Gretsch round badge

Michaelj

Member
Hi all,

I've been lurking on this forum for a while.

Longtime drummer, but haven't had my own kit for a few years now (been playing a bit at church and that's it).

I've come across an old 60s gretsch round badge kit for sale. Sizes are 14x20, 8x12, 14x14 and a 5x14 snare. Seems in good condition from the pics, but I don't know if it's been refurbished, or anything. It would cost me about $3k (Australian dollars) with shipping. The ad has a pic of a stamped serial number (112683). From a casual google I got the impression that these kits had 5 digit serial numbers, but I don't really know more than that.

Unfortunately I may not be able to see it in person before I buy, but I know these kits have a great rep. Essentially it'll just be for my own use at home. I won't be doing any jazz gigging with it or anything, but I want a good quality kit, and I like the idea of the historical value of the round badge.

My question, then, is are these really great kits? Or are they simply really historical kits that give you a great vintage sound if that's what you're after?

I wouldn't normally buy a kit without seeing it and playing it (and if I really decide it's worth it I could drive the 8 hours to look at it). But given the circumstances I thought I'd try and canvass some opinions from people that have played them, about whether it's worth the investment.

Or am I better to spend the same money on a Sonor vintage series shell pack, for example?
 

AzHeat

Platinum Member
Dang, if you can spring for a Sonor Vintage Series shell pack, go for it. Those are sweet. The Gretsch round badge drums are every bit as good as the hype, but with vintage kits, you can expect some issues requiring attention. Their new kits sound just as amazing, so unless you really want something vintage, you could easily go with a newer kit.

Don't know what to say about buying drums sight unseen. I did it with mine and got a killer kit. I could have been just as easily disappointed. I could return it for a full refund, so figured it was safe.
 

Michaelj

Member
Dang, if you can spring for a Sonor Vintage Series shell pack, go for it. Those are sweet. The Gretsch round badge drums are every bit as good as the hype, but with vintage kits, you can expect some issues requiring attention. Their new kits sound just as amazing, so unless you really want something vintage, you could easily go with a newer kit.

Don't know what to say about buying drums sight unseen. I did it with mine and got a killer kit. I could have been just as easily disappointed. I could return it for a full refund, so figured it was safe.
Thanks for the reply. You've really hit on my major reservations about vintage. It might turn into more of a hassle than it's worth.

I'm actually attending a Benny Greb clinic tomorrow night, so that may well tip me over the edge on the Sonor (assuming he'll be playing the Vintage Series, of course).
 

opentune

Platinum Member
In these cases, the Sonor Vintage choice by FAR, for a variety of reasons.

Sonor - I presume you can see the kit, or play it, a local dealer or supplier you can deal with . Its a Modern kit, extremely well built, and you can hear what it sounds like. I've played one and they are awesome, and really look great too.

Gretsch RB - used, not on site, buying from pictures. Lots of trust there, you don't know all the issues. Sure, you have a piece of history and all its 'mojo', could be fine, but much greater risk, especially sound and build-wise.
 

harryconway

Platinum Member
I have a Round Badge, in 20, 13, 16. I think they called it the Name Band outfit. Wonderful drums, but then a Round Badge kit is what I really desired. That, and my Luddie 3 ply's, are the two kits that really make me happy.​
Are you gonna gig a lot with this kit? If so ... you can eliminate some of the "hardware" issues by either running the rack tom off a snare stand, or hanging it with a RIMS. They do make 'em spaced for the 5 lug. The old diamond plate tom holder does tend to choke the drum, some people notice.​
The new USA's have just a tad more sustain than the Round Badge. I've A/B'd 'em. The USA's have a spacer between the floor tom leg mounts and the shell. I think that helps out there. And the USA's have a better rack tom holder. You could, of course, put a spacer under the RB leg mounts. And that would solve that.​
Probably can't go wrong with the Sonor kit. But the "je ne sais quoi" of a Round Badge kit can be a tough competitor.​
 

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toddbishop

Platinum Member
I used an 80s 12/14/20 Gretsch set as my main axe between ~ 1990-2010, and owned a 60s 13/16/20 round badge before that, when I was in school. The main issue with older Gretsch drums is the hardware-- it kind of sucks by modern standards. If you're lucky, they've upgraded it. They only made one line of product at the time, so the drums themselves will be fine. They're a little different than other good drums, so there might be an adjustment period while you learn to like them-- maybe don't expect to be blown away instantly. You might want to get the bearing edges modernized, if they haven't been.

The 12/14/20 is called the Progressive Jazz set, and it's a classic instrument. But there may be a few things to fiddle with about it. If I was buying today, I personally would not be messing with a round badge set, mainly for the hardware-- I would prefer something from the later 70s into the 90s.

And 3000 AUD = ~$2200 US. I don't know if used gear is normally that expensive in Australia, or what-- to me in the US that would be a pretty premium used set. It may not be overpriced because of Gretsch's rep, but to me that's overpriced for the instrument.
 

Michaelj

Member
I have a Round Badge, in 20, 13, 16. I think they called it the Name Band outfit. Wonderful drums, but then a Round Badge kit is what I really desired. That, and my Luddie 3 ply's, are the two kits that really make me happy.​
Are you gonna gig a lot with this kit? If so ... you can eliminate some of the "hardware" issues by either running the rack tom off a snare stand, or hanging it with a RIMS. They do make 'em spaced for the 5 lug. The old diamond plate tom holder does tend to choke the drum, some people notice.​
The new USA's have just a tad more sustain than the Round Badge. I've A/B'd 'em. The USA's have a spacer between the floor tom leg mounts and the shell. I think that helps out there. And the USA's have a better rack tom holder. You could, of course, put a spacer under the RB leg mounts. And that would solve that.​
Probably can't go wrong with the Sonor kit. But the "je ne sais quoi" of a Round Badge kit can be a tough competitor.​
Thanks for the pictures, what a beautiful finish that is.
 

Michaelj

Member
The 12/14/20 is called the Progressive Jazz set, and it's a classic instrument. But there may be a few things to fiddle with about it. If I was buying today, I personally would not be messing with a round badge set, mainly for the hardware-- I would prefer something from the later 70s into the 90s.

And 3000 AUD = ~$2200 US. I don't know if used gear is normally that expensive in Australia, or what-- to me in the US that would be a pretty premium used set. It may not be overpriced because of Gretsch's rep, but to me that's overpriced for the instrument.
Yeah everything in Aus is pretty pricey. And the thing with vintage kits like the round badge or the ludwig classic maple is that there's just less of them around down here. This means when they do pop up they tend to demand a higher price.

I'm pretty well settled on the 12/14/20 sizes. i'm really not into the deep bass drums, but pptions new are limited, of course. I can get those sizes in the Sonor Vintage (and it also happens to be a killer sounding drum kit, which helps). The other option, which would be far cheaper, is the Mapex Saturn Tour, which I've noticed I can get in those progressive jazz sizes.
 

Michaelj

Member
what you are looking at is a Gretsch Progressive Jazz configuration

what is strange is that serial number would date the kit to somewhere around 1970 ... at which point the RB was very rare and was in transition to the SSB#1
that does not mean a kit from 1970 could not have RB but it is less likely for all the drums in the kit to have the same badge

here is my 1966 Pregressive Jazz RB kit with matching snare with micro sensitive strainer
Nice kit, that's the finish of the drums I'm looking at, and it's really growing on me. I couldn't make sense of the serial number. It might be a bit of a franken-kit.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
The 12/14/20 is great. Those are the sizes to get, especially if you're playing other things besides bebop.

Progressive Jazz is just the name Gretsch gave to their model of that set up.
 

Michaelj

Member
Thanks everyone for the replies. It seems like the Gretsch kit isn't the option for me. I can see it being a fun project, fussing around with an old kit, but I think if I'm going to be honest with myself I'd prefer something more reliable and solid out of the box.

I'll post an update if I get any closer to deciding. The Sonor Vintage series seems to have a lot of love, and it's certainly where I'm leaning at the moment. It will probably come down to whether I decide I want to invest that much money in it (and if I can convince my wife it's worth it).
 

AzHeat

Platinum Member
If you like the Sonor Vintage series, than the Gretsch Broadcaster should be a consideration. Both have the rounded bearing edges for that vintage sound. There’s generally more of them available used, since the model is been around longer than the Sonor Vintage series. Pretty wide array of colors too.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I agree with Azheat - buying vintage overseas from pictures could be more headache than its worth. The Gretsch look good, but nothing beats being able to take them apart and really examine them. Let alone play them.

I think I would pass on the vintage vibe and go with the Sonors, just from the standpoint that they'd be new and you'd be covered by some kind of warranty, no? Vintage is cool when you get to check them out, but in your case, it's a lot of money to spend on trust.

I've seen those Sonor vintage drums, and those are awesome.
 

Michaelj

Member
Thought I'd post an update for anyone who's interested. I've decided against the round badge, and have now turned my attention towards the Sonor vintage series. I haven't owned a drum kit in a long time (previously had a Sonor Force 3005), so I want to get something good.

I went into my local dealer yesterday and they have this Vintage Series kit in bop sizes. The bass drum is incredible. So much body and low end. It's a used kit, and so I can get a pretty good deal on it.

I just need something to play at home. I might take it out once a month max to small church gigs, and so the 14x20 seemed like a good compromise since it wouldn't take up too much space but would cover me sound-wise in most situations. I don't think I could justify the funds to order in a Vintage Series kit new to get the 20 bass drum, since I don't earn money from drumming. But (and here's the weird part), while I don't think I could spend $4k on a drum kit, I could probably get away spending $2.5k now on the bop kit, and then another $1500 down the line in a few years if I find I need those bigger sizes.

So my dilemma really, is do I pick up the Vintage series bop kit, which might well do everything I ever need anyway, or do I save for another couple of years for the kit with the 14x20? Has anyone used bop kits in a non-jazz setting effectively?

I'm leaning pretty heavily into the idea of picking this kit up, but I just don't want to regret not having the 20". But maybe I never would...
 

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WallyY

Platinum Member
I think you would regret not having the 20.

Old Sonors are my love.
The new Vintage series drums are the classiest looking drums I can think of

I'm not really a fan of full roundover edges, but the Vintage series snare sounds really nice!
 

DaleClark

Senior Member
I love Sonor Vintage series. I wonder the difference in sound between Gretsch Brooklyn and Sonor Vintage. I know they are two different priced series.
 

Michaelj

Member
I love Sonor Vintage series. I wonder the difference in sound between Gretsch Brooklyn and Sonor Vintage. I know they are two different priced series.
The Sonor Vintage shells are phenomenal. I love the clarity and warmth.

I've never heard a gretsch brooklyn in person. They are a cool series though.
 

AzHeat

Platinum Member
I love Sonor Vintage series. I wonder the difference in sound between Gretsch Brooklyn and Sonor Vintage. I know they are two different priced series.
Th Sonor Vintage are more in line with the Gretsch Broadcaster with 45 degree round over bearing edges, etc.
 
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