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Gretsch is one of my all-time favorite drum brands. Gretsch drums produce beautiful, warm sounds and I find that they are also very easy to tune. Not only are they sonically striking, but they look stunning as well.
The university where I studied music had Gretsch Catalina Maple drum sets outfitted in every studio, so I’m very familiar with how these drums feel, sound, and play. I can tell you firsthand these drums are able to adapt to any style of music. They also work exceedingly well under microphones for live use and recordings.
In this article, I’m going to discuss the best Gretsch drum sets to suit all different budgets. I’ll be comparing their sounds, build quality, size configurations, and finishes to help you make an informed buying decision.
What are the Best Gretsch Drum Sets?
In-Depth Gretsch Drum Set Reviews
With gorgeous sounds and looks, as well as a range of contemporary sizes and finish options, the latest Gretsch Renown Maple drum set is bound to meet all of your performance needs, both on stage and in the studio.
This drum set features 7-ply North American Rock Maple shells that are cut with 30-degree bearing edges across all of the drums for a vintage, warmer sound compared to the 45-degree bearing edges that most drums have.
These drums project an excellent tone, not only thanks to the beautifully crafted Maple shells, but also thanks to the premium 302 die-cast hoops, which help these drums to produce a focused and rich sound.
The drums come equipped as standard with clear Remo Emperor heads on the batter side, offering a modern punchy sound.
With the new Renown Series drums you can choose from a range of attractive finishes that are sure to impress. They also feature the new round Gretsch badge, which is a nice touch!
Overall, the Gretsch Renown Maple is an extremely well-executed drum set package, especially considering the very reasonable price point.
The build quality is exceptional, and I think the shell and hoop combination works perfectly, offering superb clarity, warmth, and projection.
- 5 Piece drum set shell pack
- 7-Ply North American Maple shells
- Heavy-duty 302 die-cast hoops
- The complete workhorse that can adapt to any style of music
- Perfectly blends a classic, vintage heritage mixed with modern functionality
- Excellent value for money considering the build quality, sounds, and gorgeous range of finishes
- No complaints whatsoever at this price point!
Gretsch’s USA Custom drums represent some of the finest drum craftsmanship in the world. This drum set is custom built in Ridgeland, South Carolina with traditional Gretsch methods to provide you with the pinnacle of the ‘great Gretsch sound’!
This Gretsch drum set is constructed with a combination of Maple and Gumwood, and I must say this is a beautiful pairing. The sound is incredibly rich, warm, and expressive. The drums are truly meticulously crafted, and everything about this drum set is absolutely top-of-the-range.
Each drum features perfect 30-degree bearing edges that provide exceptional warmth and roundness. Also adorned on each drum is a set of 4mm die-cast hoops that offer excellent tuning stability as well as a crisp attack and greater projection.
Gretsch USA Custom drums are some of the most desirable and sought-after recording drums in the world because they offer such wonderful tones. These drums work exceedingly well in any style of music, and they have been featured on countless hit records.
This stunning set is sure to satisfy the needs of any discerning drummer. The Maple and Gum wood offers a perfectly warm and punchy tone that is an absolute delight to play, and it can adapt effortlessly to any musical scenario like a tonal chameleon.
- 4 Piece drum set shell pack
- 6-Ply Maple/Gum shells
- Proudly built in South Carolina, USA
- The very best drums that Gretsch has to offer- simply a joy to play
- Beautiful warmth sounds fantastic especially in the recording studio
- Flawless construction, design, and build quality
- Very expensive, and it does not include a snare drum
Gretsch doesn’t really ‘do’ budget drums. Which is a good thing, because they don’t make cheap-sounding instruments either. Their Catalina Maple drum set, however, is a more affordable line of drums that produces sounds that far exceeds its price point.
I’m very familiar with the Gretsch Catalina Maple line. While I was studying music at university, I rehearsed, performed, and recorded with these drums day-in-day-out for years.
These Gretsch drums look and sound fantastic. They also borrow lots of high-end features. For starters, they are made from premium Maple wood and feature 30-degree bearing edges for the distinctive warm and punchy sound that we all know and love from Gretsch.
The latest Gretsch Catalina Maple drums also look the part too. Each drum is applied with a multi-stage lacquer process that looks visually impressive in the end result. The Satin Deep Cherry Burst finish is one of several stunning finishes on offer.
Lastly, another great thing is that Gretsch really hit the nail on the head with the modern sizing configuration of this kit. The shallow rack toms, and shallower kick drum, feels great to play and offer a punchier, modern sound.
For the price, the Gretsch Catalina Maple is one of the best drum sets for intermediate players. It’s also affordable enough for complete beginners looking to start off with something special, while it also makes a fantastic gig-worthy drum set for experienced drummers too.
- 5 Piece drum set shell pack
- 7-Ply Maple shells
- Ultra-low profile GTS mounting system
- High-end features such as 7-ply maple shells and wood bass drum hoops
- Suitable for all levels of drummers and different styles of music
- Premium Maple shells produce wonderful range of tones
- Drums will quickly benefit from upgraded drum heads
- I’ve experienced some minor issues with the tom mounts in the past
If you’re looking for a Gretsch drum set with retro sizes, this Catalina Club is sure to be the next kit on your radar.
Featuring compact sizes with an 18×14 kick drum, 12×8 rack tom, 14×14 floor tom, and a 14×5.5 snare drum, this drum set is perfect for Jazz, Blues, Pop, or just about any type of music on smaller stages!
Unlike the previous Gretsch drum set, the Catalina Club is constructed with Mahogany wood for even deeper tones. The drums all feature rounded 30-degree bearing edges for added warmth.
This drum set is small but mighty, and the sizes feel great to play. The drums each deliver smooth and satisfying tones despite their small sizes, in particular the kick drum which I found to be a standout part of this kit.
But the other drums are worthy of mention too. The snare drum produces a clean and crisp sound, while the toms project a warm, rounded tone.
Gretsch has done a fantastic job with the Catalina Club, especially considering its affordable price point. The whole set has a beautifully warm character, and it’s lively and engaging to play.
- 4 Piece drum set shell pack
- 7-Ply Mahogany shells
- Compact, retro sized kit
- Particularly smooth joinery of Mahogany and finely-cut bearing edges
- Lightweight yet solid and durable
- Classic design with rounded lugs and retro finishes
- Rack tom only has 5 lugs, which is fewer than expected
- Some of the lugs are a little stiff
Are Gretsch Drums Good?
Gretsch is one of the best drum manufacturers in the world, and they have been producing quality musical instruments since 1883. The brand has built an excellent reputation in the music world, thanks to its distinctively warm and rich-sounding drums.
This sound has been coined as the ‘great Gretsch sound’, and it’s very sought after particularly in recording studios, where Gretsch drum sets are favored by some of the world’s best drummers and recording engineers.
Phil Collins, Taylor Hawkins, Ash Soan, Charlie Watts, and Mike Johnston are some of the most prolific drummers who perform on Gretsch drums for their musical pursuits.
Are All Gretsch Drums Made in the USA?
Traditionally, Gretsch was famous for producing all of their drums in the USA. But nowadays, only the brand’s top-of-the-range lines are built and produced in the USA.
The Gretsch drums that are produced in the USA are the USA Custom line, the Brooklyn line, and the Gretsch Broadkaster series drums.
The Catalina Club, Catalina, and Renown Series are assembled in Gretsch factories in the far east.
Why Are Gretsch Drums Expensive?
Gretsch produces quality musical instruments, and for that reason, they don’t compromise and offer super budget-priced drums for beginners. But their Catalina range of drums is an excellent intermediate level set that’s offered at an affordable price.
With regard to musical instruments, what you pay for is what you get. If you want to achieve a fantastic sound, you’ll have to shell out more for quality equipment.
After all, a drum set that’s built from premium materials, from the hands of a skilled workman is going to cost considerably more than a cheap drum set.
Nonetheless, I believe Gretsch drums offer excellent value for money when it comes to price and quality ratio. The Catalina line is living proof of that. It’s a gig-worthy and recording studio-ready kit that comes in at a fantastic price, especially for a five-piece kit with a matching snare drum.
When it comes to the top-of-the-range series like the Gretsch USA Custom, the quality surpasses almost everything else. These drums have been an institution in recording studios for over 65 years, and everything about them oozes pure quality.
Gretsch USA drums are some of the most recorded drums in history, and that’s because of how great they sound, and how easy they are to tune. So many iconic drummers have used Gretsch drums and on countless hit records.
So with that knowledge, you can understand a little as to why these drums are sought after, and why they are worthy of paying a little more!