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Do Vintage Drums Actually Sound Better?

Brandon Toews  /  UPDATED Aug 22, 2022

“They just don’t make ’em like they used to!”

Instruments are funny.

Sometimes you get a brand new drum or cymbal, and you swear it’s the best thing you’ve ever heard. Other times, you hear a 40+ year old kit and say “That’s the sound I’ve been looking for!” There are a few reasons for this:

Some say the more a piece of wood resonates, the more its tone improves over time.

Another explanation is that you associate the sounds of older drums with your favorite records: Ringo’s classic Ludwig kit, the legendary Gretsch kits from the golden age of jazz, and, of course, Bonham’s monstrous Vistalite kit.

So we decided to put the whole modern vs. vintage argument to the ultimate test.

In this video, you’ll see us compare three legendary vintage drum kits with their modern counterparts.

The same heads and mics were used on each kit to ensure a fair comparison. The tuning is also matched as closely as possible – we were serious when we said the “ultimate” test.

At the end of the video, you’ll have a chance to put your ears to the test, too. Can you tell the difference between modern drums and vintage?

Brandon Toews is an author, educator, and performer based out of Vancouver, Canada. Brandon is the author of The Drummer's Toolbox, co-author of The Best Beginner Drum Book, and the Content Director at Musora, home to the award-winning online music education platforms Drumeo, Pianote, Guitareo and Singeo.

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