Gretsch Renown vs USA Custom - worth the £1500+ difference

pbm2112

Senior Member
Hi - I'm after a smaller drum kit as I'm not playing out any more, so am selling up and down-sizing to 12 / 14/ 18 bop kit. I know USA customs are great as I had one years ago, so and was thinking about getting one as it's tried and tested. However, they are very expensive for me at the moment, and I was talking to someone who said they sold theirs and replaced with a Renown (partly I think because they were gigging more, but they said they sounded amazing and didn't think the USA was worth the extra as good as they sound). I would be running coated ambassadors over clear - medium-high tuning. The Renowns are clearly very well regarded. I appreciate they won't sound exactly like the USA so I wouldn't be expecting that. But I hear they are punchy, loud, with great sustain (which I like) and well made. This is for home use - my focus is more on getting better at playing than showing off a flashy kit. Any thoughts?
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
Newer Renowns now come with 302 hoops, which are a fair bit lighter than the die cast hoops on a USA Custom. So the sonics will probably be closer to a Gretsch Brooklyn rather than USA Custom. I own both, and the Brooklyns are a bit more lively and open, but not wild. The Brooklyn bass drum is killer, and the snare is quite nice, too (if you're considering a matching snare). The Renowns have a functional, low-profile tom mounting bracket. There's a silver sparkle over blue finish that is just killer. And the aged white marine pearl, with the dark wood bass drum hoops, looks great.
 

incrementalg

Gold Member
I don't think you'll be disappointed with the Renowns at all. Like brentcn said, they will sound a little more open than the USAs because they have lighter 302 hoops. To me, the Renowns sound a bit wetter and more buttery at lower tunings than the USAs. The USAs have a more focused and slightly drier tone. With the bop sizes, I'm guessing your looking to tune on the higher end? In which case, I think the slight differences in tone become less apparent.
 

ALotSirSwings

Well-known member
I would say go renown! I have a USA right now and they are great drums but I really don't see how much difference there could be with the Renowns. They are maple drums, and maple is the best. With that said, I would not opt for a brooklyn is almost the same build as the brooklyn just with different hardware. If you don't care about the look too much I would go with renown. let us know what you get!!
 

AzHeat

Platinum Member
USA is Maple/Gum, Brooklyn is Maple/Poplar and Renown is All Maple. Maple is not best. It’s an option among many.

Brooklyn is only less costly than USA, if you don’t compare apples and oranges. A USA wrapped kit is the same price as Brooklyn base. A Brooklyn lacquered kit is the same price as high end USA. A Renown kit is the best value out of the three and possibly the best value period.
 

notvinnie

Senior Member
A USA wrapped kit is the same price as Brooklyn base. A Brooklyn lacquered kit is the same price as high end USA.
I don't think that is correct. Brooklyn is only available in wrap and satin finish. I don't think you can get them lacquered. Then again, the website may be just a "suggestion". I do know that the USA Custom are very affordable if you opt for any of the satin finishes, which are cheaper than wrap or lacquer.

Renown are fine drums. The original Renowns were pretty much identical to USA Custom, just made in Asia. USA Custom ups the price simply due to amount of time they take to finish, and the added cost of the hardware (die cast hoops, etc.)
 

AzHeat

Platinum Member
^^You can order the Brooklyn however you want and with any finish. Their website shows a set of finishes they regularly produce, but nothing stopping anyone from ordering from the Broadkaster or USA pallets. My red glass kit is an example. There have been lacquered ones for sale that aren‘t on the regular pallet either.
 

Darth Vater

Senior Member
Used square badge Renown w/ the die cast hoops and rims mounts. They're basically USA Customs w/out the gum, assembled in Taiwan. 100% N. American maple. Not the "formula maple" (translation: mix of N. Amer maple and Asian maple) used in the newer round badge RN1, RN2 kits.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
I don't think that is correct. Brooklyn is only available in wrap and satin finish. I don't think you can get them lacquered. Then again, the website may be just a "suggestion". I do know that the USA Custom are very affordable if you opt for any of the satin finishes, which are cheaper than wrap or lacquer.

Renown are fine drums. The original Renowns were pretty much identical to USA Custom, just made in Asia. USA Custom ups the price simply due to amount of time they take to finish, and the added cost of the hardware (die cast hoops, etc.)
I can't imagine more time being spent on Renowns. My kit is 13 years old and the finish was/is perfect. The shine is impeccable. I'm not surre what else would be done to improve. Not denying that more time is spent, just not sure what it is spent on.
 

ALotSirSwings

Well-known member
^^You can order the Brooklyn however you want and with any finish. Their website shows a set of finishes they regularly produce, but nothing stopping anyone from ordering from the Broadkaster or USA pallets. My red glass kit is an example. There have been lacquered ones for sale that aren‘t on the regular pallet either.
gretsch won't let you do this any more. i recently talked to them about a custom finish brooklyn and they wouldn't do it unfortuantely.
 

AzHeat

Platinum Member
I can't imagine more time being spent on Renowns. My kit is 13 years old and the finish was/is perfect. The shine is impeccable. I'm not surre what else would be done to improve. Not denying that more time is spent, just not sure what it is spent on.
The use nitrocellulose lacquer on the USA, which if I remember correctly is a 7 layer process with a day of drying, then wet sanding in between. Renowns use the standard lacquer process, three layers with a final wet sand and buff to luster. Better? Don’t know. Both have their up and down side!
gretsch won't let you do this any more. i recently talked to them about a custom finish brooklyn and they wouldn't do it unfortuantely.
Damn! There went my hopes of ordering add ons!
 

ALotSirSwings

Well-known member
The use nitrocellulose lacquer on the USA, which if I remember correctly is a 7 layer process with a day of drying, then wet sanding in between. Renowns use the standard lacquer process, three layers with a final wet sand and buff to luster. Better? Don’t know. Both have their up and down side!

Damn! There went my hopes of ordering add ons!
possibly with a finish like red glass that is a bit more popular you could get it done! i was trying to order white satin flame and andrew said they couldn't but that is a more "special" finish that doesn't get requested much i guess.
 

Darth Vater

Senior Member
The use nitrocellulose lacquer on the USA, which if I remember correctly is a 7 layer process with a day of drying, then wet sanding in between. Renowns use the standard lacquer process, three layers with a final wet sand and buff to luster. Better? Don’t know. Both have their up and down side!

Damn! There went my hopes of ordering add ons!
I looked at a USA recently that was 4 years old and the checking on the finish was awful. Like G-Dad, I too have a 9 year old Renown and the finish is 10 out of 10. I don't get it. It would be enough to scare me off from a new USA though.
 

AzHeat

Platinum Member
I looked at a USA recently that was 4 years old and the checking on the finish was awful. Like G-Dad, I too have a 9 year old Renown and the finish is 10 out of 10. I don't get it. It would be enough to scare me off from a new USA though.
your experience isn’t the first I read of checking. I think that’s the negative with the nitrocellulos. It’s not supposed to shift colors though like it’s counterpart, but both will look like hell if not treated with care. My satin drums would scratch if you looked at them wrong. I also learned to my horror they had stress cracks all over them when sitting outside in the sun. For now, I’ll stick with the sustain killing wrap. God knows the Brooklyns can use some sustain killing! I think my wrap is defective though. It doesn’t seem to kill any sustain at all!
 

NouveauCliche

Senior Member
Hi - I'm after a smaller drum kit as I'm not playing out any more, so am selling up and down-sizing to 12 / 14/ 18 bop kit. I know USA customs are great as I had one years ago, so and was thinking about getting one as it's tried and tested. However, they are very expensive for me at the moment, and I was talking to someone who said they sold theirs and replaced with a Renown (partly I think because they were gigging more, but they said they sounded amazing and didn't think the USA was worth the extra as good as they sound). I would be running coated ambassadors over clear - medium-high tuning. The Renowns are clearly very well regarded. I appreciate they won't sound exactly like the USA so I wouldn't be expecting that. But I hear they are punchy, loud, with great sustain (which I like) and well made. This is for home use - my focus is more on getting better at playing than showing off a flashy kit. Any thoughts?

I would suggest that you go with a Renown.

You might even do a little bit of used searching and try to find a nice set with the Die Cast hoops (RN1) which will sound a lot like the USA Customs. They have the 7-ply Gretsch formula maple shells, with 30-degree bearing edges and exclusive “Silver Sealer” interiors and the RN1s even had the RIMS style mounts that they use on the USA customs. The other differnce between an RN1 and and the new series is that the RN2 has Asian maple integrated where the RN1 is all North American Hard Rock maple, which is more similar to the USA Customs.

I've owned Renowns and currently own a Brooklyn - the Brooklyn and the USA custom are totally different beasts. However - the Renowns and the USA customs are more similar than I would have imagined - especially the RN1 series. I've found that the USA custom series has a slightly more full tone and a little more attack (primarily due to the Die Cast hoops now that the RN2 series moved to the 302 hoops).

I would try and track down a used RN1 series of Renows - but I'm sure you'd be very, very happy with a brand new set of the current RN2 Renowns.
 

notvinnie

Senior Member
I think my wrap is defective though. It doesn’t seem to kill any sustain at all!
I asked Paul Cooper about the effects of wrap, and he said the only time he noticed a difference was with the thicker wraps, like the Glass ones (not the glitter ones, which use a smaller flake).
 
Top