Gretsch Catalina Birch Fusion Kit Reviews 5

I have been playing drums for 35 years, 30 years drumset primarily. I have been playing in bands off and on for the past 20 years. I have played Heavy Rock, Blues/Rock, Blues and some Country. I have the most passion for the Blues but have made the most money playing Country. I am currently playing Blues and Blues/Rock in a 3 piece band (guitar, bass, drums) and we recently got back from playing in the 2007 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN.

I bought this kit from Guitar Center in Tulsa, OK in March 2006. I paid around $850 for the shellpack. I went with the Catalina Birch over the Renown Maple series in order to spend more on cymbals, cases, hardware and such. I felt confident in buying the Catalina Birch kit based on reviews and opinions I read on this site and others.

This kit is definitely a cut above entry level and is probably better than most mid-level kits, yet is comes at a very reasonable price. The finish on the kit is beautiful and without any flaws that I can see. I got my kit in the Dark Walnut finish and visually it rivals most high end kits I was looking at. The bearing edges are smooth and true, and the inside of the shells are smooth, but unfinished. These drums do not have the silver sealer that Gretsh uses on their higher level kits. The drums have a clear, penetrating tone which seems to be consistent with birch shells. I have switched the stock Evans G1 single ply coated heads on the toms to Evans EC2 clear heads to get more low end out of the smaller fusion sizes. I am playing the kit in a 4 piece setup using the 10" rack with the 14" floor tom. I have only recently switched to the EC2's on the toms, however, and the coated G1's sounded great both mic'ed and acoustic, they were just a little brighter and ringier than I wanted. The bass drum kicks total ass. I immediately switched to a coated Evans EMAD batter on the bass and it sounds killer without any internal muffling. The hardware is Gibralter 5600 series that I purchased at The Music Store in Tulsa, OK. The hardware is sturdy and heavy duty enough for everything I need it do. The hi-hat stand is a 3 legged model and while I would prefer a 2 legged one, the 3 legs do rotate so I can position my double pedal comfortably. I am using a Tama Iron Cobra Jr. double pedal (which I plan to upgrade to a DW 5002 double) but the Gibralter single pedal that came with the hardware is sturdy and easy to use.

The snare drum is the only part of the kit that seems "entry" to "mid" level. But the last snare I had was a chrome over brass Rogers Dynasonic snare from 1972 so I am not sure if this is a valid comparison. I have been using the snare, however, in both rehearsal and gigging environments and it has performed well. I try not to muffle a snare much at all, and this drum has some pleasantly ringy overtones to it. Not a bad drum, but definitely the weak link on this kit.

Construction and quality on this kit are top notch. The finish is smooth and beautiful. The woodgrain shows through the laquer finish nicely and the kit has gotten many compliments from people who have seen it. The bearing edges are smooth and all mounting hardware is solid and easy to use.

Overall this is a great kit for not a lot of money. Going with the Catalina Birch kit allowed me to get a full set of soft cases, all Zildjian A Custom cymbals, Gibralter hardware, and a Tama Iron Cobra Jr. double pedal and still come in under $2200 total. This kit looks great and sounds great, too. Well worth the normal asking price.

BluesDog drummer rated this unit 5 on 2007-03-04.

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