I’ve been doing reviews on this website for nearly 20 years now and over that period I’ve reviewed a lot of Gretsch drums, mostly kits, and I don’t recall really ever having a bad experience with them. After all, they’re one of the classic American brands and have been around longer than most. With that in mind, it was always a bit strange to me that until 2020 I only owned one Gretsch drum, and that was a [new at the time] chrome over brass snare. Enter this month’s drum…
Ok, so there isn’t anything special as such about this drum. But, what I think is cool about it, and why I like it so much, is the vibe and feeling it gives me when I play it.
Generally, like most people, I want to keep my drums clean and damage free.
However, sometimes a bit of wear and tear can add to a drums visual personality and character. Case in point here, Charlie Watts’ old natural finish Gretsch kit; it’s worn, marked up, scuffed, and to me, just looks so very cool because of this. I mean, even if it wasn’t Charlie Watts’ kit, would you turn down the opportunity to own a kit like that solely on the basis it looked a bit rough in places? Of course not.
Now, I’m not saying I wouldn’t be slightly annoyed if this drum got all scratched up – I probably would be for a minute – but I think that, just sometimes, shiny and new isn’t nearly as cool as older and worn. A time and place for everything. And that leads me to vibe.
I’m a big fan of how a drum speaks to you individually, which has nothing to do with the obvious audio or visual qualities; or to put it more succinctly, the vibe it gives off.
Out of all the drums on a regular kit, the snare drum particularly will speak to the player in different ways, which is part of the reason why most session players will take multiple snare drums to a session. It’s not always about the sonic properties of a drum, the right drum matched to the vibe of the song/session or general mood will often put the player in the right mental place to provide the best performance. That’s certainly always been the case for me.
So, back to the drum at hand.
It has a 14×6.5” 6-ply north American maple/poplar shell with Gretsch’s famous silver sealer interior. The shell is finished in a natural satin, which was the main buying point for me since as far as Gretsch drums are concerned this is my favourite finish/look paired with the double-flanged ‘302’ hoops.
The edges are 30’, the wires are 20 strand Gretsch and it has Gretsch Permatone Ambassadors top and bottom (made by Remo). The drum also has the classic Gretsch round badge, double-ended lugs and throw off. Sonically, it’ll go high or low and has loads of body to it.
The drum is pretty stock in every way and that’s just fine by me.
But, the reason why I like it so much is that for probably the last twenty years I’ve always wanted a Gretsch snare in a natural finish, with a silver sealer interior and 302 hoops. I knew that as/when I got one – whether it be shiny and new, or played and a little beaten up – I’d immediately connect with it, just so long as it had that combo. This one hasn’t disappointed me in that respect.