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Gretsch Brooklyn Drum Set Tested!

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Another criticism is with the Lightning throw-off and butt plate. After using these at home and on a gig I would recommend the company quietly retire the design. If you’re not familiar with this unit, it’s a clamshell/flip down style that opens away from the drum rather than to the side. It has a long handle that extends above the edge of this 5" deep drum where it can impede your rimshots. Unlike most modern designs, the fine-tuning knob is located at the opposite side of the drum, doubling as a butt plate of sorts. If you ever need to drop the wires or tweak the wire tension you’ll need access to both sides of the drum, placing the throw-off and butt plate at the 9 and 3 o’clock position — whether you prefer that orientation or not. As such, flipping open the unit is likely to crowd your knee. While every modern throw-off uses drum key–operated screws to loosen the snare tape/wires (including the nice one on Gretsch’s Renown kits), this one uses the cheap garden-variety flathead screws found at a hardware store. One could easily scratch the drum’s beautiful finish if the screwdriver were to slip out of the slot while tightening it. Furthermore, the screws aren’t chromed. If you do have to adjust the tape (as I did), a pair of needle nose pliers will come in handy to grab the tape since it comes out the underside of the fine-tensioning unit. While I like the retro vibe of this kit there’s little sense in retaining the inconveniences of a bygone era, especially since Gretsch offers other far-superior throw-off units to this one already.

On The Gig

Normally, I’ll unpack the review kit, tune it, set it up, and play it before taking it on a gig. However, this time circumstances dictated differently, so I quickly tuned the drums up and threw them in the car for a small club gig I had that night.

The snare proved to be a wonderful surprise since I mistakenly assumed from its appearance that it was a steel-shelled drum. The drums were not miked but I immediately noticed the snare had a great fat tone with a good balance of higher frequencies. My first thought was that it would record well in the studio. After consulting with my iPhone on the drum’s shell composition, I knew why it sounded so good. The rim-click was as loud as if from a die-cast hoop and my rimshots sounded awesome. The single-ply Gretsch Permatone/Remo Ambassador coated batter heads were also included on the toms and offered good sustain.

The bass drum came with a coated Powerstroke 3 batter head and a coated logo head. It had a deep, fat tone that sounded quite good as well. This is a solid rock bass drum with ample low-end punch.

The toms performed quite well, too. They were punchy, with good attack, tuned up easily, and had a really nice tone. For this gig, I omitted the 12" tom and just used the 10" and 16" floor tom, but the size difference between the drums made the smaller drum sound a bit quiet compared to the rest of the kit. I’d failed to anticipate the physics. A sound chamber with a volume of 550 cu. in. can’t compare in amplitude to one of 2,815 cu. in. The larger 12" drum would have worked better, though if the kit had been miked it all would have been a moot point.

Verdict

These drums look and sound great and overall offer a lot of nice features, with the exception of an outdated throw-off design. The Brooklyn series is a great kit for any professional drummer wanting a fat and punchy sound that’s a more affordable alternative to the company’s high-end USA Custom line.

Details

Features 30 degree bearing edges with Silver Sealer shell interiors, 302 double-flanged hoops, Lightning throw-off, USA Custom drum shell hardware, retro Brooklyn round badge, 20-strand snare wires.
Shells 6-ply maple and poplar composite shells — 0.22" thick for snare (wood models) and toms, and 0.31" thick bass drum; 1.1mm chrome over brass (metal) snare drum shell.
Configuration 22" x 18" bass drum, 10" x 7" and 12" x 8" toms, 16" x 14" floor tom, and a 14" x 5" snare.
List Price 4-piece Shell Pack $3,455
Additional Chrome Over Brass Snare Drum $461
Contact KMC Music Inc.
gretschdrums.com

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