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  #1  
Old 07-17-2018, 05:05 AM
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Default Favorite high end drum kit- model and brand?

I'm certain that there are many threads on this topic already, but I'm about to buy some new drums.... and new doesn't necessarily mean brand new from the the store....second hand is possible...

But... for those of you who have invested in high end stuff, what are your picks?

I'm thinking about Yamaha Recording Customs or Gretsch USAs or Broadkasters, but I'm open to suggestions...

Thanks in advance.

Also... don't be shy about snares either...

MF
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Old 07-17-2018, 05:25 AM
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Default Re: Favorite high end drum kit- model and brand?

I've owned high end kits from Pearl, Gretsch, Ludwig, Yamaha, Tama, DW, and from earlier years Rogers and Slingerland, as well as some of their best snare drums.

I like them all - they're all great. I currently have a Ludwig Classic Maple Ringo type kit, and a Pearl Master's birch kit (I had Reference Pure too). So although I'm not playing Legacy Ludwigs or Pearl Masterworks, for me, a step down works for me. Once you get past a certain point, all kits are great and it's more the guy playing them anyway. I say whatever your heart is set on, go with that. You have to love it enough to justify spending the cash on it. There's nothing worse than spending a lot of money and then finding out you don't absolutely love it.
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Old 07-17-2018, 09:08 AM
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Default Re: Favorite high end drum kit- model and brand?

I've played a DW collectors series for the last 19 years, and haven't really shopped around for another kit since I got this kit. The reason I ended up with it was the deal was just too good to pass up.

One of my old friend's dad, who is a drum tech by profession said it this way, "Once you get into high end drums they all pretty much do the same thing sound wise, so get the ones with the finish and hardware you like best."
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Old 07-17-2018, 09:21 AM
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Default Re: Favorite high end drum kit- model and brand?

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Originally Posted by SYMBOLIC DEATH View Post
One of my old friend's dad, who is a drum tech by profession said it this way, "Once you get into high end drums they all pretty much do the same thing sound wise, so get the ones with the finish and hardware you like best."
Within a broad but still limited reference experience, I can agree with this statement, but there are still instruments on the periphery with signature delivery characteristics that can have strong value.

The age old caveats of diminishing returns & contextual value always apply.

Back in my young buck days, there was a cute chick in our circle with a lisp. There were other models available that took up less stage space, with arguably better racks, hardware, & finishes, but that lisp got me to the top of my riser.
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Old 07-17-2018, 11:09 AM
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Default Re: Favorite high end drum kit- model and brand?

I made the investment on my old Ludwigs, mainly because all my favourite drummers use/used them. My first project kit as well so I've looked at them as like having an old car, most of the fun is keeping them in good condition. It's nice to have the vintage sound in the arsenal.

I've had the same Richmo kit for 13 years which is my baby, I got it of an endorsee for a silly price. I know I'd get nothing if I sold it as Richmo were only in the UK and Alan has passed on but it's the best sounding kit I've ever owned and it's rare I hear something that comes close although I'm getting a soft spot for walnut.

Snare drums on the other hand are a different sport.
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Old 07-17-2018, 03:58 PM
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Default Re: Favorite high end drum kit- model and brand?

Here's an observation, albeit a bit of an older observation, so I'm not sure how relevant it's going to be.

I went to the 2006 Modern Drummer festival, featuring a bunch of notable drummers, such as:

Thomas Lang
Teddy Campbell
Marvin McQuitty
Gerald Hayward
Glen Kotche
Jason McGerr
Aaron Spears
Stewart Copeland
Steve Smith
Dave DiCenso
Danny Seraphine
etc

There were tons of really high end kits there from Tama, Yamaha, DW, Pearl, Ludwig, etc.

IMO, the kit that sounded the best that weekend was the somewhat humble Pearl Masters played by Dave DiCenso. It just sounded full and round. It could have been how it had been teched and set up, or it could have been how Dave was hitting them.

Thomas Lang sounded good on the Sonor X-ray acrylic kit he was playing, but that's part of the nature of acrylic drums, and IMO they didn't sound as good as DiCenso's Pearl Masters.

That was the impression I came away with, and it was confirmed when I watched the DVD of the event later.

I think that when you start getting into high end kits, it's really a matter of splitting hairs - anything of high quality is going to sound good once it's tuned up well.
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Old 07-17-2018, 04:25 PM
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Default Re: Favorite high end drum kit- model and brand?

That can actually be found and purchased easily—

1. Jenkins-Martin, especially for rock. They sound enormous, and are the most resonant drums out there.

2. Guru Drums, especially the satinwood or walnut drums. They are not as resonant as the Jenkins-Martin, but the sound quality is amazing.

There are one or two makers of hollowed-log kits out there, but wait times are ridiculous, and those kits are always going to be more prone to cracking/splitting over the years, especially when new. They’re great for just playing at home, though.
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Old 07-17-2018, 04:47 PM
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Default Re: Favorite high end drum kit- model and brand?

I have owned "high end" kits (DW Collectors, Yamaha Recording Custom, Pearl Reference Pure) and I have owned "low end" kits (PDP Concept Maple, Concept Birch, Tama Rockstar, etc...). In the end, I sound the same on all of them.

I did a head to head comparison with my DW Collectors and the PDP Concept Maple maybe a year and a half ago. Same heads, same tuning, same sizes... Honestly, there was not a discernible difference between them for me to justify keeping the DW. I sold the DW for more than 3x what I paid for the PDP and I don't regret it one bit.

That said, I'm a "most bang for the buck" kind of person. For me, the most band for the buck kits are the "upper low end" to mid-tier ones. The PDP Concept Maple/Birch kits and Yamaha Stage Customs are in the "upper low end" and can be purchased for such little money, its crazy. The mid tier kits that are great bang for the buck are Gretsch Renown, Tama B/B, Mapex Saturn, Yamaha Tour Custom, Pearl Masters, DW Design, etc...

The upper end drums like USA Customs, Broadcasters, Recording Customs, Reference, Collectors, etc. all are nice, but you really see diminishing returns as the prices increase. Yeah, they have pretty finishes on them... but so do the mid-tier kits. They have nice fit and finish... but so do the mid tier kits. They sound good and have good tuning ranges... but so do the mid tier kits.
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Old 07-17-2018, 04:55 PM
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Default Re: Favorite high end drum kit- model and brand?

I just bought a set of lower priced drums - a Gretsch Catalina Club Jazz/Bop kit in mahogany. I didn't even swap out the heads - it comes with Gretsch/Remo heads, which I think are just coated Ambassadors with a Gretsch logo.

I tuned them up, and they sound great. All for just a touch over $500.
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Old 07-17-2018, 04:59 PM
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Default Re: Favorite high end drum kit- model and brand?

Gretsch USA Customs, but the Brooklyns are also right up there. They are a sonic wonder, a more open-sounding version of the USA Customs (due to the slightly lighter 302 hoops on them).

I'd like to own a set of YRC's, but I wouldn't want them to be my main kit.

The new Yamaha maple hybrids sound wonderful. They've added air vents to the floor toms and bass drums, and it's wonderful. The toms balance perfectly with each other. And Yamaha's finishes, chrome, and mounting hardware are the ultimate.
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Old 07-17-2018, 05:09 PM
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Default Re: Favorite high end drum kit- model and brand?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy View Post
Within a broad but still limited reference experience, I can agree with this statement, but there are still instruments on the periphery with signature delivery characteristics that can have strong value.

The age old caveats of diminishing returns & contextual value always apply.

Back in my young buck days, there was a cute chick in our circle with a lisp. There were other models available that took up less stage space, with arguably better racks, hardware, & finishes, but that lisp got me to the top of my riser.
Lol ok good to know... Hope ur feeling better sir
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Old 07-17-2018, 05:30 PM
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Default Re: Favorite high end drum kit- model and brand?

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Originally Posted by Andy View Post

Back in my young buck days, there was a cute chick in our circle with a lisp. There were other models available that took up less stage space, with arguably better racks, hardware, & finishes, but that lisp got me to the top of my riser.
I get your point. You can't always rationalize why a certain thing stirs you. Buy the kit that really speaks to you. Btw, I find certain lisps mesmerizing too :)
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Old 07-17-2018, 05:44 PM
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Default Re: Favorite high end drum kit- model and brand?

DW Collector's Series Drums & Paiste Cymbals.

The sound and quality speaks to me.
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Old 07-17-2018, 05:50 PM
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Default Re: Favorite high end drum kit- model and brand?

As you can see by this discussion, there are many choices from many brands that will suit you well and should last forever. The one flaw I see in all of this is buying a set like the one your favorite drummer plays for that reason, alone since in 2 or 5 years, he/she will change brands because, well, we won't know why because they never really explain why other than to say they like the way they sound and the customer service was great. Go kick some tires and fine a budget and finish that floats tour boat and don't stress any further.
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Old 07-17-2018, 06:10 PM
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Default Re: Favorite high end drum kit- model and brand?

Yup, once you get to a certain price point, the world is your oyster. Most importantly, pick something that sounds good to YOU.

I love Pork Pie USA kits because they sound absolutely fabulous to my ears. They look and sound great, no matter the room or the venue. They record easily as well. Ludwig is a very close second. I have a set of Ludwig Centennials that use Monroe-made maple shells that are nothing short of stellar. I'm very happy to have this as my "beater" kit, but it doesn't sound like a beater at all!

I also play Pork Pie snares in my band, and I play a Pearl Masters at my church. I play the Ludwig Centennial snare with my Ludwig set. They are all great.
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Old 07-17-2018, 07:37 PM
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Default Re: Favorite high end drum kit- model and brand?

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Gretsch USA Customs, but the Brooklyns are also right up there. They are a sonic wonder, a more open-sounding version of the USA Customs (due to the slightly lighter 302 hoops on them).
.
Yeah the Brooklyn is Gretsch's best shell IMO. That poplar just does it for me.
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Old 07-17-2018, 08:41 PM
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Default Re: Favorite high end drum kit- model and brand?

Based on emotions - Ludwig

Based on practicality - Yamaha
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Old 07-17-2018, 08:51 PM
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Default Re: Favorite high end drum kit- model and brand?

As an owner of USA Customs, I'd say definitely check out Gretsch! There really is something special about their drums. Whatever you'd like to call it - their history or "That Great Gretsch Sound" or the vintage vibe, I've been loving the sound and the beauty of these drums. Even the Catalinas and Renowns produce spectacular results with any myriad of head combinations. The wait time on mine was about 2 months for a 7x10, 8x12, 14x16 FT and 16x20 BD in the Satin Cherry Red finish. I'll echo what others have mentioned about any top of the line kits, hard to go wrong with the build quality, fit & finish of any brand. Just take your time and find that sound in your head. As far as snares go, I've really been drawn to Tama. I have the bubinga and aluminum Starphonics and several of there SLP snares. Big palette of sound and the Tama rock solid quality to boot! Good luck with your search and have fun testing out all those drums!
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Old 07-17-2018, 09:03 PM
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Default Re: Favorite high end drum kit- model and brand?

Taye ParaSonics are definitely worth a look/listen.
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Old 07-17-2018, 09:42 PM
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Default Re: Favorite high end drum kit- model and brand?

Thanks everyone. Very helpful.
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Old 07-18-2018, 03:19 AM
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Default Re: Favorite high end drum kit- model and brand?

I have owned most of the high end kits, not bragging just stating a fact . Most of the major drum companies and some boutique brands make great drums. I have owned more Yamaha ( Recording Custom, Club Custom, PHX, Maple Custom) and Gretsch (7 USA Custom) over the years than all other brands I have owned. That being said, I own none today. I still like Yamaha and their new offerings but every Gretsch kit I owned had some middling quality issue that drove me nuts.

My favourite drums that I own these days are from Noble and Cooley’s Horizon Series. These are wonderful drums, undeniable quality and they tune up faster and hold their tuning better than any drum set I have ever played or owned.

One other drum brand that really intrigued me are the Jenkins Martin kits. I recently picked up a snare and it is excellent. The kit I played at the Chicago Vintage Drum Show was superb. Weather proof and great sounding drums. The look is not for everyone , but I really like, their bleen blue finish.

If I was to buy another kit from a major manufacturer , Sonor would be my first choice.Great build quality and great sounding drums.
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Old 07-18-2018, 03:26 AM
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Default Re: Favorite high end drum kit- model and brand?

Quote:
Originally Posted by wildbill View Post
Based on emotions - Ludwig

Based on practicality - Yamaha
I do the same thing. My emotions dictate owning Ludwig, but my practical stuff is Pearl - I just know that stuff works no matter where I take them.
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Old 07-18-2018, 09:07 AM
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Default Re: Favorite high end drum kit- model and brand?

Blaemire vintage and the Jenkins-Martin Blaemire "vintage-reissue." Drums that last a lifetime.
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Old 07-18-2018, 10:43 AM
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My emotions dictate owning Ludwig, but my practical stuff is Pearl - I just know that stuff works no matter where I take them.
+1 and I never got on with Pearl until I got one.
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Old 07-18-2018, 03:09 PM
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Default Re: Favorite high end drum kit- model and brand?

I have an MCX and love it. Hey BO What did you not love about the Reference Pure? I have been looking into these for a bit and was on the fence.

I'm a Pearl guy and have owned a few myself, I had a 10 piece professional DX series kit a while back. 2 kicks and 7 toms was excessive haha.

I agree that I will probibly never own a Masterworks / SQ2 and am fine with it. The main reason those exist is customization. If I built my MCX kit to the same specs (wood, bearing edge, hardware, sizes) using the masterworks configurator, it would probibly cost me 10k for the EXACT SAME KIT.


It's like buying a car. Sure, you can buy the tippy top of the line car brand new, and I can buy the one for 1/3 of the price 1 model under it. I am still going to love my car, get from point A to point B in style and have a blast doing it.

I always say this too. I can tune up a noname drum kit with new heads to sound pretty darn good. Even a used $200 POS. I could also make that SQ2, or Masterworks sound like trash too.

The playing is an entire other story. The pro's would make that $200 kit sound amazing too where as most guys don't' have the touch to make all the difference on the high end stuff.


the middle of the road range is where its att.. Id say anything between 1500 - 4000 for a kit new is reasonable.. (absolute upper end) Unless you are endorsing a company getting a huge deal for the top tier stuff.
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Old 07-18-2018, 04:49 PM
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Default Re: Favorite high end drum kit- model and brand?

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Originally Posted by RickP View Post
I have owned most of the high end kits, not bragging just stating a fact . Most of the major drum companies and some boutique brands make great drums. I have owned more Yamaha ( Recording Custom, Club Custom, PHX, Maple Custom) and Gretsch (7 USA Custom) over the years than all other brands I have owned. That being said, I own none today. I still like Yamaha and their new offerings but every Gretsch kit I owned had some middling quality issue that drove me nuts.

My favourite drums that I own these days are from Noble and Cooley’s Horizon Series. These are wonderful drums, undeniable quality and they tune up faster and hold their tuning better than any drum set I have ever played or owned.

One other drum brand that really intrigued me are the Jenkins Martin kits. I recently picked up a snare and it is excellent. The kit I played at the Chicago Vintage Drum Show was superb. Weather proof and great sounding drums. The look is not for everyone , but I really like, their bleen blue finish.

If I was to buy another kit from a major manufacturer , Sonor would be my first choice.Great build quality and great sounding drums.
Smokin' finish, Rick! That's a real beaut.
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Old 07-19-2018, 12:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RickP View Post
I have owned most of the high end kits, not bragging just stating a fact . Most of the major drum companies and some boutique brands make great drums. I have owned more Yamaha ( Recording Custom, Club Custom, PHX, Maple Custom) and Gretsch (7 USA Custom) over the years than all other brands I have owned. That being said, I own none today. I still like Yamaha and their new offerings but every Gretsch kit I owned had some middling quality issue that drove me nuts.

My favourite drums that I own these days are from Noble and Cooley’s Horizon Series. These are wonderful drums, undeniable quality and they tune up faster and hold their tuning better than any drum set I have ever played or owned.

One other drum brand that really intrigued me are the Jenkins Martin kits. I recently picked up a snare and it is excellent. The kit I played at the Chicago Vintage Drum Show was superb. Weather proof and great sounding drums. The look is not for everyone , but I really like, their bleen blue finish.
Birds of a feather. I'm currently very content with my Yamaha Custom Recording kit. Absolutely no complaints.

If my wife ever told me "I don't think you own enough drums" and I had the space to add more drum kits it would be in no particular order:
Noble & Cooley Horizon, Guru and Jenkins Martin/Blaemire. The odds of those two conditions coming around are slim and none . . . . . and Slim just left town.

Sound--first and foremost--and quality build top the list.
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Old 07-19-2018, 03:07 PM
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If you can try out a Sakae Almighty Birch, do it. I would love to try one out some day. EVERY video I've listened to sounds out of this world.
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Old 07-19-2018, 03:44 PM
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Default Re: Favorite high end drum kit- model and brand?

Ludwig Classic Maple would be my high end kit.
If I could be greedy, I'd love to have a Yamaha Absolute Hybrid.
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Old 07-19-2018, 07:48 PM
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Default Re: Favorite high end drum kit- model and brand?

I think the best way of going about deciding what you want is to know what character you’re looking for in a new high end set.

You list Recording Custom and Gretsch, but they are very different sounding sets.
The RCs have heavy lugs and 1.6 hoops where the gretsch have cast hoops.

I have Reference Pure that I got for a good deal used. I liked the sound online So I got them. I can’t say they’re better than the Sonorlites that I have, because it’s a different sound, but they stay in tune very well.

I haven’t heard all the fancy sets, so I’m not an expert. I just own what I least don’t like. They’re noisy machines after all!
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Old 07-20-2018, 01:07 AM
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Ludwig Classic Maple would be my high end kit.
If I could be greedy, I'd love to have a Yamaha Absolute Hybrid.
I don't know for you guys down south, but in my parts the Ludwig classic maples are priced in the same ballpark as the amh. Just saw a natural maple go by on yamaha's fb page, pretty freakin sweet !
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Old 07-20-2018, 01:31 AM
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Default Re: Favorite high end drum kit- model and brand?

In the best part of all possibilities worlds: beech Sonor SQ2, birch Kumu, and walnut Guru would all be nice. I can do drum battles against myself on different kits, play a different kit each day of week, and ponder my good fortune. I have saved up for my dream kit fund numerous times only to deplete it for “unforeseen circumstance”. Helped out family -more important in the grand scheme. So I gave up because the pool of money is too handy for such and I felt like “Fate” was telling me to screw off I don’t deserve one :0
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Old 07-20-2018, 02:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Tommy_D View Post
I have owned "high end" kits (DW Collectors, Yamaha Recording Custom, Pearl Reference Pure) and I have owned "low end" kits (PDP Concept Maple, Concept Birch, Tama Rockstar, etc...). In the end, I sound the same on all of them.

I did a head to head comparison with my DW Collectors and the PDP Concept Maple maybe a year and a half ago. Same heads, same tuning, same sizes... Honestly, there was not a discernible difference between them for me to justify keeping the DW. I sold the DW for more than 3x what I paid for the PDP and I don't regret it one bit.

That said, I'm a "most bang for the buck" kind of person. For me, the most band for the buck kits are the "upper low end" to mid-tier ones. The PDP Concept Maple/Birch kits and Yamaha Stage Customs are in the "upper low end" and can be purchased for such little money, its crazy. The mid tier kits that are great bang for the buck are Gretsch Renown, Tama B/B, Mapex Saturn, Yamaha Tour Custom, Pearl Masters, DW Design, etc...

The upper end drums like USA Customs, Broadcasters, Recording Customs, Reference, Collectors, etc. all are nice, but you really see diminishing returns as the prices increase. Yeah, they have pretty finishes on them... but so do the mid-tier kits. They have nice fit and finish... but so do the mid tier kits. They sound good and have good tuning ranges... but so do the mid tier kits.
TommyD-

Your post is the best summary of the truth about current drum quality that I've yet read. Every young drummer who feels the pressure to buy up, buy up, and buy up, needs to read your post. You just nailed it, my friend.

GeeDeeEmm
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Old 07-20-2018, 03:08 AM
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Default Re: Favorite high end drum kit- model and brand?

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Originally Posted by gdmoore28 View Post
TommyD-

Your post is the best summary of the truth about current drum quality that I've yet read. Every young drummer who feels the pressure to buy up, buy up, and buy up, needs to read your post. You just nailed it, my friend.

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The main reason I occasionally buy new kits is to find the sound that “fits my soul”, so to speak.
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Old 07-20-2018, 03:31 AM
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Default Re: Favorite high end drum kit- model and brand?

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Originally Posted by Push pull stroke View Post
The main reason I occasionally buy new kits is to find the sound that “fits my soul”, so to speak.
Well, there is a "uniqueness" factor that has played part in my gear choices, I will admit. I wanted a high end maple kit, so I got the DW's. I really enjoyed them. Really I can't say anything bad about them. Then I got the PDP's at a good price thinking, "yeah, maybe they will be a practice kit.". Then I did the head to head comparison and I really couldn't say the DW's were a better sounding kit. Build quality on the DW's was better, but it didn't make them better performing. So I sold them.

The Mapex Saturn's are unique due to their maple/walnut shell construction. Add to the fact that they are the best built set of drums I have ever owned (better than the DW, the Reference Pure and leaps and bounds better than the Recording Customs). So those stay with me.

The Reference Pures are unique with their shell construction and some of the hardware they use(unique tube lugs, stainless tension rods, aluminum suspension mounts, etc.), but I'm not blown away by how they make me feel to play them. They also need to have some work done to their edges as they are not perfect.

However, out of all my kits the one that really speaks to me is the PDP Concept Birch. I really can't say why. They sound good, they look good and they just feel good. I want to cut new edges on them and finish their interiors as well, but I just haven't gotten around to it.

I have owned, and still own, much "higher end" kits, but like PPS says, you have to find the one that speaks to your soul. Sometimes it's not the high end one that speaks to you. I think having owned 10-15 kits over the last few years has taught me that I really like underdogs.
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Old 07-20-2018, 04:43 AM
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Default Re: Favorite high end drum kit- model and brand?

Tommy_D,

I noticed the same about DW, compared to my PDPs, but interesting read about your Concept Birch. My oval lug PDPs were never speaking to me, regardless of heads or tuning. My Brooklyns blew me off my throne. They don’t have a fancy finish or cutting edge hardware, but they are articulate, warm, project well and just a joy to play. I think one of the things I like about them most is they aren’t sterile sounding. Tough to explain!

If I had to choose a high end kit, I’m not sure what it’d be. Pretty happy with things as they are.

Last edited by AzHeat; 07-20-2018 at 02:42 PM.
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Old 07-20-2018, 01:43 PM
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Default Re: Favorite high end drum kit- model and brand?

If I could go out and get a top of the line kit right now...Sonor SQ2 ot Tama Star Maples (22 or 24 with 3 up two or 3 down). I'll probably end up ordering and SQ 1 set or DW Performance series (DW brought back the Cherry Laqcuer as a standard option). For vintage sounds, I'm keeping my late 60's Ludwig maples
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Old 07-20-2018, 04:56 PM
Lennytoons Lennytoons is offline
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Default Re: Favorite high end drum kit- model and brand?

Guru drums are a thing of beauty. I'd love to own a kit some day. Fabulous sound PLUS you're playing a piece of art.
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Old 07-20-2018, 05:19 PM
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Default Re: Favorite high end drum kit- model and brand?

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Guru drums are a thing of beauty. I'd love to own a kit some day. Fabulous sound PLUS you're playing a piece of art.
I’d have to agree. Not sure why I didn’t think of them earlier!
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Old 07-20-2018, 05:20 PM
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Default Re: Favorite high end drum kit- model and brand?

I think what people tend to forget with higher end stuff is a lot of the price is going to be tied to the labour involved of the finish. The basic components of an average intermediate or high end 12" shell, heads, mount and lugs, isn't going to be a huge difference between manufacturers. But the work in painting and sanding is probably where a lot of the cost kicks in. This isn't necessarily going to be reflected in a difference in the final sound. And you lose the efficiency of mass production, so that will also be a big factor.
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