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C&C Drums Reviewed: Vintage is King

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If you’re like me, nothing compares to a vintage 1960s or 70s drum kit. The 60s Ludwig kit defined the Beatles, the 60s Gretch kit defined The Rolling Stones, and now we have C&C defining the modern era of drums. 

There is no doubt that you’ve seen the elegant art deco C&C logo on either the head or the badge of the drums all over late-night TV. Every drummer playing late-night talk shows seems to bring a C&C drum kit. 

But what makes the C&C drums so unique? Why does everyone from Wilco to Modest Mouse to Young the Giant use C&C drums? Simply put, the answer is vintage drums are king.

C&C Drums Shell Packs

Modern drums with a hand-crafted, vintage touch.

View Kits at Reverb
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With C&C drums, you get all the beautiful tones of vintage drums mixed with modern-day convenience. C&C drum kits do a big, boomy Bonham sound justice. The tight “Paint it Black” tom and snare groove by The Rolling Stones sings when played on a C&C kit. 

They make lovely quality drums with vintage-style kits in mind. But don’t let their love of vintage drum sounds fool you. Modern and solid components make this a kit that will last for decades.

The custom drum lugs are a design of beauty. They spent time developing a lug that is art deco in look and modern in function. The ease of use is as simple as anyone who’s ever loosened or tightened a drum head. 

The woods used to make the drums are top-notch as well. With all types of wood available, the choice will be up to you to find what fits your needs. Customization is the name of the game with C&C drums.

It can be overwhelming to figure out what wood and sizes you want. And it can be even more overwhelming when you dissect your choices down to every last detail. 

Luckily C&C has several preconfigured kits. You can go with their Player Date I or Player Date II kits, which are either 7-ply Mahogany or 7-ply Mahogany/Maple mix with beautiful dark and warm tones. 

You could go with their Gladstone kit, made with 7-ply Maple for a brighter, more attacking tone. Or go with their 12th and Vine kit made with either 5-ply mahogany/poplar/mahogany or walnut/poplar/walnut for that warm boomy vintage drum tone. The choice of wood is up to you. 

They also make it simple with sizes, offering wood types I mentioned in standard-size packs. They offer Bebop sizes for your typical jazz and big band drummer, Big Beat sizes for your classic Beatles and rock drummer, and even Bonzo sizes for your maximum boomy-ness Led Zeppelin desires. 

C&C offers several incredible shell looks. Paint finishes, natural glosses, or wraps all look beautiful. It is up to you to decide what fits the drum kit of your imagination. If the preconfigured options aren’t up to your taste, C&C will build you a kit to your specifications.

I did a lot of research before I ordered my first kit from them. I had been touring with a vintage 1968 Ludwig in traditional rock sizes. 

As much as I love the sounds of my 1968 Ludwig, it’s hard touring with a vintage kit. The road causes lots of wear and tear, and you only feel somewhat comfortable with this reality when using an irreplaceable piece of history. 

C&C Custom Drum Set
One of my C&C Kits

I had been doing a lot of looking around and stumbled upon C&C drums. They had all the tone I was looking for and provided a modern solution for not wanting to ruin my vintage Ludwig. 

In true old-school fashion, I went with a maple/poplar/maple with re-rings in traditional rock sizes, minus the kick, which I got in a 20×14 (Bop size) instead of the conventional 22×14. I love these drums! 

They brought all the vintage tones I was looking for while modernizing every aspect. These drums can sing when tuned higher and boom when tuned lower (my preference). 

The attack from the maple is super clean and round. C&C’s kits offer all the definition you could ask for while maintaining that beautiful resonance a great drum should have. These drums shine in every context. 

Need a finessed kit for your jazz band? How about a kit to boom it out in a rock setting? A kit for your bluegrass/ country band? This drum set does it all!

If you decide to go with a custom kit, there are a few personal details I’ve found to give me the best tones I can get from my C&C drums.

Go with re-rings on the drums

A re-ring is an extra wood ring inside the shell at the top and bottom. Back in the day, drum companies would put re-rings on their drums to prevent the drums from warping in shape. 

I can attest to this being true in my 68 Ludwig not warping at all, while my 62 Gretch Roundbage requires a hammer to change drum heads due to the shells warping. 

While re-rings are no longer necessary to prevent warping, they impact the drum’s tone. I find my drums with re-rings slap harder. The small amount of extra surface tension the re-rings put on the heads gives the drums a bit more stick definition. 

I find my drums with re-rings have a little more “oomph” or “punch” to them, as opposed to the ringing out of my drums without re-rings. You may love the ring on your toms, but I highly recommend re-rings on your kick and snare for a little extra “punch.”

C&C drums offer a slightly different depth than drums of old

Take sizing on a typical rock kit, for example:

  • kick – 22×14
  • tom 13×9
  • floor tom 16×16

C&C offers: 

  • kick – 22×12
  • tom – 13×8
  • floor tom – 16×15

The depth is slightly smaller, offering a subtle difference in “punch.” While you can stick with traditional sizing, I recommend going with modern C&C drums sizing. 

You may think you are losing a bit of resonance, but I’ve found this to be false. The slight depth change doesn’t impact the drum’s resonance but adds a bit more “punch” to the sounds already established by vintage drum kits. 

While this is true with the toms, the kick drum loses resonance with the depth change. This is excellent with your kick drum miked up in a live setting. 

The shallower C&C kick drum delivers a more rounded “punch” while eliminating those unwanted resonance frequencies. 

My 22×12 and 24×12 C&C kick drums are the best miked-up kick drums I’ve ever heard. Every sound engineer I’ve ever worked with has commented on these kick drums, having to tell me how good they sound. So in summation, if you go with modern C&C drums sizing, you will be happy with ear-to-ear smiles over the sounds of your drums.

Know how to tune your drums

I have friends who have played on C&C kits and disliked the sounds they were getting. All of them have commented, “I just don’t know how to tune them right.” 

I have never had this problem, so let me offer you a quick tutorial on how I tune drums. 

  1. First, put your new drum heads on and tighten them as much as possible. Crank them! Then leave them like this overnight. 
  2. When you return to them the next day, loosen the heads to the point where they are finger-tight, then give them one tightening turn with your drum key. 
  3. You are done. Top and bottom heads alike, this works just about every time. 
  4. If you want to fine-tune them up in pitch from here, the top head is for pitch, and the bottom head is for resonance. Though this method also works on snare drums, I tune my snare drum a little differently. I learned this simple method of drum tuning from Stanton Moore, who told me John Bonham used to tune his drums this way.

If you are considering buying a new drum kit or are looking to modernize your vintage drums, consider using a C&C drum kit. 

They check all my boxes on sound, look, and quality. In a world of so many drum manufacturers, there are endless choices. 

C&C Drums Shell Packs

Modern drums with a hand-crafted, vintage touch.

View Kits at Reverb
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

If you are looking for a more modernized version of a vintage drum kit, don’t shy away from C&C. The drums they offer are beautiful works of art, not to mention the humans building them are top-notch lovely people. C&C is redefining the modern era of drum making.

Featured Image via Flickr by Keary O.


Contributions from Drumming Review Staff are from drummers and percussionists with a variety of different backgrounds, both professional and amateur. Interested in making a contribution? Click on 'Contact Us' at the bottom right of the page.

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  1. Hi Nick, saw you with Vinyl T in Des Moines years ago. Thanks for your review of Alesis Sample Pad 4.
    C & C in KC is wonderful. I do not know if they still do side work but they took my 24″ 1976 Ludwig Maple drum kit and re-cut the bearing edges after a fire in thte early 80’s and incurred water & smoke damage. I stripped the kick and toms down to the nub and the guys made majic with the results of the “firebrewed” kit. They steamed the shells back into “round” and cured the wood somehow. Still playing them today. Studio engineers, producers and sound techs love this kit. I hope Bill Cardwell is doing well. The crew he had working on this kit was wonderful and very supportive.

    1. Hi James! Wow, I wonder what club we were playing at in Des Moines! Not a problem. And that’s fantastic that C&C was able to rework your Ludwig kit. Just goes to show you that custom shops always one-up the big guys! Thanks for the comment. Maybe if we tour again in the future we’ll meet again.


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