My First Acoustic Kit - Your Advice/Opinions Appreciated

dkerwood

Silver 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?
Just look at the hardware and make sure it seems sturdy. After only 6 years, things shouldn't be bending, twisting, etc. Make sure that there aren't TOO many gouges in the shells- it's a used kit, but it's not 20+ years old, either. The big concern to me always involves toms- be sure that the adjustment and attachment system for the toms are functional, strong, and that YOU can live with them. I've seen some hair-brained systems in my time...

Check the cymbals all around the edge and the center hole. Tiny cracks now can become big cracks later... especially if you're young and not very nice to your cymbals. 6 year old cymbals will likely be dirty, but they should still be relatively shiny- they are A Customs, after all.

If the drums don't sound good right now, don't stress over that. Most of it can be fixed with heads. Do, however, check bass drum hoops (especially if they're wood)- be sure that they're not cracked and are in round. If the snare sounds terrible, check the strainer mechanisms to be sure that they function properly and it is just a tuning issue. I once brought home a traded piccolo snare only to discover that the throw-off couldn't stay engaged when any tension was put on the strainer. I had to tie it in place, which is frustrating.

Check out the pedals- hi hat and bass. Make sure that they run smoothly and don't rub anywhere along their motion. Sometimes springs get deformed and start causing problems, although this shouldn't be an issue after only 6 years. Make sure that any adjustment mechanisms look clean and functional- your taste will likely change over the coming years, and you'll want to be able to adjust the pedals to always be as comfortable as possible.

If you have pictures, you should post here so we can help you further.

One more thing. If there are any serious problems, or even if you don't like it as much as you thought, don't be afraid to walk away. Your perfect kit will come; if it's not today, it might be tomorrow or next week or next month. It's better to wait and buy something that you're totally happy with than to pull the trigger on something that you don't totally love.

That said, big problems CAN be cause to negotiate the price down. Point out the issues if necessary, and negotiate appropriately. Take a guess at what it might cost to repair some things, and deduct that from the total cost. You can also tell the seller that you will buy the kit at the agreed price... IF he will arrange for the necessary repairs.

Best of luck to you. Happy hunting!
 

drumhead61

Gold Member
Along with all the DK said here and one more thing...check inside the shells to make sure there are no cracks at any of the lug areas...my bud just got a kit and two of the toms were cracked inside which he did not see or think to look for so look inside the shells as well! GOOD LUCK.

Just look at the hardware and make sure it seems sturdy. After only 6 years, things shouldn't be bending, twisting, etc. Make sure that there aren't TOO many gouges in the shells- it's a used kit, but it's not 20+ years old, either. The big concern to me always involves toms- be sure that the adjustment and attachment system for the toms are functional, strong, and that YOU can live with them. I've seen some hair-brained systems in my time...

Check the cymbals all around the edge and the center hole. Tiny cracks now can become big cracks later... especially if you're young and not very nice to your cymbals. 6 year old cymbals will likely be dirty, but they should still be relatively shiny- they are A Customs, after all.

If the drums don't sound good right now, don't stress over that. Most of it can be fixed with heads. Do, however, check bass drum hoops (especially if they're wood)- be sure that they're not cracked and are in round. If the snare sounds terrible, check the strainer mechanisms to be sure that they function properly and it is just a tuning issue. I once brought home a traded piccolo snare only to discover that the throw-off couldn't stay engaged when any tension was put on the strainer. I had to tie it in place, which is frustrating.

Check out the pedals- hi hat and bass. Make sure that they run smoothly and don't rub anywhere along their motion. Sometimes springs get deformed and start causing problems, although this shouldn't be an issue after only 6 years. Make sure that any adjustment mechanisms look clean and functional- your taste will likely change over the coming years, and you'll want to be able to adjust the pedals to always be as comfortable as possible.

If you have pictures, you should post here so we can help you further.

One more thing. If there are any serious problems, or even if you don't like it as much as you thought, don't be afraid to walk away. Your perfect kit will come; if it's not today, it might be tomorrow or next week or next month. It's better to wait and buy something that you're totally happy with than to pull the trigger on something that you don't totally love.

That said, big problems CAN be cause to negotiate the price down. Point out the issues if necessary, and negotiate appropriately. Take a guess at what it might cost to repair some things, and deduct that from the total cost. You can also tell the seller that you will buy the kit at the agreed price... IF he will arrange for the necessary repairs.

Best of luck to you. Happy hunting!
 

eddiehimself

Platinum Member
^i know it sounds like a lot of stuff to look for but to be honest it's unlikely a 5-6 year old kit will suffer from such problems unless they've been really badly taken care of which should be apparent from the offset if they have.

If the snare sounds terrible, check the strainer mechanisms to be sure that they function properly and it is just a tuning issue. I once brought home a traded piccolo snare only to discover that the throw-off couldn't stay engaged when any tension was put on the strainer. I had to tie it in place, which is frustrating.
Last night i had to duck tape my snares to the bottom skin on my snare because both the strainer AND the butt are completely useless. But it IS a crappy old premier olympic snare drum to be fair so what do u expect eh?
 

pearlygates

Gold Member
I can speak from experience for the Gretsch cat maple kits. I have playing drums for longer than some of you have been alive and have had my share of higher end kits.
I fell away from playing for a few years and am happy to be back playing again.
What I am getting at is this;
The line between high and mid level kits has really been blurred in the last 5-10 years.
There are very nice "mid level" kits out there like the Pearl Vision series, Yamaha SC, Mapex M birch and the like that just 10 or so years ago could have been sold as a high end kit. Look around, play all the kits you can, let your ears do the deciding. It's great to get fellow drummers imput on what is working for them..and one person will tell you' Get these" and one other will tell you "No, not those..you need these"
I started on a 64 Gretsch jazz kit in the late 60s and thought I would give a look at these Catalina Maples that the world seemed to be raving over. I had made side by side comparisons of several diferent kits in the 5-$800 range (shells only) and found that what the masses were saying about the Cat maples was indeed true. They are hands down the best sounding,highest build quality kits in this price range (IMO) out there today. For me to tell you "Go and get one of these" would be assuming that you would buy a car without first driving it. Try em all if you can there is some really great deals to be had! happy hunting!

 

ZootELoops

Senior Member
Well I found a better deal today and went and picked it up this afternoon in a town about 2 hours away. It's a 6-pc Mapex Saturn series with all hardware, XS20 cymbals (crash, HH & ride), large throne, and soft cases for $1400.00. It was never used, just sat in the dude's house for the last 6-months. He always wanted to have a kit, bought it and realized that he didnt want it as bad as he thought (plus he didnt know how to play). So his loss is my gain. Sure, eventually I can upgrade the cymbals, but this is more of a drum kit than I wanted (or needed) and the good part is, as long as I keep it nice, in a couple years, if I do want a different kit, I should be able to get out much of what I put in. So what do you guys think, good deal?
 
M

Mediocrefunkybeat

Guest
Well I found a better deal today and went and picked it up this afternoon in a town about 2 hours away. It's a 6-pc Mapex Saturn series with all hardware, XS20 cymbals (crash, HH & ride), large throne, and soft cases for $1400.00. It was never used, just sat in the dude's house for the last 6-months. He always wanted to have a kit, bought it and realized that he didnt want it as bad as he thought (plus he didnt know how to play). So his loss is my gain. Sure, eventually I can upgrade the cymbals, but this is more of a drum kit than I wanted (or needed) and the good part is, as long as I keep it nice, in a couple years, if I do want a different kit, I should be able to get out much of what I put in. So what do you guys think, good deal?
The Saturns are great kits. I recently had a good look at one and the bass drum was magnificent particularly. Snap that one up.
 

dkerwood

Silver Member
Nice job. Excellent kit for you, and the cymbals are the best mid-level cymbals on the market. Well done.
 

ZootELoops

Senior Member
Honestly, this is much more of a kit than I wanted (or needed). I just couldn't pass it up for the price. It's easily over $2700 worth of kit and accessories. The heads aren't even marked at all. He literally never played it, just bought it because he could.
The only problem I have so far is - it stinks! He was a smoker and the kit and cases have a musty funky odor. I'm hoping that eventually goes away - I plan on giving the kit a good wipe down tonight when I get home from work. Other than that, for the price - I'm happy. Yeah, I spent about $400 more than I wanted to on a kit, but I'm happy and I hope it continues to grow on me.
Thanks again for everyone's feedback
 
M

Mediocrefunkybeat

Guest
Don't worry about the smell. A thorough clean will do the job hopefully. It's an excellent kit and you will enjoy it.
 
M

Mediocrefunkybeat

Guest
I wouldn't use Pledge, apparently its use is not recommended on lacquered items.

A mild detergent mix might do it. Some washing up liquid or the like with warm water.
 

ZootELoops

Senior Member
Good call - I'll try some Palmolive or Dawn when I get home.

Since this is really my first acoustic kit, I have a few "sound" questions. Supposedly the guy had these professionally tuned recently. I am noticing when I kick the bass or hit the rack-toms, the snare vibrates. Is there anything I can do or is this pretty normal.

I can't wait to get home from work today and beat on these things some more and fine tune my positioning and angles.
 
M

Mediocrefunkybeat

Guest
The snare vibrating is completely normal. Don't worry about it. After a while it becomes part of the 'The Set' like breath noises on a flute - it doesn't quite sound right without it. Plus it's hardly noticeable to an audience.
 

ZootELoops

Senior Member
I read that the bottom head may be too tight - causing the "buzz". I didnt have too much time to play around with them last night - so I hope to get a few hours on it tonight and will see if I can get a better description of the problem.
 

BattleArmor

Silver Member
The snare vibrating is completely normal. Don't worry about it. After a while it becomes part of the 'The Set' like breath noises on a flute - it doesn't quite sound right without it. Plus it's hardly noticeable to an audience.

That is so true.

Nice find by the way ZootELoops
 

ZootELoops

Senior Member
Thanks. I'm really jazzed! I feel almost guilty because frankly I dont need this much drum kit. I've only been playing 6-months, but it will be nice playing true to form on an acoustic set rather than my compact electric kit. The color is Mango Burst, which isn't flashy like I wanted, but again, for the price, I'd be stupid not to take the deal.
 

harryconway

Platinum Member
Excellent score. A "gently used" pro level kit at a great price. A kit you just might want to keep for the rest of your life. Sweet.
 

ZootELoops

Senior Member
"gently used" is an understatement! It literally sat in this guy's living room for 6 months. If he played it half a dozen times for 10 minutes, it was a lot.
I played around with it a bit more today - I love the hardware. The locking mechanisms make for quick break-down & rebuild. I put a pillow in the bass and loosened up the bottom head of the snare and it's helped a lot of the vibrations I was getting.
Hung up some thermal curtains to muffle the sound - can't wait to tear into these again tomorrow.
 
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