DW Design Series vs. Gretsch Renown

JosephDAqui

Silver Member
+1 on the DW Design - it's the only DW kit I ever liked playing. had the renown's and they are great the DW Design Kick is the real winner.
 

TK-421

Senior Member
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.)
You listed the "fine thread screws" (aka "true pitch tension rods") as a pro. I respectfully disagree with that. While they're meant to help fine tune your drums due to the added thread count, in reality they make absolutely no difference in tuning. But it does make an enormous difference in the time it takes to change a head. Last Christmas I was at my friend's recording studio and wanted to swap out heads on a DW snare. He didn't have a drill and drum key bit, so it was all by hand. And it felt like it took an hour—for one head! All because of those finely threaded rods. By the time I finally got it swapped out and tuned up, I was worn out. He wanted me to swap out the heads on another, but I had to pass.

To this day I've never owned a DW. With "innovations" like this, I highly doubt I ever will.
 

AzHeat

Platinum Member
Biggest drawback on the true pitch tension rods are not being able to find matching ones in a pinch. Granted DW parts are not tough to find for the most part, but the peg for those seem to always be empty around my area. I guess when it comes to stock, you can keep 100 packs that fit anything, or 3 in case someone with a DW loses or strips one.

Tama got creative with their Starphonic tension rods too and made the heads longer and rounded. Doesn’t seem like a big deal, except I only have one key style that fits them. Every other one won’t slip on far enough. Thankfully they are standard threads, so replaced them cheap. Don’t need anything “special.” It just means complications at some point.
 

BertTheDrummer

Gold Member
Biggest drawback on the true pitch tension rods are not being able to find matching ones in a pinch. Granted DW parts are not tough to find for the most part, but the peg for those seem to always be empty around my area. I guess when it comes to stock, you can keep 100 packs that fit anything, or 3 in case someone with a DW loses or strips one.
If you get the drums new, they actually include some extra tension rods.
 

Lennytoons

Senior Member
I have Renown RN1s and really like them but:
They are very heavy.
They like high to medium tuning. You can tune them for a low juicy sound but it's a bit tricky, not really their sweet spot.
 
I have been really tempted on getting a set of Renowns, mainly because I have a friend who could get me a really great price. But my issue with them and something to consider is that the shell packs don't come in a configuration I love (2 floor toms). And the add ons they sell are weird sizes compared to the shell packs themselves. Also the current finishes they offer aren't anything special to me, and at that price point I am wanting something that is pretty particular. Now if you're look for just a basic 3 or 4 piece shell pack and don't plan on expanding that might now be an issue because the tone from those drums sound amazing on any videos I've seen.
 

Fritz Frigursson

Senior Member
I'd say Gretsch but you should definitely check out used Yamaha Live Customs since they've been discontinued. I would 100% pick the Yamahas because finishes, hardware and oak!
 

Icetech

Gold Member
The fine thread rods i don't believe are meant for fine tuning.. but the finer threads make it a lot less likely to back out from normal playing, they also feel amazingly smooth when tuning, most of my normal ones feel like turning in gravel after the DW fine threads, i wish all my drums had them now.
 

TK-421

Senior Member
The fine thread rods i don't believe are meant for fine tuning.. but the finer threads make it a lot less likely to back out from normal playing, they also feel amazingly smooth when tuning, most of my normal ones feel like turning in gravel after the DW fine threads, i wish all my drums had them now.
From the DW website:

True-Pitch® Tuning Rods
To give drummers even more control over their sound, DW created its patented True-Pitch® rod system. The rods feature 5mm threads rather than the 12/24 that’s standard on most other drums. To compare, there is 1 thread every 0.8mm on our True-Pitch® rods (about 20% more threads), versus 1 thread every 1.05mm on most other drums. The result is a more exacting tuning process.

The Finest Drum Tuning System Available Today
Time-tested True Pitch Tuning™ technology has been around for years. The added thread count gives drummers an expanded tuning range and the advancement has been adopted industry-wide. As DW’s team of craftsmen and designers have continued to improve upon bearing edge cutting techniques, counterhoop consistency, and overall shell making, the time has come for even more control over tuning. We proudly present, True Pitch 50™: the new tuning standard. At fifty threads per inch, these upgraded stainless steel tension rods provide ultra-smooth fine-tuning, allowing for less back-out.

---

So we're both right. It is meant for fine tuning (though I don't see a difference compared to standard tension rods), and they won't back out as easily.

I should add that on that DW snare I swapped heads on, once I loosened the rods past the point where they were holding any tension, I still couldn't spin them out quickly. On most snares (at least all the snares I've ever owned), as soon as the rods are loose enough, I can just give the key a quick spin and it will back the rod out most of the way. Usually one or two spins will suffice. But on this snare, the rods would not spin freely, meaning I had to manually twist out every single rod the entire way, then do it all in reverse once I put the new head on. With 10 rods all with 20% more threads, that took significantly longer than usual. In all reality, it probably took me about half an hour to swap out the head and get the new one seated and tuned up. Normally that would take me about 10 minutes. Also, I don't know if all true pitch tension rods behave this way, or if this was an anomaly.

Sorry for the thread derail!
 

IBitePrettyHard

Senior Member
I recently bought a Renown RN2 with a 20" kick in Vintage Pearl. I LOVE IT.

I watched hundreds, perhaps thousands of Youtube videos before concluding the Renowns are the best in just about every way, for the price point. The biggest factor for me was sound.

Renowns have a clean, pure tone, very musical. DWs sound muddy to me in comparison. Not necessarily a bad thing, some people love it. I wanted something that sounded as clean as possible, as close to the amazing Sonor SQ2 sound as I could find, and the Renowns are it.

I played a DW Design Series kit at GC just yesterday. It appeared to be well-made. It sounded good but didn't blow me away. Except the bass drum. I've always thought DW bass drums sound better than pretty much any other brand. And it seems the Design Series is no exception.

The Renown bass drums sound great too, but I will give the edge to the DW bass drums. However, the Renown toms I will put against any kit at ANY price, they are phenomenal.

The Renowns will be talked about for years. I doubt the DW Design Series will be around as long. Drum kit lines come and go all the time, but as TK-421 said, the Renowns are something special.
 

Tamaefx

Silver Member
I recently bought a Renown RN2 with a 20" kick in Vintage Pearl. I LOVE IT.
Drum kit lines come and go all the time, but as TK-421 said, the Renowns are something special.
Maybe it's a French expression, but I think the renown has a special "colour" to its sound. A personality you like or dislike. The two I played had different sizes, and heads, but the sound had that special colour. Maybe it's the silver paint, the thin shell, the bearing edge. I don't know. The sound seems warmer, with rather long sustain, less cutting than Tama for instance. Very musical. The Renown snare I played was really warm and powerful. Same rather long and warm sustain.
I really wish Gretsch would offer more finishes and shallower bass drums.
 

AzHeat

Platinum Member
^^DWs have their sound as much as Gretsch has theirs. It’s tough to put DW all in the same bucket when the Collectors Series are built with so many different she’ll options. That said, their basic Maple stuff can be perceived as muddy by some. I chased my PDPs down for the longest time, trying to get them to sound to my liking and never really did. My PDPs were the older oval lugs, so closer to the Performance Series than the Design Series. It’s why I mentioned the PDP Platinum Series earlier. They were essentially the Performance Series, before DW dropped them and introduced the Performance Series.

Complete assumption, but if I had to guess, I’d say DW will drop the current PDP Concept Series in favor of the design series at some point in the near future. There’s just something about the way they are positioning and marketing their stuff lately.

With that said, the Renowns have been Renowns for some time. They may have been a bit too close to the USA Customs, which is why with the RN2s they dropped the cast hoops. I actually think that was a good move for differentiation and price point. Not that the 302 hoops are all that much less, but given a whole set, they can add up. They are still very “Gretschy.” 302 hoops are still beastly, so not much weight savings. They are heavy drums.
 

Steady Freddy

Pioneer Member
So we're both right. It is meant for fine tuning (though I don't see a difference compared to standard tension rods), and they won't back out as easily.

I should add that on that DW snare I swapped heads on, once I loosened the rods past the point where they were holding any tension, I still couldn't spin them out quickly. On most snares (at least all the snares I've ever owned), as soon as the rods are loose enough, I can just give the key a quick spin and it will back the rod out most of the way. Usually one or two spins will suffice. But on this snare, the rods would not spin freely, meaning I had to manually twist out every single rod the entire way, then do it all in reverse once I put the new head on. With 10 rods all with 20% more threads, that took significantly longer than usual. In all reality, it probably took me about half an hour to swap out the head and get the new one seated and tuned up. Normally that would take me about 10 minutes. Also, I don't know if all true pitch tension rods behave this way, or if this was an anomaly.

Sorry for the thread derail!
I have a dozen DW snares with the true pitch 50 rods and have never had a problem changing heads, and I change heads often. Once they are lose they spin freely. Sounds like the drum you worked on needs some lube on the threads. One thing I will say about those rods is I've never had one back out under heavy rim shots. I think they are great!!

YMMV
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
I have a set of older Renown, 2007, and I am very pleased with all aspects including the sound. You don't mention budget, so I assume it's not an issue.
That said, most of what I read is people either loving, or hating DW, and most people either loving or have never played the Gretsch. Both great companies, and of course the Gretsch are not made by DW, but they did buy the distribution rights, whatever that means. Money, features, finishes, in that order for me.
 
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