Gretsch is one of the brands that carry an association with jazz or bop drum kits. One contributing factor being the shear number of kits offered based on the traditional BeBop configuration. The Catalina is Gretsch’s second most affordable range, after the “energy” series, with the Club Jazz package being their most modestly priced bop kit. Without examining actual market data, but rather just making an educated guess, the Club Jazz is likely one of the more popular kits in this category. Having stated that, it’s about time we feature a Gretsch Catalina Club Jazz Review here on CompactDrums.com
Let’s take a closer look.
Gretsch Catalina Club Jazz Review
This reviewer was at one time a proud owner of one of these jazz bop drum kits. That was a few years ago now. The Catalina Club Jazz has changed a little bit from then. Most noticeably the current drums have the little Gretsch lugs shared with the rest of the Catalina series, while my old kit had centred lugs like a snare drum.
From a price point of view the Catalina series may be one of Gretsch’s more affordable lines. However my first impression of this kit certainly isn’t “entry level”. Rather, most everything about them leads my mind more towards “Intermediate”. If I remember correctly the older style of this kit had a substantially heavier suspension mount for the high tom, where the newer one is substantially sleeker and of considerably less size and weight. This lighter suspension mount is the only component that reveals that this kit is of an “economy” variety.
For the life of me I can’t figure out why the white pearl finish I’m looking at is called “Vintage Marine”, but it is none the less one of my favourite drum finishes and looks stellar on the Catalina Jazz drums.
A more Detailed Description
Starting from the inside, supposedly the shells are natural and unfinished. For some reason though I thought mahogany should have a darker hue than these shells. They look sort of honey-golden to me but I’m no expert. Regardless they are sanded semi-smooth and appear to be uniform and even.
There isn’t much to say about the pearl white wrap since, well, it’s a wrap and thus expected to be perfect.
The metal parts are for the most part the same seen on all the Catalinas with the same small lugs, strainer and spurs. the tom mount and floor tom leg brackets are different though being more rectangular than the Catalina Maple’s more square brackets. All metal parts are mounted on plastic spacers which is intended to isolate contact between wood and metal. The black spacers have an additional pleasing visual effect between the chrome hardware and white pearl wrap.
The bass drum riser can be adjusted vertically about 1-1/2″ inch and functions satisfactorily. Not that there was anything wrong with the old badges, or that it’s even of importance, but these new round badges just look “right” on a jazz kit.
I never expect much from a Snare drum that comes with an entry level to intermediate level drum kit. While this one doesn’t take a place on my list of favourites, it’s surprisingly useful. If I had a recording studio, I’d want one of these as a standard fixture. Here’s why; Although lacking in any particular characteristic and not really shining with any particular skills, it’s a real “Jack-of-all-Trades”. Tuned low and with equally low snare tension it has that perfect deep snare sound that with a bit of reverb was used extensively in the 80’s, for intros, pop-rock and ballads. Think of ZZ-Top’s Eliminator album and you’ll know what I mean. Tighten up the snare wires just a bit and you’ve travelled back in time to the 70’s and the real rock of the time. ZZ-Top again lends an example with for example; “Tush”, or “Party on the Patio”. Tune it higher and the jazz starts to… well… jazz. Throughout the range it’s crisp and clear, but without any one particular characteristic.
If the snare drum doesn’t make the leap onto my favourites list, the Toms do. They exhibit a wonderful, sustaining ring when tuned high and a powerful boom-boom tuned lower. Especially the Floor tom has the ability to produce classic and vintage warm “bigness”. The High tom, to my ears sounds the best tuned high, which is probably the intention. At this range “vintage” is again what comes to mind with a tasteful blend of warm, ring and boom.
To me personally the Bass drum is my least favourite. There is nothing particularly “wrong” with it, but it’s also hard for me to find anything really “right” about it either. It’s simply a bit too “boomy” and “ringing” for my taste. When I tune out the same to more of my desired tone, it looses too much volume, but sounds “right”. If miced, this wouldn’t matter and for the jazz-cats that can’t get enough boom and sustain it might be the holy grail, but for me, it just doesn’t quite cut it. In defence of this bass drum though, I like BIG bass drums with pillows and blankets inside. Possibly heads more suited towards my taste would satisfy me better. Again though, I can’t fault the Catalina’s 18″ bass drum. It probably sounds exactly the way it’s supposed to. rather it’s this reviewer that needs some tweaking. (Honestly it’s not you, it’s me.)
For anyone in the market for a vintage sound in jazz sizes, the Gretsch Catalina Club Jazz is as good a choice as any. Especially at a modest street price of under $700 for a well made, quality drum kit. The toms are just about as good as they get and the snare is one of the most versatile I’ve come across, albeit without any real character or particular strength. While this reviewer doesn’t quite see eye to eye with the bass drum, it would likely please most players in the market for a jazz / bop configuration. I’ll have to conclude this Gretsch Catalina Club Jazz Review with a “Recommended”, or at least make sure to check it out for yourself.
Specs & Facts
List Price: US $1,050
Street Price: US $680
Shells: Mahogany, 30 degree bearing edges
Sizes: Bass 18″ X 14″, Tom 12″ X 8″, Floor tom 14″ X 14″, Snare 14″ X 5″
Lugs: Bass: 8, Tom: 5, Floor tom: 8 Snare: 8
Bass Hoops: Maple
Rims: 1.6 mm
In the Manufacturer’s own Words
“The new Gretsch® Catalina Club series blends classic configurations and sound with sleek, contemporary hardware innovations. Catalina Club 4-piece configurations are built upon 14” deep bass drums for vintage, punchy and warm tones. New hardware components are showcased on this series and give a distinctive “new Gretsch” flair that pays homage to the Gretsch tradition while projecting a progressive personality.
The mounting hardware includes round “gas cap” bass drum mount plate, ultra low profile GTS mounting system, reduced-mass tom mount brackets and new single and double tom holders. Both tom holders include a post hole for a 7/8″ cymbal tube post (not included). The ball/socket 12.7mm L-arms provide positioning freedom and a secure hold for stability. Gretsch T-Wing screws and bolts are included on all fittings for drummerfriendly feel. To complete the balanced design aesthetic, a new black/silver Catalina Club round badge is included on all drums.
Proven and time-tested Catalina Club drum specifications represent a commitment to the continued “Great Gretsch Sound™.” Mahogany shells include 30-degree bearing edges and natural shell interiors. Bass drums include telescopic bass drum spurs and matching wood bass drum hoops. Toms/snare feature 1.6mm triple flanged hoops. All drums are fitted with Remo® drum heads, including coated batters and clear resonant on toms/snare and clear bass drum batter head with muffle ring. The white Gretsch bass drum logo head includes muffle ring. Catalina Club is available in three configurations and eight finishes. Add-on drums are available.”