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  #1  
Old 06-18-2016, 12:16 AM
savage8190
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Default How do you decide on an upper range kit...

when no one keeps any of them in stock to try?!? I see lots of people ordering new kits; how do you know what you want?

I think I have an idea of what I might consider ideal sizes, but how does one decide what kind of kit to buy when there just isn't any around? This was never an issue for me with guitars; if I wanted to test something out it would be around somewhere...not so much with drums. It seems that everything above midrange kits is a special order, and I'm in a major city.

TBH I'm pretty happy with my Meridians, but being that they are discontinued I can't expand; it's pretty annoying.
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Old 06-18-2016, 01:30 AM
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Default Re: How do you decide on an upper range kit...

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Originally Posted by savage8190 View Post
when no one keeps any of them in stock to try?!? I see lots of people ordering new kits; how do you know what you want?

My advice is to keep your current kit, and simply listen to as many different kits as you can until one of them speaks to you.

Go to GC and annoy the staff. Go to a local music store. Hit one of the drum stores like DrumcenterNH or MemphisDS.

Keep playing and exposing yourself as many sounds as you can until you can describe the attributes you like and those you dislike.
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Old 06-18-2016, 02:04 AM
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Default Re: How do you decide on an upper range kit...

... if you don't know what you want, we sure as ell don't know what you want either.

Ppl usually hear kits live, or even on the web, like them, then delve deeper. YAMAHA has a sound, GRETSCH, LUDWIG and so on. 'Upper range' means that sound will be more defined than a budget offering.
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Old 06-18-2016, 02:13 AM
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Default Re: How do you decide on an upper range kit...

Wait until you know.

My desire for a US Custom started at a Karizma show in 2000. Keeping listening and observing other kits for many years. Then I started playing drums myself and now I know.
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Old 06-18-2016, 02:40 AM
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Default Re: How do you decide on an upper range kit...

Go to some drum Shows.

Or, get yourself into the NAMM Show. It ain't easy buts it's doable.

People who can get into NAMM:

>Independent retailers

>Major retail chain representatives

>Global distributors

>Buyer groups

>Buyers from some of the largest national entertainment companies, entertainment venues, sports stadiums/arenas, amusement parks, casinos, hotels/resorts, cruise lines, college/university theaters and auditoriums, performing arts centers and sports/fitness clubs

>Audio technical directors, facility managers and entertainment directors representing a variety of venues

>House of worship directors, pastors, and sound and lighting directors

>Tour managers

>Technology directors, installers and purchasing agents
Music educators


.
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Old 06-18-2016, 03:02 AM
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Default Re: How do you decide on an upper range kit...

I have written this many times and to me the order of importance should be Budget, Sound, details, finish. Do not rush because the next kit may be your last and you want it to be exactly what you want. Go to clinics, try all stores, talk to friends, etc. and don't put a lot of trust in videos, or Youtube where all of the recorded sounds can certainly be manipulated.
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  #7  
Old 06-18-2016, 03:16 AM
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Default Re: How do you decide on an upper range kit...

Just to be clear, I'm not rushing out and buying anything, nor am I seeking advice on what to buy; it's not a need, it's a want right now, but the time will come when i want to upgrade to a serious "forever" kind of kit that has everything I want. Honestly, next purchase will be some new hats and hat stand...maybe a second crash; new kit is easily a year off.

It's just weird to me that there is a serious lack of higher end kits available in my area. I have seen a couple (the only ones being a black panther kit and a recording custom), but I find it mystifying as a guitar player...I could walk into any long and mcquade and they would have at LEAST 40 high end guitars; some well over 100.

The other thing that is bothersome is that all the nicer kits are stacked away on a shelf...you'd have to get them to clear space and set them up to try it out. Heck, I saw a recording custom in a Tom Lee all setup and ready to go, I went to try it out, and it was plastered with signs saying no playing aloud, I guess a salesman has to babysit me?..seriously?

I asked about a couple different kits I'd like to give a whirl and was told theres nothing nearby and it would be a custom order. I just find it crazy...how do they sell drums?
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Old 06-18-2016, 03:30 AM
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Default Re: How do you decide on an upper range kit...

My local ma and pa store has over 100 guitars hanging on the wall that can be played at will and not one drum set up to play. It's primarily a space problem I'm sure. Drums don't hang on walls flat and out of the way unfortunately. And then the constant tuning to satisfy customers would take a full time employee to satisfy all lookers.
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Old 06-18-2016, 03:30 AM
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Default Re: How do you decide on an upper range kit...

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Originally Posted by savage8190 View Post
It's just weird to me that there is a serious lack of higher end kits available in my area.
I asked about a couple different kits I'd like to give a whirl and was told there is nothing nearby and it would be a custom order.
I just find it crazy...how do they sell drums?
I know exactly what you mean. I agree 100%. No place to try upper range kits.

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  #10  
Old 06-18-2016, 04:00 AM
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Default Re: How do you decide on an upper range kit...

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Originally Posted by GRUNTERSDAD View Post
My local ma and pa store has over 100 guitars hanging on the wall that can be played at will and not one drum set up to play. It's primarily a space problem I'm sure. Drums don't hang on walls flat and out of the way unfortunately. And then the constant tuning to satisfy customers would take a full time employee to satisfy all lookers.
Well, my closest store is a perfect example of my confusion and is representative of every store near me. They have room for about 5 set up kits, and then they have about a dozen stacked up on the wall. The wall is filled with midrange kits like the Select Force and Armory, the 5 on the floor are the cheapest garbage they sell, and there is not 1 higher end kit to be seen. Why do you need 5 junkers set up? The people buying them can't play the things anyway!
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Old 06-18-2016, 04:00 AM
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Default Re: How do you decide on an upper range kit...

Gruntersdad...You can try out a guitar without leaving marks, try that with a drum set. Now, try selling a scuffed up high end drum set for big bucks.
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  #12  
Old 06-18-2016, 04:01 AM
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Default Re: How do you decide on an upper range kit...

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Gruntersdad...You can try out a guitar without leaving marks, try that with a drum set. Now, try selling a scuffed up high end drum set for big bucks.
Its just a head though...they can't throw a new head on when they sell a kit for thousands? Anyone looking to drop that kind of money on a drum kit knows heads get worn....

Last edited by savage8190; 06-18-2016 at 04:23 AM.
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  #13  
Old 06-18-2016, 04:30 AM
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Default Re: How do you decide on an upper range kit...

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Gruntersdad...You can try out a guitar without leaving marks, try that with a drum set. Now, try selling a scuffed up high end drum set for big bucks.
I understand that as well. As my mentioning space, they are walked into tapped on by everyone walking by, so yes that can get beat up. But at least you can look at and play, and then order a new one and not take a floor model. It's too bad they we can't walk into a drum store and have high end models available.
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  #14  
Old 06-18-2016, 04:51 AM
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Default Re: How do you decide on an upper range kit...

In the whole San Francisco bay area, the only place to bang on some actual quality kits was... Guitar Center. Seriously. I was extremely disappointed by the few remaining independent music stores. One store had a few nice kits stacked up against the wall but wouldn't let a respectable looking 40 year old guy with stated budget and desires even set them up. Ridiculous.
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  #15  
Old 06-18-2016, 05:22 AM
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Default Re: How do you decide on an upper range kit...

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Originally Posted by savage8190 View Post
Just to be clear, I'm not rushing out and buying anything, nor am I seeking advice on what to buy; it's not a need, it's a want right now, but the time will come when i want to upgrade to a serious "forever" kind of kit that has everything I want. Honestly, next purchase will be some new hats and hat stand...maybe a second crash; new kit is easily a year off.

It's just weird to me that there is a serious lack of higher end kits available in my area. I have seen a couple (the only ones being a black panther kit and a recording custom), but I find it mystifying as a guitar player...I could walk into any long and mcquade and they would have at LEAST 40 high end guitars; some well over 100.

The other thing that is bothersome is that all the nicer kits are stacked away on a shelf...you'd have to get them to clear space and set them up to try it out. Heck, I saw a recording custom in a Tom Lee all setup and ready to go, I went to try it out, and it was plastered with signs saying no playing aloud, I guess a salesman has to babysit me?..seriously?

I asked about a couple different kits I'd like to give a whirl and was told theres nothing nearby and it would be a custom order. I just find it crazy...how do they sell drums?
Long and McQuade is the exclusive distributor for Mapex and make every effort to push this brand . Go to any L&M store and the largest amount of one brand on the floor is always Mapex. Mapex makes fine drums but they first surfaced quite a number of years ago in Canada and they had just awful hardware at that time and most of the retailers dropped the line because of the large amount of returns. They are much better now but drummers and retailers have long memories. Too bad because the Saturn series are nice sounding drums,

Yamaha is the most universal brand in stock at Canadian retailers ( and many US Retailers) and the reason is excellent, consistent quality. They have manufactured well designed great sounding drums for decades.

Back to the original poster - it is far easier to do your due diligence in the selection of a new kit. Multiple YouTube reviews on just about any kit made these days. Tons of reviews both online and in drum magazines ( though most of these are very careful to focus on the good qualities). Listen to some of your favourite players, read up on what gear they use if you like the sound. Narrow your choices down till you find something that you love with a price you can afford.
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  #16  
Old 06-18-2016, 05:50 AM
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Default Re: How do you decide on an upper range kit...

It seems you must go to another area.
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  #17  
Old 06-18-2016, 01:04 PM
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Default Re: How do you decide on an upper range kit...

There henerally isn't much of a market.

Collecting hobbyists order what they want and people that actually gig, both pros and amateurs gig lesser expensive gear or whatever their local store seems to be most impressed with.

I'm sure if you look around, though.

Here in Norway I defnetly have to look around, but if I go to Oslo I'll find most top stuff except the Yamaha PHX, which noone has in stock, and if no store has it I know a drummer who does.
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  #18  
Old 06-18-2016, 01:25 PM
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Default Re: How do you decide on an upper range kit...

You going to buy a car without driving it? So really salesmen cut themselves short because sure plenty of people may look but whose is going to buy without touching? I don't even by grapes without pulling one out to taste before I buy the bag. No one in my area carries many high end kits either-and only one store I've been to will let you play any kit-they didn't have high ends though. Now one store did first acoustic then later I noted it was an electric kit with a shield. Suddenly it dawns on me-not everyone thinks they can play guitar (and most appreciate it's an expensive musical instrument), but everyone thinks they can play drums (and many think it is an indestructible toy to be banged on) so probably it's problematic to have one set up.
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Old 06-18-2016, 01:36 PM
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Default Re: How do you decide on an upper range kit...

I have trouble seeing what the point in trying a brand new drum kit in a store will do for you.

They aren't using heads you probably like, or are tuned the way you want. The room is probably a disaster acoustically, and you will get sympathetic resonation from drums all around the room.

Pretty much you won't hear the drums sounding anything like they could or do sound like, and the music store is looking at replacing $200 worth of heads and hoping that no moron is going to damage anything on the drums by tuning them, or knocking one over or damaging the finish from when they are set up until someone buys them.
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  #20  
Old 06-18-2016, 02:28 PM
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Default Re: How do you decide on an upper range kit...

Yeah.

The top of the line stuff, unless you have tons of disposable income has to come from experience. Something you'll probably get over time.

As said, trying something with your preferred heads, tuning and so on is not very likely in a store anyway.

A store is a business, and though some drum enthusiastic employee might do something to have a couple of high end kits around, that's not how they make most of their money. Stage Customs, Live Customs, Accent, Catalinas, maybe a Renown and various travel kits is where it's at.

Signature snares is gonna be Hawkins, Jordison, maybe the Greb one... Benny's drum is not cheap, but it's versatile and he's sort of the guy now.
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  #21  
Old 06-18-2016, 03:43 PM
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Default Re: How do you decide on an upper range kit...

It's easier now than it used to be before the internet.
So many videos from stores, youtube, and reviews, and comments on forums and so on.
In a way that makes it harder too, because of information overload.

In the end, as always, it boils down to paying your money and taking your chances,
based on your gut feelings, ideas, and preferences.

I like to be able to at least see and inspect a kit first, even if there's no actual playing involved.
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Old 06-18-2016, 06:53 PM
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Default Re: How do you decide on an upper range kit...

There's no one kit that can do it all, however, there are some brands, sizes & woods that have been used for a very long time, and for very good reasons obviously.

My advice is to stay away from exotic woods, sizes and brands and stick with those proven to work in many situations. This way you can get your kit to sound many different ways by simply swapping heads and tuning as desired.

For example:
-Stick with maple (or perhaps birch and mahogany)
-Stick with 'standard-sized' drums -- nothing too deep or shallow.
-Stick with 'standard' heads (Ambassadors, Emperors, G2/G1, etc)
-Get a finish that has stood the test of time - and fads - natural, black, white, etc...

Of course, your mileage will vary, but you cannot go wrong with the above IMO.

...and in case your wondering, I have followed my own advice. I have a Ludwig Classic maple kit in a natural finish - sizes are 20x14, 10x7.5, 12x8 and 14x14. The snare is the standard LM402, and the cymbals are from the standard A series - 14" new beats, 21" sweet ride, 16" & 18" medium thin crashes. Heads are Evans G2s over G21.

This kit has a nice tuning range and works for almost anything.
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Old 06-18-2016, 06:58 PM
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Default Re: How do you decide on an upper range kit...

It may be worth your while to arrange a trip to your nearest five-star drum shop. The one nearest me (Donn Bennett's) has many high-end kits set up, and has no compunction whatsoever about letting you have a spin. I imagine if you were totes serious about buying one they would work with you to take it into one of their sound rooms to try out more in-depth. I have always had an amazing customer experience at Donn's.
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Old 06-18-2016, 07:18 PM
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Default Re: How do you decide on an upper range kit...

If you dont have an idea about the sound you want, how do you know the kit you already have cant produce it? Try different heads and tunings.

If you are after a boutique kit then its surely just personal preference regarding shell material, sizes and finish. Try some acoustic gigs and listen to the kits. Not much point doing it at a big show as the drums will be heavily processed.
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Old 06-18-2016, 07:59 PM
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Default Re: How do you decide on an upper range kit...

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If you dont have an idea about the sound you want, how do you know the kit you already have cant produce it? Try different heads and tunings.

If you are after a boutique kit then its surely just personal preference regarding shell material, sizes and finish. Try some acoustic gigs and listen to the kits. Not much point doing it at a big show as the drums will be heavily processed.
That's the thing, I'm quite sure of what I want, but there's no where to try the multitude of kits that would give me what I want.

Frankly, if money were not a factor I'd probably order a custom Yamaha Absolute Hybrid Maple. That's probably overkill for me, and I'd always be worried about itaking it out of the house. I'm interested in Saturns too but it seems they don't offer the sizes I want anymore...
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Old 06-18-2016, 08:05 PM
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Default Re: How do you decide on an upper range kit...

Live Custom then. With 2-ply it's pretty close.
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Old 06-18-2016, 08:21 PM
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Default Re: How do you decide on an upper range kit...

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Originally Posted by alparrott View Post
It may be worth your while to arrange a trip to your nearest five-star drum shop.
This is probably the best answer. What good is it to experience just one or two kits. If you are going all out with the bucks then selection is a must have. You won't get that at Guitar Center, not to mention think of all the fun you'll have. You know the saying, "it's the journey that counts, not just the destination".
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Old 06-18-2016, 08:38 PM
KamaK KamaK is offline
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Default Re: How do you decide on an upper range kit...

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I'm interested in Saturns too
Kits like the Saturn, Renown, and Live Custom are nice because they sound great, offer professional features, and are readily available on the used market. Resale value is pretty high with these kits. If you structure the purchase correctly and take proper care, you can recoup most of your investment later on.

If you feel the burning desire to buy some shells, and nothing we say can convince you otherwise, then put your current shells on Craigslist and pick up a used Saturn/Renown/LC. Understand that you will probably have a change of heart every two years for the rest of your life, so budget and plan accordingly.

Just a real world example. I bought a used Renown for $900 and change. Selling it after 2 years for $850. It would be ludicrous for me to suggest that I've outgrown them, or that they are somehow holding me back.
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Old 06-18-2016, 08:41 PM
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Default Re: How do you decide on an upper range kit...

Savage:

I had the opportunity to go to the Yamaha Corporate Headquarters in Pomona, California. One of the forum members here on this forum is a sales rep for Yamaha.
He got me in. I had the opportunity to play every drum kit available from Yamaha. They were all set up at the headquarters. It was a great experience.

I was able to test drive their top of the line drums. If I was wealthy I would have purchased their most expensive drums.
I ended up buying a set of Live Customs. I liked the sound, price range and colors.

I'm not sure where you live but I think most company sales reps would let you come to the factory show room on a special visit and test their gear.


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Old 06-18-2016, 09:35 PM
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Default Re: How do you decide on an upper range kit...

What about Recording Customs? Not cheap but they punch way above there weight.
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  #31  
Old 06-18-2016, 09:58 PM
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Default Re: How do you decide on an upper range kit...

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when no one keeps any of them in stock to try?!? I see lots of people ordering new kits; how do you know what you want?

I think I have an idea of what I might consider ideal sizes, but how does one decide what kind of kit to buy when there just isn't any around? This was never an issue for me with guitars; if I wanted to test something out it would be around somewhere...not so much with drums. It seems that everything above midrange kits is a special order, and I'm in a major city.

TBH I'm pretty happy with my Meridians, but being that they are discontinued I can't expand; it's pretty annoying.
Unfortunately that's just how it is with high-end drum kits. There are so many options available there's no way of knowing what anyone would want so it makes more sense to let people order what they like.

Budget and mid-level kits are much easier to market since they come pre-configured with as little options as possible, so those are easiest for a retailer to stock and sell.

It's a drag you're not in a major city to see truly high-end drums, but even here in Los Angeles, you're limited to what Professional Drum Shop in Hollywood, or what a Guitar Center might have on hand. I guess when purchasing a top-flight kit, you're kinda' purchasing by faith since all you have is what the catalog says before you order. Maybe here in a bigger city, you can see more people playing what you like and pick their brains as to what they like about them. If you hear a guy playing live with something you like, that would narrow down what brand and model you want, everything else, like the finish, is just cosmetic.
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Old 06-19-2016, 04:03 AM
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Default Re: How do you decide on an upper range kit...

Once you get past a certain price point, they're all going to be good. To me the truly upper range kits are no longer ply drums. Upper range ply drums like Sonor, Tama Stars... they're still ply drums. In this day of mid line drums that are better built than yesteryears top end drums, the top end range thankfully has expanded with the Craviottos, Gurus, and other boutique solid shell builders.

You have to know what sizes you want in intimate detail, know what type of construction you want, know your woods tonalities, and definitely research the hardware of any kit you're interested in. Once all your boxes are checked, you really should be good. It is a leap of faith of sorts. Drums can make a hundred different tones, you have to know what head combos you prefer, and you have to know where you like them tuned. A great drum is just the start. Most of the tone is up to you no matter what drum you get. A great set of drums guarantees nothing.
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  #33  
Old 06-19-2016, 04:29 AM
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Default Re: How do you decide on an upper range kit...

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Originally Posted by savage8190 View Post
That's the thing, I'm quite sure of what I want, but there's no where to try the multitude of kits that would give me what I want.

Frankly, if money were not a factor I'd probably order a custom Yamaha Absolute Hybrid Maple. That's probably overkill for me, and I'd always be worried about itaking it out of the house. I'm interested in Saturns too but it seems they don't offer the sizes I want anymore...

You want Hybrid Maples, but they're too expensive.
You want Saturns, but they don't make the right sizes.

Is there something in your price range, with the right sizes, that you want?
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Old 06-19-2016, 05:26 AM
Push pull stroke Push pull stroke is online now
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Default Re: How do you decide on an upper range kit...

I love my copper kit. I'm probably going to buy another one, with a bigger kick, this time from Echo Drums, as long as the floor tom they're making for me is great. Don't rule out an aluminum, brass, or especially a copper kit. Aluminum is very durable, easy to fix, and will never warp. Copper sounds amazing. Listen to a few different copper and aluminum kits on YouTube. Once I played my 12" copper tom 1 time, that was it. I was hooked for life after one note.
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Old 06-19-2016, 08:04 AM
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Default Re: How do you decide on an upper range kit...

Quote:
Originally Posted by larryace View Post
A great set of drums guarantees nothing.
Exactly, it's a tool, & if you get value from that tool is entirely contextual, both on a practical & emotional level.
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Old 06-19-2016, 08:47 AM
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Default Re: How do you decide on an upper range kit...

I am an emotional tool, let's make it simple. ply Gretsch USA. Mono ply ? up to you.
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Old 06-19-2016, 11:13 AM
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Default Re: How do you decide on an upper range kit...

Quote:
Originally Posted by paradiddle pete View Post
I am an emotional tool, let's make it simple. ply Gretsch USA.
:-)



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So, kick drum...or...bass drum? I'll tell you what. If it's 18" or less, it's a FOOT TOM.
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Old 06-19-2016, 05:51 PM
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Default Re: How do you decide on an upper range kit...

Live Custom. Best bang for the buck out there.
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Old 06-19-2016, 05:52 PM
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Default Re: How do you decide on an upper range kit...

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Originally Posted by Ghostnote View Post
Live Custom. Best bang for the buck out there.
Old folks will buy a Renown. Young folks will buy a Saturn. Musicians will buy a Yamaha.

;-)
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Old 06-19-2016, 06:36 PM
Captain Bash Captain Bash is offline
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Default Re: How do you decide on an upper range kit...

If you are talking new drums, the difference in sound between any of the major manufacturers is pretty small. I doubt anyone could actually tell the difference in a properly conducted blind test between a similarly sized Pearl, Yamaha, Tama, Mapex, Sonor etc...Kits based on toms, floor toms and kick. Particulalrly if fitted with the same heads and tuned up the same and played by the same person.

However, there are differences in hardware which may be advantage or disadvantage depending on use. Also they do feel a little different to play, I suspect this is down to the rims. The way a drum feels under the stick at your preferred tension is an important consideration which you can only discern by playing a drum not from hearing it. This in turn alters the way you play a phrase.

I don't agree with the notion that ply drums are sonically inferior to stave, solid shell constructed drums. They just offer a slightly different sound and feel; better in some situations but not better in every situation. Its a bit like comparing a Fender stratocaster to a telecaster, both good guitars, that sound and feel somewhat different, but one isn't better than the other.

Similarly, bespoke makers kits offer slight sonic improvements which might get picked up in a recording environment but won't make any difference at say a small gig, where time and the FOH just dials in his/her settings because time is short between bands.

So in short it is a hard decision but be assured that the differences in sound between brands are just NOT that big. Manufacturers like to make a huge deal about construction xyz, but I guarantee you it's hard to tell in any normal playing situation. Your guitarists won't have a clue you switched kits if you don't tell them.
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