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Sunday, 23 August 2009 23:10

After a rollercoaster ride of five months of intense equipment experimentation, I have finally positioned myself just where I want to be with initially my 'e' electronic kit and now, my 'a' acoustic kit.

Over these past five months, I have found myself inspired by so many young drummers half my age as I return to the drums after 24 years away. The likes of Cobus Potgieter and Scott Prian have skills way beyond their years and mine! I'd been drawn to the fact that Scott was playing the kit that I now sat at and it was the sound of his kit that had convinced me to investigate the Renown.

Having picked up a Renown kit at an amazing price, within three weeks, I was amazed to find another Renown in the exact colour I had hoped to own and with the addition of a 4th tom and a side snare, I was ready to set the kit up ahead of my first rehearsal session.

With my work being as busy as it is, the first set up started at midnight and ended at 4am on the day I was due in the studio just 6 hours later, but I had been rewarded with the sight of my kit evolving into it's new positional set up.

After grabbing a couple of hours sleep and loading the gear into the car, I relocated and did the load in once again, but finally I was all set up and ready to play. As this was only my 4th time on an acoustic kit since 1985 and as it was my first time on this kit configured into a new kit set up, the rehearsal would see me merely exploring the new kit and it's sounds.

Part I Gretsch Renown Autumn Burst Maple Kit - Graham Collins

The preferred drum heads had been leaning towards Remo coated Emperors, but I was keen to try others, especially an Evans G2 clear, so had kitted the 8" tom with a G1/G2 configuration, while the other toms wore a G1/Ambassador combo.

Having already tried the Remo double ply Emperor heads on the first Renown kit, I found the thinner Ambassador also produced a thinner tone that, certainly from behind the kit, was less pleasing, so Emperor heads were ahead, however, my choice was thrown into confusion with a wonderful punchy sound from the G2. It created such a wonderfully different tone from the drum than either of the Remo coated heads had, that I failed to conclude which set of heads I'd keep on the kit.

Perhaps a set of each for different projects will be the end result, but I'll try a second tom with a G2 before I make that final call.

Part II Gretsch Renown Autumn Burst Maple Kit - Graham Collins

Another unanswered question is the bass drum head. Having tried a G2 clear without dampening, it had a beautiful tone, but naturally some form of dampening would almost always be required, so rather than a blanket in the kick, how about the Remo Powersonic head? A 2 ply 7 mil mylar head with two specifically placed internal subsonic dampening rings and Remo's External Snap-on Dampening System (ESDS.)

Having tuned the head at home and in that environment, the use of the ESDS seemed ideal, but in the studio, it wasn't right, so I played with a variety of options. Firstly I took the ESDS off, but it still wasn't right. I tuned the head down, but again, still not quite there and with the clock running against me, I put the ESDS back on and for sure it was better, but perhaps still not right, so as I say, that question remains unanswered.

Part III Gretsch Renown Autumn Burst Maple Kit - Graham Collins

I filmed most of the session in a very basic form from my Nikon D90 DSLR camera, so the quality, especially the sound, is not wonderful. It also limited me to just 5 minutes of film per shoot, so rather than edit them all together, I have 4 parts of the session, but it does allow me to assess the sounds of the toms and the changing tones of the bass drum. I can also see as I felt at the time, despite a different seating position, the new spread of the kit, felt natural to me.

Hopefully these videos signal another small step forward on my own return to playing, but one thing is for sure, I love the Gretsch Renown kit and the combination of cymbals and twin snares is a joy to play and I have in place, not one, but two perfect kits in both 'a' & 'e' formats.

Part IV Gretsch Renown Autumn Burst Maple Kit - Graham Collins





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