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Gretsch New Classic Series Bop Drum Kit

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Gretsch recently expanded its New Classic Series line to include a classic bop-style kit. The three-piece shell pack includes a 14 x 18-inch bass drum, an 8 x 12-inch mounted tom and a 14 x 14-inch floor tom. This line’s preconfigured shell packs don’t include snare drums, allowing buyers to choose the size snare drum that best suits their style. Two sizes are offered, 5.5 x 14-inch and 6.5 x 14-inch models. The kit comes in just one wrapped finish, Ivory Marine Pearl. It’s similar to a White Marine Pearl but has a creamy, aged look that’s a bit like a kit that’s seen years of use in smoky venues. I liked the vintage look of the finish and think it complements the style of kit very well.

Like other kits in the series, these drums feature 100-percent maple shells, Gretsch’s low-mass vintage-style tube lugs, Gretsch’s trademark die-cast hoops, a low-profile I.T.S. suspension system for the mounted tom, rounded 30-degree bearing edges on the drums, and their Silver Sealer inside the shells. The shells have “progressive” thicknesses, meaning the larger drums are a little thicker than the smaller drums.

The six-ply 5.7mm 8 x 12-inch mounted tom, like the other drums, features a “straight” shell designed without reinforcing rings. The drum came with a coated G1 on top and a clear G1 on the bottom and had lots of sustain, courtesy of the ITS mount, straight shells and single-ply heads. The drum was easy to tune and sounded great, projecting a clear pitch and rich tone. The 6-ply 6.6mm 14 x 14-inch floor tom complemented the mounted tom and sounded good, too. Players can tune the toms lower for a drum and bass or nu-jazz sound or higher for a traditional bebop sound. The mounted tom features the same excellent 9025-hinged clamp that’s used for the floor-tom leg brackets. The brackets have nice molded memory locks that discreetly merge into its shape. The floor-tom legs have hollow rubber tips that enhance the drum’s sustain.

The 10-ply snare drums are 10mm thick, and unlike the other drums have single dual-sided tube lugs, and a smooth and reliable throw-off. Rather than use a standard butt plate, these drums use a convenient fine-tuning mechanism to hold the wires on the other side of the drum. Both drums sounded excellent and could cover a variety of styles. Rim shots were loud and cutting on Latin tunes; on ballads, the rim click was loud, clear and woody. The 6.5-inch model was also excellent, just bigger and perhaps a little louder and fuller sounding, though the difference is slight. I never felt the need to add muffling to the head and both sounded great with brushes. They had a wide tuning range, and with the 10mm-thick shell they are capable of projecting substantial volume yet are very articulate, especially with higher tunings. These are superb snare drums.

The six-ply 7.5mm bass drum doesn’t have a tom mount drilled into the shell, requiring the tom to be mounted from a cymbal stand. However, some players might enjoy the convenience of mounting the small tom from the bass drum. The size of the drum restricts its volume, so it wouldn’t work well for louder situations without miking it. The bass drum hoops are attractive and feature an inlaid strip of the finish. The rubber lined die-cast claws will help preserve the appearance of the hoops. The drum comes outfitted with an Evans EQ4 batter head and a coated EQ4 logo head. These heads have a muffling strip around the head’s circumference, which kept the drum’s sustain in check. The drum had punch and a bit of bite, even with a felt beater, but I found the drum’s sustain and volume to be a bit subdued because of the head selection. This head choice makes perfect sense on the other New Classic kits with larger bass drums that need dampening. However, since many jazz drummers like to let their bass drums ring and prefer to control the drum’s sustain with their beater, I think Gretsch could reconsider the heads supplied with this “Bop” kit and consider substituting unmuffled, single-ply bass drum heads.

I was also sent a package including one of Gibraltar’s bass pedals and their lightweight, flat-based hardware. The 9611DC dual chain cam drive Intruder bass drum pedal is a great performer. It felt very smooth and sturdy, has a two-sided beater, an adjustable footboard and a stabilizer plate, and comes with a nice carrying bag. The 8607 hi-hat stand has adjustable tension, a locking clutch and memory lock. The 8606 snare stand has a gearless tilter and memory lock. The three-tier 8610 straight cymbal stand has a key lock-operated memory lock for the tilter and Super Lock hinged height adjustment, and the two-tier 8609 boom stand has the same features with a hiding boom arm. Plus, if you need to raise the bottom of a stand a few inches off the floor, the design allows it. The hardware is lightweight and very functional. The drum’s die-cast hoops and hardware, and progressive shell thicknesses make these drums a bit heavier than they look. This necessitates placing one of the cymbal stand legs beneath the mounted tom for optimal stability.

This is an excellent sounding kit with a cool retro look, but with the modern features to insure it performs well for a lifetime. Throw in a good, lightweight and reasonably priced hardware package and Gretsch has another winner on its hands.

Originally Published