Drummer Tony Carbone of Syracuse, New York, tells MD that his goal with this beautifully restored vintage project was to buy some older Gretsch shells in his favorite sizes on the cheap and create a road-worn-looking vintage kit that has that oft-referred-to “Great Gretsch Sound.”

The set consists of an 8×12 tom, a 14×14 floor tom, and a 14×20 bass drum. “I purchased the shells on an auction website,” Carbone says. “As with most vintage Gretsch drums, it’s difficult to pinpoint the year that they were manufactured. Tags and serial numbers were faded and/or partially torn off, except for the bass drum’s, which has a serial number of 122011. After some research, I believe it was made in 1969.”

Carbone says that the condition of the shells varied greatly. Each had its own issues, and none of them came with any hardware or hoops. “The project took more than three months to complete,” he says. “This was due to finding a 14×14 shell, waiting for parts, and the long curing time for 100-percent pure tung oil, which was used for the finish.” Carbone says that he chose tung oil for its all-natural, non-toxic formula. “I also wanted a flat finish to give it more of a vintage look.

“All of the hardware was made by Gretsch from various eras,” he continues. “Parts were purchased from different websites; I also rummaged through bins at a local independently owned music store. I used Gretsch’s new reproduction 302 double-flanged hoops on the tom and floor tom.”

Carbone shares that he paid $25 for the bass drum, $64 for the rack tom, and $129 for the floor tom. “I used paint stripper to remove the bass drum’s flat black oil-based paint and completed several sanding stages to get the drum ready for the finish,” he adds. “The rack tom seemed to have sustained some exposure to moisture and was stained, which was okay with me because the shell was still solid. And the floor tom shell had a black sparkle wrap on it and a two-inch chip on the outer ply at the bearing edge. I removed the wrap and glue residue, filled the chip, sanded, and applied the tung oil finish.”

Not too bad of a deal for such a gorgeous finished product. “I forgot to mention the most important thing!” Carbone concludes. “The drums sound amazing!”


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