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The Gretsch Catalina is one of Gretsch’s best-selling drum kits, and the Club version is an excellent compact kit for playing jazz and setting up in small environments. The deep-toned mahogany shells come packaged in an affordable shell pack catered to various kinds of drummers.
The Catalina drums are Gretsch’s intermediate line of drum sets. While the full-sized Catalina Maple sets are incredible options, we’re looking at the Club version in this review.
The Gretsch Catalina Club kits are notable for their mahogany shells and 14-inch-deep bass drums. There are a few options for shell sizes, but all of them are compact enough to fit in small spaces.
The Catalina Club is considered a mid-range drum set. It’s quite affordable and works as a good kit option for various drummers. It’s most commonly used by jazz drummers, thanks to the tones it produces and its layout, but it can be used for various other styles of music as well.
If you’re thinking of buying a Gretsch Catalina Club kit, keep on reading. I’ll explain what it offers in terms of sound quality, construction quality, playability, and value, and we’ll look at all its finish options.
Gretsch Catalina Club Gallery
The deep richness of tone comes straight from the 7-ply mahogany shells. They sing out beautifully when you hit any of the drums on the Gretsch Catalina Club.
The tuning range is surprisingly wide. Typically, small drum shells don’t sound effective when tuned low, but the mahogany shells on this kit make up for it with their warm low-end.
The drums sound the best when tuned high, though, and that’s why so many jazz drummers love using this kit.
With no muffling applied to any of the shells, you’ll get the classic singing tom sounds required for jazz settings.
However, the toms can be a bit frustrating if you’re not looking for that sound. If you want tight and controlled tones, you’ll need to equip the toms with two-ply drumheads and apply plenty of muffling to them. You’ll then need to tune them as well as you can so that you don’t get any overtones.
The bass drums are one of the biggest dividing factors of the Gretsch Catalina Club kits. The three available sizes are 18”, 20”, and 24”. No matter which size you get, they’re all packed with plenty of resonance.
The amount of resonance you get is amazing for jazz drumming, but it’s hard to manage with other styles. You need to put a lot of muffling materials inside the kick but putting too much in will kill the tone completely if you’re not careful.
I’ve found the 18-inch bass drum to be easier to manage than the larger two options.
The build quality of the Gretsch Catalina Club is superb, for the most part. All the shells have 30-degree bearing edges, giving them excellent tonal responsiveness and an overall warm presence.
The toms and snare drum have 1.6mm triple-flanged hoops. These produce a decent amount of cut, making the kit sound great when you play rimshots on both the snare and toms. Jazz drummers play rimshots on toms often, leaning this kit more toward jazz drummers even more.
Gretsch drum kits are typically built very well, and that reputation comes out strongly in this kit.
The chrome hardware around all the drums feels excellent, and the stock Remo drumheads are decent to start off with.
I’d recommend using thicker heads than the stock ones if you want to play anything other than jazz, though.
The rack tom mount is the one frustrating part of this kit. When you try to position your rack tom, it doesn’t lock into the exact place where you tightened it. It drops a bit, meaning you must compensate for that every time you set the rack tom up.
That won’t bother you too much if you keep the Gretsch Catalina Club in one place for long. You’ll start noticing it if you play many gigs with it.
The upside of the tom holder that mounts to the floor tom is that you can also put a cymbal arm through it. This eliminates the need for a full cymbal stand, making the footprint of the kit smaller.
The Gretsch Catalina Club drum kit is amazingly responsive. It reacts very quickly to all the notes you play, and you get a full range of tones no matter how softly you hit the drums.
The snare drum has a cracking rimshot sound, feeling and sounding the best when you tune it up a bit higher than the rest of the drums.
If you stick with the single-ply stock heads that come with the kit, the toms will feel quite tight and have plenty of rebound. If you’re used to using thicker heads, you may not like how they feel. However, they’re ideal for playing musical patterns around the kit.
The kick drum takes the most time to get used to. I mentioned earlier that it has more resonance than most kick drums. There’s also more rebound than you’d expect when the bass drum pedal hits the head.
If you like to dig your beater into the head when playing, the Catalina Club’s bass drum isn’t going to feel great to play unless you put plenty of muffling inside the shell.
I’d suggest getting the version of the Club with the 24-inch bass drum if you want plenty of punch in your kick sound. It still has a shallow depth of 14”, keeping it compact. However, you have to place your rack tom a bit to the left with that version to compensate for the bass drum being so tall.
The Gretsch Catalina Club is one of the most value-packed shell packs on the drum market. You won’t easily find mahogany drum kits that cost under $1000, and two of the three available Catalina Club versions cost less than a grand.
While they fit into the mid-range category, dozens of professional jazz drummers use and love these drums.
If you want a pristine jazz drumming setup, you can get a Catalina Club and spend most of your budget on high-end cymbals.
The fact that the kit is so affordable also makes it a good option to get as a secondary drum kit. You could use it to play gigs when your main drum kit may be too big. If you go that route, you can still use the hardware and cymbals from your main set whenever you need to.
The Gretsch drum brand is well-known for its pristine US-made quality kits. While the Catalina Club kits aren’t made in the US, they still exhibit many of Gretsch’s popular construction features.
The 24-inch bass drum version is a bit more expensive, but the option of getting such a large bass drum further boosts the value of the Catalina Club line.
If you want to get incredible value for your money, you can’t go wrong with a Gretsch Catalina Club drum set.
The Gretsch Catalina Club drum sets have a relatively decent number of finish options. They cover most areas of the color spectrum, catering to as many drummers as possible.
Gretsch’s latest finish additions to the series are the Blue Satin Flame and Yellow Satin Flame. Both these finishes have a vintage aesthetic to them, making them ideal for drummers who love how older kits look. They look the best when being played in jazz groups.
The other, more standard colors are Bronze Sparkle, Gloss Crimson Burst, Piano Black, Satin Antique Fade, and Satin Walnut Glaze.
The Piano Black finish is one of the standout options here. Surprisingly, there aren’t too many drum kits available with a pure black finish, especially in the entry-level and mid-range categories. The available ones don’t look as good as the Catalina Club’s Piano Black finish mixed with its chrome hardware.
The Satin Antique Fade finish is the only one with multiple colors. It has a dark wooden appearance at the top of each shell that fades into black near the bottom.
The Satin Walnut Glaze finish is an amazing option for drummers who love the natural wood look. The remaining Bronze Sparkle and Gloss Crimson Burst finishes are fairly standard, but they look great too!
If you’re looking for a compact kit to play jazz on, the Gretsch Catalina Club is the best available kit in its price range.
Gretsch used to sell a Gretsch Catalina Club Jazz kit, but it merged into the general Club series with the larger bass drum options. So, this kit has been a popular option in the jazz drumming world for a long time.
If you want a more versatile kit to play different styles of music on, you should take note of a few things before choosing the Catalina Club.
You’ll have to muffle the drums a bit to get short and aggressive sounds, making them lose a bit of their tone. You’ll be able to get deep tones thanks to the mahogany shells, but there are other compact kits available that don’t need to be muffled as much.
I’d suggest getting the 20-inch or 24-inch bass drum version of this kit if you’re also looking for versatility. You won’t be disappointed with those.
Overall, the Catalina Club is one of the best compact drum sets out there.
The mahogany shells may sound a bit different from the poplar, maple, and birch shells that drummers are most accustomed to, giving you a breath of fresh air regarding drum tones.
What Comes In The Gretsch Catalina Club Box?
- 14” x 5” snare drum
- 12” x 8” rack tom
- 14” x 14” floor tom
- 18” x 14” bass drum
Gretsch Catalina Club At A Glance
- Incredibly popular kit for jazz drummers
- Mahogany shells have rich tones
- Easily transportable
- Excellent finish options
- Affordable price tag compared to similar offerings
- The rack tom isn’t very easy to position comfortably
- The bass drum has a lot of resonance and boom