My First Acoustic Kit - Your Advice/Opinions Appreciated

ZootELoops

Senior Member
Hi everyone. I am a new drummer. I have been taking lessons for 6 months now and currently have a Roland TD-3 V-Drums kit. It is great for practice and playing while everyone is sleeping, but my instructor has suggested that I start playing with people and would like to invest in a new acoustic kit.

I have put aside about $1400 for this purchase and would like to get everything I need for that price (hardware, cymbals, drums, etc). Here is my dilemma, do I:

1) Find a used set on craigslist or ebay (looking at possibly Tama or Pearl Export) that is lower quality, but includes a "beginners set" of cymbals and hardware - and upgrade the heads, etc - spending between $500-$700 in all;

2) Purchase a new "beginner kit" for around $600, upgrade the heads and get decent cymbals, etc - spending between $800-$1000 in all, or

3)Purchase an all maple or birch set for $1000-$1200 and get a basic cymbal pack - blowing all my milk money on the best set I can afford.

Of course, I'm sure some of you will ask - what are my intentions. Well, I can tell you that I enjoy playing the drums and would like to eventually play/record with a band. because I an still fairly new and still learning, I do not want to get the top-of-the-line, but I also don't want to get something I will out-grow in another 6 months to a year. My style is mostly rock n roll, but I am taking lessons to learn a foundation that will allow me to not only read music but also be able to play a variety of different styles.

In addition to your advice as to which direction I should go, what brands would you recommend I look at. I have looked into the Pearl Vision series (VBX & VSX) but today in GC, the sales rep suggested I look into the PDP Platinum series. I also have heard good things about the Mapex Pro M series.

Thanks in advance for your thoughtful advice.
 

BattleArmor

Silver Member
Bad drums are bad drums. They can only sound so good. Good drums will last you longer and will sound great.

Cheaper cymbals aren't necessarily horrible. Paiste makes the Alpha series which sound great, and are affordable.

I would go with option 3.
 

ZootELoops

Senior Member
To get the most bang for my buck - which manufacturers do you recommend. I see a few in that $1000 price-point range - some include hardware (Pearl) while others do not (PDP).
 

ZootELoops

Senior Member
That's a really good price with hardware included. How does this kit stand up against Pearl, PDP and Mapex?
 

BattleArmor

Silver Member
I think Gretsch has been around longer than those three. So they have past the test of time. To me, they sound great. But which series are you talking about for Mapex and Pearl etc.

Personally, I would prefer a Grestch kit.
 

ZootELoops

Senior Member
I was looking at the Pearl Vision VMX for $960 with hardware, the Mapex Pro M for $999 with hardware, or the PDP Platinum for $1149 without. This Gretsch kit includes hardware for $749 - I guess without hearing them all in the same room and going only on price, the Gretsch would win.
 

BattleArmor

Silver Member
The Platinum I wouldn't get. The Pro M and the Catalina I would say are pretty close to being the same. I have never heard or seen that Pearl thing.

But my advice is take these couple that you have an idea of, go to a music store, and listen to them. Don't buy something this expensive if you haven't tried them first hand.
 

drumhead61

Gold Member
You can get a Grestch Catalina Maple kit w/ hardware for 750.00 :

http://cgi.ebay.com/GRETSCH-CATALINA-6-PC-MAPLE-EURO-DRUM-SET-W-HARDWARE_W0QQitemZ350099066924QQihZ022QQcategoryZ38097QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

That way you can get great drums with hardware, then get awesome cymbals.

Hope this helped.

This Gretsch kit is a KILLER DEAL and had I to do it over I would go with something like this...but as beginner I went with the Ludwig Accent 200 series which is alright, but it is a starter kit. This gretsch is a smoking hot kit and you can always go to virtual cymbals and get you some dream bliss cymbals to round it out.

Oh, and WELCOME to the Forum of DW you will LOVE IT HERE!
 

ZootELoops

Senior Member
I tried that today. I rode about 50 miles or so round trip to a Guitar Center and another music store. The first shop only had electric drums set up (no demos) and all their acoustic kits were up on a shelf (mostly Ludwig anyway). At Guitar Center they had a few kits set up, one of which was the Gretsch, unfortunately all the kits were out of tune and even the sales rep didnt want to demo it for me. I dont understand why these kids were just standing around and nobody could get a tuning key out to make these sound good. How do they expect people to buy if they can't at least hear them? I guess too many people either don't know the difference or don't care.

Personally, this is no small purchase for me. I want to make sure I do the research and get the best deal and the best set for me.

I'll talk to my drum instructor tomorrow after my lesson about the kits as well. I know he sells a few, but could probably order me what I want if I ask (I mean if he can get me the best price). We use a Mapex during lesson but because he is just a small shop (mostly kids instruction), he doesnt carry any of the mid-to-higher-end kits.
 

harryconway

Platinum Member
Get on eBay and start looking at drums and writting down prices. The Gretsch Catalina, the Yamaha Stage Custom, the Mapex Pro M, all these kits are out there for sale. Your budget of $1400 can get you a very good kit, if you shop well. A Yamaha Tour series (22, 10, 12, 16) just sold for $405. That's with shipping included. Leaves you with $995 for hardware and cymbals.
 
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ZootELoops

Senior Member
Thanks - but not ANOTHER brand to look at ;)
The Yamaha Stage Custom seems to be right there in the price range with hardware included. Again - I'm looking for the best "bang" for my buck with a kit I will not soon outgrow or that I will need to "upgrade" as soon as I buy it.
Ebay has some great deals - that's for sure. I just wish there was somewhere that I could hear these drums first.
 

eddiehimself

Platinum Member
Thanks - but not ANOTHER brand to look at ;)
The Yamaha Stage Custom seems to be right there in the price range with hardware included. Again - I'm looking for the best "bang" for my buck with a kit I will not soon outgrow or that I will need to "upgrade" as soon as I buy it.
Ebay has some great deals - that's for sure. I just wish there was somewhere that I could hear these drums first.
stage customs are good drums. As are those gretsch kits. Also Mapex pro m kits are very good. I went to see a band who's drummer had a set and they sounded pretty decent. You could also go used. I got 3 tama starclassics and a premier resonator floor tom for about £500. I've just ordered a decent snare so in total that's £670. Which i reckon is pretty good given the quality of the drums concerned. Including hardware and cymbals i've currently spent about £1300. With that extra hundred you could probably get some better cymbals than mine. If you have $1400 you could set it out like this:

Drum kit (incl hardware) $900
Cymbal Set $500

of course if you want a double pedal then you might have to get a cheaper kit but as that gretsch shows you can still get something decent.
 

konaboy

Pioneer Member
I go with the Gretsch or Yamaha. Both have been around forever and you can't really go wrong with either. I prefer the yamaha hardware over any out there, it's just incredibly sturdy.

It's a shame that you couldn't demo the kits at G.C., I think part of the problem may be is they just get tired of people coming in and beating (not playing) on the kits.
 

ZootELoops

Senior Member
I own a Yamaha motorcycle so I'm familiar with the brand but it always concerns me when a company has their hands in too many products - hard to do R&D as well as a company that specializes in just one (drums).

The problem I see with GC is they employee cheap labor. I would think if your job is to sell drums that instead of just standing around goofing off, they could be making sure all the demo instruments sound their very best - especially a higher priced ticket item such as this. It's not the wall of guitars (hundreds of brands) that can be easily tuned when someone wants to try one out, we're talking about less than 5 kits. In the very least, before they open or before they leave for the day, they should go through each one and take 5-10 minutes to make sure they sound right. Yes, it's true, plenty of people come in just to waste time and beat on them, but at the same time, that just shows the quality of employees and their work-ethic to provide the best buying experience. If they are really having that big of a problem with people beating up the equipment, they should only let people demo that can demonstrate an actual playing style or let the sales rep demo it for them so they can hear how it is supposed to sound.

Imagine if a restaurant said, "Come in and try our best-tasting [insert favorite food here]", but the samples they were handing out were made with sub-par ingredients and not prepared the same way every time. How many people would want to come back for more.

Again, this is not a decision/investment I take lightly. This is a great deal of money for me and frankly more than I *should* spend being a beginner with only 6-months of playing experience. But I really like how quickly I am progressing and enjoy playing and learning, so I want to get a kit that is true to form, instead of the electric kit I am practicing on now - plus, I'd like to get something that when the time comes, I can play with a band, gigs, recording, etc.

So Gretsch seems to be the top choice of this forum so far, with Mapex and Yamaha being second. Not many people have responded about Pearl or PDP (as the GC rep suggested).

I have my lesson today at 1pm, and will talk to my instructor about this as well. I expect to make a purchase before the end of the month.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
I am biased toward Gretsch, but I will tell you that I spent hours on eBay just 2 days ago looking at sets, some new, some used, and I think its a buyer's market. Click on Ebay, then Musical instruments, then drum, then sets, and scroll thru all of the new sets with free shipping and you will be amazed what is out there. But for your budget, The Catalina Birch sets are fantastic, and if you but from a retail store with 99% approval you should be OK. Good Luck.
 
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ZootELoops

Senior Member
What is it about Gretsch that everyone likes so much? What is the main differences with the other kits in the same price range?
 

SBrochin

Member
How about a Sonor 2007 for around 700-800? Birch, beautiful finishes, decent hardware.
Or a Sonor 3007 (which I own and love) for about a grand?
 

eddiehimself

Platinum Member
I own a Yamaha motorcycle so I'm familiar with the brand but it always concerns me when a company has their hands in too many products - hard to do R&D as well as a company that specializes in just one (drums).

The problem I see with GC is they employee cheap labor. I would think if your job is to sell drums that instead of just standing around goofing off, they could be making sure all the demo instruments sound their very best - especially a higher priced ticket item such as this. It's not the wall of guitars (hundreds of brands) that can be easily tuned when someone wants to try one out, we're talking about less than 5 kits. In the very least, before they open or before they leave for the day, they should go through each one and take 5-10 minutes to make sure they sound right. Yes, it's true, plenty of people come in just to waste time and beat on them, but at the same time, that just shows the quality of employees and their work-ethic to provide the best buying experience. If they are really having that big of a problem with people beating up the equipment, they should only let people demo that can demonstrate an actual playing style or let the sales rep demo it for them so they can hear how it is supposed to sound.

Imagine if a restaurant said, "Come in and try our best-tasting [insert favorite food here]", but the samples they were handing out were made with sub-par ingredients and not prepared the same way every time. How many people would want to come back for more.

Again, this is not a decision/investment I take lightly. This is a great deal of money for me and frankly more than I *should* spend being a beginner with only 6-months of playing experience. But I really like how quickly I am progressing and enjoy playing and learning, so I want to get a kit that is true to form, instead of the electric kit I am practicing on now - plus, I'd like to get something that when the time comes, I can play with a band, gigs, recording, etc.

So Gretsch seems to be the top choice of this forum so far, with Mapex and Yamaha being second. Not many people have responded about Pearl or PDP (as the GC rep suggested).

I have my lesson today at 1pm, and will talk to my instructor about this as well. I expect to make a purchase before the end of the month.
Okay for starters i don't really agree with what you say about yamaha. The best example i can think of here is comparing the Mitsubishi Evo with the Subaru Impreza. I would say that the fact that subaru basically makes little else apart from 4 wheel drive high performance cars and mitsubishi make everything including ac units, computers and drugs as well as a whole range of cars doesn't make the Evo any worse as a car.

As for Guitar Center yes i agree even if someone isn't very good at eating then they still deserve good food. But what "should" be and what "is" doesn't always match up sadly. To be honest i don't think you'll be massively dissapointed as long as you get the sizes and woods that you want for your kit even if you don't get a hear of it first.

I got my kit as my first because i wanted something that would sound good so i didn't have to replace everything in about 6 months like with my first guitar when i got a crappy amp and ended up selling that crap and getting a really nice amp after 6 months which i still own 3 and a half years later now i'm pretty good at the guitar (well not really but i'm okay) the point is i knew i was going to still be playing the guitar 4 years later so i may as well get a good amp now that will last me a long time. Same with these drums you should get something you think is good if you think about playing them 4 years from now and what you'll think of them at that time.

As for pearl the vision series are very new so they're not really tried and tested but they seem quite good from where i'm sitting. A lot of people on here own PDP drums and are quite satisfied. Another good type of drums for your money are the TAMA superstars.
 
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