drum set question

I posted this exact question at audiominds, but for those who don’t frequent there…

I know this is not about recording directly but since plenty of drummers lurk here, I figure it’s ok to ask.

What newer set, in your opinion, most resembles the warm sounds of a vintage maple drum set such as a vintage rogers or gretsch set.

I sold my vintage rogers set a year ago and got a yamah stage custom. what a mistake. my original pro set that I played for years was a ludwig standard with a supraphonic snare. That was maple but thin shelled. I had a gretsch 8X12 chrome over wood added to that set and it had such a nice warm sound with great projection. but alas, that set was sold years ago…

I’m thinking about going back to a maple set. Perhaps Tama starclassic maple, perhaps mapex saturn, or yamaha custom maple, or dw… while I loved the sound of that vintage rogers set, I didn’t enjoy fumbling with the non original hardware it came with. I’m thinking about getting something used but not vintage.

While I know everyone’s got their personal opinions, and this might just turn into “my set’s a ---- and it’s the greatest” thread, perhaps this will help zero things down… I don’t want a very loud set. I want warmth. I play rock, blues, funk and jazz and other stuff. I want more expression than volume. I’m not fond of too many overtones. Whie I play in larger venues a few times a year, I’m more interested in the quality of sound I get in the smaller venues and in the recording I do.

the sound I am after is something like this:

Snare: I like a nice crack with sensitivity and some overtones - I’ve got a 70’s ludwig supraphonic that I’m happy with. I’m thinking of getting a Remo (yes remo! they used to make these) 14x4 brass picollo. I’ve been using that on a few gigs, borrowed from a friend and am really growing to love that snare drum - hardware, sound and look.

Toms: warm and focused - and yeah, a bit dead (wouldn’t mind internal mufflers but that became a dirty word)

Kick: thump, deep and muffled

My ludwig standard set that I owned from 73 until 91 was probably 3 ply maple but I wasn’t so in love with it. It always sounded a bit whimpy, but that gretch 12" inch tom chrome over wood (bought new in 75 or 76) - I miss that!

Besides the type of wood, I think size is also a big factor here. The added 2 inches of depth on the ride toms that became standard in the 80’s adds too much boom and overtones IMHO. I would love to see sizes closer to the 70’s standards on a newer well made maple set.

If you plan on doing much recording i would sugest going to a Roland v set,most drummers might disagree but i have a td5 and a td7 and love them they great rich sounds and are so versatle its not even funny. The new td20 just came out. theres just no comparison in the studio.

Thanx Litmus

I currently own an electronic drum set as well. It’s got an alesis DM5 brain and Roland single trigger pads and Roland trigger for the bass pedal and fd-7 hi hat. It serves its purpose well enough, but it’s very far from the real thing. There’s no comparison between that and doing real delicate stick work on the cymbals or brushes on the snare.

I’ve checked out the latest Roland at a Guitar Center and it’s great but I don’t imagine I’ll ever want to own an electronic set instead of an acoustic set!

Like I said most drummers would not agree with me.And your right about the delicate cymble work,but i dont think ill ever go back to a full acoustic set.


Tama star classic maple
I think you'll be happy with those. I have a tama imperial star maple snare (use to have another one) and it's a cool snare. I have a full imperial star set, but only the snare is 100% maple with no covering or painted inside. I almost got the star classic all maple full set.

I can't really compare the others you mention, except to say that my set of choice these days is an old 1968 3-ply Ludwig set. I love those, but I can see why they might be remembered as wimpy. I have a hard time getting the 13" tom to fit in without tuning it the almost the same pitch as the 12" tom, so I use the 12" 90% of the time. I use two 16" 3-ply floor toms, though one is from 1967 and tunes a little lower naturally.

I also have a 6-ply 1970 14" floor tom and it sticks out like a sore thumb. It must be tuned almost as high as the 13" mounted, otherwise it rings like a sustaining sine wave with no muffling. That might be ok if the all did it, but it doesn't even sound like what any of the other ludwigs sound like at all.

I'd like get a 18" 1968 3-ply floor to match the rest of the set eventually.

Put Remo Ambassador white coated head on them and the have the same tone as Ginger Bakers when tuned up in pitch a bit. Depending on the sound I'm going for I'll use white coated, Fiberskyn, or clear. They all sound very different.

The Tamas have a thicker thud sound to them, which is good, but not what I'm going for these days. I used them through the 80's that way with pin-strips, though they came with white coated. I think these with pin-stripes or clear may be more like what you are looking for....MAYBE...it's such a subjective subject.

by whimpy I mean I had to hit them hard to cut through a loud band. My style of music is more from the head than the body. I’m not a whacker! I remember that the gretch 8x12 chrome over wood tom I had (after all these years, I still can’t believe I sold it) was so much easier to project with. Because of that, I could hit it in different places more gently and get subtle sounds out of it, and still be heard. I guess that’s why older gretsch drums and jazz go so well together.

OK, I am a working drumm and a working drum builder.
I have played for over 35 years on just about everything made.
First of all what would possess you to sell a vintage rogers?
The old rogers and the big R sets with the grey inside paint.
If you want great maple sound, buy American.
Rogers and Gretsch were best.
If you want birch, buy tama grandstrar or superstars…
The best maple shells are the Jasper brand used in the high end Gretsch and Fibes drums. Perhaps some others.
Generally speaking birch is better for recording and more versitile.
Maple is better for live work, too much resonation for recording.
Lots of great sounding snares out there and it is the heart of the set.
Use a good snare and you can make most any set sound great.
The electronic sets do NOT pick up ghost notes, not even the best v-drums. Sorry!
Good luck…

If you want birch, buy tama grandstrar or superstars..
AH! I bet my tama snare is birch, not maple, but I don't know for sure. Is there a tell-tale sign? I got all of the tamas in 1978. I don't remember what the imperialstar are now that you mention those others. They are obviously denser than the snare, and painted with gray speckled stuff on th inside. The toms look to be 9 ply or so. The snare has a noticable thinner shell...superstar maybe?

You just need to know how to identify the grain. Take your snare to a pro shop and compare with other drums. The grains are very different. Maple is kind of big and swirly in the grain and doesn’t show a lot of rings. Birch has a tighter grain.