Updated: August 8th, 2022
Gretsch is one of the brands that carry an association with rock, jazz or bop (Bop is a style of jazz) drum kits. The Catalina is Gretsch’s second most affordable range, after the “energy” series, with the Club Jazz package being their most “well” pricedkit.
The Catalina Club Jazz has changed a little bit from when it first got released. 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 at all. Rather, mostly everything about these kits leads my mind more towards a more Intermediate type of level.
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 much sleeker in design and is much smaller in size and weight. This lighter suspension mount is the only component that reveals that this kit “cheap”.Otherwise all-round this is a solid drum kit!
Does it Sound Good?
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 for samples.
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 work well with rock music.
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 loses too much volume, but sounds “right”.
If mic’ed, 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.
The drums of Gretsch’s Catalina Club 4-piece Drum Kit sport mahogany shells. So here’s a handy Sweetwater refresher course on drum shell tonewoods: of the “big three” – mahogany, maple, and birch – mahogany is the softest. Softer woods produce more bottom end, while the harder ones (birch, for example) emphasize higher-pitched tones.
If you like lots of satisfying, natural low-end punch in your drum sound, the Catalina Club 4-piece Drum Kit is for you. It’s a versatile kit, as well – perfect across a broad range of music styles.
Some Key Details:
Model: Gretsch Catalina Club Series kit
Shells: 6-ply 100-percent mahogany shells and maple bass drum hoops
Model: GCE-S684 includes 12″ x 8″ and 14″ x 14″ toms, an 18″ x 16″ bass drum with single tom holder, and a matching 14″ x 5″ snare drum Hardware Pack: Gibraltar 8600
Finishes: White Marine, Black Marine, and Silver Sparkle
Heads: Evans manufactured heads including coated single-ply heads top and bottom of snares and toms, pre-muffled bass drum heads with clear batter and white solid Gretsch logo head
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.
This kit is perfect for gigging those small venues and Jazz club gigs, but still packs a punch when it comes to larger venues. If you’re looking for a kit that provides a retro sound but want a modern look, this is the kit for you.
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.