Boutique or name brand?

Briandisaster

Junior Member
Just looking for what your thoughts are, pros/cons, opinions and whatever else on this.
I’m looking to get a semipro/pro level kit this year. I’m trying to narrow it down to just a couple brands and I’m down to sonor sq1, Noble and Cooley, or British drum co legend series.
They’re all sitting around the $3,300 price with a one up two down config. What do you think about the big companies compared tonthe small custom companies?
Edit : I should mention that I’m about 3 hours from noble and Cooley, so it would add to the experience to go down and see first hand where my drums are being made. They are on the absolute high end of the price range though :/
 

RobertM

Platinum Member
You can’t go wrong with N&C CD maples or Horizon drums. Plus, you can customize your sizes and finish with N&C in a way you can’t with Sonor SQ1 or British Drum. The BD Legend series has an incredibly nice sound, and the birch shells will be different from N&C’s offerings. It comes down to the wood/sound you want and sizes/finishes.
 

danondrums

Well-known member
My most favorite sounding kit that I ever owned was a Noble and Cooley. 15 years ago I had to reduce down to a single kit when moving around a ton and I had to keep the DW Collectors with sentimental value, but admittedly less pleasing tone to my ears.

If I ever purchase another "dream" kit I'll get either a Noble and Cooley or a GMS.
 

steadypocket

Gold Member
Noble & Cooley makes their steambent solid shells in house but I believe their ply shells are sourced from Keller. The end product is still first rate but just something to be aware. Can’t go wrong with any of the three. You may have less wait time for an add on for the SQ1 or BDC kits because you may be able to find one already made somewhere. Any N&C add-on would almost certainly have to be a special order.
 

RickP

Gold Member
My personal favorite drums are Noble and Cooley, followed by Sonor. I have used so many different brands over the years that these two brands tick all the boxes for me. Quality construction, excellent finishes, availability of multiple wood types, sonic excellence.

Noble and Cooley make two fantastic standard lines of drum sets . The CD Maples and Horizon series . The CD Maples are 100% maple shells with different ply layups depending on the diameter of the shell. The Horizons are maple shells with and inner ply of African mahogany. The shells are laid up in a mostly horizontal orientation to simulate the sonic characteristics of a solid shell. The inner ply of African mahogany really warms up the sound of the shell and mellows the attack slightly .
Both of these drum lines were designed with Bob Gatzen noted drum Guru and inventor.

I have owned a lot of solid shell snares from a number of manufacturers but none approach the sound of Noble and Cooley's SS snares. The solid shell with the brass hardware and excellent bearing edge and snare bed craftsmanship makes these a must have snare drum live and in the studio,
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
Since you are asking for both the good and the bad, I'll see if I can hit both. All of this is my opinion, and of course YMMV:

Negative: Just keep in mind that if you spend $3,300 on a custom set, you will never, ever get your money back from it. Realistically, you'll be LUCKY to break $2k on a resale, and if you sell them online, you'll have to ship and all that jazz. The more you pay for certain customization, the less you may make back if you choose to sell. In other words, the more "wacky" or non-traditional the kit, the more difficult it will be to sell. Also, the lesser-known the brand, the harder it will be to sell. I don't think anyone getting a custom set built needs to consider resale value because on paper, the numbers will never add up in his/her favor (unless he/she is a super-famous drummer).

Positive: You get to pick out exactly what you want - sizes, finishes, lugs, etc. You also have a say on your kit all the way down to shell materials, edges, etc. This has the potential to be a "forever set," and this is a really great thing!

The take-away: What you are paying the premium price for is not just for the drum set. You are paying for the experience of being able to get exactly what you want and working with the builders to design something tailor-made just for you. There will always be a drum set out there that sounds just as good as the one you have built. I think anyone who has a custom-made set needs to ask him/herself is, is the experience worth the extra cost? For some, it'll be yes. For others, it'll be no.

Would I do this? Absolutely. I've been drumming for well over 20 years, and I'm pretty sure I know exactly what I want. I hope to do a custom order one day.
 

Briandisaster

Junior Member
If your 3 hours from NC you may be within driving distance of Drum Center of Portsmouth. They have Noble and Cooley sets on hand along with other high end sets. You can compare some different manufacturers in person.
I'm about 45 minutes from there and I try to find an excuse to go every couple months even if i don't need anything. I always "want" something though. lol
I think what I need to do is to set up a time with DCP and go try out the kits that i'm considering. There are a lot of review videos out there, but nothing can replace hearing in person.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
If your 3 hours from NC you may be within driving distance of Drum Center of Portsmouth. They have Noble and Cooley sets on hand along with other high end sets. You can compare some different manufacturers in person.
And you'll also be able to talk with the staff there, and discuss pros and cons of each. Off the top of my head, Sonors are notoriously heavy to lug around, and Noble and Cooley's sound very, very similar to the less expensive Gretsch Renowns (both have thin shells and die cast hoops).

Also, the decision to go with a boutique kit somewhat depends on what you've owned already. Do you hate tom mounts in bass drums? Really love memory locks? Despise ball-and-socket hardware? Do you prefer the durability of a wrap finish, or do you want lacquer? Personal experience matters, and should inform the purchase of a high-end kit.

Also, how good are you at tuning? Can you tune a tom to a pitch? Can you tune two toms to a specific interval, like a major 3rd, a perfect 4th, or a perfect 5th? If not, you might not be able to discern the difference between a drum whose sound you don't like, and a good drum that's been poorly tuned.
 

incrementalg

Gold Member
I'm about 45 minutes from there and I try to find an excuse to go every couple months even if i don't need anything. I always "want" something though. lol
I think what I need to do is to set up a time with DCP and go try out the kits that i'm considering. There are a lot of review videos out there, but nothing can replace hearing in person.
You won’t be disappointed when you get there. I’m about 90 minutes south. I’ll pick you up!
 

Briandisaster

Junior Member
You won’t be disappointed when you get there. I’m about 90 minutes south. I’ll pick you up!
Oh I’ve been before! Love it! I haven’t been with the intention of buying a new set though. So I’m not sure how they are as far as letting you try out new kits.
mans im
45 minutes north lol
 
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