Originally Posted by adam!
I agree. Applying the "modern sound" to the Bonham kit leaves it sounding very dead, thuddy, and boring. This approach doesn't accentuate the shell's natural qualities. I have a Gretsch Renown Purewood Oak kit that I use to go for the more "modern sound", and it delivers perfectly. But there's something about the Bonham kit... I can never make up my mind over which kit I like more. Like you said, it's all about what's appropriate for the music. But I feel very fortunate to have two very different options available to me.
Dead, thuddy and boring is a great way to describe them when they've been "Un-Bonhamized". It's amazing how different the approach is to those drums to make them sound that way. It's no wonder that many drummers failed to achieve that huge sound by using tuning techniques and head combos that are more appropriate for smaller drums with a more modern bearing edge and shell. Back in the late 70's, early eighties, before I really knew much about drums and drum sounds, I had a Ludwig classic maple kit with a 26x16" kick drum, 15x12 mounted tom and 16x18 and 18x20 floor toms. I was just starting out and new nothing about anything. I slapped pinstripes on the batter side of the kit, didn't pay much attention to the resonant side or the relationship between the top and bottom head, taped folded up paper towels to the heads to get rid of the ring and cut a hole in the front bass drum head. I tried to tune them like I thought I heard them on record, which was very low. The drums sounded muddy and sterile, much like you described. Although I thought the Zeppelin drums were tuned low, in reality, they are tuned much higher than you think...but they sound big and powerful, something I didn't fully realize until I heard it for myself first hand. Had I known then what I know now, those drums could have sounded awesome. Hindsight is 20/20, so lesson learned the hard way. Anyway, you are right, both kits I have are very different and I like them both for what they are. Enjoy your Bonham kit, I hope you get many years of enjoyment out of them. Take care!