With the Broadkaster Gretsch has resurrected the legendary three-ply shell they first developed in the 1920s. This model also comes with 1950s-spec 'Vintage' hardware, but there's an option for modern hardware too.
The shells, following the original lay-up of maple-poplar-maple come in at 6.7mm, scarf jointed for extra stability. Bass drums and toms have reverse round-over bearing edges meaning the head wraps over the edge and has more contact with the shell. Inside we also have the famous silver sealer paint.
Our review kit comes in Satin Copper Mist lacquer and the smooth, matt and deep orange hue looks great under our studio lights. There are two lacquer and two wrap finishes available. The sizes on this kit are 22", 12" and 16" with a matching 14"x6.5" snare
Most notable elements of the vintage hardware adorning this kit include the sturdy rail consolette tom mount which, once installed (quite a fiddly process), keeps things in place nicely. There are externally controlled mufflers inside the toms which allow for varying degrees of dampening to both heads at the turn of a dial, and they genuinely work. We've seen the modern hardware option, but for our money the vintage hardware is more in keeping with the ethos and sound of the kit.
With small tweaks to dial in a medium tuning, and with mufflers off, the kit produces a wonderfully warm, open sound. When played quietly it sounds pleasingly soft but still full and meaty. Paired with the right cymbals and a pair of brushes you have a kit ideal for light jazz. Open up the bass drum more, paired with the woody crack of the snare and its lively double flanged hoops, and you have a powerful and well-rounded beast that would be at home behind everything from a rock trio to a big band.
Considering the blueprint it's based on, the Broadkaster feels like quite a versatile option. That heritage doesn't come cheap though, with this configuration (including snare) clocking in at well over £3,000.
Watch our video to see the kit in action.
For a full review pick up issue 246 of Rhythm, on sale 25/08/15.