Help me choose a shell pack? (I know, sorry.)

lxh039

Member
I know this board gets flooded with this type of thread, and it's got to be exhausting for the regulars. I apologize. I just really am stuck trying to make this decision.

In the near future I'll be upgrading from my trashy basswood 4 piece starter kit to a mid-range 6 piece, looking for something in the sub-$1000 price range. For a long time I had been planning on simply buying the materials needed for the drums and building them myself from Keller shells, because I'm looking for a configuration that's very uncommon in mass produced mid-range kits. I'm flexible on bass drum and snare drum sizes, but I want a 3-up-1-down tom arrangement, preferably 10/12/13/16.

I’m a bit duck-footed (meaning that my feet, when at rest, point slightly more outward than most people’s, away from one another), so I have to set up my drums in a strange way if I want my right foot to line up correctly with the bass pedal footboard while still having the snare drum centered in front of me. The end result is a setup kind of similar to a typical double bass drum setup, minus the second bass drum (click the link, then click the “customize” tab to see what I’m talking about: http://tinyurl.com/klpqyxv ). This limits space on my right side and renders 2-up-2-down configurations totally impractical for me, due to how far I’d have to turn to reach the second floor tom. I typed all this out because I figured I’d have a lot of people telling me to just go with 2-up-2-down so I’d have more brand options, and I wanted to nip that in the bud. :)

So, the only two factory-produced shell packs I’ve found in that price range with a 3-up-1-down option are the Ludwig Epic (“Funk” and “Power” configurations) and the Gretsch Catalina Maple. My main priorities are versatility and wide tuning range. I’m a relatively new drummer, and in my current band project we’re shooting for a dark classic rock sound (a la Black Sabbath), but I’m interested in learning a very broad range of styles, from jazz to metal to latin to country-western, so I’ll need a set that can handle all sorts of styles with a quick change of heads and tuning. Maybe my expectations are a bit high in that respect. :-/ I’m more partial towards pure maple shells over maple blends, which inclines me towards the Gretsch over the Ludwig, but I’d also prefer not to mount my toms on the bass drum, which inclines me towards the Ludwigs over the Gretsch. *huff*

So what do you guys suggest? One of these 2 sets, or something else I haven’t thought of yet?
 

Red Menace

Platinum Member
Buy used. Check you're local Craigslist (assuming you're in the US) and see what people have for sale. You might be able to score a 3 up Gretsch for 3-5 bills. You could also get away with setting up a 2nd FT on your left side. Look around on the forum and check out people's setups they tinker around with your own setup and you should find something that works for you.

Check out my kit, link in my signature, I set it up like a double bass kit and I have it set up as a 2 down. I actually learned that from the great Derek Roddy, much easier on the back.

If you're set on going with a new kit, keep in mind that you could always order add on drums and set it up however you want.
 

lxh039

Member
Buy used. Check you're local Craigslist (assuming you're in the US) and see what people have for sale. You might be able to score a 3 up Gretsch for 3-5 bills. You could also get away with setting up a 2nd FT on your left side. Look around on the forum and check out people's setups they tinker around with your own setup and you should find something that works for you.

Check out my kit, link in my signature, I set it up like a double bass kit and I have it set up as a 2 down. I actually learned that from the great Derek Roddy, much easier on the back.

If you're set on going with a new kit, keep in mind that you could always order add on drums and set it up however you want.
I'm wary of buying used, due to lack of warranties and the risk of rip-offs, but I do browse craig's list, ebay, and guitar center's used listings from time to time.

Never thought of putting a second floor tom on the left side. I'll try putting my current floor tom on my left when I practice tonight and see how I feel about it. Though if it works, I imagine I'll just end up wanting a 10/12/13/14/16 setup. Haha.
 
Last edited:

ncc

Silver Member
$1000 for shells only give you a lot of room to play with, especially if it is w/o a snare. I'm with you on the 3 up 1 down setup. For me, it is a matter of stage space in smaller clubs. 2 floors, while great to have, just push the kit out too far on a small stage.

It you buy used, you can get anything you want. I'm a Sonor bigot and I've seen some nice (German made) kits go for around that price used. Just search the internet ;-) The 3 things you need to consider are wood type, construction, and what you are going to do with them (for durability).

Are you looking for new or used?
 

lxh039

Member
$1000 for shells only give you a lot of room to play with, especially if it is w/o a snare. I'm with you on the 3 up 1 down setup. For me, it is a matter of stage space in smaller clubs. 2 floors, while great to have, just push the kit out too far on a small stage.

It you buy used, you can get anything you want. I'm a Sonor bigot and I've seen some nice (German made) kits go for around that price used. Just search the internet ;-) The 3 things you need to consider are wood type, construction, and what you are going to do with them (for durability).

Are you looking for new or used?
Thanks for replying!

I can definitely see the cost-benefit logic of buying used shells, and I know that the conventional wisdom on this forum is to buy all of your gear used if you're on a budget. My major issues with the idea of buying used, though, are that the gear wouldn't come with a warranty, I don't know enough about the various manufacturers to detect a knock off if someone tries to rip me off, and I'm worried that I could buy something with slight defects and not notice them until I get it home and start playing it.

For instance, the set I have now was bought used. Before I bought it I took off all the batter heads and checked the bearing edges, checked for cracked or loose lugs, and messed around with the tuning on all the drums to make sure they tuned pretty easily. I thought that was a pretty reasonable test drive for a used drum set. Over the course of the next few weeks, though, I started noticing all of the other things I didn't check for that were going wrong on the set. The bass drum spurs had been cracked and were super-glued together. The clamp on one of the cymbal stands was broken. The cam on the bass pedal had a hairline fracture. The bearing edge on the resonant side of the 12" tom was ragged as hell. One of the floor tom leg brackets cracked on me. It was just a cavalcade of shitty malfunctions from the day I bought the set to...well...now. If I were having these issues with a new set, I would just be able to return it and get my money back. Since I bought it used, I just have to grin and bear it.

If I felt like I knew enough about the gear to detect these sorts of potential problems before buying, I'd be 100% cool with buying used. As it stands, I'm still smarting from the experience of buying this set and very wary of getting ripped off again.
 

Yamaha41

Senior Member
If you really want that set up don't expect to find it to easy in used look at drum's where you can add them like Stage Customs. Buy the standard 5 piece add the 13. cost would be around 800 for the new model with the 13 added.
 
D

drumming sort of person

Guest
It's really strange how no one seems to offer those sizes in a pre-packaged set. If I were you, I would get the closest set (as far as sizes goes) and then add on the drum that's missing. This probably means buying a 10/12/16/22 and then an extra 13. Doing that you will find more options as far as makes and lines.

Personally, I would stay away from Gretsch Catalina or Ludwig Epic. Get something that sounds good.

Get the Yamaha Stage Custom Birch SBP2F5 set, and then add the 13" tom (SBT1309).

Probably get it all for under $800.

http://www.americanmusical.com/Item--i-YAM-SBP2F50-LIST

 
Last edited by a moderator:

ncc

Silver Member
If you are buying high end products used, chances are it will be well kept. However you are correct in that you really wont know until you see it. You have partial guarantees if you buy from a store or buy using pay pal or even with a credit card in some situations (Amex for example will make sure you don't get taken advantage of). Note that it is really hard to clone high level stuff. I've never really seen a counterfeit high end drum that was not easy to spot just in a picture. For instance colors/finish, lug nuts, plies, reinforcement rings, etc are easy to prove, even by pictures.

Of course there is not factory warranty but that the trade off for spending (sometimes) less than 1/2 of what would be the cost of new.

If you see something you like used, and you ask on this forum about it you will get help I am sure.

Same for new. There are a lot of places you can find with floor models that will take off sometimes 20+ % more. With a few phone calls you will be surprised what you can negotiate.
 

bub72ck

Senior Member
Buying used would be your best bet. Lots of good brands that have already been mentioned that would fit into budget as well.

If you want the Ludwig Epics the only kits left are the funk and power kits (which fit your size wishes), and the only color left is blue.
 

lxh039

Member
I hadn't considered buying a 5 piece and getting add on toms. That's a thought. I'll do some research on that. Thanks! :)

Regarding the Yamaha Stage Custom Birch kit that was referenced: I'm not sure how I feel about birch drums. The only birch kit I've ever played was a Pearl Session Studio Classic that was set up as a demo at a Guitar Center near me. I tried it, and while I liked the punch, it was really ringy and had a higher pitch than I like. I don't know if that was because of the kapur (shells were a birch/kapur blend), or if it was because of bad tuning/stock heads, or if it was just a characteristic of birch in general. It definitely wasn't my thing, though. Nowhere near the warmth and low end that I prefer.

I'll look into the available add-on toms in the PDP Concept Maple series, though.
 

lxh039

Member
Buying used would be your best bet. Lots of good brands that have already been mentioned that would fit into budget as well.

If you want the Ludwig Epics the only kits left are the funk and power kits (which fit your size wishes), and the only color left is blue.
Wait..the only ones left? Do they not manufacture Epics anymore? Are they getting phased out when the stock sells off? They're still featured on the Ludwig webpage.
 

sparks127

Member
Wait..the only ones left? Do they not manufacture Epics anymore? Are they getting phased out when the stock sells off? They're still featured on the Ludwig webpage.
Epics are discontinued. I tried buying a new set back around November and pretty much just had the olive and blue color to choose from.
The Signet 105 line came out at NAMM this year. I wouldn't say they "replaced" the Epics but it's something to check out.
 

lxh039

Member
Epics are discontinued. I tried buying a new set back around November and pretty much just had the olive and blue color to choose from.
The Signet 105 line came out at NAMM this year. I wouldn't say they "replaced" the Epics but it's something to check out.


It's like they made them just for me...

In all seriousness, though, a Ludwig shell pack made in America for $950? I don't care if I have to assemble it myself. I was prepared to pay $1500 for the materials to build my own set, and it wasn't Ludwig quality hardware, and Keller shells can't touch Ludwig's pure maple 6-plies, AND I couldn't pull off that Macassar Ebony finish.

My search is complete.
 
D

drumming sort of person

Guest
I don't care if I have to assemble it myself.
Drums by Ikea. I don't see how they could possibly hold up over the long term. Lugs that snap into place? I don't think so.
 

Red Menace

Platinum Member
Plus Ludwig offers add-on drums for the Signets. If you have questions post into the thread that Bermuda started, he endorses Ludwig and is extremely helpful.
 

ncc

Silver Member
... a Ludwig shell pack made in America for $950

[/QUOTE]

I wanted to see what the Epics are since everyone seems to like them :-) . I did a simple "Google -> Ludwig Epic" and clicked on the shopping tab. Most of the 6 piece Epics look to be under 950. Am i missing something?
 

sparks127

Member


It's like they made them just for me...

In all seriousness, though, a Ludwig shell pack made in America for $950? I don't care if I have to assemble it myself. I was prepared to pay $1500 for the materials to build my own set, and it wasn't Ludwig quality hardware, and Keller shells can't touch Ludwig's pure maple 6-plies, AND I couldn't pull off that Macassar Ebony finish.

My search is complete.
Awesome. Don't be a stranger. Let us know if you get them and post plenty of pics! :)
 
Top