Finding the best quality drum set can be challenging and time-consuming due to the sheer number of products on the market. Even within individual brands, there is a wide range of options and configurations that need to be considered. In addition to our comparison and reviews of the best drum set on the market, we go over the various kinds of drums and their parts, go into further depth regarding the popular drum configurations, and then go on to highlight some of the important things to consider when searching for a drum kit.
Generally speaking, most drum sets are composed of at least three of the main drum types, including a bass drum, snare drum, and tom-toms. When picking the best set of drums for you, keep the goals you have in mind as this should give you a better idea as to how many of each drum type you’ll need. Typically, the combination most often seen on entry to mid-range sets is composed of at least one bass drum and one snare drum, along with two or three tom-toms. Higher-end, larger drum kits often have more of each, for example, you can find a drum set with two bass drums or four tom-toms. For beginners, we always recommend at least a 4-piece (e.g. bass, snare, two tom-toms), though if at all possible a 5-piece (bass, snare, three tom-toms) set will do you much better.
Ayotte, Yamaha, ddrum, DW, Trick, Tama, Gretsch, Ludwig, Mapex, Pearl, Rogers, PDP, Premiere, and Sonor are some of the top dogs when it comes to drum set manufacturers – the drum kits produced by these brands have stood the tests of time and are consistently rated highly by professional musicians and the average consumer. Each brand produces a range of different drum sets, all of which vary in quality, budget, and target audience. Regardless, the brand does matter when it comes to quality, so stick to one of the big names if you have the ability.
The sound produced by a drum set is one of the most important factors when determining which is best for you. Personal preference plays a significant role in this determination, though in our opinion (and based on the opinions of most professional drummers we’ve encountered), wooden drums sound better and are often favored over their metal or synthetic counterparts. Additionally, the build quality of the drums and hardware themselves vary. Some mounting hardware is much more easily adjusted and may come in die-cast or provide triple-flange hoops. You can expect a higher budget if you’re after some of these premium features.
Best Drum Set Complete Guide
In this guide, we curate and review some of the best drum sets for the money, for any budget. If you’re just looking to have a bit of fun at home in your garage, there is probably no need to spend thousands on a drum kit – we’ve got you covered with some cheap, yet high-quality drum sets. If you’re a professional musician who simply needs the best, regardless of budget – we’ve also got you covered. This complete guide is a one-stop shop for all of your drum set buying needs.
Types of Drums
Bass Drum: The bass drum is the generally the largest drum in the set, and is responsible for introducing an element of bass into the groove. Drumsticks typically never make contact with the bass drum, instead, they are played with a pedal, which is often positioned on the floor where the bass drum is located. A bass drum consists of both playing and resonant drumheads. During musical performances or concert scenarios, a microphone can be placed near the hole of the resonant head for further amplification of the bass element, though in smaller areas (e.g. bar settings) this is not usually needed as the bass drum is quite powerful and loud as is (in fact, I have a nice setup in the garage of my house, and I can only play up to a certain hour because the bass reverberates through the walls into my neighbors’ houses – 3 houses down). The typical bass drum has 16-18 inches of depth, and measures somewhere within 18-25 inches in diameter. The size of the drum influences the sound it will produce – some sound better for certain genres of music than others. For the beginner, a 22-inch bass drum should suffice. For the jazz musician, you’re probably better off with something a bit smaller like 18-21 inches. If you’re into rock or metal, one or two 20-22 inch bass drums are ideal. These recommendations are not set in stone and it really boils down to personal preference in most cases. Double drum base techniques can be accomplished with a second bass drum or through the utilization of a double bass drum pedal, on a single bass drum.
Snare Drum: The snare drum has metal cables or wire snares that are sprawled across the bottom head of the drum – this small addition results in that unique snap sound that the snare is known for. In most cases, the tautness of the cables snares that are spread across the drum can be adjusted, which has an influence on the sound that is produced. The snare drum is responsible for producing the backbeat of a groove and is composed of batter (the top of the drum where the drumstick makes contact) and resonant drumheads. The snare drum has a depth of anywhere between 5 and 6½ inches and is typically 14 inches in diameter. Specialty snare drums, which come in much smaller or larger sizes, are available and used for different genres of music like merengue or hip-hop. Most drum sets usually come with only one snare drum, but professional drummers often add additional snares for greater variety in their choice of sounds.
Tom-Toms: This type of drum is typically used for fills, and lack any wire snares. Toms can be found in a wide range of sizes that can either be freestanding or mounted directly to the bass drum. The most common sizes include tom-toms that measure 8, 10, 12, 13, 14, 16, and 18 inches in diameter, all of which produce their own distinct sounds. For the beginner, make sure you find a drum set with at least three tom-toms (10, 12, and 16 inches is standard). More toms can always be purchased separately and added to the drum set as experience level grows. There is no standard set depth for tom-toms, though what you’ll usually see is that they are anywhere from 2 to 4 inches shallower than the size of the drum itself (in diameter). For instance, a common floor tom size is 16” x 12” (16-inches in diameter, 12-inches depth). Floor toms have legs and are free standing, meaning they stand directly on the ground instead of being mounted. It is not unusual to see a floor tom with an equal diameter-to-depth ratio (ex: 16” x 16”). Mounted tom-toms (also referred to as rack toms) are mounted directly to the bass drum or a tom stand on poles. A starter set often includes two mounted toms (usually 10 and 12 inches, or 12 and 13 inches) and one-floor tom (usually 16 inches, or 18 inches), though the combinations found in each kit vary based on quantity and the size of the tom-toms. Out of personal preference, some drummers have more free-standing toms than mounted.
Components of Drums and Other Hardware
To make things simple, each item found in a drum set can be categorically defined into one of three separate groups (drums, cymbals, hardware). The more expensive drum sets are often shell only, and so you’ll be responsible for purchasing your own cymbals, drumheads, and hardware. Also, the snare drum might not even be included, so be sure to take these additional expenses into account if your drum set does not include some of these necessities. Beginner drum sets usually come with everything you need (all the basics), including any needed hardware for setup or mounting, the drumheads, a few basic cymbals, and even a pedal for the bass drum. If you are buying for a beginner drummer, getting the best drum set complete with all the components and hardware is the smartest, most economical thing to do. An electronic drum set for beginners may even include the drum module so any beginner drummer can start playing right away. Experts, however, do not recommend that beginners start with an electronic drum set. An acoustic drum kit is preferable as this will help beginners familiarize themselves with the natural sounds of the drums and cymbals, tone, rhythm, and beat and learn how to properly tune their instruments. Experienced drummers, on the other hand, can go for the best electronic drum set to experiment with different combinations of sound, rhythm, and groove.
Shell: The shell of the drum plays a significant role in the resulting sound that is produced. Shells can be made from wood (e.g. mahogany, maple, birch, walnut, beech, cherry, bubinga, poplar, ash), metals (e.g. brass, aluminum, copper, titanium, bronze, steel), or a wide range of synthetic materials (e.g. carbon fiber, fiberglass, acrylic, plastics). Many bass drums and toms are constructed with wooden (e.g. plywood, stave, steam-bent, solid, segment) or metal (e.g. spun, cast) shells in different ways, all of which have influence over the resulting sound produced by the drum.
Drumhead: The drumhead (typically made of calfskin or various plastics) is stretched across the bottom and top of the shell, and are responsible for containing and releasing pressure when struck by a drumstick. The vibrations result in the sound that is produced. The drumhead struck by the drumstick is referred to as the batter head, while the resonant head is located on the bottom. Both the batter and the resonant drumhead play equally important roles in the production of sound.
Hoop: The hoops are responsible for containment of the drumheads (they keep the drumhead from moving away from proper position). They are designed with holes that are to be used for the bolts, which provide the tension. Drums typically have metal (though wooden is common as well) circular hoops positioned on the top and bottom of the shell. Hoops play a significant role in keeping the drumheads in place.
Tension Bolts and Lugs: The tension bolts screw directly into the metal lugs that are attached to the shell. A drum key is used to tighten or loosen the bolts, resulting in increased or decreased tension of the drumhead, which has an effect on how high or low the pitch of the drum will sound when struck.
Cymbals: Beginner drum sets typically include various basic cymbals (e.g. high-hats, crash cymbal, ride cymbal), though mid-range and higher-end drum sets do not include any cymbals at all and must be purchased separately. Cymbals may be used in pairs (ex: a pair of high-hat cymbals), or individually. They are usually round in shape and composed of various types of alloy. Cymbals are often used in jazz bands, heavy metal, and rock groups, marching groups, along with percussion and orchestra ensembles. Some forgo the drums completely and strictly play the cymbals – these individuals are known as cymbalists. For the purpose of this guide, cymbals are to be used in conjunction with a set of drums.
Cymbal Stands: Similarly to tom-tom stands, a cymbal stand provides a stable means of mounting and support for cymbals. Most drum kits designed for beginners include cymbal stands (e.g. high-hat stand, boom cymbal stand, straight cymbal stand) along with any basic included cymbals.
Mounting Hardware: The mounting hardware is needed to attach rack toms to the top of the bass drum, or an additional tom stand. There is a wide range of techniques that can be used to mount, and so mounting hardware varies in design. The best mounting hardware does not require any drilling or piercing of the shell on the drum, as this can negatively affect the drum’s overall performance, and may complicate things if you ever try to transfer it to another drum set. Some modern types of mounting hardware are designed to attach directly to the rim and may even suspend the drum for a higher-quality sound. Typically, one or two poles are used to attach rack toms to the bass drum or a tom stand. The larger the drum is, and the greater amount of stability required determines the number of support poles that are needed.
Floor Tom Legs: Most freestanding toms are equipped with three metal support structures (legs) that are in direct contact with the ground. These are usually capable of height and angle adjustment based on personal preference and the height of the drummer.
Snare Drum Stand: The snare drum stand, as you probably guessed, is used to provide a means of support and stability (and proper elevation) for the snare drum. Typically, it has three legs (sometimes more), a center post, snare basket, and some sort of tilter hardware (for angle adjustments). If your drum set includes a snare drum and a snare stand, you need to check its quality and ability to keep the snare drum in place. Snare drums tend to move a lot as you play, which is why they need a good snare stand to help them stay right where they’re supposed to be so you don’t get distracted while playing the drums. If this hardware is not included in your kit, you can easily purchase one online from Amazon or Musician’s Friend, but be careful in buying a cheap snare drum stand as you might not get the best value for your money.
Bass Drum Pedal: The bass drum pedal can be pressed by the foot, which then strikes the head of the bass drum. You purchase single or dual bass pedals based on your goals. These can be mounted to the bass drum itself, or may be simply placed under it – in many cases, the weight of the bass drum is enough to keep it in place.
Bass Drum Spurs: Similar to floor tom legs, the bass drum spurs are support structures (often made of metal) that make direct contact with the ground to prevent movement or rolling off of the bass drum.
Drum Throne: The drum throne is really just a glorified name for the stool that the drummer sits on while playing. These come in all shapes and sizes and vary widely when it comes to the build, quality, and the overall comfort of the stool.
Best Drum Kits Reviews
1. PDP by DW ReviewBuy on Amazon
Considering the fact that the United Kingdom is the source of many rock and roll hall-of-famers, its fitting that UK-based drum manufacturer, Premiere, is responsible for some of the best quality drum sets for rock or jazz music. This top-end drum set is the perfect match for rock music lovers, though it is geared toward a much larger audience and can be readily used for all genres. Travis Barker would definitely approve. There are three shell options to choose from: birch, maple, or Gen-X (a combination of both birch and maple), but among all these maple wood is the most popular due to the balanced tone it helps to produce. If you prefer a brighter tone for the type of music you commonly play, however, you can opt for the birch shell. The ISO mount system is exceptionally crafted and provides sustain and a clear, rich tone in a reliable fashion. The drums were carefully crafted and designed to be slightly undersized which results in a great sound after proper tuning.
The drums hold the pitch and the overall quality of the Remo drumheads is superior to that of the usual stock heads found on other competing drum kits. The floor tom has a rich sound and its leg brackets can easily be adjusted without much fuss or effort. The quality of the hardware is equally impressive to the drums themselves. This Elite Series 4-piece drum set is our favorite drum set overall, as you are provided with a combination of excellent build quality and an aesthetically pleasing, elegant design.
2. Gretch New Renown ReviewBuy on Amazon
The DW Collector’s Series drum set is one of the best for pretty much any genre of music. These drums are top-of-the-line when it comes to tonal accuracy, and produce a rich and powerful sound. The shells come in a variety of wood materials (e.g. maples, birch, cherry, hybrid shells). The hardware itself is solid, made of durable materials and can be customized based on user preference.
You have the option of going with a triple flange or die-cast hoops. Additionally, you have your pick of various maple bass drum hoops, which are covered in high-quality leather. DW’s acclaimed true hoop is made to last and should keep the drums in tune for longer than what you’d typically find on other drum kits. The tom mounts can be adjusted, and provide support and stability while leaving vibrations resulting from drumstick impact, unaffected. You are provided with a larger tuning range due to the true-pitch tuning rods, which have finer threading, found on the DW Collector’s Series 4-piece drum set. Aside from the top-end performance of the drums themselves, this DW drum set stands apart from the rest with the degree of customization that is possible. You have a choice of various wood materials for the drum shells and 5 different finishes for the hardware. There are various options regarding how you mount the tom-toms on the bass. These drums have an elegant look and feel. Overall, if you’re looking for some of the best quality drums out there, the DW Collector’s Series 4-piece drum set is in a class of its own and absolutely deserves your consideration.
3. Pearl Masters Drum Set ReviewBuy on Amazon
The Pearl Masters drum set has been a favorite for beginner and advanced drummers for quite some time. The shells found on the MCX are made of a beautifully well-crafted maple, which resonates in an almost acoustic fashion. Maple wood, as mentioned earlier, is famous for the warm and balanced tone it creates. Rock and heavy metal music are a bit bipolar in nature, meaning that melodies often go from one extreme to the next, and this is why a drum set that is highly responsive in almost any dynamic range, like the Pearl MCX, is highly sought.
These drums are powerful enough to not be overpowered by the guitars, bass, digital pianos, and whatever other musical instruments that are being played alongside with it. The MXC is equipped with die-cast hoops (MasterCast) that are solid and work as they should and provide an accurate sound dependent on the force of drumstick impacts. The mounting hardware is rattle-free, allowing you to unleash your inner Lars Ulrich without movement or interruption. Like many of our other top picks, the Pearl MCX series drum set comes in a variety of finishes based on aesthetic preferences.
4. Tama Superstar Classic ReviewBuy on Amazon
Tama’s Superstar Classic 7-piece drum set is one of our favorites, and arguably the best mid-tier drum kit that comes equipped with high-quality maple shells. All maple shells are highly desired by drummers, and this Tama drum set is one of the least expensive that we could find, without sacrificing in construction and overall build quality. Maple is known for its versatility in musical styles, and so these high-quality drums can reliably play great sounding music regardless of genre or skill level. The Superstar Classic is pretty much the maple alternative to the Tama Silverstar drums (which are also highly rated).
Tama’s acclaimed Star-Cast Mount system is designed to be non-intrusive while helping reduce hardware hiss during play. The ball and socket tom-tom holders are noticeably better at keeping the drums them in place, and the excellent build quality leaves us to believe that they are superior as far as durability is concerned. The stock drumheads included with purchase really can’t compete with those that come with the higher-end drum kits we’ve reviewed above, though they are sufficient for most people and can always be replaced in the future if needed. Overall, the Tama Superstar Classic is an affordable 7-piece maple drum set that is as nice to look at as it is fun to play.
5. Mapex Saturn V MH Exotic 5-piece Shell Pack – Flat Black Maple Burl ReviewBuy on Amazon
Mapex Saturn drum sets are some of the all-time-favorites for beginner and advanced drummers alike. The V MH Exotic drum set is no exception, as they take a nice combination of maple’s reliable tones with walnut’s extra kick in the pants. This Mapex Saturn drum kit is equipped with a SONIClear bearing edge, which is basically just a bit more exposure of the edge to the drum shell, resulting in enhanced reverberation through the drum shell. Similar to most drum kits, there are several different color options to choose from.
This powerhouse of a drum set produces a forceful sound that is perfect for rock and metal bands (Chris Adler from Lamb of God is a Mapex Saturn fan), as they speak noticeably louder than some of the other drums composed of alternative materials. The 2.3-millimeter Power hoops are designed for a sound comparable to that of professional quality, and the tom-tom mounts as a whole are solid and highly functional. You’ll have difficulty finding anything other than a shell only pack (only drums), so you should probably plan to spend extra on cymbals and other required materials. You should consider this a professional level kit, and so the lack of additional included items is not out of the ordinary.
6. Pearl EXX725S/C ReviewBuy on Amazon
The Pearl Vision VBL drum set is relatively inexpensive for the quality you get. The steel SensiTone snare drum that comes with Pearl’s Vision drum kit is an excellent addition to an already great sounding set of drums – this snare can even be integrated into a higher-quality set of drums in the future. The 930 series hardware included in this setup is some of the best at this budget, and the I.S.S Integrated Suspension System mounting system used for the tom-toms does a great job reducing the likelihood of unnecessary buzz while playing. The toms are allowed to resonate, true to their nature, without any dampening or lessening of overall sound quality from such supportive mounting hardware. The wood bass drum rims, along with recessed bass drum claws catch your attention right away. Just like with other mid-range drum sets, there are a variety of configurations and colors to choose from.
7. Pearl Roadshow ReviewBuy on Amazon
Pearl’s Reference series drum set is in a league of its own when it comes to the build, durability, and sound quality that these provide – not to mention how nice they are on the eyes. The combination of mahogany, birch, and maple of the shells (the percentage of each is dependent on the size and type of the drum) brings with it an intensely enjoyable sound that would be great for just about any type of music. Each drum uses a separate amount of each type of wood. For instance, the larger drums incorporate more mahogany into their design, which results in a deeper tone that otherwise couldn’t be achieved with a single type of alternative wood. Bridge lugs are also incorporated into the design to avoid negatively affecting the sound.
Pearl’s die-cast hoops are some of the most durable and best performing that you can find at this budget easily taking a pounding without much give. The tom-toms are mounted with equally impressive stability and sturdiness. If you’re looking for some of the best sound drums out there, and the budget is not much of an issue, the Pearl Reference RF924XSP drum set deserves your attention. There are a number of finish and size options to choose from, and a number of different configurations can also be found.
8. Yamaha Stage Custom Birch ReviewBuy on Amazon
Yamaha’s combination of versatility and uniquely impressive sound quality make the Stage Custom one of the best drum sets for the money. The birch drum shells are dense enough to take a beating and are versatile enough in the way they resonate to be suitable for just about any genre of music. Together, the Yamaha YESS mounting system and the ball-joint mounting bracket, provide strength, stability, and allow for easy adjustment for many different placement options depending on individual preference. Music gigs require easy movement and transportation of the musical instruments – and the Yamaha Stage Custom fits these requirements. While the durability of Yamaha drums has always been rated highly, this drum set is also lightweight and the perfect setup for the traveling musician who is often in and out of bars and clubs with the band. There are a number of different colors and configurations to choose from, just like most other drum sets out there in this budget.
9. Tama Imperialstar ReviewBuy on Amazon
The Imperialstar drum set is one of our favorites, as both the drums and additional hardware are well-built, and the sound made accounts for a certain degree of versatility. While the loud, heavy-impact sound that they produce is great for rock or heavy metal music, the 8-ply poplar wood that the shells are made of really is suitable for beginner and advanced drummers in a variety of settings. Whether you jam out in your garage with a pair of in-ear monitors, or you’re part of a band playing in front of live audiences every Saturday night, the Tama Imperialstar drum set is loud enough to excite just about anyone. The ball and socket joint along with the L-rods used for tom-tom mounting provide stability and reduce any unwanted, distracting buzz of the hardware.
The Iron Cobra 200 pedal that is included in this set is of high-quality, allowing a gentle or forceful impact against the bass drum head depending on the circumstance – overall this is one of our favorite beginner’s bass pedals. Various MEINL cymbals are also included with the set for your enjoyment – this is a big name brand and they are of high quality (something you could easily purchase on its own). The bass drum is not made of wood, but instead, a durable synthetic material, which has a very similar heavy-hitting sound to other types of wood, but also its own unique feel.
10. Gretsch Drums Drum Set ReviewBuy on Amazon
Gretsch is one drum manufacturer that is widely known for their great sounding studio drum sets. Not only do these bad boys sound excellent life, but the birch shells are uniquely advantageous when heard through microphones during a recording session. As a mid-range drum kit, the ability to make high-quality, accurate recordings of your drumming is almost a requirement. The tom mounts are durable and provide very little give – just enough for them to speak when needed. The wooden bass drum hoop is nice to look at, which matches the drum set’s overall finish. Gretsch brings about that Classic look to a drum set, and so for those jazz drummers who enjoy an aesthetic achievement such as this, would surely feel great about owning this Catalina Club Jazz drum setup.
11. Pearl Roadshow ReviewBuy on Amazon
Pearl is one of the top-dogs when it comes to drumming brands, and the Roadshow 5-piece drum set is an entry-level drum kit that is a great choice for just about any aspiring drummer. Durability is an important feature for any drum set, especially those geared towards beginners as they are less likely to understand or follow through with proper use or care procedures. Maintaining the Pearl Roadshow drum set is as easy as it gets. The drum shells and all of their components are built to last, and the hardware is equally as solid.
The 9-ply hardwood shells sound pretty good once proper tuning is accomplished, and are versatile enough to allow for those young musicians to experiment with many different genres of music and styles of drumming. Stands for the cymbal, hi-hat, and snare are included in the kit and are free from rattle or unnecessary movement from occurring while playing. The included bass drum pedal is decent, though this may be one of the first things that will be replaced after a bit of experience is gained because there are some excellent budget-friendly bass pedals out there. Many different color combinations are available to choose from. Overall, the Pearl Roadshow is one of our favorite drum sets for beginners, as it includes pretty much everything you need to get started, and is suitable for upgrades and additional cymbal or tom purchases as time goes on.
What to Consider When Choosing a Drum Set
Percussion instruments have always been part of making music since the beginning of time. Not only do they enrich our listening experience, but they are also the ones that make us get up on our feet and dance to the beat. Our ancestors made beautiful music by rhythmically striking traditional drums with their hands as they sang and danced in groups. Today, we use a combination of different musical instruments such as drums and cymbals or an acoustic guitar to create that kind of groove that makes people want to get up and dance, but percussion instruments are mostly the ones responsible in creating this effect.
You don’t have to do extensive research on percussion instrument facts to purchase your first drums and percussion set, although that would be an option. The buying guide is pretty straightforward and that is what we’re here for.
The first thing to consider when choosing a drum set is the experience or skill level of the user. For music lovers who have just started playing the drums, getting the best acoustic drum kit is the way to go. The idea is to help beginner drummers become familiar with the tones of each drum in their drums and percussion kit and learn how to properly tune their instruments to create the desired sounds without relying on drum sound modules. Most drum set for beginners have 4 components, but when you can find a high-quality five-piece drum set at an affordable budget, such as the Pearl drum set mentioned above, you will be better served. A five-piece drum set usually includes 1 bass drum, 1 snare drum — also sometimes categorized as traditional grip drums, and 3 tom-toms instead of just 2.
For children who want to start learning how to play percussion instruments at a young age, getting them a real junior drum set would be better than buying them those toy-store varieties. You will find the best junior drum set in most online stores like Amazon or Musician’s Friend, and although these drums are sized smaller for kids, they sound and feel like the traditional drums adults use, allowing kids to hone their skills early on. Like their regular counterpart, junior drum kits almost always come in 4- or 5-piece sets that come with a foot pedal for the bass drum and other necessary hardware so kids can use it out of the box.
Advanced drummers who wish to begin experimenting with different sounds and beats will have better use for an electric drum set that comes with a drum module.
Secondly, and just as important, is your type of music. Drum sets often come in two configurations — standard and fusion. Standard sets have larger diameter drums while fusion sets have smaller diameter drums. Larger drums, like the standard’s 12 to 13 inches toms, produce more volume and bolder tones compared to fusion’s 10- and 12-inch toms. If you play mostly rock and metal, larger drums would be your best option. Small ones are good for jazz, blues, and other genres that don’t call for higher amplification.
Lastly, you need to determine your budget. How much are you willing to spend on a drum set right now? If you are an advanced drummer and money is not an issue, you can opt for a top-quality shell pack and decide which components you wish to add. If you are on a budget like most of us are, a complete set at an affordable budget would help you get the most out of your investment.
Final Review of Best Drum Set
Regardless of your skill level, you will always benefit from the best drum set that includes not only the drums and cymbals but other hardware such as the foot pedal and mounts as well. To save you time and energy, feel free to refer back to the list of trusted brands in our list and find one that suits your style and budget.
Last update on 2021-03-06 at 10:35 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API