The reason for the Gretsch sound?

Mostly I was just asking whether the sharp shell attack/low head resonance is due to the 30 degree bearing edge or not.
It might also be the die cast hoops as some people have mentioned.
Anyway, it's been decided that:
- all the sound is in great heads
- that great Gretsch sound is all in our heads
(Disclaimer: I like Gretsch drums - just mentioning that before I cause a commotion)
 

harryconway

Platinum Member
The "Great Gretsch Sound" .... from what I've read ..... was first used with Gretsch Electric Guitars. Eddie Cochran (1957), some say, was the primary player. And it was a good marketing tag. And then it got applied to the drums, as well.

So ..... that's when the Gretsch Round Badge was in production. And I think Gretsch went from the 3 ply shell, to the 6 ply shell, around 1958. So ..... those drums, compared to the competition (Ludwig, Rogers, Slingerland) were quite different. Gretsch had moved away from using a reinforcement ring. The other three had not. Gretsch was using die cast hoops. The other three weren't. Gretsch tom badges were fixed with a pin, and non-vented. The other three all used gromets to affix their badges. So, a lot of differences ..... and we haven't even got into shell wood formula and bearing edges. Needless to say ..... a 60's Gretsch kit sounds way different than a 60s Lugwig/Rogers/Slingerland kit.

Now put a 60's Round Badge up against a USA Custom ..... big difference there, too. I've heard and played the two side-by-side. And the USA Custom has noticeably more sustain, than the old 60's RB. So ..... even though both have 30 degree bearing edges, I think the profile has changes, over the years. But I think the two biggest contributors ..... bearing edge and die cast hoops. And while most won't want to re-cut their bearing edges, putting triple flange hoops on is an easy thing ...... and it will open up the drum considerably.
 

IBitePrettyHard

Senior Member
I agree that marketing is just marketing, but there is some merit to the Gretsch sound being exceptional. There's countless stories of drummers using Gretsch drums in the studio even though they endorse another brand.

And there's a reason so many studios have them as a house kit.
 

Bozozoid

Well-known member
Really!...REALLY!..not one person mentioned the disappearing Gretsch spurs. You don't think that has SOMETHING to do with that great Gretsch sound? are you all that lame!.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
I didn't mean to ask why Gretsch drums sound great. Mostly I was just asking whether the sharp shell attack/low head resonance is due to the 30 degree bearing edge or not.

Even tho the DW jazz has maple gum, they still sound a little more resonant to me. The differences in construction to me are a 45 degree bearing edge, 1 extra ply, no silver sealer, different lugs and maybe the grain is rotated differently in each ply? From a pure material science perspective, I kinda doubt that the silver sealer does much to the sound.

Certainly hearing a Gretsch USA custom from the 80s with a 45 degree bearing edge would be the ultimate A/B test.

I own USA Custom, Brooklyn, and a '65 Round Badge. I regularly gig on a top-shelf DW (Collector's I think?). The diameters on the USA and DW are both 10,12,14,16, and 22.

Probably that attack you’re hearing is owed mostly to heavy die cast hoops. You can really hear the evidence of the hoops between USA Custom (die cast) and Brooklyns, and also newer Renowns, both of which have the lighter 302 hoops. It's not a subtle difference.

Now put a 60's Round Badge up against a USA Custom ..... big difference there, too. I've heard and played the two side-by-side. And the USA Custom has noticeably more sustain, than the old 60's RB. So ..... even though both have 30 degree bearing edges, I think the profile has changes, over the years. But I think the two biggest contributors ..... bearing edge and die cast hoops. And while most won't want to re-cut their bearing edges, putting triple flange hoops on is an easy thing ...... and it will open up the drum considerably.

I currently own both, and I think that what you're experiencing here might be due to the shell diameter. Old round badge shells are a bit larger than modern USA Customs. I cut away the wrap on my Round Badge, near the top and bottom edges, where the wrap overlays. This reduced the diameter by a 16th of an inch or so, and it helps modern heads seat much better. When tuned the same, the RB and USA Custom are VERY similar in sound. And they should be, because not much has changed: same hardware, shell thickness, and bearing edge.

Both USA Customs and this DW use mostly hard woods, like maple. Not soft, light woods like Birch, Mahogany, etc. Both shells have a "medium" weight. The weight of the hardware on the shells is also similar. DW's turret lugs look massive, but Gretsch's USA Custom lugs are pretty hefty, too. Having regularly used both, I can say the overall weight is very similar. What the USA's lose in lugs, they make up for with the heavier hoops. They're both nice kits, and yes, the USA has a more focused vibe, while the DW has a lively "bark".

If you want to really experience the influence of the hoop firsthand, swap out the top hoop of a snare or tom with a heavy die cast.
 

brushes

Well-known member
Let me say something about the silver sealant. I prefer it over thick lacquer...which ads brightness..the sealant is just that..a wood protector..its just warmer than a heavy lacquer.
So... you have played the same Gretsch drummodel without the Silver Sealer for comparing? Interesting... :unsure:
 

brushes

Well-known member
.... use mostly hard woods, like maple. Not soft, light woods like Birch, Mahogany...
I don't wanna be anal, but Mahogany is much harder than maple, birch is almost as hard as maple.
 

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Drumprof

Member
I agree that marketing is just marketing, but there is some merit to the Gretsch sound being exceptional. There's countless stories of drummers using Gretsch drums in the studio even though they endorse another brand.

And there's a reason so many studios have them as a house kit.
Agree with this. Exceptional and unique.
That’s what I have always appreciated about Gretsch drums (I own USA Customs) is they just have their own thing. The have a wonderfully unique character to them that’s different from my Yamaha’s for example. Both are wonderful sounds but different. You get a quicker response and more compressed tone with the Gretsch. (mostly from the dc hoops) Yamaha uses lighter aluminum dc hoops that have a little more give of the stick, and a bit of a natural compression.
The other difference is in the feel under the sticks.
Gretsch seems to be more articulate of the stick, like the sound jumps off the drum and the head feels harder if that makes sense. I do have a USA bop kit tuned high, but the Yamaha’s tuned the same still have a bit more give.
The sum of all parts is perfectly put. It’s a combination of Maple / Gum shells, 30 degree edges and heavy duty diecast hoops. That’s the formula.
the Renowns and Brooklyn’s are just variations of the Gretsch theme. All Maple with 302’s on the Renown and Maple Poplar with 302’s on the Brooklyn. Gretsch is building some of their best drums these days. keeping to the traditional elements of their sound (build) while remaining a strong player in today’s market.
 
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brentcn

Platinum Member
I don't wanna be anal, but Mahogany is much harder than maple, birch is almost as hard as maple.

Don’t be misled by the Janka scale. There is too much variation by species to trust it. Anyone who’s held a birch shell in one hand and a maple in the other can attest to that. For whatever reason, the birch and mahogany that drum companies use is very light, and their maple is harder and heavier.
 

brushes

Well-known member
Yes, there is harder and some softer mahogany, but saying that mahogany I'd softwood is just not correct. All these woods in the wood chart are hardwoods. Softwoods are a completely different thing, like spruce or cedar or juniper or pine.
 

lefty2

Platinum Member
According to Modern drummer Magazine from the late 80s possibly and my memory LOL the silver sealer actually brings out blemishes in the show and does not hide or cover them up. Having said that I think it's just die cast hoops and a 30-degree bearing Edge that makes them sound different. Different not better because everybody knows that my starclassic performer all Birch shell drum set sounds better than anybody's in the world😁
 

AzHeat

Platinum Member
According to Modern drummer Magazine from the late 80s possibly and my memory LOL the silver sealer actually brings out blemishes in the show and does not hide or cover them up. Having said that I think it's just die cast hoops and a 30-degree bearing Edge that makes them sound different. Different not better because everybody knows that my starclassic performer all Birch shell drum set sounds better than anybody's in the world😁
There's something with their shells too. Not just their layers, but I swear they shells start out twice as thick and smashed down to size. They are the heaviest shells I've ever owned. When I first got them, I stripped off all lugs and compared everything to my PDPs. The PDP lugs weighed a ton by comparison, but the Gretsch shells, while only 1mm thicker were way heavier.
 
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Yamaha Rider

Well-known member
If the test environment were as follows, I think differences would be detected.

Take three sets of the same Gretsch model and one of Pearl. Use the same drum head brand and tune using a tune bot to the same set of notes.

Play the drum sets at low, medium and high tunings (all tuned the same for a given test). Ask the audience to choose the one that is different. If they can do so, then the difference is detectable. You can further ask them which they like better.
For safety, shouldn't it be tested on mice first?
 
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