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Gretsch Broadkaster

I know the saying is ‘that great Gretsch sound’ but I think it could also be ‘that great Gretsch vibe’ as well.

The Broadkaster line was originally available in the 1950s. This new kit is a revised and modernized version of the classic design which led to the establishment of ‘that great Gretsch sound’.

The drums we were given to try were the BK-R423VSCP Broadkaster shell pack in Satin Copper finish. 

The drums themselves were a 12x9” mounted tom, a 16x16” floor tom, a 22x14” bass drum, all in the vintage build-out, and a matching (BK-65148S-SCP) 14x6.5” snare. 

The drums

The full specs of the kit can be found on the link at the bottom. However, some highlights…

The shells are made from a maple/poplar/maple three-ply combination with no reinforcement rings. The bass drums and toms come with a reverse roundover bearing edge, whereas the snare drums come with a sharper 30’ edge. All of the drums feature US-made Remo heads.

The toms have internal tone controls top and bottom (with the classic round adjustment knobs on the outside) and big high stick chopper-esque double-flanged hoops.

The bass drum has a resonant head muffler on it, vintage spurs and a rail mount. And T rods too.

The snare has double-ended lugs, the same big hoops and a parallel action snare mechanism (snare adjustment both sides, in other words).

The finish

When set up as a kit, the Satin Copper finish is bold and striking; there definitely no missing these drums visually.

While the finish of this particular kit seemed to divide opinion of those who saw it – it was either like or hate with no apparent middle ground - the other finishes available do also enhance the vintage appeal if Satin Copper is not where you are at.

Oddly enough, I happened to pick up a snare in the very same finish from a different manufacturer at the time I had this kit, so I guess my vote is a thumbs up on that one. The colour is very deep though and looks good against the chrome hardware.

The hardware

Ok, so not really that much to say on this point. However, what I will say is that while I didn’t gig the kit, I did get to spend time playing it at home and it stood up just fine. 

As you’ll see from the video, some of the hardware is vintage in design and therefore might come across as being perhaps a little ‘delicate’. 

But, my thought on that is if you’re looking to buy one of these kits, you’re going to be playing it in ‘context’ and not going to be playing Slipknot covers on it, so that probably won’t be an issue. And if you are planning to play Slipknot covers on it, you’ll probably be disappointed. It’s really not that kind of kit.

To play, the Broadkaster kit was very enjoyable. 

The sound was full, the drums were easy to tune and they looked the part. The drums were well made and finished and I couldn’t find any fault with them.

Low points – the rail mount. I hated it. That’s part of the reason I didn’t use it in the video (the other being I just prefer the snare stand option). However, that may be something I could say also about all rail mounts, including the one I have on my own 1964 vintage kit. It was stiff, I couldn’t get it into a position I liked and I just couldn’t leave it with the tom on it without feeling it might slip down and damage the bass drum. I’m sure it does work, and will work for other people, but this mount on this kit didn’t work for me. Visually though, granted, it works perfectly. It does look very vintage and cool.

High points – the vibe and sound of the kit. It felt like a vintage kit with the sturdiness of a modern kit (ok, with the exception of the rail mount). 

Some drum kits are just a set of drums. Others are a whole experience. These, I think, fit in the latter category. To me, the kit had all the right features to make it fit for purpose and I’ll go as far to say that it felt like a genuine vintage kit. 

The Broadkaster drums are high-end so you’ll have to expect to pay a high-end price for them, but they are cool and very much look the part, and I’m sure will give whomever buys them a vintage package with the benefits of modern standards. 

More at -

David Bateman
August 2015

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