The drum has a 14×4.25” 1.2mm sand blasted brass shell with 45’ bearing edges, eight small double-sided lugs, 40-strand snare wires and 4mm die cast hoops. You also get a Lightning snare mechanism and Gretsch/Remo Permatone heads, including a Control Sound batter head. Inside the shell there is an identification label that specifies the year of production which is signed by Gergo Borlai and the ‘Great Gretsch Sound’ labels; one of those touches which I always like seeing on a Gretsch drum.
I think this is an interesting drum.
I think it’s interesting because it’s a slightly odd depth, comes with really thick hoops and 40-strand wires.
Now, I like odd depths and I like 40-strand wires but I don’t really ever recall trying the two together. The subsequent feel of the drum under the stick is one of solidity due to the thick hoops, a fast response and sensitivity. It’s a good combination and it didn’t really feel like I was playing a 4.25” deep snare most of the time, except when it was cranked up and it started to sound a little thinner.
I preferred the drum at a medium to higher tensioning, which, given its specs, wasn’t a surprise, although I’ll say it does seem to manage a lower tensioning as well but would need some muffling to really make that work. The overall sound characteristics I’d say are open, ringy, with smack; you can actually feel that smack when over the drum. As I mentioned, the shell is sand blasted – which I think looks cool – and Gretsch says this produces a tighter overall sound. Whether or not that’s true I don’t know but I noticed a good amount of low end in the mid to lower tensioning areas.
Gergo Borlai has described his snare drum as “sensitive, multifunctional, loud, and limitless”. Now, I can see why he’d say these things about this drum and I wouldn’t argue that. But, as with anything signature, this drum was designed for his preferences and playing.
However, since everyone is different, I personally found the size a little too shallow to consider it good for anything and everything I myself might do – that’s not to say I don’t like it either, I do – but I can’t tell you that I think it might be a good all round general purpose drum simply for that reason. If you’re into more shallow shells though, this would probably be a good one, and as I said, it didn’t really feel all that shallow to me when playing it due to those meaty hoops and the solid feel they produce.
All that aside though, it is a cool drum and I know someone who has one and he says he loves it, so as with anything, it’s each to their own…