Beginner needs first drumset advice

Late Blooming Rebel

Junior Member
Hi All,

Since I'll be 50 soon and, with respect to my birthday present, I can pretty much get away with murder at the moment, I'm buying my first drum kit.

My priorities are:

  • Versatility - It will live in the family home so one kit needs to cover all the bases
  • Quality - Buy it once, buy it right
  • Size - Smaller the better as long as versatility isn't compromised
  • Desirability - I have to like the look of it

I had my first lesson yesterday and the school's kits are all five-piece, two-up, one-down. My instructor tells me that for a good while yet, that's the configuration we'll be sticking to so that's what I intend to buy. We'll begin with rock and blues, follow up with jazz and latin, and build from there.

The plan, so far, looks like this:

  • Gretsch Catalina Maple in Aqua Sparkle
  • Zildjian A391 Cymbal Set
  • Tama HB5W Hardware Pack

Add to that a nice rug for it all to sit on, a throne (suggestions welcome), a tuning key and some sticks and I'll see some change out of €2000 (which I acknowledge is a ludicrous amount to pay for a first drum kit and I'm happy to entertain ideas about how to reduce that as long as the four criteria above aren't compromised - used equipment isn't an option).

Now the Catalina shells are 22x18, 10x7, 12x8, 16x16 and 14x6 which is as big as I'd want to go. I did consider buying the 7-piece kit which adds 8x7 and 14x14 toms on the basis that the uplift in price was less than the cost of either drum, and having those two extra drums in the same finish in storage might come in handy down the line, but it would make my budget even more ridiculous so unless you people think it's a really good idea, I'll talk myself out of that one.

Other drums I've considered are the Tama Silverstar in either Studio (20x16, 10x7, 12x8, 14x14 and 14x5) or Standard (22x18, 10x7, 12x8, 16x14 and 14x5) configuration.

Cymbals were difficult to narrow down but popular opinion seems to suggest that the New Beat Hi-Hat and Sweet Ride in the A391 pack are both very popular and considered to be very versatile.

I'm not particularly wedded to the Tama hardware. There seem to be many good options at the same price point but I'm sure I won't be disappointed. I do like the fact that both of the cymbal stands are boom stands though.

So, what do you think? I'm I spending my money well? Am I hitting my buying criteria? Are there any changes you'd make?

I'm particularly interested in options to reduce either the size of the kit or the cost whilst maintaining quality and versatility.

Thanks in advance,

LBR.

P.S. Yes, it's my first post. Hi!

P.P.S. I've only really considered acoustic drums because I prefer the aesthetic of them and feel that learning to maintain and tune acoustic drums is an important part of being a well-rounded drummer. However, an electronic drum kit would certainly be easier to live with. Are acoustic drums better to learn on or are my prejudices against electronic drums just that?
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
The drums, cymbals, and hardware listed will certainly do. All will last forever if cared for. DO NO SKIMP on a throne. You like me are not a young pup and our backs get worse as we grow older and you need support. A back on the throne will help but not totally necessary. Tama First Chair, or Road Pro are good thrones, Roc-N-Soc is also good. Pork Pie make nice seats with really thick foam cushions. Whatever don't cut corners here. You could also look for good quality used gear and save some money, but if you want new, what you have listed above will be fine. Good Luck , have fun and welcome to the forum.....Johnny
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
Yamaha Stage Custom
Zildjian A391 or Sweet Set
Yamaha 700 series hardware pack
Roc-n-Soc throne (or Gibraltar 9000, Pork-pie, or whatever your ass prefers)

If your heart is really set on the Gretsch vibe (mine was), I would recommend a used Renown (or Blowout Marquee) over the Catalina series. I ended up with a used Renown and it has been wonderful.
 

wildbill

Platinum Member
Sounds like a plan.
5 pc., 2 up/1 down is my preferred setup.

First place I'd head for a smaller setup is to go with the 20x16 bass drum
over the 22x18. That's personal preference though.
If you really like the Catalinas, they come in that configuration:
https://www.google.com/#q=Gretsch+Catalina+Maple+with+20"+bass+drum
If you're fine with the deep 22, go for it. Sounds like you won't be lugging it around a lot.

Most people will say to look for a better set used. While it's true that you
can get more for your money that way, there are also some risks, and a
much greater involvement of your time and energy involved.
Same goes for cymbals.
You can get the same cymbals used for less money, but you have to chase them down - usually piece by piece.

Nothing like walking in, paying your money, and walking out with a complete,
brand new setup. Perfect for a 50th.

The advice from GD about a good throne is priceless.

Have fun on your new voyage.
 

double_G

Silver Member
Congrats drum brother ! my feel is a 5 piece w/ 2 rack toms, 1 floor tom will flow better for you on usability / adaptability as you are learning. as fills & melodies on the toms.

for the kit, i would listen to HD youtube video w/ good headphones & go w/ your gut. check Gergo Borlai for Gretsch and Adam Deitch or Matt Garstka for Tama. all these guys have nice tunings on these drums.

for convenience, a zildjian, sabian, paiste cymbal pack is fine...or a good shop will have used you can pick from.
 

opentune

Platinum Member
"We'll begin with rock and blues, follow up with jazz and latin, and build from there"

Happy drumming, you won't look back. If you are seriously considering all those genres down the line and only want to buy one kit, I recommend a 20 inch bass drum....it will cross you into jazz territory tone-wise for your bass drum. Sure bigger bass drums were used in some jazz but mostly in big-band stuff.

It may not matter. My prediction is like almost everybody else on here this will not be your first and only kit ;)
 

Late Blooming Rebel

Junior Member
Thank you all for your replies. You've certainly given me food for thought.

@GRUNTERSDAD - Thanks for the throne recommendations. I'm considering the Tama HT850BC Round Rider XL and the HT750BC Ergo Rider Hydraulic. Tama also do a back support which I'd probably add once the bank account's recovered.

@Kamak - Those Renown's do look lovely and I even have spousal approval (like I said, I'm getting away with murder) but they'd almost triple the cost of my shells (not least because the Renown shell packs don't come with a snare) so I'll put them to one side.

@wildbill - The 20x16 is definitely my preferred size and is the reason why the Tama Silverstars are on my shortlist as it would appear that Gretsch do not distribute the 20x16 Catalina Maple in Europe. At least I've not found a single retailer that stocks them. I'm sure I could get hold of a set if I tried but without distributor support, I think that would be a mistake.

@double_G - Thanks for those youtube suggestions. I particularly enjoyed Gergo Borlai. Made me want the Gretsch's all the more.

@opentune - I suspect you're right ;-)

Prompted by your comments, I did a fair amount of window shopping yesterday evening looking at other options but I kept coming back to the Catalina Maple's and, in the absence of any major concerns, I think that's still the plan. I'm not ready to pull the trigger yet because I really would prefer a 20x16 but I have six weeks to play with so I'll sit on my hands for now.
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
@Kamak - Those Renown's do look lovely and I even have spousal approval (like I said, I'm getting away with murder) but they'd almost triple the cost of my shells (not least because the Renown shell packs don't come with a snare) so I'll put them to one side.
Cat Maple 6 piece, $900
Marquee 5 piece, $750 (Demo)

This is a no brainer.
 
Last edited:

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
Don't go cheap on cymbals.

As far as the kit itself, you're not going to buy your forever kit the first time out. Nobody does. Just go mid-level, maybe listen to some YouTube videos of the different ones, and pick what sounds good to YOUR ear.

If you're obsessive about tom sound (like I am), you'll eventually go more high-end, but take your time picking, at least a year. I went through 3 different kits in a year before finding my forever kit, a Blaemire.
 

Headbanger

Senior Member
The Gretsch Energy comes in the sizes you want and has hardware included. It's a fairly new series and I'm not sure how the drums compare to the Catalina, but it might be worth looking into.

https://www.thomann.de/fr/gretsch_energy_studio_wine_red_b_stock.htm
https://www.thomann.de/fr/gretsch_energy_studio_wine_red.htm
https://www.thomann.de/fr/gretsch_energy_studio_black.htm?ref=search_prv_4
https://www.thomann.de/fr/gretsch_energy_studio_grey_steel.htm?ref=search_prv_7

Although there are cymbals included, I wouldn't recommend using them. You would be much happier with the Zildjian A series cymbals that you mentioned in your first post.
 

Wave Deckel

Gold Member
The 20x16 is definitely my preferred size and is the reason why the Tama Silverstars are on my shortlist as it would appear that Gretsch do not distribute the 20x16 Catalina Maple in Europe. At least I've not found a single retailer that stocks them. I'm sure I could get hold of a set if I tried but without distributor support, I think that would be a mistake.
...
I'm not ready to pull the trigger yet because I really would prefer a 20x16 but I have six weeks to play with so I'll sit on my hands for now.
Buy a Tama Silverstar and I assure you, you will have a really good kit for the rest of your life, if you treat is well. You will not be disappointed with its sound and built quality (which is better than on the Catalina IMO). But also look at the Yamaha Stage Custom, which is also a very good drumset.

And yes, buy a good seat. Many people forget about that. I am satisfied with a Gibraltar 9608 throne. Heavy but comfy.

And no, don't buy an Energy. You won't like it soon. Those are entry level drums.
 

Late Blooming Rebel

Junior Member
Thanks man.

I've spent the past two days thinking about this and I've had a nagging doubt that I was letting my heart get in the way of my head. I wanted to pick the Catalinas but your post has simply stated what I think I knew all along. It's the Tamas I should be picking.
 

JustJames

Platinum Member
Don't underestimated the importance of lust.

If the Catalinas are the kit that gets your heart beating a bit quicker, get that kit.

The right kit is the kit that makes you want to play!
 

Late Blooming Rebel

Junior Member
Absolutely! While I want to get the "right" kit, I gotta love it.

That might explain why I've not ordered them yet. The other reason is probably that a saucy little minx has caught my eye...

I was definitely lusting after the Catalinas, but the Silverstars did eventually win out. They have a certain "snap" that I guess is down to their birch construction. That got me looking at other birch sets which is why I'm now lusting after a Mapex Armory 5-piece in Magma Red. They seem to be well regarded around this forum but if anyone has an opinion they'd like to share, I'd love to hear it.

I think the truth is that if I buy any drum set in the price range I'm looking at, I'm not going to be disappointed.

I have ordered my cymbals. I had a shock this evening when they went up in price by €110 at both of the dealers I'd been keeping an eye on. Fortunately, I managed to find a third dealer that had them at the old price so I snapped them up.

Had my second lesson today. My instructor informed me that I'd be performing at the end of year show in June. Yikes!
 

JustJames

Platinum Member
Congratulations!

I'm a bit concerned that the end of the year has been moved forward by 6 months; time flies!

The Mapex Armory is a great looking kit, and I think you'll be very happy with it.

Edited because I read too quick, and it's the cymbals you've ordered. So...

I like Mapex; I recently bought my second Mapex kit, so obviously I'm biased. Bias aside, and some of the marketing BS equally aside, Mapex kits do seem to be excellent value, but I have to correct your colour choice: In the Armory, it has to be Photon Blue.
 
Last edited:

Late Blooming Rebel

Junior Member
I've ordered my drums!

Now, while it may appear that I've done a complete 180 and all the advice you've given me has been a waste of your time, I can assure you it hasn't. Without your prodding, poking and cajoling, I may never have made a decision but made one I have.

So:

  • Mapex Armory Rock Shell Set in Magma Red
  • Mapex HP8005EB Armory Hardware Pack in Black
  • Mapex B800EB Cymbal Boom Stand in Black
  • Zildjian A391 Cymbal Pack
  • Gibraltar 9608 Throne
  • Meinl Black Drum Rug
  • Tune-Bot
  • Tama RW200 Metronome

In the end, I listened to the various shell sets I was interested in at Drumcenter cz's Youtube channel and picked the one I most liked the look of and the sound of. I think it was the Armory Tomahawk snare that clinched it.

Here's the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dP5Mt5f56V8

Thanks again for your help. Much appreciated.
 

Late Blooming Rebel

Junior Member
How many sleeps?
Everything is in stock except the shells themselves. They're expected in on February 8th. The good news is that whenever they do show up, Wifey has said that I don't have to wait until my birthday :D

I have a practice pad in the post. In the meantime, I have an upturned bucket :D
 
Top