Holy Grail of the Drum World?

Chris Whitten

Silver Member
I have owned some drum sets and snares that when I was younger ,I considered “grail” drums and to be honest after owning them and playing them….. they are just drums . I don’t drink the vintage drum koolaid anymore , I just want reliable , great sounding drums that also look nice to me . I don’t need gold plated fittings , insanely exotic veneers from endangered wood species .
Neither do I.
You are somehow confusing vintage drums that have a revered professional pedigree with collector drums made from exotic woods and gold plated. They are not the same.
Vintage drums are also not 'just drums'. The Grestch RB drums have a distinctive sound. people request that I bring my vintage Camco to recording sessions because they have a sound that isn't the same as a modern Tama or DW.
If you can't hear it, it doesn't make it 'koolaid'.
 

petrez

Senior Member
For me, the only desirable drum item from the past is the 80's Tama Bell Brass snare (with the bell brass hoops). I understand that old Ludwig and Gretsch kits (and Ludwig snares, ofc), as well as old Zildjian cymbals are the holy grail for many, but I have no desire for those. If I were to somehow acquire those items (like inherited or found it extremely cheap at the garage sale of a clueless person) I would probably put it up for sale as I really don't have use for it. Then again, I'm relatively young though and don't have a nostalgia for those things. A mint condition Tama Granstar or something like that though in a bigger setup... Now we are starting to talk. But soundwise, I doubt they sound any better than drums in the same sizes today. It's not easy to fully replicate that bell brass sound though (in my opinion)
 

Chris Whitten

Silver Member
For me the 'holy grail' is determined by the market.
It's confusing when people mix it up with their favourite gear.
For sure, the 80's Tama Bell Brass is rare, expensive and collectable now, primarily because it was a snare rented from Drum Doctors and used on Nirvana's 'Nevermind'. Important to remember it wouldn't have been rented or used if it hadn't sounded amazing.
 

Chris Whitten

Silver Member
Sure. I have modern, easily replaceable kits I use for club/pub gigs (Pork Pie).
ALL my drums, including vintage and custom made employ the same DW 5000 and 9000 hardware. There is no way I would use vintage hardware.
My overall point is that 'the market' has given some equipment 'grail' status. It's not the same as an individuals 'dream kit'. It is a factor of rarity and sound performance, either one or both.
It's the same for guitars, it's the same for analog synthesisers.
My joint favourite kit is the 1991 N&C Horizon. It doesn't have 'grail' status because not enough people desire them and they've never become a studio staple by being used on iconic records. You can pick up a used 90's N&C Horizon for about the same as a used 90's DW.
My Oaklawn Camco kit is beaten up and has extra holes btw.
 

cbphoto

Diamond Member
Perhaps the most desirable thing would be a great sounding practice and recording room.

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decibelle_big_studio.jpeg
 

Multijd

Active Member
It doesn't have 'grail' status because not enough people desire them and they've never become a studio staple by being used on iconic records.
Yes. It seems people are confusing the drum or cymbal they’ve always wanted with a more general concept of “grail”. I recently acquired a Wurlitzer electric piano. Not something I’ve always wanted and maybe not quite grail status (yet) but the exorbitant prices people will pay for these instruments (which are basically toys) is totally based on the recordings they were used on and the iconic sound they make. Maybe that’s a judgement of whether an instrument should be categorized as a “holy grail”. Is it iconic? If you can’t recognize the sound of that instrument on a recording or a blindfold test it probably isn’t a “holy grail”. And if you can recognize it, can other people also? Do they desire to have it and use it?
 

Chris Whitten

Silver Member
^^ I agree ^^
I would also agree - if it's something a performer would want to use.
Vintage Martin Acoustics are a bit of a grail for guitarists, but you'd be hard pressed to recognise one on a record.
 

JimmyM

Platinum Member
Yes. It seems people are confusing the drum or cymbal they’ve always wanted with a more general concept of “grail”. I recently acquired a Wurlitzer electric piano. Not something I’ve always wanted and maybe not quite grail status (yet) but the exorbitant prices people will pay for these instruments (which are basically toys) is totally based on the recordings they were used on and the iconic sound they make. Maybe that’s a judgement of whether an instrument should be categorized as a “holy grail”. Is it iconic? If you can’t recognize the sound of that instrument on a recording or a blindfold test it probably isn’t a “holy grail”. And if you can recognize it, can other people also? Do they desire to have it and use it?
When it comes to the Wurly vs Rhodes, absolutely I can tell and I’ll take the Wurly any day despite its somewhat fussy build.
 

Multijd

Active Member
It’s a recognizable and desirable personality. Like you said before @Chris Whitten, people desire Round badges, 20’s Black Beauties and Old Al’s for a reason. Top level performers know they add distinctive personality. Iconic. Holy Grail. But as you’re saying here it’s also how they feel in the hands of the musician. Do they make me play a certain way? Yes certainly!
 

Multijd

Active Member
When it comes to the Wurly vs Rhodes, absolutely I can tell and I’ll take the Wurly any day despite its somewhat fussy build.
I have them both and they are definitely different beasts that’s for sure. Still working on getting the Wurly up and running to where I can test it regularly. I love my Rhodes though!!
 

JimmyM

Platinum Member
I have them both and they are definitely different beasts that’s for sure. Still working on getting the Wurly up and running to where I can test it regularly. I love my Rhodes though!!
I know it’s iconic but it’s too bell sounding for me.
 

s1212z

Silver Member
Hmm...shouldn't be subjective. Between age, scarcity and most importantly monetary value, you can sell it and buy a warehouse of you most sentimental Stage Customs or whatever your personal holy grail is.

Thought the Slingerland BB is a top contender, over hundred years, only around 15 known and certainly more scarce than a 1920 Ludwig version. In fact, I think the original name came from Slingerland and then the Ludwig took it later on.

Then again, I just saw a 60s Pioneer frog in a blender asking for $12k...who knows what it will sell for, is that a HG?

If happened to own any of these, I'd probably sell it. No desire for museum pieces unless an investments of sorts but even then, still don't want it. It's cool that some drum shops have a museum section now (Maxwells, DCP)...at least more people can check them out and appreciate them than some private man-cave.

 

C. Dave Run

Gold Member
Just wanted to add that grail status does not necessarily make it a better instrument. I own a Turkish K. It is a beautiful sounding cymbal. Unicorns do not poop rainbow sherbet when I play it, nor does it make me feel all jello-y and special because I own it. It's just a cymbal.
 
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jda

Silver Member
Let's see It Dave what stamp and diameter/weight..
 

Bozozoid

Gold Member
Hopefully No one tells me that my other kit sounds better than my grail kit. What! 😕 yer an idiot!. This is a grail! kit you moron!.
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Diamond Member

River19

Senior Member
Interesting discussion. I would agree "Grail" is in the eye of the beholder to a large extent.

As Chris W pointed out there are certain vintage drums that "do a thing" that is special, especially under mics in a studio and those instruments in reasonable condition will command some attention and resultant pricing should they come up for sale. I think many have also reached that status because they "have done that thing" on many famous recordings and become "the sound" etc.

The thing about the most expensive sales of vintage gear is that they have reached those lofty heights due to provenance of who has played them (ie. Ringo's kit). Those are clearly rare and few and far between. I can't think of anything that approaches the lore or pricing of a '59 Les Paul etc......regardless of who played a '59, it would sell for well into the 6 figures assuming it was in even reasonable condition.....

I thought the thread would yield some interesting banter, and it has.....
 
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