Help with Improving Gretsch Catalina Club Set


New member
Hello. I just purchased a Gretsch Catalina Club set and need some help in making them sound better. I haven't owned a set in probably 25 years. I'm just getting back into playing. When I did play, I was never really knowledgeable about tuning drums and making changes to the sound.

I do know what I like, though, and these drums don't sound like that. :) They all seem to ring quite a bit, with a lot of sustain. They sound sort of "tinnny." The snare drum does not have an adjustable muffler, which an old snare drum I used to have had. When I hit the mounted tom, you can hear the wires on the snare buzz quite a bit.

I know the right drum heads can help a lot. What would you recommend me trying to make this set sound better? By the way, I'll be playing mostly jazz and light rock.

Thanks in advance for your help. Oh, and does anyone know what year this set might have come out? I don't see anything new with only one lug on each drum for both the bottom and top rims.


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Platinum Member
First ....... welcome to Drummerworld.

Looks like you have the 18, 12, 14 kit. Here's a write up .......

Early/mid 2000's ..... is my guess on the year. By 2008 (maybe earlier) they went to the split lugs.

As far as head selection and controlling sustain, it all depends on "how much" muffling you desire. With your Evans ..... the single ply G1 will be the most open ..... and the Hydraulic the most muffled.

With Remo ..... it would be the Ambassador on one end ...... and the Pinstripe at the other.

Perhaps all you need is a "little" dampening. Moon gel or gaffer tape, maybe a small piece of cloth taped to the head, perhaps a richie ring will do the trick.

Finding head combo's that work for you ...... it's trial and error ..... but you can dive into the interweb and find a bunch of video's with different drum head combo's. Here's one ..... coated Pinstripes over coated Ambassadors.

If you're playing jazz ...... and looks like you have a bop kit there. You might wanna check out Mostly Bop Drums. Lots of cool demo's ..... some great playing ...... and some tuning video's.

An inordinate amount of snare buzz is usually because the snare and tom are tuned to a similar pitch. You get sympathetic vibrations.


Well-known member
You definitely want to tune them correctly. There are tons of videos online about that. As long as you have a drum key, it's a simple process. Takes practice but right now, you probably just want to tune to what sounds good to you. Don't worry about tuning to different notes or whatever

For dampening, depends on how dead you really want them. You can get a rag and throw it over a drum and you might like it more. I would recommend drum honey from meinl (only because moon-gel stains, but you might not care about that so whichever is fine). But tape can achieve a similar result.

Evans have e-rings which thin sheets of plastic with the middle cut out. I use them, they dampen nicely.

Snareweights are great dampeners for snares, but they are expensive.

A little snare buzz when you hit toms is typical. Try tuning your drums first before you worry about that. Tuning might help it.


Junior Member
You can throw a lot of money into trying different heads, so do your research and listen to YT samples with good headphones or earbuds. I play a lot of jazz and variety gigs with my Catalina Club set, and I use Remo fiberskyn 3 heads on the toms and bass drum. They give an open, round, warm sound but not over-the-top sustain. I like a bit of open sound, though, because these smaller bop sizes don't have a lot of volume. And frankly, I use alternate snare drums depending on the situation. I put a Renaissance head on the Catalina snare to use on low-volume gigs. Anything louder and it just doesn't have the guts to cut it.

Anyway, have fun with them!