Gretsch Renown...unfair to call it "mid-level"?

zambizzi

Platinum Member
So, I've been playing Pearl drums (MCX and now Reference) for the past couple of years. I love the vintage Ludwig sound but have had nothing but terrible experiences with them. So, I began to look elsewhere for that classic tone.

I picked up some Renowns on eBay from a *great* music shop in SF and received them the other day. Unfortunately, the kick drum was nearly cracked in half. The replacement was sent out same-day and I should have it Friday.

Anyhow, I tuned them all up, including the cracked bass drum...and they all sound fantastic. Everything on the drums is quality and they sound great.

The price is almost too low to believe. Is it unfair to call these "mid-range" drums? You get maple shells, classic Gretsch bearing edges, die-cast hoops, and what appears to be all of the same hardware they use on all of their lines, including the USA Custom.

Am I missing something? What is there to gain (other than bragging rights for prestige) in buying USA Custom. Would the sound be so dramatically superior that you'd see where your money went? I realize they use different shells and the customs are probably more of a "vintage" sound...but is it *that* much better?

Is the maple in the Renown line "hard" N. American maple, or a cheaper, softer Asian maple?

I'm thinking the cost difference just comes from the fact that they're manufactured overseas...otherwise you're basically getting the same goods, no?
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
Sorry to hear about the first bass drum, and I'm not sure what maple they use but mine sound great as well. I found mine on Craigslist for $650.00 did you beat my deal or come close?? After looking at the site it does say USA rock Maple. Enjoy and show us some pix.
 

Signals

Senior Member
The Renown's are indeed N. American (rock) maple. From what I gather, the "gain" in going with the USA Customs is the choice of more sizes and colors, and the quality of the finish. Otherwise, you're probably just paying a premium for American labor vs. Chinese.

The Renown's definitely sound 'pro' to me, and they are among the best sounding kits I've ever heard.
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
A good sounding drum is a good sounding drum! No matter what they are made from, and no matter what the cost!
Renowns are good sounding drums! No way around that fact!
I have long been a believer that there is a great deal of nonsense about drums based on price and composition. To much, as far as Im concerned!
That is just the way that it is, IMHO.
Manufacturers say many things to sell drums. They tend to try to put their products in pigeonholes based on price and material make up. A lot of sales hype going on here!
The best thing is to try for yourself, and see and hear for yourself. Disregard all of the marketing nonsense!
 

zambizzi

Platinum Member
A good sounding drum is a good sounding drum! No matter what they are made from, and no matter what the cost!
Renowns are good sounding drums! No way around that fact!
I have long been a believer that there is a great deal of nonsense about drums based on price and composition. To much, as far as Im concerned!
That is just the way that it is, IMHO.
Manufacturers say many things to sell drums. They tend to try to put their products in pigeonholes based on price and material make up. A lot of sales hype going on here!
The best thing is to try for yourself, and see and hear for yourself. Disregard all of the marketing nonsense!
Oh no, Bob, I definitely agree. I wasn't trying to find someone to validate my new drums as "pro level"...whatever that is. Those kinds of threads actually sort of annoy me, when they pop up here.

I was just wondering what exactly I might have been overlooking, in terms of bang-for-buck. I'm shocked these drums are so cheap...I figured I had to be missing a key element like lower-quality wood, cheaper hardware, etc. These drums literally seem like a STEAL. :)

I've never played USA Customs but it seems to me, unless I want some fancy finish (which I already get w/ the Renowns), that it would be a waste of money considering their relatively enormous cost.
 

zambizzi

Platinum Member
Sorry to hear about the first bass drum, and I'm not sure what maple they use but mine sound great as well. I found mine on Craigslist for $650.00 did you beat my deal or come close?? After looking at the site it does say USA rock Maple. Enjoy and show us some pix.
OK, yours was a *steal*...I just got a good deal.

For $1699 shipped, brand new:

24x16" bass
16x16" floor
13x9" tom
12x8" tom
14x6.5" snare

The snare is GREAT! The whole kit is...but this is one of the best sounding maple snares I've played yet. And, like I said - even the cracked bass drum sounds excellent. I'm smitten!

I'm ordering two add-on drums; a 20x16" kick and 14x14" floor tom. Combined w/ the 12x8" that I'm not using, I'll have a big kit and a "small" kit in a matching finish. I'm eyeballing the 14x6.5 COB snare, too. :)

Pics soon!
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
I've not played the Renown series myself, however, as I've mentioned numerous times on this forum:

Many, many so called "pro" kits from the 60's, 70's and early 80's would barely be qualified to be mid-level kits today. But that didn't stop pros from touring and recording with them back then.

Nearly every "mid-level" kit made these days would be considered a top of the line pro kit if they were put in a time machine and shipped back 20 years.

I'm not sure where this great change in attitudes toward drum shells came from. Some comments I've read around here strike me as funny or almost snobby when people call a a maple or birch kit as non-pro, when back when I got my 1st drum shop job, anything with a maple or all birch shell was considered "pro".

Even funnier with juxtaposed along side with the view that older drums that were made with maple and poplar (or maple along with whatever wood was cheap that day) are considered highly prized vintage kits, but a new kit made with the same materials would be mid-level at best.
 
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Artstar

Platinum Member
Zambizzi, the company who makes the Renown, from what I understand, has been making shells and kits for a LONG time. They know how to produce a very high quality shell. I think that is about all there is to it.

If you bought a current model Gretsch Custom, I think you would hear a slight difference, because of the shell make-up, but nothing superior.
 

zambizzi

Platinum Member
Nearly every "mid-level" kit made these days would be considered a top of the time pro kit if they were put in a time machine and shipped back 20 years.
I knew I was going to regret using the title that I chose for this thread.

But yes, you're right. I agree.
 

KarlCrafton

Platinum Member
It's a mid-PRICED kit. IMO it IS a "pro" kit. I agree with DED on the older kits.

Lower price form being made overseas, and less labor intensive finish application compared to the US Custom (with it's labor cost on top of it).

Glad you found something that works for you--but you do still seem to have a problem with bass drums..... at least you're getting a replacement ;-P!

What color did you get?
 

zambizzi

Platinum Member
I think that I misunderstood you also. Sorry bout that!
It's cool! :) Originally I was just curious what the mileage between Renown and USA Custom was, in terms of quality. It sounds like there is very little beyond cosmetic options or special shell sizes. Thanks for the feedback!
 

zambizzi

Platinum Member
Glad you found something that works for you--but you do still seem to have a problem with bass drums..... at least you're getting a replacement ;-P!

What color did you get?
What are the odds, eh? Every single one of those Ludwig toms was out-of-round, by the way. I kid you not. The 12" and 13" were 1/4" off on one side. I took everything apart and measured it at the edge, from lug-to-lug. I'm still in disbelief over this experience.

I got silver sparkle, it's way groovy.
 

harryconway

Platinum Member
What are the odds, eh? Every single one of those Ludwig toms was out-of-round, by the way. I kid you not. The 12" and 13" were 1/4" off on one side. I took everything apart and measured it at the edge, from lug-to-lug.
If they're the 3 ply shell, with re-inforcement rings, that's the way their made. The classic Ludwig hump.
 

zambizzi

Platinum Member
If they're the 3 ply shell, with re-inforcement rings, that's the way their made. The classic Ludwig hump.
Nah, these were brand new Classic Maples. 4 new toms...all 4 out-of-round. I'm actually going to talk to Ludwig directly about this. It's outrageous. On top of that, I had broken hardware. One of the floor tom brackets was completely busted (NOT in shipping) and two screws jammed into lugs sideways, leaving the lug loose on the shell. To top it off, bass drum hoops were at or greater than 1/4" out of round.
 

Adam8

Senior Member
I would agree that it's a mid-priced pro kit. After all, Phil Collins used to play a wmp Renown kit. As for the Ludwig thing, I custom ordered a Classic Maple 5x14 snare in '04 and it was out of round pretty bad, but still sounded good. I took it in the studio and used it on one track and the engineer wanted to buy it from me. I told him about it being out of round and he said he didn't care and I sold it to him. That was a snare though, toms are harder to tune when they're like that.
 

stillgroovin

Senior Member
I'm going to walk out onto thin ice here but I can stand the stress. My Catalina Maples probably sound as good as the Renown's after I sealed the shells and added Evans heads. I'm not crackers, folks. The sound is warm and full with just the right amount of sustain. These are supposed to be intermediate kits but the sound I have achieved is pure pro. Not too many on the ice at once, OK.
 
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