Gretsch Drums Buying Guide

Gretsch Drums Buying Guide

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Find the Right Gretsch Drum Set to Match Your Music and Budget

Gretsch has been building world-class drums ever since the company opened its doors in Brooklyn, New York in 1883. Known for their distinctive sound, the list of renowned drummers who have played Gretsch drum kits includes such luminaries as Max Roach, Elvin Jones, Tony Williams, Charlie Watts, Phil Collins—and more recently—Steve Ferrone, Keith Carlock, Stanton Moore, and Taylor Hawkins.

Gretsch Drums pioneered many industry firsts, including the multi-ply laminate drum shell, cast metal parts, retractable spurs, 18”- and 20”- sized bass drums, and double bass drum kits.

The current lineup of Gretsch drums runs the gamut from highly affordable drum sets aimed at the beginning drummer to top-of-the-line USA Custom sets embraced by Grammy award-winning artists.

USA Custom—the epitome of “That Great Gretsch Sound”

These drums are finely handcrafted in the Ridgeland, South Carolina Gretsch Custom Shop. Shells are are made of 6-ply North American maple with 30-degree bearing edges and Silver Sealer shell interiors, then finished in nitrocellulose lacquer, which allows shell to naturally age over time. Hardware includes die-cast hoops, classic Gretsch lugs, hinged tom brackets, an ultra low-mass tom suspension system, and telescopic bass drum spurs. Built for the most exacting drummers, USA Custom sets are configured to the buyer’s specifications. You can have your dream kit built to order by selecting your drum sizes and finishes, hardware finish, and other custom options. Customized hardware options for example include T-rods and snap-in drum key holders.

Sonic profile: Balanced/punchy/warm/clean/versatile.

You can order the drum set of your dreams by calling a friendly and knowledgeable Musician’s Friend Gear Head at (800) 449-9128.

Gretsch USA Custom Drum Kit

Each hand-built Gretsch USA Custom drum kit is configured to the buyer’s unique specifications and incorporates the highest levels of craftsmanship.

Brooklyn—USA crafted for the discriminating drummer

Handcrafted by seasoned builders in Ridgeland, South Carolina, the Brooklyn series features a Gretsch 6-ply North American maple/poplar shell with 30-degree bearing edges, and Silver Sealer shell interiors. Hardware includes “302” 3.0mm double flanged hoops, classic Gretsch lugs, hinged tom brackets, a low-mass tom suspension system, and telescopic bass drum spurs. Shells are finished in nitrocellulose lacquer, which allows shell to gracefully age. Kits are available in a range of configurations and finishes.

Sonic profile: Balanced/open/punchy/warm/full.

Gretsch USA Brooklyn 4-Piece Shell Pack

The handcrafted Gretsch USA Brooklyn 4-Piece Shell Pack merges premium quality materials with old-school workmanship that’s signified by retro Brooklyn round badges.



Renown—Rock-solid construction, classic Gretsch styling, and saturating acoustics

The 7-ply shells are built with the Gretsch maple formula that combines North American maple with a slightly softer maple species. They have 30-degree bearing edges and Silver Sealer interiors. Hardware includes die-cast hoops, classic Gretsch lugs, hinged brackets, an ultra low-mass tom suspension system, and telescopic bass drum spurs.

Sonic profile: Penetrating/lively/warm

Gretsch Renown 4-Piece Shell Pack

The Gretsch Renown 4-Piece Shell Pack features plies of Rock Maple and a softer maple species that result in explosive attack with rounded, low-end timbres.

Catalina Maple—The warm sound of maple combined with modern performance

The 7-ply maple shells have 30-degree bearing edges with natural shell interiors and produce lots of volume with a pronounced attack that mixes in the balanced warmth of maple. Hardware includes 2.3mm triple flanged hoops, mini Gretsch lugs, ultra low-mass tom suspension system, telescopic bass drum spurs with redesigned bass drum mount plate, tom holders, and smaller brackets.

Sonic profile: Warm/balanced

Gretsch Catalina Maple 6-Piece Shell Pack

The Catalina Maple 6-Piece Shell Pack delivers a lot of bang for the buck and features new hardware components.



Catalina Club—Classic configurations, warm tones, and modern features

The Catalina Club is a compact set that’s designed for fast setups and load outs. Equipped with 8-ply Gretsch formula mahogany shells with 30-degree bearing edges and natural shell interiors, it has lots of warmth and punch. Hardware includes 1.6mm triple flanged hoops, mini Gretsch lugs, an ultra low-profile tom suspension system, telescopic bass drum spurs, a newly designed bass drum mount plate, tom holders, and smaller brackets.

Sonic profile: Deep/warm/round

Gretsch Catalina Club Classic Shell Pack

With its compact configuration and easy setup, the Catalina Club Classic Shell Pack is a great choice for weekend warriors who play venues with tight stages and drum risers.



Gretsch Snare Drums—great drums for every style and player

Gretsch offers a wide selection of individual snare drums to match your individual playing and music styles. Choose from metal or wood shells with various diameters, depths, hoop styles, and throw-offs. No matter whether you’re a jazz cat, rock drummer, or cover band timekeeper, there’s a Gretsch snare that will enhance your sound.

Sonic profile: Diverse

Gretsch Taylor Hawkins Signature Snare Drum

The Taylor Hawkins Signature Snare reflects the Foo Fighters’ drummer’s personal playing style and has a glossy black nickel-coated steel shell and custom “Hawk” badge.

Explore the complete Musician’s Friend selection of Gretsch drum sets, shell packs, snare drums, and hardware here.

Tags: Acoustic Drums


# Stan Croenne 2016-12-09 07:53
Hello, this is Stan. I purchased the catalina maple kit a couple of years ago. My fault for not doing more research on where they were made. I thought they were made in the USA. That is why I bought them. That said, they are a great kit. Crisp, tight, and very fun to play. I learned to play drums to the Monkeys to let you know my age. You will go crazy trying to figure out the best kit for you. Catalina maple kits are well priced and worth every penny. Buy them and have fun. Stan
# Jay 2016-11-29 18:12
I have a Gretsch set I just recently bought and I would like to know the quality of this one and how old it is. I wish I could send you a picture of the logo. It says Gretsch USA on the top and on the bottom and is shaped like a square with the edges cut
# Adam 2016-09-28 07:49
I owned a set of Catalina maple for 5 years and then I sold them I was told they were built in the USAwhen I bought them then I just bought a Marque set last night again I was told they were built in the USA to find out the next day they are not either set the only thing is the Marque has north America maple with it and some slighter softer softer species maple what the he'll does that mean imported what tell me???
# Kenneth gillanders 2016-09-01 06:09
no new classic
# Kenneth gillanders 2016-09-01 06:07
no mention of the new classics
# T. Christian 2016-08-30 18:43
Finely Crafted in Ridgeland, S.C. ? I worked at the facility in Ridgeland, S.C. and the craftsmanship was pure crap. Highly unskilled, sweatbox, labor force. No training what so ever. I saw drums go out that had busted plys, horrible finish, and even tear outs from drilling to fast with a multi drill press. They sent them out anyway because the money is what mattered. It irritated me so much that I quit. The whole thing was a rip off for drummers paying hard earned money for these things. Fred Gretsch raped a fine company so he could get rich.
# bp 2016-06-02 15:27
What's the answer for Phil? I.E. country of manufacturing? I'm leaning to buy a Catalina or Renown set but a few drummers are telling me to get a DW kit. Flavour of the day maybe but they are made in America. I went to check out Sleishman factory in Oz and they're impressive but pricey
# KGtheKid 2016-05-13 13:21
Right now they are blowing out discontinued Marquee line drums, these are practically the same as Renown but with flanged hoops vs die cast. Find them on eBay and Amazon 5 piece shell packs new for $799 - an unheard of discount. You will find Catalina's with cheaper hoops for the same or slightly less. Run, don't walk... If looking, go get the old Renowns now while they still have die cast hoops. Some great deals on those too at around $1k vs 1200-1400 Those hoops are heavy and quite expensive by themselves.
# Jim 2016-03-26 17:27
@ Michael Friedman: If you spend a lot of extra money on a renown or a marquee kit you will be very disappointed when you find out that they will sound no better than the Catalina kit you have now (of course if given the same size drums and the same head combinations). Anyone who thinks there is any difference to speak of is suffering from the "placebo" effect. That is to say, "If I spent a lot more on a set, even though there is no meaningful difference in sound to a much less expensive set, I have to convince myself there is anyway so I won't have to feel bad for spending all that extra money for nothing". Stick with what you have now, they sound just as good as the other sets you're looking at.
# Michael Friedman 2016-02-27 10:44
I was looking to purchase a Gretsch Marquee or a renown kit. I already own a Catalina maple kit I picked up used. I love it. Any thoughts on a the Marquee vs the Renown? I'm a little more attracted to the Marquee because of the price, but how about the sound relative to the Renown or the Catalina for that matter? Thanks!
# frank dasaro 2016-04-16 16:06
renown was better but i know they are making som e
changes with the hoops
# Jay 2016-02-13 13:42
I just picked up a 5 piece gretsch USA set and wanted to know the value. They are a yellowish and have the silver inside. Guy said they are late 70 early 80s. He said the color is called tony Williams yellow ? P
# Phil 2016-01-12 22:51
Thank you for this guide. Very helpful.

What is the country of manufacture of each of the lines?

Thank you.
# Bill E. 2015-09-22 18:26
I have the Catalina Club with the 18-inch bass drum. It's a great little kit. I'm playing Zildjian A cymbals with it and using Evans G2 coated on the batter heads and G1 clear for the reso side.

Again, this is a great sounding kit that fits perfectly in my apartment.
# Lance Hollum 2015-04-03 16:27
Hi. My names Lance Hollum. I'm interested in a price on the best sounding maple kit for playing at home and gigging to. I've herd a lot about your drums and have seen mike Johnsonplaying them. Wow!, They sound fantastic. Very interested in switching from pearl to your one of a kind drumset
# Jim O 2015-09-23 01:16
I will tell you that the Gretsch Catalina Maple with good heads and tuned right sound as good as maple sets that cost 4 times as much. I have the Catalina Birch and they sound absolutely great even compared to Birch sets costing 4 times more. Given the same size drums and the same wood how are drums 4 times more expensive made of the same wood going to sound any better really?
# Jim O 2015-02-13 20:47
I have 2 5pc sets and they're both Gretsch and they are without a doubt the best sets I've ever had hands down.
# RobertMatthews 2014-03-07 16:20
The best drum's I possess and play daily,with pride.

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