DW Design Series vs. Gretsch Renown

cdhenders1024

Junior Member
Hi folks,

First post here, and I am looking for a bit of advice. I know there is a great deal of information out there on both of these kits, and I'm sure many will say it just comes down to personal taste. However, it'd be great to hear any advice or insight you may have regarding the DW Design Series and/or the Gretsch Renown maple shells.

I'm looking to get back into drumming after letting it drop off a bit while I've been focusing on grad school for the past 4 years. I have a pretty versatile background and have played jazz, blues, funk, reggae, rock, and country in various settings since I was in junior high school (so roughly 20 years). I would put myself at an intermediate level of skill, but I aim to be as professional as possible in attitude. I've played many bar gigs and a few festivals, and done some recording in the past. Looking for my new kit, I want something I can continue to grow into instead of worrying about growing out of.

This is why I've narrowed it down to either the DW Design or Renown shells. They fit my budget (around $1500) and are both high quality maple shells. They both seem to fit a wide variety of playing styles and genres. They are both essentially the same price right now on Sweetwater. The DW's come with a snare, and the Renowns do not (though they are a couple hundred bucks cheaper, which essentially makes it a wash when factoring in a snare price).

Any thoughts? I'd consider buying used, but that takes the option of financing off the table. Thanks in advance
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
I've not played either, but I seem to hear a lot more positive feedback about the Renowns than I do the DW Design series.

I'm sure more people with better experience will show up soon. :)
 

cdhenders1024

Junior Member
Thanks :) I am leaning more toward the Gretsch. I've always loved the warm vintage Gretsch sound and have wanted one since I was a kid. And they don't come with a snare, which means I'd get to go shopping for one which is always fun. That said, I know the amazing reputation that DW has, so given that they are the same price I'm conflicted.
 

BertTheDrummer

Gold Member
I've not played either, but I seem to hear a lot more positive feedback about the Renowns than I do the DW Design series.

I'm sure more people with better experience will show up soon. :)
I think it depends on the various boards/facebook groups/etc, DW period seems to garner a lot of hate from non-DW fans.

Both are great drums, some of it really depends on what kind of sound you are going for. The Gretsch with the 30 degree bearing edge will have a noticeably different sound than the Design's 45 w/ roundover.

If you want to go used, the Renowns will be easier to find since they have been around longer. DW has a pretty good deal on some special satin finished Designs (Satin Midnight Blue and Deep Cherry Red) that is at a discounted price. I think I saw them as low as $900 without a snare from some places.

Edit: Added this since I saw this post.
Thanks :) I am leaning more toward the Gretsch. I've always loved the warm vintage Gretsch sound and have wanted one since I was a kid. And they don't come with a snare, which means I'd get to go shopping for one which is always fun. That said, I know the amazing reputation that DW has, so given that they are the same price I'm conflicted.
If you have always loved the Gretsch sound and want the warm vintage Gretsch sound, you should go with the Gretsch. Simple as that.
 

Ghostin one

Senior Member
I'd consider buying used, but that takes the option of financing off the table.
I almost never used credit until the last couple years (Yes, I'm weird) but I saw a used set of Renowns on eeb bay and applied for the payypal credit (no interest for six months) and I'm glad I did. I guess they'll take all the usual credit cards, too. There's "reverb", and probably other sites that work the same way.

I had to drive a couple hours to get them, but the Renown is an awesome drum set.

If you look around, you'll see that some of the various sizes and configurations sold do include a snare drum.

I'm just not familiar with DW drums, but their pedals and hardware are top-notch.
 

AzHeat

Platinum Member
The only thing I see with the design series is they are essentially PDPs with DW lugs, albeit smaller and nicer and DW logos. You get none of the real benefits of their higher lines, including resale. Nothing wrong with the shells, but why pay extra for nothing. I still think the PDP Platinums sounds better than the design series and can be found cheap.

The Renowns have a tone that’s tough to beat in the price range. It’s tough to argue sound, but at least from my perspective, they have mojo sound wise the Design series just can’t touch.
 

TK-421

Senior Member
Thanks :) I am leaning more toward the Gretsch. I've always loved the warm vintage Gretsch sound and have wanted one since I was a kid. And they don't come with a snare, which means I'd get to go shopping for one which is always fun. That said, I know the amazing reputation that DW has, so given that they are the same price I'm conflicted.
I think you've answered your own question. Get the Renowns. The DWs are fine, even though I'm not really a huge fan. But the Renowns are something special, especially at that price point. I've A/B'd my Renowns against newer and even Jasper-era USA Customs, with same heads and tuning. And the differences were very minimal. In fact, they sounded shockingly close, given the huge price differential.

Disclaimer: my Renowns are the black square badge version (otherwise known as pre-RN1), with 100% hard rock maple shells and die cast hoops. The current RN2 Renowns use a combination of hard rock and Asian maple, along with double-flanged 302 hoops. That said, they still sound amazing — just not quite as close to the USA Custom sound.
 

cdhenders1024

Junior Member
The only thing I see with the design series is they are essentially PDPs with DW lugs, albeit smaller and nicer and DW logos. You get none of the real benefits of their higher lines, including resale. Nothing wrong with the shells, but why pay extra for nothing. I still think the PDP Platinums sounds better than the design series and can be found cheap.

The Renowns have a tone that’s tough to beat in the price range. It’s tough to argue sound, but at least from my perspective, they have mojo sound wise the Design series just can’t touch.
Thanks AZ, this is exactly the kind of info I was looking for.
 

cdhenders1024

Junior Member
I think you've answered your own question. Get the Renowns. The DWs are fine, even though I'm not really a huge fan. But the Renowns are something special, especially at that price point.
This is nice to hear. I was hesitant to even say I was leaning one direction over the other, because I truly haven't made any decisions and just wanted some objective insight. I don't know much about DW other than the high end kits have a great reputation.
 

Durbs

Senior Member
I almost never used credit until the last couple years (Yes, I'm weird)
[Off-topic] Am I right in thinking this is a very American thing? Using finance to buy expensive things seems to be the norm in the US, but the exception in the UK? Not talking credit-cards, just store-based finance schemes....[/off-topic]
 

Freewill3

Member
Another vote for the Renowns here! I own USA Customs so I have a frame of reference regarding the sound qualities. I was really blown away by the Renowns when they had a new kit set up at my local shop. Nothing bad to say about DW either, I just think the Renowns have a little bit more versatility overall.
 

Icetech

Gold Member
I have owned DW Designs for 4 years..and honestly, not a single complaint.. I always look at other higher end kits, but i can't seem to justify replacing them as they sound great to me.

That being said... If i were starting over, i would find used yamaha's or Tama's.. (prolly yammy though) And never buy new again.. such a waste of money.

P.S. i am not particularly a fan of DW at all (after dealing with customer service i will never buy a DW product again..) that being said.. the drums have been great.. and they don't have those stupid looking huge lugs.. they should really put the smaller ones on all their drums rather than 70's looking doorknobs.

Look at the used market...

P.P.S. These are new from Tama and only a tiny bit higher than your price range (call and try for 1500.. who knows) but i would take these over the reknowns or DW in all honesty.

New Tamas..
 

Artstar

Platinum Member
That being said... If i were starting over, i would find used yamaha's or Tama's.. (prolly yammy though) And never buy new again.. such a waste of money.
I hear you.. however I DO LOVE getting brand new huge boxes delivered and opening a brand new set with all the parts wrapped up.. etc.. IT'S FUN!! LOL ........ And the lower level kits from years ago.. they had NICE and HEFTY brackets, mounts and bass spurs.. They have cut back on that stuff drastically IMO.

But financially it only make sense with the lower line stuff because you can sell it for hardly any loss at all on many models.
 

BertTheDrummer

Gold Member
For what it is worth, if you have a Sweetwater card they are doing 0% interest for 48 months on Gretsch and DW until April 2nd.
 

gdmoore28

Gold Member
There are no downsides to either choice, but personally I'd buy a used set of the last Renowns with cast hoops. I've no experience with the new Renowns, but the older series simply sound phenomenal. And I can hear no difference between them and the USA Gretschs.

How you finance them is another story, but there is no way I'd buy a new set when so many great used ones are on the market at substantial discounts - more than enough to make up for the interest rates.

GeeDeeEmm
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
The old Renowns sound a bit thinner than the USAs.

It's still about taste. Like everyone says, Gretschhas a sound. You either crave that or you don't.

I have no bone to pick with DW. Plenty of hardware I like, but those drums don't sound like anything special. That might also be your thing, though. Had both kits at a college I was teaching at. I liked the Gretsch kit and the students liked the DW, so we both got to play what be liked on lessons.
 

cdhenders1024

Junior Member
How you finance them is another story, but there is no way I'd buy a new set when so many great used ones are on the market at substantial discounts - more than enough to make up for the interest rates.

GeeDeeEmm
I'm inclined to agree, but as Bert mentioned SW has 0% financing for 48 months going on as a promo until April 2, so that's pretty tempting. I have seen a couple Renown shell packs on Craigslist locally at quite a discount, and likely with better heads already on, so... Still torn. I can pay off a $1400 purchase at 0% fairly quickly, or I can drop $800 on a used kit and minimize my debt, though I'd have to dip into my savings account to cover it. Pros and cons on all sides.
 
I have experience with the DW Design that is limited to banging on them in the local Guitar Center a couple of years ago, so I can't offer any real world experience with them. The Renown on the other hand is something I have owned since 2007 (black badge). I also own an 80's USA Custom and had a Brooklyn kit a couple of years ago.

I don't recall anything special with the Design series, but I was curious about them since I previously owned a Collectors kit. I have owned a bunch of kits over the years including Pearl Masters in both birch and maple; 60's, 70's, 80's and 90's Ludwig in 3 ply, 4 ply and 6 ply shells, and Vistalites; Tama Starclassic Performer (birch) great ki, BTW. But the Gretsch kits just speak to me.

I would buy a used Renown pre-RN1 with the Die Cast hoops and black badge and call it a day. The RN-1 changed the badge and shell composition from my kit with the black badge. The black badge is sooooooo close to the USA customs that it is ridiculous. I suspect Gretsch was cannibalizing the USA Custom sales. I look at them as the best value in drums.
 

Tamaefx

Silver Member
For a time, I've been interested in those two kits.
These are the pro and cons I've selected to make my choice :
Pro Renown :
Sound : really richer, with a mojo.
Better drumheads out of the box
Nicer looking hardware
Looks more classy
Bass drum Tom mount
Good hoops
13" Tom available.
No snare included, which could be pro & con. Personally I leaned toward the Hawkins signature.

Pro Design :
Full package with snare
Deeper rack toms - I don't like at all the 10x7 size, even on the process videos.
Good sound, apparently low, but lack of personality, maybe the skins aren't the best.
Much nicer colour choice and finish - strictly subjective of course.
Lighter kit
Fine hardware (throw off, fine thread screws)
Varying hoops weight (I don't know if it's useful but it doesn't seem like a bad idea.)

Cons for both : 18" deep bass drum.
I have played two renown, but never played or listen to any DW.
 
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