Gear4Music offers a range own-branded starter kits. While many of these kits appear to be similar, there are certain build attributes and refinements - such as shell materials, quantity of lugs, quality of hardware and cymbals - which differentiate each model.
There are several kit options offered including complete packages that feature an instructional DVD on tuning and set up, extra pairs of sticks and (probably the best possible investment), some silencing pads - these are certainly worthy of consideration if purchasing the basic kit set up.
Our GD-5 review kit is positioned at the mid-point of Gear4Music's starter range - priced a tad above the GD-1 and just below the G4M top of the range starter kit, the GD-51. While the slightly cheaper GD-1 comes with a wooden snare drum, this GD-5 set up sports a shiny 14" x 5" chromed-steel snare.
The rest of the kit comprises 13" x 11" and 12" x 10" bass drum mounted toms, a 16" x 15" floor tom, 22" x 14" drilled (for the tom mounts) bass drum, drum stool, double braced cymbal stand, hi-hat stand, snare drum stand, pair of sticks and a basic set of brass cymbals.
Each of the shells is constructed of five plies in a "blend of hardwoods" and finished in a gloss black wrap. The shell hardware features spring-loaded lugs and triple flange steel hoops - all finished in chrome.
As in the recently reviewed BDK-1 kit, this set comes packaged in a single large and bulky box which weighs in around the 40kg mark. The poor old courier may need a hand carrying this one - ours certainly did when this kit arrived!
One of the notable features of the bass drum (which sets it above its counterparts), is the eight lugs per head which should allow the drum to be tuned more evenly and, as result, may mean a better sounding kick. The bass drum spurs are not the best we have seen on such a kit, though - in fact, we think the ones provided on the slightly cheaper BDK-1 are actually better!
The GD-5's spurs are the retractable type which have only one angle and (even when fully extended), hardly protrude any distance away from the sides of the shell which could make this drum susceptible to the dreaded stage creeping.
For a kit aimed at the beginner, the quality of the hardware is good, featuring double-bracing on the hi-hat, boom-type cymbal stand and snare stand. And, with most of them featuring nylon inserts, tilts and memory locks, these are as useful as they are functional. Even though the stool doesn't have double-braced legs, it seems pretty sturdy. The kick pedal is fairly basic but functional with its dual springs, die-cast foot plate and smooth bearings.
While the shells appear perfectly round, the quality of the machining on bearing edges of the smaller hanging tom is rather poor. The all-important bearing edges go from a rounded peak to dodgy rough troughs and there is a knot just below one of the edges.
Still, putting things in perspective, we are talking about a complete kit that is around half the price of a half-decent mid-range snare drum and Gear4Music offers a full guarantee, giving any potential purchaser complete peace of mind.
Lastly, the cymbals: these are made from brass as opposed to bronze, which is used in up-market models, or steel, which is used at the lower end. The 16" crash/ride has been lathed top and bottom for its tone and final shaping, while the 14" hi-hats feature lathe lines to one side only. Oddly, one of the hi-hat cymbals is much, much thicker on one edge. Normally the heavier of any pair of hi-hats goes on the bottom (facing upwards) so we'd recommend using this as the lower cymbal as it will have its own built-in tilt!
Once you've gond through the process of fitting all of the heads and some quick head tensioning, the kit is set up with everything in its place. As with many kits in this price bracket, the heads supplied are made from a thin plastic which you would think will dent quickly.
Having played around the whole set and not held back, though, the heads appear to be holding up quite nicely on our review setup. With some of the usual (if essential), dampening in-place, the kit sounds remarkably good and even the 16" crash\ride and hi-hats (though prone to a clonk or two), prove to be quite acceptable.