Which Heads for Gretsch Catalinas (Maple)?

I recently acquired a slightly used set of the Gretsch Catalinas (maple) in the 10, 12, 16, and 22 tom and bass configuration with the stock heads. I'm wondering what heads other players of the same drums are using and why.

Cards on the table, I kind of like the sounds I'm getting from the stock heads, with the main exception being the 12 (but then again I've always had problems with 12" toms). OK, I'm not crazy about the bass drum sound either, but I haven't fooled with it yet. I think loosening the head a bit and maybe throwing a pillow inside will handle it.

However, I'm wondering what effect changing some or all of the heads will have, and I don't want to buy a bunch of different heads just to experiment. I'd therefore be interested in learning what heads others are using and why.

Unfortunately, my goal is the most versatile sounding drums I can get. In practice, this means that I want deep thuddy toms as well as higher cutting ones, anchored by a bass that provides the standard boom. Yeah, I know, I'm trying to be all things to all people, but I'm not good enough to specialize in one genre and would be bored if I did. This said, the head opinion of anyone who is focusing on one or another genre would interest me, since from it I can get a sense of the sound desired and therefore why the head(s) are preferred.

Anyway, what heads are the rest of you Gretsch Catalina (maple) players using and why? What sounds are you getting that are different from the stock heads?



Platinum Member
When in doubt......

Ambassador over Ambassador. Whatever you prefer (coated/clear) on the batter over clear on the reso.

Then play for a month. If you find yourself applying moongell on the outer portion of the head %100 of the time, get a head with a ring. If you find yourself applying moongel toward the middle of the batter, get a head with a dot. If you find you like moongel on the reso, get an MRI or a CAT scan.

Peace, Love, and goodwill


Silver Member
I’ve played two Cats, and I found they sounded good but a bit dry. I would definitely choose coated on toms to warm a bit. G1 coated over G1, or of course Ambassador.
Same single ply coated on the snare.

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
Ambassador is a classic choice.

I generally use coated over clear.

Snare side is a taste thing, but I use Hazy Ambasador, as do many.

On the bass drum, It depends. I mostly use a PS 3. Coated for warm sound, clear if I want some more attack. Ambassador works nicely on the bass drum as well if you want some more tone. You can obviously do a lot with how you choose to muffle a bass drum.

These are sort of traditional alroudn choice. They are that because they work well and are a good starting point. There is obviuosly a ton to choose from. It depends what style you play and what sound your looking for. If you want a more modern thing with more top and bottom as supposed to presence Evans G1s will provide that slight difference.

For deep 2-ply sound there is also a lot to choose from, obviously, but some clear Evans EC2s will give you that bigger than life rock sound.

My kit is a Catalina maple. They aren't picky about heads. Some old Gretsch drums are, but that's due to them being a bit oversized. Not an issue anymore.


Silver Member
I have a 1st generation Catalina Maple which I bought second hand.
On all of the toms I have coated Ambassador over clear Ambassador and they sound great. I do use O-rings on the floor toms to thicken up the sound a little.

On the kick It had an Aquarian SuperKick II batter when I got it, and the stock front head (which I then ported). I was expecting to change the superkick for a PS3 when I got it but I liked it so much I kept it.

The other thing that made a big difference to the floor toms is changing the rubber feet for some of those Pearl Air Suspension feet. Best $15 I ever spent!

drumming sort of person

I don't want to buy a bunch of different heads just to experiment.

You're never really going to know what you prefer until you do.

As for others mentioning coated single ply over clear single ply, I actually prefer the opposite. For bass drum, be careful with coated heads. They can wear out your beater (unless you use a patch).


Platinum Member
On my Catalina Maple I have Evans coated G2s over Evans G1s for the 10, 12, & 16 inch toms. On the bass I use an Aquarian SuperKick II on the batter side and an Evans Single-ply Calftone on the reso side.

I have used:
Evans Clear G1s over G1s
Evans Clear EC2s over G1s
Evans Coated G2s over G1s.

The coated G2s definitely sound the best... at least to my ears!!


Platinum Member
You're never really going to know what you prefer until you do.

Indeed, and if he wants to limit the number of heads needed to experiment... An Ambassador with moon gel on the edge is going to sound (approximately) like a Powerstroke. An Ambassador with the moon gel towards the middle is going to sound (approximately) like a CS Dot. If he wants to emulate one of the L360 hydraulic heads, it usually only takes a single can of Hormel Chili.

drumming sort of person

It's not just about sound, but also about feel and rebound.


Senior Member
I have Pinstripe batter heads and Ambassador res heads on my Gretsch catalina drums. I like them quite a bit. Not as bright as some, but they're versatile and can be tuned a good range.

With that said, they're definitely more thuddy than ringy.