Gretsch Brooklyn Drum Set Tested!

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Gretsch recently introduced its Brooklyn series of drum kits, named affectionately after the city where Friedrich Gretsch originally began producing drums back in 1883. The Brooklyns are high-end drums made by the same craftsmen that produce the much pricier USA Custom line, but with fewer options. This line is reminiscent of an earlier era thanks to the inclusion of a few retro features certain to please Gretsch purists.

Configurations

There are six configurations available ranging from bebop to large bass drum rock kits with add-on drums. You can order the kits with a matching wood snare or as a shell pack without one. There are also several Brooklyn chrome over brass snare drums available. The kit I received was a shell pack with a deep 22" bass drum, shallower 10" and 12" mounted toms, and a 16" floor tom. The kit came with one of Gretsch’s metal snare drums — an eight-lug 14" x 5" model. The snare drums normally feature 20-strand wires, though my review unit came with a 40-strand set.

Shells

While there are similarities between the new Brooklyn series and Gretsch’s flagship USA Custom line, there are important differences, too. Instead of the USA Custom’s 100 percent maple shell, the Brooklyn drums have a 6-ply maple/poplar hybrid shell that’s designed to be punchy yet warm. The tom and snare shells are 0.22" thick and the bass drum shells are 0.31" thick. Both lines have Gretsch’s classic 30 degree bearing edges and Sliver Sealer applied to the shell interiors and come with “straight” shells (sans reinforcement rings).

The snare drum had a 1.1mm chrome over brass shell that was rolled at each end to add strength to the drum.

All the shells had a Brooklyn sticker and serial number inside.

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Finishes

The Brooklyn kits come in eight different finishes including four Nitron wraps and four satin lacquer finishes. My review kit had the satin mahogany finish, which was very attractive and perfectly done. The lacquer finishes have satin natural blonde bass drum hoops that contrast nicely with the rest of the kit. Other musicians complimented its appearance at a gig, which is because it’s an undeniably tasteful finish you’re unlikely to ever tire of.

The snare drum was nicely chromed with a knurled pattern around the center of the shell.

Hardware

One similarity between the Brooklyn drums and the USA Custom line is that most of the drum hardware is the same. Both kits have the same lugs, bass drum claws and spurs, floor tom legs, tom suspension rings, and brackets. The snare came with the Lightning throw-off and butt plate. All the hardware was nicely chromed and looked great. The kit also has a round black-and-pewter badge that will likely please Gretsch buffs.

One very cool and retro feature of this kit is Gretsch’s new “302” 3mm double-flanged hoops. Triple-flanged hoops have an extra lip at the edge where the stick meets the hoop that strengthens them and is less damaging to your sticks during rimshots. These hoops are thicker and much more rigid than the flimsier double-flanged hoops that graced the kits of the distant past. They appear to be about 1mm thinner than the die-cast hoops on the Renown kits and have a slightly rounded edge that should help minimize stick chopping yet they are very strong. They’re actually thicker than professional 2.3mm triple-flanged hoops. And if you’re a Gretsch fan, you’ll also be pleased that the 10" and 12" tom hoops have the traditional five-lug design.

The kit has a “virgin” bass drum shell, meaning there is no hole and/or tom-mounting plate to directly mount the tom from the bass drum, so you’ll have to mount the toms from cymbal stands. One thing I found surprising and very disappointing was that Gretsch does not include either a tom arm or a clamp to mount the toms from a cymbal stand. These kits aren’t inexpensive so I consider this a significant oversight. Gretsch should immediately rectify this since a tom arm and clamp are as necessary as the legs for the floor tom or the spurs on the bass drum. The jazz kit with the 18" bass drum does include a mount on the bass drum and a tom arm, suggesting a bit of a double standard.

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