Got a used Club Date SE
I got me a used Club Date SE downbeat kit (12-14-20) in silver sparkle and I must say, it's awesome. I've been interested in these kits ever since they came out in 2012 and I was lucky enough to find and buy the first used one I've seen listed for sale locally. The guy bought them this past summer so they're like new except for a couple of scuffs on the BD hoops and for some odd reason the classic bracket on the Vibraband was switched with a generic bracket. I'm pretty anal about that stuff so I ordered a classic bracket to replace it.
I also ordered the matching 5x14 snare. I really like that Ludwig decided to do something different with the shell (4 ply cherry/gum with birch re-rings) instead of just making a snare out of the same shell as the kit. Shows that they care how the thing sounds as opposed to just making a matching wood snare.
I sold my Gretsch Catalina Club Jazz to buy this kit and as much as I like those kits this is definitely a step or two up. Hardware all around is about the same (except of course for that awful mini-GTS on the Gretsch). If you don't like the center mounted lug then there isn't much I could say to convince you. I personally love the look. The rail mount is very solid and flexible except perhaps in the height department. The Gretsch tom post might beat it for that but it's not a huge deal. The spurs are gull-wing and seem to hold well enough even though I prefer Pearl-style spurs like on the Gretsch. Once again not a deal breaker.
Where the difference is most apparent is the shells. The CD cherry-gum shells are really nice and sound fantastic. The tone (and overtones) of the toms is much more pleasing to the ear. The stock bass drum head is terrible so I'll be more able to assess the sound once I replace it. I'm not worried 'cause I can already hear the potential waiting to get out.
I promise I'll get some pics up tomorrow. I probably won't get to gig these babies until January. Can't wait!