My First Acoustic Kit - Your Advice/Opinions Appreciated

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
The truth is, Yamaha, Gretsch, Mapex, Pearl, PDP.....are all wonderful instruments. I personally don't like the 5 lug tuning on the Gretsch rack toms, but the shells, finish and bearing edges of all these drums are excellent quality. I'd say buy maple drums with a finish that makes you cream, at the price you want to pay, the brand really isn't going to make a world of difference. They will all sound great tuned up properly. I've had Yamaha stage custom, (zero problems) Pearls (zero problems) Gretsch (no problems, but harder to tune the racks with an odd number of lugs, my own opinion) and others. I'd have to say that there are no sucky drums from these companies, only sucky sounding heads and tunings. The PDP's that don't sound as good as the Catalinas in the store is due only to the heads/tunings, because in the right hands, all these sets can sound completely professional. Go with the set that makes you feel good, you won't "outgrow" any of them in my opinion. I suggest that the criteria that matters the most is the wood type. I prefer maple for the warmth and long slow sustain, but you may prefer birch.
 

dkerwood

Silver Member
For what it's worth, the school I work for just purchased a Pearl Vision, and it's fantastic. Granted, it's one of the upper level Vision series, but I was very impressed. Great finishes, great sound...

That said, please don't buy new. Buy a good quality used kit, and it will save you a couple hundred bucks that you can then use for cymbals. If you're looking for inexpensive but high quality cymbals, you might check out Saluda.

Understand that almost any kit can be made to sound good with the right heads and tuning. I think the two most important things to consider are wood and hardware. Wood has already been discussed, but hardware is super important. Ancient Ludwig hardware, for example, seems to last forever. New Ludwig hardware (at least the cheap Accent stuff) seems to fail pretty easily. You'll want to consider that. Oft-adjusted things fail first- tom clamps, cymbal tilters, floor tom legs, etc...

You'll also want to consider things like tom mountings. Older tom mounts used to punch holes through the kick and toms to make everything work. Nowadays, we've decided that we might not want giant holes in the shells. It's really up to you.

Take a look at the lugs. More fine threading means that you'll be able to do fine tuning on the toms. There's nothing more frustrating than trying to tune a lug when even the slightest turn is too far.

At the price point you're looking at, you have the opportunity to pick up a pro level used kit. I'd stick to Craigslist so you can actually SEE the kit beforehand... plus cash is often a strong price negotiator... but DWs tend to pop up fairly often, as do others (depending on the market). Many times these will be package deals with cymbals, hardware, and all.

Know that resale value on used gear is a lot higher than if you buy something new and then try to sell it a year or two or more later. In fact, used deals can sometimes be so good that you can resell the package for more than you spent on it, depreciation or not.
 

drumbum1977

Senior Member
I would buy the best you can afford....that way when you go in to trade "up" in the future, the value of the drums will be higher on trade in and this ofcourse is better for your wallet.
 

ZootELoops

Senior Member
I talked with my instructor today. He suggested that I sit and play them all and whatever I liked get - gee, thanks! No seriously, he said that he's seen some of the Gretsch Catalina sets not stand up to the test of time- although they do sound good new. He had a used Sonor 2001 kit with full hardware and decent cymbals for $599 - and said that the kit we use for lessons (Mapex Pro M) has withstood 200+ students/week plus on average 4-5 bands/week and all he's had to do is change the heads.

I'm still torn because unless I buy on Craigslist in my area, I'm going sight-unseen. I don't want to spend more than I have to, but I also dont want to get something I wont be happy with.

Any more advice/suggestions?
 

MAO

Junior Member
My Recs...

Of what you have mentioned. Go with the Pro Ms. I finally saw a Catalina kit today, and I must say it sound ok, but side by side with a Pro M, it did not sound as strong or have as good of hardware. I think you are less likely to wear out a Pro M, and will be happier with the Pro M in the long run. The finishes on the Pro M are much better, both in the Delmar wrap and the lacquer.

The stage customs are amazing bang for buck drums. Great hardware, all birch shells, and you can almost guarantee that all the shells are going to be true and have good edges and seal. A step up could be the Tour Custom if you want Maple. They are great and you can shop around and get set up within your price range.

Also, don't be afraid of the DDrum Dominion series. You can generally find maple, ash and amx kits easily within that range that are very solid, and you may have more configuration options. I know, another brand to research, but you can easily set up with one of these and feel great. There are pros playing these kits on the road.

Best customer service would go to Mapex or Yamaha. They are great about helping customers if there is an issue.

Also, if you want really good cymbals for not a lot of scratch.....look at either Sabian XS20(Kevin Soferra mixes these in with his set up on occasion) or possibly Saluda. You can get some great deals. I don't like the PSTs from Paiste or any of the entry-mid level Zildjians. They just don't sound that clean and have horrible overtones IMO.
 
I say buy the top of the line the first time around. I've learned that from experience that if you buy a cheaper kit with good hardware, you'll just end up buying a kit again. If I did it over again I would have saved the money and bought a good kit the first time around and built off of it slowly with all the other extras I wanted.
 

Ainulindale

Gold Member
So basically - you play rock, want to record and dont want to cheap out?
Pearl - i know nothing, sorry man...
Pacifics - overpriced, cheaper quality shells and finishes...
Gretsch - fantastic finishes and sound good...
Yamaha - stage custom birch is the kit im getting, excellent drums, best hardware in the bizz...
Mapex - these drums, Mbirch and ProM, sound FANTASTIC - really, you need to play these drums yourself. I was looking at every kit under the sun the past couple months and it came down to 2 kits - Yamaha Stage Custom and Mapex Mbirch - the Yammies didnt sound better, i just liked the high quality hardware more...
Hope this helps man, good hunting!
 

harryconway

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).
Really, there's very little R&D going on, making drums. Yamaha's been making drums since 1967. Mapex, and PDP, weren't even around then. Most all the drums you're interested in (price point wise), come from China anyways. Personally, I have more faith in a company like Yamaha. If they can build a 500-800 cc. race bike capable of producing 100+ reliable ponies, they can probably make me a cymbal stand. Maybe that's one of the reasons I've replaced most all my Tama, Ludwig, Pearl, DW, Remo and Gibraltar hardware with Yamaha.

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.
Seems like it's your Guitar Center that has a problem. We have a Guitar Center in Pasadena. I also frequent the one in Hollywood, and Covina. And they always have the kits set up that are "showcased" in their current catalogue. ..................................You want the most "bang for your buck", shop around and buy a "used kit". Buy any new kit, take it home, set it up, it's now lost 33-50% of it's value. The "used" Yamaha kit I referred to in Post 12, by the way, was the older Tour series, a pro-level kit. That kind that you just might want to keep "for the rest of your life"...........it is a buyers market, not a sellers, right now.
 

Cymbalrider

Pioneer Member
I can say Gretsch Catalina series are amazing drums. You can get a variety of options usually for around $500- $600. I've seen clearance models for less too. These kits are miles ahead of Pearl Exports. I have Evans Coated G1s on mine and it's amazing. I like it as much as my Mapex Pro-M (maple). If you absolutely must buy cheap cymbals look into Sabian XS20s. Honestly though, save for something nice. You'll be much happier with nicer but fewer cymbals than a bunch of nasty ones. Looking for used cymbals is a good choice, although most don't get much cheaper than retail price unless there is something wrong with them. Places like interstatemusic.com and midwestpercussion.com are having nice prices on clearance cymbals (one of them had a pair of 13" Quick Beats for $179) and Mycymbal.com (Memphis Drum Shop) has sound files of a bunch of cymbals including used ones.
 

ZootELoops

Senior Member
Great information everyone - THANKS!

By the way, I found a used 6-pc Mapex Pro-M (10in,12in, 14in, and 16in toms, 22in bass, 14.5 snare). The cymbals are included and are Zildjian Custom A and include 14 in Master sound Hi-hat, 14 in crash, 15 in crash ,18 in projection crash and it has 20 in ping ride. It includes all hardware, soft cases and throne.

It's about 6 years old, was previously used by a guy in a band a few times, then purchased by someone who had rarely played them for the last 6 months. Does this sound like a good deal for $1250.00 - or perhaps I can talk him down to $1000?

Obviously I need to go see them in person and play them, but he says they are like new, no damage, new Remo coated heads, etc. I have cash in hand, so I'd like to go see it today, and appreciate everyone's immediate opinions/advice.
 
M

Mediocrefunkybeat

Guest
That's a pretty good deal. It might be an M Series rather than a Pro M, but either are good kits (the Pro M just has a slightly upgraded shell) but the cymbals are all good quality and provided everything is in good shape, it'd be a wheeze to get him down to $1000. He's offering a reasonable price.

Imagine if we could get those kind of prices in the UK...
 

ZootELoops

Senior Member
Is it better to get the6 year old used kit with all the extras or get something more current and new and pay a little more? Since this is my first acoustic kit, I don't want to be burned with out-dated equipment or something that isn't going to last another 3-5 years. It's hard to pass up on all the hardware and cymbals - but this almost seems too good to be true and I'm wondering why the guy in the band sold it in the first place and now why this guy is selling it after only 6 months (why he isnt playing it as much as he wanted to when he bought it).
 

dkerwood

Silver Member
6 years old isn't exactly "outdated". Check the hardware to be sure it still looks/feels good, and make sure that the finishes still look nice.

Otherwise, $1000 is a nice amount to pay for all that gear, assuming that the cymbals are in good shape. Not a mind-blowing fantastic deal, but pretty good. The cymbals by themselves would probably cost that much new.
 

ZootELoops

Senior Member
Since I am still a newbie when it comes to all this gear, what are things I should look for? Other than the obvious cracks/damage, is there anything that I should pay attention to in terms of the cymbals or components? Should I bring a tuning key and play with the adjustments? Aside form the components not being rusty or damaged, making sure they move freely, what else can I look at with the hardware and kit?

Yeah, I'm thinking the same thing - if I was just to buy the cymbals on ebay, I'd spend about $800 or so before shipping. Add in the cases and throne and hardware, and he's really only asking $550 for the 6-pc kit.

I don't know anyone (other than my drum instructor) who I can ask for advice. I wish I could bring along someone to look at them with me, but none of my friends are familiar with drums either. So I am relying on the people of this forum to provide assistance.

Thanks again!
 
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Cymbalrider

Pioneer Member
Nothing wrong with old kits. People are buying up drums from 40-60 years ago without any problems. I've got a 60s Slingerland snare and a 70s Ludwig myself. Those Mapex kits should be fine. I've got a modern version myself, but I know there is nothing wrong with the old Mars Pro kits (Pro M).
 

ZootELoops

Senior Member
Does anyone know what changes were made between the Mars Pro and the Pro-M series and any ideas of when it changed names? I thought the Pro-M was 100% maple, but the Mars Pro, was a ply of Maple and Mahogany. The guy said it is a 6-year old Pro-M, not "mars", so I'd like to know the difference, just in case I get there and it isn't what I thought it was.
 
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MAO

Junior Member
Quick way to spot a Mars kit is to look at the lugs. Mars kits had a lug that looked like a long tube lug between fairly normal lugs. Basically a tube between the lugs. If you see that, it is a Mars. Also, read the badges, but I am 95% sure that the "tube" lug did not carry over into the Pro M at all.
 
I think craigslist is the way to go. Shipping costs are too high on ebay.

Things to look for:

If the cymbals have cracks
How many scuffs or worse or on the drun shells
The drums are round (bass drum hoops)
the bearing edge is in good shape

The Mapex sounds like a good deal. Too many drums and cymbals for me to handle but if you like it go for it.

I have a pdp mx kit that I think is good. I have had no problems with it for a year and a half.
 

harryconway

Platinum Member
I'd offer him $1000. Then $1100, if he doesn't bite. If he stands firm, $1250. It's a good deal. There are about 25 Mapex Pro M kits on eBay right now, in the $699-1299 range, depending on configuration, and most of these are brand new, coming from stores trying to move them. The market is flooded with these kits. What makes this deal nice is the "better than average entry level" cymbals. And soft cases, a nice bonus. The drums, I'm sure, will be fine. Drums have to "really be abused" to be ruined/damaged/turned into junk. My Rogers project, the drums are 28 years old. XP-8 Keller shells.
 
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