Need advice from drummers in buying a drumset

for our church, and I don’t know enough.

Hi there !

The background:
We are buying a drumkit for the church, and unfortunately our drummer is very good at playing, but he’s not enough of a propellerhead to know brands/specs of what he wants.

I know about guitars, but nothing about drums ('cept a little bit to play). We’ve checked out our budget, and what’s available locally, so I just need advice on the purchase, and I have a couple of questions.
Local shops also doesn’t have drumkits available for testing.Those they do have isn’t properly tuned, and they don’t want you to play on it.

The options:

We can get the following
PDP (Pacific drum & Percussion) FS series
- all birch shells
- 8 x 10”, 9 x 12”, 11 x 14” and 16 x 22” kick
- 5 x 14” snare
- including hardware

Ludwig Custom (made in china)

- all birch shells
- same sizes as above

Gretsh Catalina (made in taiwan)

- all birch shells
- Also the same sizes

Pearl Export
- poplar wood
- rock sizes
- incuding hardware

They range in what we can afford (both ends of spectrum)

We haven’t looked at yamaha sets, but can get it over here.

We can also bend a little to get a gretsch renown maple

We want a kit that will work in a church environment (we play CCM, light rock). We don’t plan on using this drumset for recording.
We have already got a Zildjian ZXT set

The Questions :
1: What is the difference between having a kit in birch, poplar or maple ?
2: We like the Gretsch catalina - is the jump in price to the maple renown worth it ?
3: Wich of these will be better ‘long term’ investments ?
4: What types of ‘sounds’ or music are these kits made for ?
5: Lastly, what set would you prefer, and why ?

Thanks for taking the time to read and (hopefully) reply !


1: What is the difference between having a kit in birch, poplar or maple ?

Birch gives a focused sound and is very studio po sounding to my ears. Poplar is a softer wood and will probably be quite tubby sounding. Maple is very round and resonant.

2: We like the Gretsch catalina - is the jump in price to the maple renown worth it ?

Worth it? Perhaps, it is a differnt sound, not necessarily better between birch and maple.

3: Wich of these will be better ‘long term’ investments ?

Which ever one is sturdiest really. It may be light CCM, but things get beat up when they are public domain.

4: What types of ‘sounds’ or music are these kits made for ?

Think of it this way, the bigger the shells, the more metal/rock sounding they are. The smaller and shallower the kit, the more jazz like. A typical rock setup is usually 12, 13, 16 with a 14 snare and 22 kick. Jazz is 10, 12, 14 with a 14 snare and 20 kick. Personally, I use a 22 kick for most everything and have two snares… a steel snare for a more open jazz/bigband/classical sound and a maple snare for everything else. I use a 10" tom for most everything and a 14 or 16 depending on the gig.

5: Lastly, what set would you prefer, and why ?

Hrm, I am quite partial to the Japanese manufacturors like Tama and Yamaha. I find they give the best bang for the buck. I dispise Pearl. I won a Pearl kit and I hate it. The mounts are awful. Anything with those elbow mounts are clunky and hard to position IMO. That’s just me. gretsh was not back on the market when I was in retail, so I haven’t a clue what they are like. Though judging from the materials, Kaman’s reputation in the other brands they have (Ovation, Takamine, Toca) I would hope they would be on par. Site unseen and totally guessing, my momey would go to Gretsch, but I would seriously look at Tama and Yamaha if you have the opportunity. I find they both make excellent hardware and add great value to their drums with good finishes, wood, and other niceties. Check out this for a very complete reference on drum construction and materials.

If price is not an issue I’d go with the Gretsch.
They seem to hold there value, all you have to do is do an Ebay search and see what a used Ludwig, of the same year, and a used Gretsch go for…the proof’s in the puddin’.
Not only that personally I like the brand for it’s quality hardware and overall warm sound, something to consider since it’s a light rock environment. If you listen to any OLD live church music 70’s Al Green ect. it makes a difference. I’m not shure what the Joe English Band used…but certainly something to find out! That guy kicks but!
Oh wait! I just noticed your post was askin’ for a drummers opinion…in that case…nevermind! :D

keep shinin’


Err, Gretsh and Ludwig are not at all what they were. Gretsh is done by Kaman, Ludwig by Selmer. There is no comparison to the kits of yesteryear other than in name alone. It’s like Danelectro. Someone bought the name and other than that, there is no connection.


That PDP set sounds just like the set we have at our church. VERY nice kit for the money. The ONLY thing I have heard our drummer(s) complain about is the third tom is mounted on a cymbal stand versus legs attached to the drum itself. It’s kinda wobbly. I’m not a drummer but I do know they sound great!

Another friend has a Yamaha set that is superb sounding and has slightly better hardware IMO. I don’t know the model but the basic kit was around 800 US dollars. (Cymbals, Bass pedal, Throne etc… extra!) Our now defunct band recorded a CD with this kit and they sounded great.

Oh… the PDP kit and the Yamaha kit both have Birch shells I think. I know neither of them are Maple. Maple shells usually = lotso $$$$. Plus, they both sound too good to be Poplar. Poplar (as Bubba mentioned) sounds tubby and dull to my ears.

Dunno about Gretsch? I know I’d like to have a Gretsch Tennessee Rose guitar!


we just bought the yamaha custom maple nouveaux set from MFriend for $699 WITH HARDWARE.
After a side by side with the PDP set-which is quite nice, there was no comparison. The yamahas were clear, crisp and focused. the PDP’s sounded like they were “tubbier” to use a bad adjective.better hardware too
The newer gretsch were Ok, about in the middle, and lesser hardware.

Ours are matte black with a 12", 14" and 16 Toms,
we got some sweet Zildjian avedis custom cymbals too!

Yamaha gets my vote!

Bubba, thanks for the detailed answer. I was hoping that the ex-drumesalesmen would resurface on this one. Thanks for y our answer

Jerm, you’re a muso, so any opinion that you have is very valid. You don’t have to be a F1 driver to know that Michael Shumacher is good …

TG thanks for your reply too. Yeah I can vouch for that - i want a Gretsch too - It’s called a Duo Jet. Dave Gilmour played one on the meltdown concert. Wow…

PB, as always, thanks for the ‘lived through’ advice.

Everyone - thanks again. Now I know what type of sounds to expect as well from different woods (tubbier is a good discription - that’s the sound we don’t like !)

Watch out for a post in a few weeks time asking about setting up and tuning a kit properly !

Cheers all



Ok - just checked out your link, Bubba - Awesome !
I guess I’ll print that out and take it with when we set the kit up.

Thanks !


Ok - resurecting this again just for another take/question…

This have been on our minds for some time now, and the question is now starting to be more specific to the church environment, but here goes anyway.

We are entertaining the idea of going digital on the drums as well.
Now I have an elelctronic kit that I’ve built, but the feel is not so good as what the mesh heads on the TD-12 are, so (if we go this way) we should save for a factory kit and call it a day). I’m also not shure that my kit will stand up to ‘public church life’. Our drummer has played with it a couple of times, but he don’t like it that much becuase of the hard rubber pads that’s on it.

The pro’s (as I can tell) are:
1: Controlable volume (and overall ‘stage sound’)
2: Lots of different sounds for different types of music / moods
3: Drums that are always in tune
4: Less space taken on the stage.
5: It will free up some space on the mixer (only stereo needed - you could even use only one stereo channel on these newer types of mixers)

The cons are:
1: Not totally real feel
2: Electronic dependancy (if the thing breaks, you’re stuck)
3: No brush swirls etc, although our drummers never do that anyway
4: Better monitoring setup needed, as the rest of the band feeds off the ‘sound’ coming from the drums - although this will be softer than the analogue kit, it must still be a ‘big sound’ (proper bass response etc)

Now you could argue that a real drummer needs himself some ‘real’ drums, but then you have to understand that we are in a ministry in a church and because of that we need to make some ‘sacrifices’. For instance, I like my Marshall’s sound when opened to 7, but in the church he hardly gets past 2. That’s my sacrifice for the ‘ministry’.

What do you guys prefer ?
Analog kit with all that goes with it ? (maybe a screen around, all the mic’s and space on the mixer)

Or digital (like the td-12) with all that comes with it ?

Does anyone have experience in this ?

How does ‘real drum’ drummers feel about digital kits ?

We are in the process of deciding what to do now, and what we commit on now will have to be lived with for a long time. We don’t want to make the wrong decision.

Thanks for listening !


I’ve played a TD10 for a couple years now, Wihan. It took awhile, but i got used to them. Basically, i play simpler because they’re not as responsive as an acoustic kit. But that’s not always a bad thing.

For us, it came down to pleasing the congregation (volume) or pleasing the drummer (response). We chose to please the congregation, and i can’t say that was a bad choice.

Hope this helps some.


How big is the sanctuary?

IMO, this makes the difference


TeeJ, thanks for the reply - appreciated !
That’s the same choice we now have.

PB - There’s room for 300 people (max). In other words loud enough so that if the drummer get a little excited, the sound people wish they could turn him down just a tad …

Thanks for the replies.

Wihan <- Wondering why there are so many choices

I say the digital versus acoustic comes down to the drummer really. Can the drummer be dynamic and not blow people out and work with the sound folks? I would imagine in a sactuary that size you would need little more than an over head for slight reenforcement if any micing at all. So if drummers can have some restraint and backoff, I’d go acoustic. Does anyone lead the music? Or is it an “everyone charge up the mountain” thing? A leader can give dynamic direction and tell the drummer to take it easy during a tune… A little wave of the hand is all it takes.

ALL drummers, that I have played with have either learned or are learning the same lesson:
How to play intensely without being too loud.
With some direction, and some well intended helps (smaller sticks, or rods if needed) to help the drummer realize their part in the puzzle is good for eveyone.
Just as a side note: I have realized that to explain to a drummer in a worship setting what is expected is a different task that in a rock/concert setting. They are 2 different animals. Its not easy, but someone with a teachable spirit can do it!

Wihan- by the way, my advice is to explain to the drummer what these issues are, "which drums, acoustic v. electric and the volume issues and include him/her in the discussion and decisions.–than when you have to say, “hey man, back off just a bit”… there is some background! This is the task of the leader, and not an easy one…from experience.

Micing for recording =yes
micing for reinforcement=maybe…


I’ve been to the beach for a few days and just got back. You’re still looking into the drum issue eh? Well, here’s our experience at my church…

Electronic drums: Congregation loved 'em. Musicians and especially the drummer HATED 'em.

Acosutic drums: Musicians and drummer preferred. Congregation and choir hate 'em. Too LOUD! Our drummer has dynamics problems. He can’t play uptempo songs without bashing the crap outta the drums.

Acoustic drums in Iso booth: AHA!! A successful compromise has been reached! I ran the drummer a monitor mix to the booth where he can control the intuments and vocal(s) channels on his own. As for the what the congregation hears… FOH man reigns supreme. Occasionally we have to signal FOH dude to give us musicians a little more drums/percussion in the floor monitors, but overall, this setup works REALLY well for us.

My $.02… Good luck dude!


Great idea…
isolating as much as possible is great. We have a small stage so its impossible for us, but it’s the way to go.

If you see some good plans on the web for a booth, let me know.

Hey PB,

HERE is what we went with. We saved a little money by buying the “B” setup and adding the top separately. It is great. The drums sound like “real” drums and the FOH guy has full control of how loud they are to the congregation. So far, we absolutely LOVE 'EM! Money well spent IMO.


TG, I looked at that isolation booth, and it looks nice. :)


You can still see the drummer. :(


Quote (Ali_T @ June 12 2005,01:43)
You can still see the drummer. :(


Oh well..... there are flaws in all designs of man. I just don't look at him. Our piano player is much prettier AND female!