)
Well here's my little story, I hope it helps anyone looking at buying one of these babies!