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Thread: Gretsch Catalina Club Jazz

  1. #1

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    Default Gretsch Catalina Club Jazz

    On review today is the stunning Gretsch Catalina Club Jazz Reserve Emerald Green. This was a limited run of 140 kits. The street price for the regular finishes is $650. This one was $429. I think the store had 4 or 5 and dropped the price after a few months and 2 were left. I would have gotten the natural satin finish if they were the same price. I'm not sure I would have gotten either for $650 (financial situation), but I got really lucky. Sizes are 12x10 mounted tom, 14x14 floor tom, 18x14 bass drum, and 14x5 snare. Included were the tom mount and adjustable bass drum riser.

    Pics first:







    I really like this finish. I haven't had a wrapped kit in a while and was worried about the sound. Plus the drums are mahogany, which doesn't cut like birch. I just sold a 5 piece Yamaha Recording Custom set in the same sizes plus a 10" tom minus the snare for $900 a few weeks ago. The Cats are not as loud as the Yamaha's were, but have a much better rounder musical tone. I got the Recording Customs (RCs) used for what I sold them for, but I think they go for $3K+ new. I would much rather have the covered mahogany.

    Bass Drum - I ran around Columbus frantically looking for an 18" Fiberskyn head the day before I got this kit to no avail. I had my RC bass set up with an EQ1 batter, Fiberskyn reso, and no muffling. I played with it for years and that was the best combo. The Cat bass shipped with a Gretsch label batter just like the EQ1, except the extra ring is about 2.5 inches wide. The reso head is the same, but coated white. I tightened them up a bit and got a nice boomy sound with plenty of sustain. The RC birch drum was way more punchy, but no where near as musical. If I bury the beater, it thuds well. If I feather it, the drum rings a good while. Options.

    The riser is very nice. I had to extend the bass drum legs all the way out. The riser height is set at half it's max. The beater is dead center. The one I had previously was fixed height, but worked perfectly fine. The rubber feet that attached to the rim on the old one also did not have PROTRUDING SCREW HEADS. Oops. I now have nice phillips head embossing on the inside of my rim. I'll have to felt the riser over later.

    Mounted Tom - I'm not sure I completely buy into the Yamaha YESS mounting system. I understand the nodal points and all, but there are still extra screws in the drum. On a 16" tom, that equals a lot of weight in a small area. The Gretsch mount is sloppy as hell. It's also huge. The single tom arm is massive as well. Together, they probably weigh 6 times what the drum does. The mount does not fasten to anything. Rings hug the tension rods and a quarter sized spot of rubber sits on the shell. This is as free as a drum can be easily and it sounds like it. It was tricky to get positioned right, and wrestling it into a bag is rough, but the drums sounds good enough to be worth it.



    More to come...
    Last edited by Redeye; 02-21-2009 at 11:27 PM.
    Website with free full song transcriptions: redeyepercussion.com
    Youtube channel with covers, lessons, and product reviews: youtube.com/RedeyeSPR

  2. #2

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    Default Re: Gretsch Catalina Club Jazz

    ...and we're back.

    Floor Tom - I love a square sized floor tom with legs. I have a Beech Custom kit with 14x12 and 16x14 mounted toms. The stand they are on is very heavy to lug around and they move around too much for my comfort. Also, neither sounds as good as this floor tom. It's rock stable and is very boomy, resembling the bass drum. The toms shipped with Evans G1 coated heads. They sounded okay in my small practice room, which is very dead. While looking for the 18" fiberskyn head, I also picked up a 14" fiberskyn to try on the snare (I had seen Steve Smith using one and wanted to try it out). It was way too ringy on the snare so I tried it on the floor tom. This is the sound I have dreamed about. The G1s had a bad ringing sound unmuffled. The fiberskyns have very little ring. What's there is musical and can only be heard from behind the kit. Out front they sound amazing. With studio rings, they give a good fusion decay sound. Plus, they look classy. I'll probably try a set of EC2s I have sitting around on them later.



    Snare - On the entire kit, the snare is the most average sounding drum. The G1 batter that shipped with it sounds good. The reso head is completely unlabeled, but seems to be 3 or 4 mils thick. The snare wires are 20 strand and sturdy. The throwoff is very nice. The arm is curved and it feels like you get more leverage turning it on. You can tell it's going to stay in place when engaged. I'm not sure mahogany is the best wood for a set snare. It's got a nice musical ring to it, but at the sacrifice of a good crack. It would make a great solo snare. The fact that it matches is the only reason I'll take it out instead of my maple snare.

    For the above reasons, I highly recommend this set to anyone. The sizes limit it to certain styles, but if you are in the market for a small set, this is the one to get, even at the current $650 price tag.

    That being said, I'll continue with my minor gripes after a short break...
    Last edited by Redeye; 02-22-2009 at 01:05 AM.
    Website with free full song transcriptions: redeyepercussion.com
    Youtube channel with covers, lessons, and product reviews: youtube.com/RedeyeSPR

  3. #3

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    Great review Shane! And these are truly great sounding kits even at $650 as you stated. Iwas using mine for rock and power funk playing and when you lay into 'em they will growl. Mic'd up these little monsters sound incredible! I have used them on a recording or two and they sounded H U G E!
    The model says "jazz" but these drums can and will rock!
    Glad you are enjoying them.. welcome to the Gretsch family! -Les

  4. #4

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    ...thanks for sticking around.

    Minor issues - I have a few gripes about this kit, mostly hardware related. Considering what I paid for it, none of these is a big deal, but I want to be thorough.

    Out of the box, the lugs went in very stiffly. I got it set up around 9pm and wanted to hit it a bit before it was too late, so decided to lubricate them later. When I went to change the 12" head a couple days later, one of the tension rods was stripped of the last 3 threads. I have extras, so no big deal to replace it, but that concerned me. The kit shipped with 2 extra tension rod nuts which is nice, but now I'm worried that's because they will strip easily.

    I'm still pissed about the bass drum riser. I should have looked at it closely before putting it on, but the previous version I had was all rubber at the contact point. I have no idea why this one lets a screw head protrude. I'll rotate the hoop so I don't see the marks it left, but this should have been caught before release.

    On all the floor toms I've had before, the legs used some sort of compression system. These use a loop pull similar to what is on an LP cowbell. They hold just fine. However, the bag set that I got with the kit doesn't give enough space to leave them on. It takes some extra time to get them aligned correctly.

    The snare drum lugs are double sided while the tom and bass drum lugs are single as on most kits. It looks like they didn't try too hard to make them match.



    The bass drum is only 18", yet the wrap is in two pieces. Both seams are on the bottom of the shell and the rim can be rotated, but one piece would have been nice.

    Putting 5 lugs on 12" drum still seems strange to me. The drum holds it tuning as well as any other, but it took a bit longer to get it there. I have been tuning 8" marching tenor drums with 5 lugs for years, and they don't pull across the head like an even lug drum. Even using a drum dial, I spent more time with this drum than I expected to. I know Gretsch has been using this configuration for a long time and suspect that the cost of retooling the machines is part of the reason they don't change.

    I already mentioned the size and weight of the tom arm. It would have been nice to have another hole in it for a cymbal arm.

    That's it. All of the above issues are minor for at kit at this price and even in total are not near a deal breaker. This is a good solid small kit that sounds sweet.

    More pics with some detail for your consideration:

    Bass Drum Badge:



    Floor Tom Leg Mount (at least it looks nice):



    Super big tom mount:

    Website with free full song transcriptions: redeyepercussion.com
    Youtube channel with covers, lessons, and product reviews: youtube.com/RedeyeSPR

  5. #5

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    Default Re: Gretsch Catalina Club Jazz

    Sorry to hear they're not perfect Shane, but they still look pretty snazzy!
    Quoting gonefishin: Just have some bacon with ya when you go pick her up..........youre an instant chick magnet.





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  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lesizmor View Post
    Great review Shane! And these are truly great sounding kits even at $650 as you stated. Iwas using mine for rock and power funk playing and when you lay into 'em they will growl. Mic'd up these little monsters sound incredible! I have used them on a recording or two and they sounded H U G E!
    The model says "jazz" but these drums can and will rock!
    Glad you are enjoying them.. welcome to the Gretsch family! -Les
    Thanks Les. Another benefit of the Mahogany is that you can get heavy handed and they still sound great. I should have a chance to get them under mics next month. My keyboard player can lay down a respectable groove, so I can always step out front during sound check and get a good listen.

    I know you have been checking into getting another of these lately. How goes it?
    Website with free full song transcriptions: redeyepercussion.com
    Youtube channel with covers, lessons, and product reviews: youtube.com/RedeyeSPR

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by pastor_bob View Post
    Sorry to hear they're not perfect Shane, but they still look pretty snazzy!
    Thanks PB -
    I nitpicked for the sake of review. I'm really happy with the deal I got. A set of Humes and Berg cases for them was less than $100. A set of Gibraltar flat based stands will complete the deal when I can afford it. A never ending process.
    Website with free full song transcriptions: redeyepercussion.com
    Youtube channel with covers, lessons, and product reviews: youtube.com/RedeyeSPR

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by ShaneRoney View Post
    Thanks Les. Another benefit of the Mahogany is that you can get heavy handed and they still sound great. I should have a chance to get them under mics next month. My keyboard player can lay down a respectable groove, so I can always step out front during sound check and get a good listen.

    I know you have been checking into getting another of these lately. How goes it?
    As with you, My kit had a few of these minor annoyances as well. I have posted in threads numerous times.. Always be armed with a stubby philips, a tub of petroleum jelly and a set of metric nut drivers. Be ready to do a thourough QC check of your own. Kits such as these are cranked out in volume using CNC machinery and robotic technology sans the handling that say, a Greatsch USA custom drum would recieve (Insanely painstakingly hand crafted) The end result is a well made drum no doubt, however, we really NEED to take the time to insure that nothing has been missed. I will always insist on purchasing a kit that is in sealed boxes so I can personally assemble them. This gives me a chance to check the edges, go through and snug down shell HW, clean and polish shell finishes etc. I am a stickler. I will inspect every part before assembly. I suggest always taking ones time in the assembly process and do use a dab of petroleum jelly (vaseline) on the tip of your tension rods prior to installing them.
    I have owned this kit and I have not experienced the lug nuts failing evn under extreme tension..I crank up the snare drum tension.

    Great review Shane! Wait til you get these little guns mic'd! WOWSA Am I getting another Cat Jazzer? From a practicality standpoint..YES..from a quality standpoint..YES..From a SOUND standpoint..YES! Tax time is here..I am gonna start clearing some other debt, and I will be buying another Cat Club Jazz! Gretsch FTW! If the Catalina Maples and Club Jazzers are this good, I can only imagine how truly sweet the USA custom kits are!! -Les
    Last edited by Lesizmor; 02-22-2009 at 08:39 AM.

  9. #9

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    Beautiful finish! Glad you enjoy playing them.

    Nice to see the use of the diamond shaped floor tom leg brackets again.

    I too think that small tom bracket is overkill, and even then it doesn't sound as if it works very well.

    Both of my old Gretsch sets have second-gen hardware -- Yamaha on one, Pearl on the other. What can I say, I bought them separately! Don't flog me about originality and extra holes in shells ... Please? :-)

    Anyway, hardware has always been the weak point of Gretsch sets.

    But I love em to death anyway. That Great Gretsch Sound FTW!

  10. #10

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    First I'll say sorry if I'm dredging up an old thread but I thought I'd give my 2 cents about a kit that I love. Oh, and nice to be here!

    This is a great review BTW. And the green finish on your kit looks dazzling!

    I've had this kit for about 3 years now (in white pearl) and I must say it sounds great. I actually had no problems with any of the hardware and I find it to be well designed and very functional. I've had no problems with any of the lugs being stiff and I find the tom mounting hardware to be rock solid and attractive.

    Like you, I recently decided to put Fiberskyn 3 heads on the toms. I also put a Fiberskyn Ambassador P3 on the kick batter side and a Fiberskyn Diplomat P3 on the reso side. Big improvement. I always found the stock heads on the kick to be rather dead sounding. The G1's on the toms sounded fine but I just love the sound of Fiberskyn heads. They make such a pleasant sound especially with brushes. Less harsh than coated heads. I haven't tried Fiberskyn on the snare but I probably will at some point. I actually got a compliment about my snare sound from a sound man so don't dismiss this snare too easily.

    Here I am playing the kit live. At this show I was using coated Emperors on the toms, stock G1 on the snare, Stock batter with a ported Ebony P3 reso on the kick. This kit definitely holds its own on a rock gig!

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66OoAZu2X5c"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66OoAZu2X5c[/ame]

  11. #11

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    good write up! thanks for the pics too!

  12. #12

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    very nice color
    nice set

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  13. #13

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    I'm getting this same model in a couple week. It will actually be my first drum kit so I don't have any experience setting one up. Are they boxed with the heads already on the drums? I've watched a couple videos on youtube on how to tune them. Any assembly suggestions?
    thanks!

  14. #14

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    thats a very thorough and interesting review; thanks; I now know a lot more about Grestch.
    If you are going through hell...keep going!

  15. #15

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    That finish is beautiful!!
    Kit: Pacific LX 8-Ply - Maple shells in deep blue lacquer * DDrum 13 X 6.5" Golf Ball Snare
    Cymbals: 21" AAX Raw Bell Dry Ride * 20" Paragon Crash * Zildjian 20" Custom Ozone Crash * 18" XS20 Medium Thin Crash * 14" AAX-Celerator Hi-Hats * 10" AAX Splash
    Misc: Vater 2-4-5-1 Hickory Sticks * DW 7000 Pedal * Evans Heads * SP Cymbal Stands * PDP 900 Hi-Hat and Snare Stand * Gibralter Throne

  16. #16

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    Default Re: Gretsch Catalina Club Jazz

    gretsch.
    is.
    the.
    best.










    ever.
    zebra wrapped gretsch catalina club mod:
    12" tom
    16" floor tom
    14" snare
    22x20 kick

    Cymbals:
    17" saluda mist x crash
    20" saluda decadence ride
    14" Saluda mist x hats
    16" dream bliss crash
    10" wuhan splash (modified via salt water)

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by count lippe View Post
    I'm getting this same model in a couple week. It will actually be my first drum kit so I don't have any experience setting one up. Are they boxed with the heads already on the drums? I've watched a couple videos on youtube on how to tune them. Any assembly suggestions?
    thanks!
    CL, the heads are included but are not already on the shells. The shells are nested within each other so they fit into fewer boxes. Putting on the heads and hoops is not difficult though, and the upside is that you can inspect the bearing edges prior to putting on the heads. When you put on the heads and hoops get some Vasoline to lube the tension rods (you don't need much), then just just use you fingers to tighten down the tension rods. After the head is on finger tight, you can use your drum key to begin tuning.
    Quoting gonefishin: Just have some bacon with ya when you go pick her up..........youre an instant chick magnet.





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  18. #18

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    Shane, great review and as others have stated the finish is awesome. I have the same kit in Walnut Glaze and I added the 10" tom. Currently using G2s over G1s and the kit really sings. I have other kits but bringing out the small one really surprises some people with the quality sound coming from what is essentially an entry level kit.

    Told my wife I was going to sell it when I got the Renown 57 kit, but I think I might just donate it to the band for practice so I can keep playing it.
    STACK57

    Any man who may be asked in this century, what he did to make his life worthwhile...
    Can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction, "I served in the United States Navy".
    -- President John F. Kennedy

    Gretsch Renown 57 and Renowns in Cherry Burst
    Noble & Cooley CD Maple kit and Horizon Hybrid kit
    Gretsch, Noble & Cooley, Pearl, Ludwig and Slingerland Snares
    Bosphorus & Zildjian Cymbals
    Gilbraltar Hardware

  19. #19

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    What a beauty !

  20. #20

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    I love mine and take them out to perform often. So easy to set up and take down. They are a pro sounding kit to me. I would take and play these anywhere.

  21. #21

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    Thanks to all for the compliments after reviving this review. With a huge amount of regret, I ended up trading this kit along with a CatMaple and some congas for a Yamaha MCA kit. There was absolutely nothing wrong with either, I just needed the trade value and space for the new kit. I ended up playing this kit for an entire summer (about 30 or gigs) in many different kinds of areas from small bar fit into a corner to 5000+ outdoor festivals and it came through every time. For the big shows, micing the un-ported, not dampened bass drum on the front head about 4" away was the key. I never ended up using the snare much, but I think it would have been adequate if not outstanding. Congrats to everyone that got a hold of one of these beauties. I really want to see one with the add on 10" tom.
    Website with free full song transcriptions: redeyepercussion.com
    Youtube channel with covers, lessons, and product reviews: youtube.com/RedeyeSPR

  22. #22

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    Looks beautiful!

    I have this kit in natural mahogany. I absolutely love the kick drums. I haven't changed the stock heads on the kick.

    The snare sounds kinda thin and cheap. I've tried the G1, G2, Ambassador, center dot and powerstroke 3. Its decent enough for me to use, but i have a few other snares, so i dont worry about the stock snare anyway.

    I need to get some petroleum jelly that was mentioned here.

    I have been having overtone issues with the toms. I love open sounding toms. I am a coated head kinda guy. I have tried a handful of heads on them, and i get this overtone that is around a fourth or a fifth above the predominant note of the tom, it drives be crazy. I have tried tuning them in all different intervals and such, but they just kinda seem a little dead and this overtone is killing me. I have suede emperors on them right now. I still am using the stock resonant heads. I have moon gels on it too. They tune decent high with ambassadors, but i cant get a good low tuning.

  23. #23

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    Great review, and an amazing-looking kit. I'd kill to find one for 600 dollars where I live, but all you get is overpriced junk :(

  24. #24

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    I have a Evans Genera Dry head on my snare and it sounds great.
    Still have the stock heads on the toms and mine tune up fine. Mine have a nice ring. All the drummers who have heard it and played on it think they sound good too, especially the snare. My solution to a cymbal mount on the bass drum is the Gilbralter cymbal holder I have attached to the post on my tom holder. I put my splash on it. Now I am thinking of pointing it the other way and trying my 20" ride on it if not to heavy.

  25. #25

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    Hey everyone, I found a natural maple finish snare from this kit in a drum shop recently for £95, which is roughly $150 (USD). Do you guys think I'm getting a good deal here? I know a lot of reviews have said that it sounds a little cheap, but would you recommend it anyway?

    Also, could anyone recommend a snare in a slightly higher price range with similar aesthetics (ie dark natural wood finish) but a higher quality sound? Any info would be great, thanks!

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