The Paradox of Choice: Gretsch Catalina Birch? Ludwig Accent / Centennial? Premier Cabria? GMS SL?

patrice

Senior Member
Hey guys & gals.

Been lurking for a while, but only just joined the forum.

Struggling with information/review overflow, and the paradox of choice...

I am currently living in Bangkok (Thailand) - and it opened my eyes to just how good you have it in the States and in Europe. Prices here are fairly steep, choice is rather limited, and good service is extremely hard to find. (Having gear mailed from the States is not an option, since the import duties/taxes are exorbitant! 2nd hand gear would be okay re import duties/taxes, but no luck so far finding ebay sellers that ship to Thailand.)

I had pretty much decided to purchase the Gretsch Catalina Club Jazz - but it is not available again until January 2011.

The Gretsch Catalina Birch seemed pretty good also, but then I started looking at what else is on offer in most shops.

I found the following - and now am not sure just which way to go...

Gretsch Catalina Birch (already mentioned) - hardware *not* included.
(Price is THB [Thai Baht] 29000, ca. US$ 968)
(The shop offers Gibraltar hardware packages with this kit, the 6000 series is THB 10000 [ca. US$ 333], the 9000 series is THB 17600 [ca. US$ 587] (each set includes hi hat stand, snare stand, bass drum pedal, cymbal stand, cymbal boom stand, the 9000 series an additional cymbal boom stand.).

Ludwig Accent (4 piece) - hardware included.
(Price is THB 32000, ca. US$ 1067)

Ludwig Accent (5 piece) - hardware included.
(Price is THB 34000, ca. US$ 1134)

Ludwig Centennial (4 piece) - hardware *not* included.
(Price is THB 33000, ca. US$ 1101)

Premier Cabria APK or XPK - hardware included.
(Prices from THB 25000 to THB 35000, ca. US$ 834 - US$ 1168)

GMS SL Series City Jazz - hardware *and* cymbals included.
(Price is THB 37800, ca. US$ 1261)

Would love to get some input on your thought processes on how to approach this. (I re-read the Drum Tuning Bible, but am sure you also have some interesting and valuable ideas.)

On a sidenote: I am not 100 % sure if I will be living in this country for longer than end of 2011, so I do not want to spend the extra $$$ for top of the range drums. (In Europe I have a Pearl MLX from the late 1980s, which I am extremely happy with.)
 

Shedboyxx

Silver Member
Patrice,

I think you have some good choices in general for good sounding kits.

I want to address the first part of your post regarding living in Thailand. If I were living there, I'd look to who are the major manufacturers who are most prevalent in the area you are living and the one you are moving to. The reason I say this is because you want to make sure you have access to some kind of customer service for when you might need parts or add-ons in the future. Most of the manufacturers listed, with exception of Premier, I believe are heavily US based, even if they outsource manufacturing to China/Taiwan/Mexico/etc. Premier might be the toughest to service since I believe they went to UK only distribution (not 100% on that fact though) Therefore you'd have to consider how prevalent a drum company is where you live and where you are moving eventually?

All of the big manufacturers have good selections available in the ranges you are looking at. I've never lived or even been to Thailand but would think that companies such as Yamaha, Pearl and Tama might be more practical choices. If you made selections from their catalog (if they truly are more prevalent) then you'd have a better chance logistically of getting matching accessories, parts, repairs and general service.

I would try to discern which drum companies you see all the time. Maybe look at regional music TV shows and see if you can spy a trend. Then think through where you are going to move and do some research there. Maybe email the companies you are thinking about buying from and ask how you would go about getting service in the country you live in or are going to and see what they respond with.

I am blessed in this respect in that I live in the Los Angeles area. The DW factory is 45 minutes away, Pork Pie's shop is 5 minutes away, Roland and Yamaha have offices within an hour drive, and there are very well stocked big box stores along with a couple of independent shops around. I can get stuff. :) A player overseas or even in remote US locations has to think strategically.

Any kits in the range you are looking at will sound good and will really benefit the most from immediately replacing the stock heads with off the shelf new drum heads (Aquarian, Evans, Remo, Attack, Ludwig). That and good tuning puts all of the brands on a much more equal playing field when comparing.

HTH

Jim
 
lol according to what I know, aren't the kits in that price range manufactured in taiwan or something?? which is somewhat closer to thailand than to USA. Anyways, I love Ludwig Classics, but I wasn't impressed with their centennial series. Anyways, stick with Gretsch. U can never go wrong with Gretsch or Pearl or Yamaha. Anyways, if you can't find any manufacturers there, just stick with Grestch. But if ur moving to Europe in 1 year, I'd just get the Accent series. They get the job done with good heads. Gretsch Catalina birch will blow the Accent away, but its like 2x the price, and I don't think that its worth it. Btw, a vintage MLX. Dang thats some nice drums u own there.
 

patrice

Senior Member
Thanks for your prompt replies.
Appreciated! :)

I am off to the shops to test bash the Gretsch, Ludwig, and Premier kits, *right now*.

Will reply later, and let you know how it went.

Patrice

P.S.: Purchasing that MLX some 20+ years ago was so much easier: while riding my bicycle past our local music shop, I saw a beautiful set on display in the shopping window, said to myself "Wow, this one looks fantastic - I want it!!!", talked to stepdad re a personal loan, and bought it a few days later. Without even playing it beforehand. The memories... ;-)
____________________________________________
Banging on/with:
Paiste 2002, 2000 Color Sound, Visions, Dimensions
Pearl MLX
Vic Firth & Vater & Zildjian sticks
Playing with:
Ooh & The Ballyhoo
Roland Blum
Bone Clone
TP
 

patrice

Senior Member
The "test bashing" did not exactly go as planned... Oh well... tomorrow's another day... (Though, I do want to make my purchase this week.)

Only got 'round to giving the Premier Cabria XPK a try.

Sound was not too bad with the stock heads, especially the bass drum: had a nice boom to it. The hardware, as well as the tom mount, however, did not impress me much. The latter was kind of wobbly, and the memory locks did not serve their purpose the way they should. Thought the one up two down (a setup I prefer more and more anyways) XPK might be better re the wobbling - but it is apparently no longer available from Premier's distributor in Thailand.

Will have to see how Ludwig's hardware/tom mount, and the Gretsch tom mount, compare to Premier.

I'd beforehand been thinking about simply buying the Premier XPK (since it is only two or three hundred bucks more than the Gibraltar hardware pack [which comes without a bass drum pedal]), and if I liked it, to stick with it. Or, if I did not like it, to simply buy a Gretsch kit in a couple of months (Catalina Birch, or Catalina Club Jazz [which I'd originally wanted, but is not available locally until January 2011]), and use the Premier hardware with it. (The Premier set I could then still use to rent out for gigs around town; a lot of venues do not have their own equipment, and most drummers only take their pedals, snare, and cymbals to a gig.)

Last night I played a concert on a PDP set that is a few years old; sounded good, and the hardware seemed pretty good also. (This set has taken a lot of abuse, since a backline rental company has been mainly supplying it to Punk/Grindcore/Trash Metal events.) Saw a PDP F Series at DW's local distributor. Maybe have to go give that one a try also...

@ Shedboyxx. Since I will mainly need my new set to practice at home, will probably only live here for another year, and I am not into huge kits, manufacturer's after sales service, possible purchase of add-on toms/kick/whatever, are not really a concern. Besides: even if a big name manufacturer does have an office in town, it does *not* mean you will get the level of service American and/or European customers are used to. The locals have a bit of a different approach to all this; as I experienced several times with Apple Computer products... Must admit, though, that Theera Music (Gretsch distributor for Thailand) seems pretty cool: helpful staff who know their drums, and who seem to care about their customers. (Also just found out that a friend of mine knows the owner and can maybe get me a better discount. Nice. :))

Patrice
____________________________________________
Banging on/with:
Paiste 2002, 2000 Color Sound, Visions, Dimensions
Pearl MLX
Vic Firth & Vater & Zildjian sticks
Playing with:
Ooh & The Ballyhoo
Roland Blum
Bone Clone
TP
 

Fishbones

Silver Member
centennial. its sthe standout of your options. really full projecting tone and very tunable drums.
 

patrice

Senior Member
centennial. its sthe standout of your options. really full projecting tone and very tunable drums.
NevermoreGG said that he was not too impressed with them...

"Projecting tone and very tunable" - sounds good.

Still: would be cool if you guys could elaborate a little further on your opinions.
I know it takes time to do so... but if you can help me out, I honestly do very much appreciate it.

Anyways. Will test them both tomorrow.
Unfortunately, the Ludwig Centennial also comes without hardware...
The Ludwig Accent, however, includes hardware...

Decisions, decisions...

Patrice
 

Fishbones

Silver Member
NevermoreGG said that he was not too impressed with them...
thats just one opinion. as is mine.
I just know that they are excellent sounding drums when tuned properly and with the right head selection. ive been playing for a long long time and i know that theyre great drums.
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
thats just one opinion. as is mine.
Add one more opinion to the Centennials.

Of the listed options (not including the GMS), they are the best bet IMHO. I can't speak for the GMS as I've never heard them....but a Centennial without hardware will far outweigh an Accent with hardware in terms of pure drum tone. Accents are entry level Luddies, the Centennials are a step up to the intermediate catergory.

If not the Centennials, then I believe the Gretsch offerings are a good bet for the money too.
 

Fishbones

Silver Member
A\ Accents are entry level Luddies, the Centennials are a step up to the intermediate catergory\.
im never one to dictate which drums are "pro' and which are not, but the centennials are essentially equal to the classic maples only without any customization options. and they're made in taiwan. but they still use hard rock north american maple and high quality hardware compared to gretsch, they would be more equivalent to the renowns than the catalinas.

sorry for the rant. i just feel that this option isnt given much justice by consumers
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
im never one to dictate which drums are "pro' and which are not, but the centennials are essentially equal to the classic maples only without any customization options. and they're made in taiwan. but they still use hard rock north american maple and high quality hardware compared to gretsch, they would be more equivalent to the renowns than the catalinas.

sorry for the rant. i just feel that this option isnt given much justice by consumers
Agree with your summation. I've played the Cents at a local drum store....they seem to be all the rage as far as backline kits are concerned here in Oz, so I've got to hear them in full flight too. Great drums indeed and definitely comparable with the Renowns. I feel the Cat's are a better option than the Accents or Cabria though.
 

Fishbones

Silver Member
Agree with your summation. I've played the Cents at a local drum store....they seem to be all the rage as far as backline kits are concerned here in Oz, so I've got to hear them in full flight too. Great drums indeed and definitely comparable with the Renowns. I feel the Cat's are a better option than the Accents or Cabria though.
i agree fully with PFOG
 

patrice

Senior Member
Thanks for your input.

Although you guys show me even more things to consider (and my brain's already on overload), it is very much appreciated. :)

Tried out the Ludwig Accent, the Gretsch Catalina Birch and Gretsch Club Mod (Mahogany) yesterday. I liked them all!

The Ludwig Accent with the "Bonham sizes" - incl. 26" bass drum & 18" floor tom - sounded pretty good; even with the stock heads.

Same with the Ludwig Accent Fab Four. (Definitely much better than the Premier Cabria XPK I'd tried last week! That one's off the list for good.)

(Both Ludwig Accent kits are made in Taiwan, btw.)

The Gretsch Catalina Club Mod sounded very nice. No complaints.

Finally, the Gretsch Catalina Birch also left a very good impression. (To be honest: probably the best of them all. But, again: no hardware included...)

On a sidenote: I have also been playing the drums for 25+ years, but have never really been too anal about equipment. The last set I purchased was 20+ years ago - and I still love that one. (Please keep in mind: I am not trying to buy a set here that I rely on for the next few years - I mainly need it to practice for the next 12 to 16 months; maybe for a few gigs every now and then.)

Re the Ludwig Centennial: I had kind of taken it off my list, since it comes without hardware, and is maple - I have a maple set (Pearl MLX) back in Europe, and would love to work with something different, to expand my knowledge.

If there was a floor tom add-on available for the Ludwig Accent Fab Four (4-piece kit), I would go for that. Good drum sizes for all kinds of music styles, includes hardware, and sounds good. (Could not find any 2nd hand floor tom on ebay.)

Right now I think I might buy the Ludwig Accent with the "Bonham sizes": it sounds good, I pretty much like the tom sizes, I love the 1 up 2 down setup, also the fact that there are no additional holes in the bass drum for the tom mount - and it comes with hardware. My only reservation is the 26" bass drum. Need to research that a bit more. But then again I'm thinking: I could theoretically still convert the 18" floor tom into a bass drum.

And, if I want to go a little "crazy", I could also still add the set I'd originally wanted to buy when it is available again locally (January 2011): Gretsch Catalina Club Jazz. Then I'd have a super small, and a super big kit. And one in birch, and one in mahogany.

Thanks again for your help! (If any more ideas cross your mind, do please share them.)

Patrice
 

Davo-London

Gold Member
What about adding Yamaha to your list. They are a universal company and should be represented in Thailand??

Davo
 

patrice

Senior Member
Why not?
Well - because I already have way too many choices! ;-)

For some funny reason (that I cannot explain), I have never been into Yamaha. Price-wise they are also not interesting here in Thailand.

What about adding Yamaha to your list. They are a universal company and should be represented in Thailand??

Davo
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
Why not?
Well - because I already have way too many choices! ;-)
Too many choices?? No such thing.

I know the more options you have, the more confusing it can be, but don't limit yourself to one or two options purely because it's easy. You could be missing out on a gem.


For some funny reason (that I cannot explain), I have never been into Yamaha. Price-wise they are also not interesting here in Thailand.
The Yammies are a far better option than the Accents. I love Ludwigs, just not the Accents. Still, if your mind is made up.......call it how you see it.
 

patrice

Senior Member
Too many choices?? No such thing.

I know the more options you have, the more confusing it can be, but don't limit yourself to one or two options purely because it's easy. You could be missing out on a gem.




The Yammies are a far better option than the Accents. I love Ludwigs, just not the Accents. Still, if your mind is made up.......call it how you see it.
"Too many choices?? No such thing."

Barry Schwartz (author & inspiration for this thread's title) would strongly disagree. :)

What I would love to know is, why you generally love Ludwig, but not the Accent Series: bad quality? Bad sound? Bad hardware? Or whatever else... Knowing why you feel that way would be great.

Patrice
 

patrice

Senior Member
Anyways. I finally made my choice.

Purchased the Gretsch Catalina Birch (5-piece standard shell pack / Vintage Burst finish) and the Gibraltar 6000 Series hardware pack yesterday.

More later. Maybe even some pix.

Thanks again for all your help! :)

Patrice
____________________________________________
Banging on/with:
Paiste 2002, 2000 Color Sound, Visions, Dimensions
Pearl MLX & Gretsch Catalina Birch
Vic Firth & Vater & Zildjian sticks
Playing with:
Ooh & The Ballyhoo
Roland Blum
Bone Clone
TP
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
What I would love to know is, why you generally love Ludwig, but not the Accent Series: bad quality? Bad sound? Bad hardware? Or whatever else... Knowing why you feel that way would be great.
The Accents aren't completely terrible but I think there are better options to spend your money on in that intermediate catergory. I think the Centennials, Epics, Elements etc are a far better sounding kits as far as Ludwig are concerned. The Yamaha is of higher quality than the entry level Luddy. I'm also a fan of the sound of the Cats for the money....for an intermediate kit, they've surprised me.

Someone may dispute it and they're welcome to, but of all the choices listed and the few that were offered, I personally wouldn't consider the Accents..
 
Top