The Ultimate Gretsch Catalina Maple Guide – Which Version Should You Pick?

If you’ve ever looked around for affordable intermediate drum sets, you’ve probably seen the Gretsch Catalina Maple at some point or another. There’s a small group of popular maple kits that all cost around $1000, and the Catalina is one of them.

In this guide, I’m going to break everything down about the Gretsch Catalina Maple drum set. We’ll look through the different kit configurations available, and I’ll give a review of the set. If you’ve been thinking about getting a new drum kit, read on to see if this is the one for you.

What is the Gretsch Catalina?

Many people think that the Catalina is the bottom-of-the-range kit that Gretsch offers. This isn’t true, as the Gretsch Energy is the brand’s entry-level kit. The Catalina Maple is aimed more toward intermediate drummers.

It comes as a shell pack, meaning you only get the drums and mounting hardware when you buy the kit. Cymbals and stands need to be purchased separately. The great thing about intermediate shell packs is that they keep the cost of the shells low so that you can have high-quality shells at affordable prices.

There is another iteration of the Catalina called the Catalina Club. However, I’ll be specifically reviewing the Catalina Maple drum set in this article. I’ll briefly touch on the Club set when suggesting some alternate kits.

Different Configurations of the Maple Set


The Catalina Maple comes in 4 different configurations that have different shell sizes and depths. I’ll write all those details out here so that you have a clear picture of the different options.

CM1-E605 (Smaller 5-piece)

  • 14” x 5,5” snare
  • 10” x 7” rack tom
  • 12” x 8” rack tom
  • 14” x 14” floor tom
  • 20” x 16” bass drum

CM1-E825 (Larger 5-piece)

  • 14” x 5,5” snare
  • 10” x 7” rack tom
  • 12” x 8” rack tom
  • 16” x 16” floor tom
  • 22” x 18” bass drum

CM1-E824S (4-piece)

  • 14” x 6” snare
  • 12” x 8” rack tom
  • 16” x 16” floor tom
  • 22” x 18” bass drum

CM1-E26P (7-piece)

  • 14” x 6” snare
  • 8” x 7” rack tom
  • 10” x 7” rack tom
  • 12” x 8” rack tom
  • 14” x 14” floor tom
  • 16” x 16” floor tom
  • 22” x 18” bass drum

Gretsch Catalina Maple Review

Gretsch Catalina Maple

Shell Construction

Since it’s in the name, it’s fairly clear that these drums are made from maple shells. All the drums are put together with 7 plies of maple, making them sound quite warm and full. The shells are designed with 30-degree bearing edges. These edges give the drums a lively tone that is fairly synonymous with Gretsch drums.

The overall tone that you get from these drums is quite similar to the warm drums of the 20th century. Gretsch is quite an old drum company, and their drums mostly exhibit vintage tones. That’s not to say this kit wouldn’t work in modern settings. It just has a beautiful round tone that acts as a reminder of the drum kits of old.

Hardware Quality

The mounting hardware is always the first thing I look at when checking out a new drum kit. This Catalina Maple kit uses Gretsch’s GTS mounting system. You get brackets that attach to the rack toms, and then the mount connects from the bass drum to those brackets.

It allows the toms to be fairly maneuverable, so you have plenty of freedom with positioning. Something I don’t like about this hardware is that the toms never seem to lock exactly in the place that you tighten them in.

They’ll always drop a few inches. So, you need to lock the toms in a bit higher so that they drop to the position you want them in. A bit frustrating, but not the end of the world!

The toms and snare drum are equipped with 2.5mm triple-flanged hoops. They add to the liveliness of the drum sounds. The bass drum has matching maple hoops instead of metal hoops.

Finish Options

In the most current version of the kit, you get 5 different finish options:

  • Black Stardust
  • Deep Cherry Burst
  • Satin Deep Cherry Burst
  • Walnut Glaze
  • Silver Sparkle

Each one of these finishes looks great. I’ve always loved the sparkle finishes on Gretsch drum kits. They seem to be the most popular choices for drummers who own Gretsch kits as I often identify a Gretsch kit from its sparkling finish.


Gretsch Catalina Maple

The Gretsch Catalina Maple is a highly versatile kit. A few years ago, I thought Gretsch kits were primarily used by jazz drummers. However, I’ve since met several drummers who use this kit for almost everything.

It’s an excellent recording kit, thanks to the warm maple shells. It will work quite well if you want to put this kit in a studio to use as the stock drum set. Just note that it won’t work as well as higher-priced studio kits.

It’s even better suited for live gigging. The lively tone fits right in with a rock or jazz band. I’ve even seen metal drummers use the 7-piece version of the kit.

If you pair the kit with some high-quality drumheads and a top-tier set of cymbals, you’ll be golden. You may need to get a better snare drum as well if you want a pro drum kit sound.


The drumheads are the weakest part of the kit. Thankfully, you can easily replace them to get a better sound from all the drums.

You’ll see in the advertising that the kit comes with Remo drumheads. While Remo makes excellent heads, the heads that come with the Catalina Maple aren’t from the US. They’re lower-quality heads that are designed in bulk to be shipped with all the entry-level and intermediate drum sets.

So, don’t be fooled by the Remo name. Get some higher-quality heads from Remo if you want the best sound possible from the kit. You could also consider getting Evans or Aquarian drumheads.


  • Affordable intermediate kit
  • Great for recording and playing live gigs
  • Warm, vintage tones
  • Very versatile


  • Stock drumheads don’t bring the best out of the drums
  • Tom mounting system can be a bit frustrating when setting the drums up

Which Version Should You Pick?

Catalina Maple

You’re spoiled for choice with the Catalina Maple set. If you want a huge setup, I’d suggest getting the 7-piece option. It’s the most expensive, but it gives you several drums to work with. It’s ideal for drummers who are accustomed to playing on kits with several drums and cymbals.

The 5-piece setup with the 22-inch bass drum is my next suggested option for the majority of drummers. It’s the most standard setup that is great for everything.

The 5-piece setup with the 20-inch bass drum is great for drummers who want something a bit smaller. I love 20-inch bass drums, so this would be my pick. However, the 14-inch floor tom doesn’t tend to sound as good as the 16-inch one.

If you want a minimal setup, then the 4-piece option is the one to go for! It covers all the fundamentals you need, making it a great gigging kit. It’s also the most affordable one.

Alternate Options

PDP Concept Maple

PDP Concept Maple

The PDP Concept Maple has most of the same makeup as the Gretsch Catalina Maple kit. However, the big differences come in the hardware design and the snare drum.

The PDP snare has 10 plies maple, meaning it’s a bit thicker than the Gretsch snare. The result of this is a tighter-sounding snare that has a throaty crack. The PDP snare drum sounds incredible when a drummer plays it aggressively.

The PDP kit also has all the famous DW hardware designs. The True-Pitch tuning rods make tuning it much easier and the snare drum throw-off is magnetic and easy to turn on and off.

This particular kit is very popular in the Gospel drummer scene. The tom tones are quite short, making it a great kit for fast drumming.

It also comes in a 5-piece and 7-piece setup. However, it has a lot more finish options than the Catalina Maple.


  • Several finish options
  • True-Pitch tension rods make tuning quite easy
  • Beautiful snare drum sound


  • Stock drumheads are not great

Gretsch Catalina Club

Gretsch Catalina Club

The Gretsch Catalina Club is the jazz version of the Catalina set. The shells on this kit are made of mahogany instead of maple, causing the drums to sound a lot more open. Each drum rings out for a lot longer than it does on the maple shells, making this kit perfect for jazz drumming.

The shell construction and hardware design are mostly the same, so you’re only looking at the wood and drum sizes for variety here.

With this shell pack, you get a 14” snare, 12” rack tom, 14” floor tom, and 18” bass drum. It’s a small kit that is well-suited to tight venues.

I’ve played on this kit a few times, and I’ve found the bass drum to be very resonant. It works well for jazz, but it rings a bit too much for other styles.


  • Excellent kit for jazz
  • Very compact and easily portable
  • Looks great


  • Bass drum has an extended ringing tone that can be a bit much sometimes

Yamaha Stage Custom Birch

Yamaha Stage Custom Birch

The Yamaha Stage Custom is a fantastic alternative to the 5-piece version of the Catalina Maple. It has the same shell sizes, but the drums are made of birch wood instead of maple. The birch makes them a lot punchier.

The Stage Custom is an amazing intermediate drum set that works relatively well in professional settings. My favorite feature it has is the mounting system.

While I complained a bit about the Catalina tom mounts, you’ll never hear me say anything bad about Yamaha’s YESS mounts. They’ve never let me down when setting up a Yamaha kit. They allow a lot of adjustability without any unwanted give.

I’d suggest going for the Stage Custom if you want something that sounds a bit more aggressive than the Gretsch kit. The brighter tone also makes the kit perform better in live settings.


  • Affordable professional kit
  • Bright tone from the birch shells
  • YESS mounting system is amazing


  • Stock drumheads aren’t ideal


Question: Does the Gretsch Catalina Maple Come with Hardware and Cymbals?

Answer: No. The Gretsch Catalina Maple is a shell pack, meaning you only get drum shells when you buy it. However, you may be able to find a store selling the kit with hardware as a package deal. This isn’t very common, though.
It’s often better to buy shell packs if you’re an intermediate or advanced drummer as the costs stay low when you don’t need to buy cymbals or hardware.

Question: Is the Gretsch Catalina Maple a Good Set for Beginners?

Answer: When thinking of pure sound quality, it’s an excellent set for beginners. However, most beginners don’t have hardware or cymbals to match with the kit, so it’s not the most practical buy for a beginner drummer unless they’re willing to spend quite a bit extra.
A full drum set package would be a better choice as it comes with everything a beginner drummer needs to start learning and playing. A perfect example of one of these would be the Pearl Roadshow.

Question: What are Some Higher-Quality Drum Kits from Gretsch?

Answer: The next step up from the Gretsch Catalina Maple is the Gretsch Renown kit. It’s a fantastic pro kit from Gretsch that is still relatively affordable. It’s also made with 7-ply maple shells that have 30-degree bearing edges. However, the hardware quality is much higher.
After that, you get the Gretsch Brooklyn, Gretsch Broadkaster, and Gretsch USA Custom. These are all of Gretsch’s top-tier professional drum kits.

Question: Which Famous Drummers Play Gretsch Drums?

Answer: One of the most popular jazz drummers at the moment that plays Gretsch drums is Mark Guiliana. If you want to hear how beautiful a Gretsch drum kit can sound, watch some of his videos on YouTube.
Other popular drummers who are Gretsch artists are Mike Johnston, Taylor Hawkins, Phil Collins, and Andrew Marshall.


When looking for an intermediate maple kit that costs around $1000, your main choices are the Gretsch Catalina Maple, Pearl Decade Maple, Tama Superstar Classic, and PDP Concept Maple. Out of those, the Gretsch Catalina has the warmest tone with a vintage touch.

Gretsch drums have major history behind them, and that’s often something that drummers who play Gretsch are passionate about. The Catalina kit is quite versatile, so it’s an excellent kit for anyone who plays in varying environments.

For more interesting breakdowns of different drum gear, check these articles out:

Scroll to Top