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.