In addition to being a private violin teacher, Alecia started writing music-related articles 3 years ago and has been enjoying this experience greatly. Loves quilting and scrapbooking in her free time.
Marcus has a vast experience in digital audio and sound design. Thanks to his knowledge, he actively helps musicians with technical problems, improving their audio quality and even promoting their tracks so that thousands of listeners could enjoy some really good music.
Last updated: May 20, 2021
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Playing the drums can be a lot of fun. So, when you’re looking for the best drum set, it’s important to know what you need from the very start. There are a lot of kits out there, and depending on your level of proficiency, you’ll need to look at various factors to get the decision right. That can be difficult and confusing, but we’re here to help.
We’ve looked at 29 different drum sets out there on the market, and picked ten of them that we liked the most to help you buy your own ideal drum kit. Whether you’re a full-on metalhead or a whimsical jazz percussionist, there will be a kit on our list to suit you. At the head of our list of the ten best drum sets out there, sits our Editor’s Choice – the stunning Pearl EXX725S five-piece kit. We completely loved this drum set because it looks fantastic, made of smokey chrome and mahogany, but also because this kit could take you right through your drumming journey – from novice to pro – such is the depth of what it offers. However, don’t worry if this kit isn’t your thing, because we also included nine other wonderful sets in this article.
We’ve spent 59 hours scanning official websites, looking at customer reviews and feedback, and asking experts about different products so we could compile this list of the best. We’ve also paid close attention to factors like drum set sizes, colors, shell materials and quality, and even at warranties. Keep reading, and you’ll find a detailed review section with the sole purpose of helping you find the best drum set. You’ll also find our handy buying guide, too, designed to set you straight on drum terminology and features.
For decades, the Pearl Export series has been the go-to kit for a whole plethora of professional drummer types, from metal and rock to indie, jazz, and even pop music percussionists. When it comes to the crunch, not many drum kits on the market can keep up with the Pearl Export series in terms of strength and durability, as well as overall sound quality and playability.
What’s more, the Pearl Export Series now has Pearl’s S.S.T. (Superior Shell Technology) built-in as standard, and that means a bulletproof six-ply poplar and mahogany construction, which will not only go the distance if you’re a gigging musician – it’ll sound deep and rich too. You get Pearl’s patented Opti-Loc tom mounts, and all of the hardware – which comes included with the Pearl EXX725S as standard – is of the 830-Series hardware specification, and that’s one of the best drum kit hardware standards that there is. Couple all of that with the supplied P930 Demonator Pedal, and you have one heck of a percussion weapon at your fingertips. You can even go for a package with drumsticks and wonderful Sabian cymbals if you like.
If you want to look great as well as sound great, Pearl offers this drum set in a range of five beautiful stock finishes. In short, the Pearl EXX725S is the one to beat – literally.
What are its best features?
6-ply poplar and mahogany shells
Five different colors
Perfect for many genres
What could be improved?
No drumsticks or cymbals included with the standard package
Next up on our list is the excellent Yamaha Stage Custom Birch set, and you might be forgiven for skimming straight past this set once you’ve seen what the package includes, but that could prove to be a big mistake. While the Yamaha Stage Custom Birch drum set doesn’t come with much hardware and lacks cymbals, it’s not wise to automatically rule it out – if your budget extends to adding a nice set of cymbals, then make no mistake – this five-ply birch kit is absolutely amazing for players of any level.
What you do get included here is the aforementioned shell construction, and that’s very close to the build of a Yamaha studio kit. Yamaha claims that lighter lugs help with sustain and resonance, and these sets are known for producing a very warm sound. This model would definitely suit everyone from beginners with a good budget to professional musicians, and while you will need to spend a bit before you can play, sometimes, buying the exact cymbals you want is a big advantage. Unless money is tight, and you are purely rating this Yamaha kit on the quality of what’s supplied, this model fully deserves its place high up on our chart, and it’s a worthy rival to the Pearl model in the first place.
Why is it special?
Full birch five-ply shells
Low mass lugs for richer sound
Great for all-level players
What are the flaws?
You’ll have to pay extra for hardware, a kick pedal, and a drum throne
The third product on our list is the excellent Gretsch Renown, and this is really one for the purists. If you’re looking for a drum kit that is going to get you up and playing immediately, move on because this product won’t be for you. If, however, you’re a session drummer or a musician who works both gigging and recording, the Gretsch Renown is probably going to turn your head. The Gretsch set oozes quality, and it’s going to be hard to find a better tone and depth – anywhere.
You get shells made exclusively from two types of maple, and all of the shell hardware is Gretsch-manufactured. There have been zero corners cut here. The cast-iron hoops on Gretsch sets are known for their quality and power, and the Gretsch Renown doesn’t lacking them. Best of all, however, for the purists out there, you get to pick your own snare drum – although that obviously won’t be attractive for beginners.
Moving on to the fourth model on our list is the fantastic Tama Superstar Classic CL72S set, and this really is a fine piece of equipment. Let’s face it, our chart is basically a list of drum manufacturer royalty, and Tama is no exception to that.
The Tama Superstar Classic CL72S is a seven-piece set, and it’s great to improve your technique or to gig with. The build quality is hard to beat here too, and you get six-ply shells on all of the drums except the bass drum – which boasts eight-ply construction. Tama hasn’t skimped here, because all of those plies are maple, which will make for both strength and a lovely tone.
This kit includes eight, ten, and twelve-inch toms, and the two floor toms are fourteen and sixteen-inches.
If you are a big fan of metal and want to make everyone around go mad, this is your pick. Unfortunately, you will have to pay more for cymbals and hardware because that is not included in the package.
Here we have our stunning Pearl Masters Maple Complete shell set, and what you get here is simply of the highest quality. It’s important to note that this package will only be for the advanced players with professional-level budgets, as well as professional or very serious musicians themselves. The Pearl Masters Maple Complete is a four-piece shell pack and has a full maple shell construction with exquisite design.
What you do get when you choose the Pearl Masters Maple Complete kit is a drum set that will give any professional drummer’s set a run for its money. You could mic it up and go play a stadium – it’s as simple as that. Every listener will love its unique and rich sound. These Pearl shells come in a choice of two finishes – matte or sparkle lacquer. You get full Remo heads, and just in case any doubts remain, you also get a lifetime warranty.
However, you don’t get hardware beyond the bass drum legs, there is no snare drum supplied, and you won’t get cymbals or stands.
Next up on our chart of the ten best drum sets is the very buyable Ludwig Accent Drive, and if you’re just starting out or you simply want to buy one item that will get you up and running immediately – you just found it.
The Ludwig Accent Drive is the first genuinely complete kit on our list, and while it’s a budget set – especially by Ludwig standards, there really isn’t any reason that this set can’t do a lot more than just be a decent student option.
You get a very playable five-piece set here, and absolutely everything you need is included – even the throne. There’s a chain-driven kick pedal, a very decent snare drum, and the shell construction of the two toms, floor tom, and the bass drum is nine-ply poplar. That definitely speaks for its quality, and that manufacturer created this product to help out many people who are just starting out. Although cymbals will require an upgrade a bit later, the Ludwig Accent Drive will have many novices rushing out to buy it.
Now, we want to introduce the PDP Concept Maple -5-Piece Kit, and this is a manufacturer that you could call a new kid on the drum-making block, although PDP has been causing a bit of a stir for a while now. The PDP Concept Maple -5-Piece Kit is another shells only package, but don’t let that put you off. What you get here is a very well put together set of five pieces that include a ten-ply snare drum, and toms, floor tom, and a bass drum, which are all constructed with seven-ply wood.
The material used here is maple, and this set comes in several colors, which include black sparkle, blue sparkle, natural maple lacquer, pearlescent white, red-to-black fade, and silver-to-black fade. Remember that this package does not include hardware or cymbals, but definitely consider this set as the basis for a custom build. Moreover, you can choose a set of seven pieces, which makes this model and incredibly upgradable option.
The next drum set on our list of the ten best available gets its place here mainly by virtue of its versatility. The ddrum Hybrid 6 Kit will appeal to a specific type of drummer and is ideal for musicians who need to be able to record in the studio, practice quietly, and go out and play a gig acoustically – all on the same drum set.
How’s that possible? Well, the ddrum Hybrid 6 Kit is a hybrid drum set that allows you to play it either electronically or acoustically. If you use regular heads, it’ll play pretty much exactly like any other acoustic drum set on the market. Here’s the clever bit, however. The ddrum Hybrid 6 Kit includes triggers that will enable you to play it as on electronic drums once you’ve switched your set-up to mesh heads. If you’re not switching between stage and studio too often, this kit could well be worth a look.
The only drawback of this product is that there is poor customer support.
The Mapex Mars 5-Piece Rock kit is a shell pack that doesn’t cost the earth. The shells here are of 100% birch construction, and this is a five-piece set with six-plies all around.
Although you don’t get any hardware or cymbals supplied with the Mapex Mars 5-Piece Rock Shell Pack, the drums themselves do seem to be reasonably well put together, and the overall quality and visual appeal of this particular package seem fine. You get a fourteen-inch snare drum, ten and seven-inch toms, a twelve-inch floor tom, and a twenty-two by eighteen-inch bass drum.
Many musicians picked this option to play rock music and didn’t regret it because it provides a lot of balance and response. You will need to add your own hardware and cymbals, which is not necessarily that bad because you can adjust everything as you like, although it will cost you a bit more compared to the complete package.
Overall, the Mapex Mars 5-Piece Rock Shell Pack is up against some world-beating manufacturers at this price point, and it’s going to give you great deep sound every time you play it.
The last product on our list is the Sonor AQ2 Martini, and this is a four-piece shell pack. It features one bass drum-mounted tom, along with a standard thirteen-inch floor tom, eight-inch tom and a twelve-inch snare. It seems to be quite compact, and the fact of the matter is that this shell pack would be an excellent option for the jazz drummers out there, and it’s going to appeal to many of them. However, don’t forget that it doesn’t come with cymbals and hardware, so you will need to get them separately.
The white marine pearl finish on the Sonor AQ2 Martini set is quite lovely, and it will look stunning during any live performance. This drum set harks back to the old jazz kits of yesteryear, and there’s a touch of the music hall about it that many will find attractive.
Overall, if the Sonor AQ2 Martini shell pack suits your style of play, it wouldn’t be a bad place to start building a kit.
What makes it stand out?
Perfect for jazz
Lovely pearlescent white finish
Compact and portable
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?
Cymbals and hardware are not included
Things to Consider
When it comes to finding the best drum set, no matter whether you need it for practice or live performances – this buying guide has been designed to assist you. Looking for the right product is all about knowing the ins and outs of the features and available options from different makers. We’re going to try to talk you through the essential aspects and attributes that make a great drum set, so you could enjoy playing it for years!
How to pick the best drum set
Getting your own drum set doesn’t have to be a chore, although the variety of choices out there is massive. Having a realistic idea about what you need from your new instrument will improve your chances of finding what you are searching for. With that in mind, look around for a kit that suits the style or music genre you typically play, search for attributes and set-ups that are going to fit the way you perform.
Level of the player
When it comes to buying a drum set, how advanced your drumming technique is can be the ideal basis for forming your decisions. If you’re a superior drummer, you will very likely want to consider only the quality of shells ignoring all the included cymbals and hardware that will be replaced immediately. That’s why you might prefer looking for shells only packages.
The same is true about the advanced musicians that sometimes develop keen preferences for items of equipment from different makers and often want to retain some parts from an older kit when upgrading to a new one. What it boils down to is that advanced musicians are making different decisions compared to novice players when they’re buying equipment. Finding the best beginner or intermediate drum set when you’re a relative novice requires a different approach to that taken by the experienced drummer when they’re searching for the best sounding drum set to use in the studio or at a gig. The ddrum Hybrid 6 Kit is a very illustrative example of what some advanced players are looking for. Depending on whether they’re session drummers – often needing to be set up for studio work, or an all-out gigging musician, they’ll need to consider many facets when buying a new kit.
In some ways, for the novices out there, finding the ideal set is simply a case of keeping it sensible and searching for drum sets that include hardware and cymbals.
Number of pieces
As we’ve already touched on, everyone is looking for a different set-up. If you’re a beginner, you really only need a basic five-piece set-up, with a hi-hat, crash, and a ride cymbal, plus a floor tom and two additional toms, a bass drum, and a snare drum. Those drums will enable you to practice everything you’ll need to learn the basics of drumming – and if it came down to it, you could play a gig with almost any band in the world just with that basic kit. Check the Ludwig Accent Drive if you’re a novice player looking to start playing right away.
For the guys and gals out there who play massive drum sets, you’ll already know that there is basically no limit to what you can hit and make a noise. Even then, however, some of the seven and five-piece drum sets are where the journey begins, and let’s face it, most drummers start with a small van and end up needing a bigger one.
The best thing about drumming is the scope it presents to experiment and expand your kit.
Drum set shells are the round, vertical sections of drums. On the bass drum, the shell sits horizontally. On most acoustic drum sets, the shells are constructed from wood. As it is often the case with furniture, when wood needs to be formed into a relatively tightly bent shape, the craftsman will turn to a technique, which involves laminating (layering) several thin slices of wood together, in order to make the material more bendable. Each layer in the finished product is called a ply – if you look at the end of a sheet of plywood, you’ll see several layers of (usually hardwood) glued together so that the grain runs opposite ways in each layer. This makes for a very strong final product with rich and deep sound.
It can be argued that when it comes to the drum set, visuals are almost as crucial on the stage as the sound the drums make. The drum sets tend to attract a lot of attention, and there is no reason why the percussion section should not look great.
While it probably isn’t the best advice to tell anyone to pick a drum set based on how it looks, that’s not to say you shouldn’t give it some serious consideration.
The drum sets out there with absolutely killer paint jobs and finishes can cost a small fortune. However, it’s possible to gain the admiring looks of an audience and really make a visual statement by merely choosing an option finished in a bold color – and there are plenty out there at an affordable price, such as the excellent and striking PDP Concept Maple -5-Piece Kit, which comes in a range of stunning colors.
Hardware is an important consideration for two main reasons. First, if it’s included, you don’t have to spend more money and time on that, so you can start playing right away. Second, if it’s of high quality, you will less likely want to replace it soon. Hardware is what takes a lot of the forces you exert when you play the drums, so it’s essential the materials used are up to the job. Look at the girth of stands and the size of the moving parts. The last thing you want, if you’ve managed to find a kit that includes hardware, is to have to go out and upgrade it anyway because it can’t withstand a journey or a heavy jamming session.
For instance, the Pearl EXX725S kit is an excellent piece of percussion equipment that comes with a pedal and all the stands that have a high quality of build and will last you longer.
Cymbals are one of the parts of a drum set that can make or break it. Partially that is so because they are made to a very broad range of standards. One cymbal may sound almost infinitely better than another, even if very similar materials and processes have gone into the construction.
Much as with hardware, firstly, it’s wise to check if cymbals have been included – as that’s not always the case. Some kits on our list will require you to fork out extra cash for cymbals.
Secondly, if the kit you’re looking at does include cymbals, make sure they’re of a decent quality.
For example, the Pearl EXX725S offers you an option with wonderful Sabian cymbals that many professionals use for their live performances.
Other important features
When it comes to your own drum set, what’s included in the package will dictate how much additional cash you’ll need to part with before you can play. Remember to look for what’s in the box. Sometimes, bass drum pedals and thrones (stools) are not part of the deal the maker is offering – and that can be a costly oversight. Some kits include cymbal sets, and some don’t. If you want to get drumming straight out of the box, look for kits that include cymbals, a throne, pedals, and even drum sticks. The Ludwig Accent Drive is an excellent example of a ready-to-play package.
Buying a drum set is always going to involve spending a notable amount of money, and as with any purchase of that type, a strong warranty is going to be a bonus. The peace of mind a warranty provides is all about protection against faulty workmanship or component failure. Remember to check out the type and length of warranty on each drum set you consider. For example, the Pearl Masters Maple Complete is a drum set with an outstanding lifetime warranty.
There are a couple of premium sets available around the $1000 mark, such as the Tama Superstar Classic CL72S, although a high-quality professional drum set like the Pearl Masters Maple Complete will cost you a lot more. Be careful to check what’s included in the package before you buy, as hardware and cymbals will require some considerable extra budget.
Getting a complete set of drums is always going to be the most convenient way to start learning the art of percussion. There’s nothing easier than having everything you need in one box – especially when you’re still learning the terminology, and it’s going to be more challenging to go out to find and buy what you need. For beginners, a basic five-piece kit will be a great place to start. The best small drum set is often the best place to learn the basics. Try to find a package that includes a ride cymbal, a crash cymbal, and a hi-hat cymbal set. Make sure that hardware (cymbal and drum stands), a throne (stool), and a bass pedal are included – and you’ll be good to go. Remember that even the best starter drum set is entirely extendable. You can add extra drums, cymbals, and hardware later on – and you don’t even need to stick to components from any one manufacturer either.
Most acoustic drum sets are self-explanatory when it comes to assembly, and you should be absolutely fine – even with a complete absence of manufacturer’s instructions. Where you might benefit from some information, however – especially if you’re a novice – is in the tuning up and tensioning of some of the drums. If that’s the case, YouTube is an excellent source of knowledge, and there are thousands of experienced drummers who are willing to lend newbies a hand. Video instructions are a great way to learn about tuning up a drum set, as you can easily take in both visual and audible information.
This is going to come down to several factors. One of those factors is how hard you play – which can be affected by the style or genre you most often perform. How frequently you use your drum set is another influencing factor, as is how well you look after your drum set. Expect to replace some parts periodically. Nothing lasts forever, and you will need to service and maintain your drum set. The good news is that even the best cheap drum set will last a long time with the right care and attention.
So, that’s that. We’ve taken a close look at ten of the best drum sets on the market, and we’ve managed to find a kit to suit all budgets and levels of proficiency too.
The drum set that stole our Editor’s Choice here was the absolutely outstanding Pearl EXX725S set, and this was a kit that will have a lot of drummers out there rushing to buy due to its construction and the quality of the sound.
In the second place, we have the equally attractive Yamaha Stage Custom Birch. This drum set had many of the features and attributes that a lot of drummers of any levels look for, and the quality of its construction was second to none.
In the third place on our chart, there is an excellent option for professionals who like gigging and recording as well as who is looking to upgrade an existing kit, was the very playable Gretsch Renown. This kit is certainly no slouch at providing deep and marvelous sound.
We hope that this information was helpful, so you could find the best drum set for your needs!