HB Retro Phonic Cocktail Kit


Silver Member
This is a review....not a brag by any means.

I was in the market for one (a cocktail kit)...nothing serious, not trying to break the bank and not trying to buy a complete dud either. Did some pretty basic research, ended up trying this HB (for Huntington Beach, CA). Granted, I knew that quality and craftsmanship was probably going to suffer some...but the next in line on the wallet starts at like $700, more than twice what I was paying.

The specs and what was in the box.

6.5mm - 6 ply birch shells, Deep Ocean Black wrap.
- 24 x 16 vertical bass with 2 way tom/snare drum
- 8x5, 2 way tom/snare with throw off
- 10x5, Tom
- 12" hi hats
- 14" crash
- 6" cowbell
- HB 912 double-chain bass pedal
- HB retro frosted mylar heads
- Internal mufflers installed
- Three soft cases.

The floor/bass was assembled to the point of putting on the heads, both top and bottom. A good look at the shells...not the pick of the litter for birch wood. Rough sanding, hanger-pieces of "toothpicks" everywhere in the floor tom/bass drum. All the hardware is there and secured tightly (surprised). All the wraps are glued well to the shells, but some of the lap-over lines aren't perfect and there are a couple hanger-pieces of plastic from a rough finish-cut.

Bearing edges are sloppy: (this evident in all three drums)

Looking at the 8" snare, the only thing that concerns me is the strainer and throw-off. It works, but has that "flimsy" feel to it. Like, if I give it a little heavy-hand, the strainer will disengage. So...not the best...but I was expecting this. (the 10" is basically the same, 2" bigger, no strainer).

The attaching hardware is decent. The mounts for the arms to hold the snare, tom and cymbals/accessories are well secured and hold the arms well. I have no problems mounting and playing the drums without having movement (another surprise).

The bass drum pedal is actually one of the bigger surprises. I don't know if HB makes their own pedal....it fairly well thought of though. Double chain, vertical striking beater angle. Other than the high foot board angle, it plays well, as has a good variable of adjust ability for the tension spring. The attaching wing is side-mounted and works very well.

The cymbals are crap. Stamped from what seems to be aluminum flashing, at best. The crash sounds...ok...if you swat it good. the hats are crap. Just straight crap.

Everything put together looks like this (minus a cowbell, I put a tambourine on instead, a 16" XS20 crash, and the hi-hats supplied).

I cleaned up some rough spots, threw the rest together and tuned everything up. Threw a small towel in the floor/bass to deaden up the bass drum sound. Once everything is tuned up...it sounds...well, like a cocktail kit.

Snare is super tight sounding no matter where you tune it...there isn't a lot of "wiggle-room" for such a little drum. The strainer, is as bad as I thought. If you're light on it...stays fine. Give it a little and she starts to back off.

The only other complaint I really had is the hi-hat hardware is garbage. I'm not sure what archaic bench grinder they made the stuff from, but it's poor. Very poor. Instead I used a top-hat portion from another hi-hat stand.

Truth is, it plays pretty well. Sounds decent, and with better heads, would be even better. I played it the last couple weeks at my church instead of the regular church kit, and while limited to a semi-closed hi-hat and a ridable crash...it worked very well.

And lastly...the soft cases are very good quality and handle all the gear. I imagine they are roughly half the cost of the everything I paid for...lol.

If you are looking for a cocktail kit that is playable for cheap $$$. Try the HB. They have one "step up" from what I got, but I can't imagine it being too far from the same tree. A perfect fit for me, cause I was looking for nothing more than I got and everything I need it to do...it does.
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Senior Member
Maybe I'm out of touch but those look like the most poorly constucted shells I've ever seen. I'm suprised that you seem happy with this. I would certainly send it back.


Silver Member
Maybe I'm out of touch but those look like the most poorly constucted shells I've ever seen. I'm suprised that you seem happy with this. I would certainly send it back.
"Happy"...no. Could be the worst contruction I've ever seen. It's awful. But for it's purpose...it's fine.

If there is a kid who can play four 5-gallon jugs on an asphalt riser or an aborigine native playing a broken hunk of tree stump, and make it sound decent...I can certainly squeeze something out of this shoddy construction.

If I paid the running $700-$1400 for a Name Brand (Yammie, Metro, Peace)...you'd bet I send it back. For this $299 job...Its not worth the time. I DID get a killer set of soft bags for it...lol.

Thanks for your concern though, "W".
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