- Best Mid Range Drum Set
- Best High End Drum Set
- Best Beginner Drum Set
- Best Drum Set for Rock
- Best Drum Set for Jazz
- Best Drum Set for Metal
- Best Kids Drum Set
Best Drum Set
There are many companies which manufacture drum sets and they each produce several different types and models. As long as you have all the necessary information, picking out a drum set can be a very fun experience. Backed by 20 years of experience, I've chosen the best drum sets in a variety of categories which will help narrow your search. Also check out our drum set buyers guide below for additional details to help you choose a kit suited to your needs.
Best Mid Range Drum Set:
Knowing when to upgrade your drum set is a personal decision but should be done as quickly as possible, especially when you begin gigging more frequently. Your beginner drum set just isn't going to cut it on stage and in the studio. We chose these picks for best mid-range drum set because they have shells made from high quality wood such as maple or birch which allows them to sound better than entry-level kits. Additionally, the hardware on all of these kits has been designed to allow for maximum sound clarity. Constructed by established and trusted drum manufacturers, these kits are extremely well-made and can last you a lifetime if properly cared for.
I should say that the terms “drum set”, “drum kit”, and “kit” are interchangeable when referring to a drum set. While the full name is drum set, many people just refer to their drums as their kit.
Yamaha's Stage Custom is the most versatile mid-range drum set with birch wood drums which sound great and are extremely affordable. The YESS mounting system allows for easy tom placement while ensuring the kit retains a clear sound. Read Full Review
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Gretsch’s Catalina birch drums are more powerful than typical Gretsch drums, but still have enough warm to blend well. They sound great in the recording studio and on stage making them one of the best sounding mid-level kits for jazz by far. Read Full Review
PDP's Concept Maple series are very affordable Maple drums that sound great. There are a lot of high-end features on this drum set and they help it sound better than its competitors. This kit has the look and feel of its big brother DW kit at a much smaller price tag. Read Full Review
Tama’s Superstar Classic is one of the most affordable mid-level kits on the market, and it’s rare to find such an impressive sounding maple kit at this price point. This is also one of the most versatile mid-level kits. Read Full Review
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Best High End Drum Set:
A high-end drum set is an investment that you will play for the rest of your life. Drum sets at this level are works of art, and should be treated as such. I immediately purchased hard shell cases after buying my first high end drum set, and every drummer should do the same to protect their new drums. High-end drum sets are made of the finest woods and sound much better than mid-range kits and while they tend to run quite expensive, the cost isn’t as high as other types of musical instruments. If you consider that some high-end violins cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, a good set of high end drums are relatively inexpensive. All said, a high-end kit is worth a hefty price tag, especially since it’s likely to sound amazing for the rest of your life.
The criteria considered when we chose these best high-end drum sets was the excellent sound they produce thanks to the quality of wood used in their construction, durability to last a lifetime of playing, and their versatility which allows them to be used for multiple genres of music. All of these high-end drum sets are made from the highest quality wood (mostly maple and birch) and often they can be customized to any specification. They play and sound great with any style of music, and can fit in effortlessly with any musical ensemble. Made by the finest drum makers such as Yamaha and Gretsch, these high end kits are durable enough to last you a lifetime.
The DW Collector’s Series drums are the best sounding drums available. Top professionals use DW Collector’s Series drums because they sound the best. It doesn’t hurt that they’re also the best looking drums of all the high-end kits. Read Full Review
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Many of the top drummers in the world use PHX drums because of their amazing sound and innovative shells. The attention to detail on the drums and hardware is second to none. Yamaha has put in a lot of research to design the best sounding drums possible with their PHX kit. Read Full Review
Yamaha’s Absolute Hybrid Maple drums are the best high-end drums for the dynamic drummer. They have the classic Yamaha maple sound that most drummers prefer and have all of the latest technological advancements in hardware. Read Full Review
Gretsch’s USA custom kit has that classic sound that reminds me of the great jazz drummers of the past. This is due to the fact that most of them actually played Gretsch drums! It is the best sounding kit for jazz music, or any drummer that likes a warm sounding kit. Read Full Review
Pearl’s Masterworks drum sets are finely crafted to have a unique voice and define a drummer’s sound. They are completely customizable drums that are handmade with the highest level of craftsmanship available. They are the best high-end drums for the drummer looking to create a very specific kind of sound. Read Full Review
Best Beginner Drum Set:
Buying a drum set for a beginner can be a real challenge since drum manufacturers offer many different models and it can be hard to tell the difference. The criteria to consider when looking for the best beginning drum set are their sound, value, components, durability, and brand reputation.
The sound of the drums is the most important aspect of any level of drum set. A drum set is a waste of money if it doesn't sound good. While most beginner kits do not sound as good as the more expensive “mid-level” kits, these picks sound better than other “entry-level” kits.
The value you get for your money is the second most important factor and is usually what determines if a kit is made for a beginner. For me, a beginner should spend $400-$750 on their first five-piece drum set. That should include a 22 inch Bass Drum, 14 inch Snare Drum, a 14-16 inch floor tom, two 10-13 inch mounted toms, and all of the mounting hardware. And while most drum sets don’t include cymbals but some of my picks actually do; however, these are likely to be quickly replaced by better sounding cymbals, but they do add value to these sets in the short term. Additionally, all of these picks include all the necessary hardware and are complete five piece kits.
You should always spend a little extra on drums, because they generally don’t decrease in value if you buy a quality kit; this includes these picks whose value is enhanced by the fact that these are all are made by very reputable brands known for producing very durable drum set. While most of these picks are budget-minded options, we’ve included a couple on the higher end of the $400-$750 price range. However, the quality and sound of these kits makes them more than worth the initial investment and often can be resold for good rate when you decide to upgrade.
Pearl’s Export EXL is in a class all by itself. It is priced slightly above a beginner drum set, but sounds like a mid-level kit. The hardware is extremely durable and this kit will sound great for years to come. Read Full Review
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Tama’s Imperialstar helps to create a lot of sound and is particularly useful for beginners getting into metal music. This kit is built rock solid, the included cymbals and hardware are very high quality, and it even includes an Iron Cobra 200 foot pedal! Read Full Review
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It is rare to find a Yamaha kit that is extremely affordable, but Yamaha has really priced their Gigmaker drum set competitively. It seems Yamaha has the best sounding drums at almost every price point, including this entry-level kit. The included hardware and cymbals are better than most pieces included with entry-level kits. Read Full Review
Ludwig drums is a name that can be trusted to high quality drums that sound great. The affordable Ludwig Accent LC175 is the most dependable, durable kit for beginners and is available in three different configurations to choose from. Read Full Review
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Pearl’s Roadshow is the complete package when it comes to an entry-level kit complete with nice sounding cymbals and a decent bass drum pedal. Available in a variety of colors, the Roadshow is a durable beginner’s drum kit that sounds great and won’t cost you an arm and a leg. Read Full Review
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Best Drum Set for Rock:
Rock music requires a drum set that’s powerful enough to compete with loud guitars and screaming singers. These kits usually have bigger drums and more toms than other genres with it not being uncommon for a rock drummer to have a six or seven piece kit with many toms. The bass drums are usually 22 inches and the snares are 14. The toms vary greatly in size depending on the drummers preference but common sizes are 10, 12, and 13 inch rack toms with floor toms usually 14, 16, or 18 inches.
We’ve chosen the following best drum sets for rock because they all sound great when played loudly and also have a unique sound that will really help you stand out as a drummer. All these kits are powerful enough to push a rock band to its limits but they still have great tone for sounding great in the recording studio or on stage at a rock concert. Rock drums are usually subject to more wear and tear than other genres of music because drums will typically be handled by sound engineers and roadies who don’t know how to properly handle them. Fortunately, these picks are made by the finest drum makers, and are durable enough to last a lifetime.
The DW Collector’s Series are the best drums for rock music because they keep a great tone at loud volumes. They can support even the loudest rock band and have a very unique sound. Top professionals use DW Collector’s Series drums because they sound the best and look great to boot. Read Full Review
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Premier’s Elite Series is their top of the line kit and it’s great for rock music. The different options for the customizable shells really allow the drummer to create their unique voice. This kit has a great tone that fits well with most rock bands. Read Full Review
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The Pearl Masters MCX is really a high-end drum set with a slightly smaller price tag. This drum set is a favorite of many great rock drummers, because it has a very resonant tone. Read Full Review
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Ludwig’s Keystone drum set is the best kit for drummers who want that classic rock sound. These drums are extremely well made and very durable with a shell and bearing edge designed to produce a lot of sound. Read Full Review
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Best Drum Set for Jazz:
The best drum sets for Jazz are very unique. Certain companies have always excelled at making drums specifically designed for Jazz music. Most of the top Jazz drummers have remained loyal to the same company for many years, because these companies are constantly evolving.
For jazz drum sets, I personally recommend 4-piece kits. These kits usually have on rack tom that will have a diameter of 8-12 inches and one floor tom that is usually 14 inches. The snare drum is still 14 inches but is usually made of wood rather than metal. The jazz snare drum doesn’t need to cut through, but rather blend in. Most Jazz drummers use only one bass drum which are usually 18-20 inches. These are smaller than the standard 22 inch bass drums used for Rock music.
These best drums for jazz were chosen because of their tone, warmth, portability, and price. The tone of the drums is very important because jazz drums can be very exposed. Jazz drummers often play in quartets competing with saxophones and pianos, rather than loud guitars. Even big band drummers do not have to compete with the extreme volume of a rock or metal band. Jazz drummers also have the luxury of getting to solo often. Playing a drum solo really exposes the sound of the drums, so you want the best tone possible and these drums definitely deliver. These picks are also very warm, and will blend with any combination of instruments. Most are even versatile enough to use in other genres of music.
You also have to consider most jazz drummers are constantly gigging and usually don’t have the luxury of a roadie or drum tech to carry around their drums. Since most jazz clubs are usually difficult places to load drums, I’ve chosen drums which are very durable yet lightweight enough so they’re easy to haul form one gig to the next.
Gretsch’s Brooklyn drum set is the best set for producing a vintage sound. Everything from the hoops to the finish is designed to deliver a classic look and sound. These are great drums for jazz and have the lasting quality of Gretsch drums. Some drummers even prefer the sound of the Brooklyn kit to that of Gretsch’s top of the line USA Custom, so you know their sound quality is one of the best. Read Full Review
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Gretsch has always been the name associated with Jazz drumming. The Catalina Club Jazz kit looks and sounds like and older classic kit. The mahogany shells provide a unique level of warmth and you have five vintage-looking colors to choose from. Read Full Review
Yamaha’s Maple drums have long been associated with jazz music. They have warmth that blends well and the dynamic range to really perform musically. These drums will support a big band, or provide a full voice for a smaller combo. Read Full Review
Gretsch’s USA custom kit is the best drum set for the jazz drummer that wants a custom made kit. They allow each drummer to develop a distinct voice that’s still grounded in the jazz genre. These drums are of the highest quality and will continue to grow in value over the years. Read Full Review
Sonor’s Martini SE is the best kit for smaller combo gigs in a low volume situation. This kit is extremely affordable and still sounds great. Gigging with the Martini is a breeze because the drums are small and lightweight which makes them easy to position and transport. Read Full Review
Best Drum Set for Metal:
While most high quality drum sets are versatile enough to use in several genres, there are certain genres that are at extreme ends of the spectrum. Metal music is usually very fast, very loud, and requires a specific sound from the drums. We’ve chosen drum sets that are capable of producing very loud sounds that still sound great thanks to their great tone which doesn’t sound strained at extreme speeds or volumes found in the metal genre.
These picks for best metal drum kit are also all very responsive to metal drummers who have spent a lot of time practicing very specific skills such as double bass drumming as well as loud and powerful playing. And since most metal drummers tend to be very heavy hitters, they’ve also been constructed to be very durable and equipped with high-quality hardware.
Pearl's Reference drums are they best drums available for almost any genre. They are great for metal because they can produce a lot of sound, making them a must for the professional metal drummer. Read Full Review
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Tama's Starclassic maple drums are great for Metal music, but the drums are also versatile enough for other genres. The maple shells are loud and at the same time warm, they’re extremely durable, and best of all, reasonably priced for the quality. Read Full Review
The Mapex Saturn is the best drum set for the metal drummer that wants a professional level kit. It is extremely powerful, and frankly a bit louder, than other kits thanks in part to the SONIClear bearing edge which is innovative and effective for creating a lot of sound. Read Full Review
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Mapex Mars Rock kit is a very affordable kit for the Metal genre featuring the same SONIClear bearing edge as the top of the line Mapex kits at a fraction of the cost. This kit produces a lot of sound and will let you be the driving force for your metal band. Read Full Review
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ddrum’s Journeyman Gen. 2 Double Down is the best midlevel kit for the metal genre. It features two bass drums for the classic metal look and sound and provides a lot of sound. Its affordable price and included hardware make it one of the best values on the market today. Read Full Review
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Best Kids Drum Set:
Drums offer the opportunity for kids to begin making pleasing sounds early in their musical training, something which parents should embrace and encourage. The best thing a parent can do to help out a young drummer is to give them a proper instrument. There are many different options for drum sets that are designed for kids (sometimes called junior kits) and are obviously much smaller than normal drum sets which make it possible for small kids to easily reach around the drums.
The sound of the drums is important to keep the child interested in playing music and while junior kits will not sound as good as bigger drums, these picks all produce mature-sounding music. While kids drum sets will need to be replaced in a few years, these picks offer realistic setup, playability, and can also be tuned like real drums.
All of these kits have everything a child needs to get started on their drumming career including a bass drum, snare drum, two rack toms, and a floor tom. They also all have a hi-hat and stand as well as an additional cymbal. These picks also include a foot pedal for the bass drum, cymbal stands, throne, and mounting hardware for the tom-toms. Kid's drum sets will be abused while being played by a child, (because most of them don't know how to properly play yet) but these selections are all from reputable manufacturers who know how to build drum sets which will last.
Kids drum sets should be inexpensive, because they will eventually be replaced with a bigger drum set. All of my picks are under $350 and most are under $300. This price usually includes everything you need including hardware and cymbals.
ddrum’s D1 is the least expensive kid’s drum set that is made by a company that specializes in making drums. Constructed with the durability that ddrum is known for, this kid’s drum set looks and sounds a little better than its competitors at a smaller price tag. Read Full Review
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The Ludwig 5-Piece Junior Drum Set is the best quality drum set designed for kids. Ludwig is a very reputable name in drums and they were one of the first companies to make a quality kids drum set. Read Full Review
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PDP’s Player kit is one of the best kid’s drum sets that are made by a quality drum maker. The hardware and drums are durable and well made. It includes everything your child needs to start playing the minute that you open it up. Read Full Review
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The Gammon Percussion 5-piece Junior drum set is the best value of all kids drum sets. You get a lot for your money with this kit and come with every piece of essential equipment your child needs to start playing today. Read Full Review
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Union’s 5-Piece Junior Drum Set is one of the best kid’s drum sets for the parent on a budget. It includes everything that you need to start playing realistic sounding drums right away and designed to grow with younger children as it can extend higher than other child’s kits. Read Full Review
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Finding the Best Drum Set for your needs
Buying a quality drum set can be a challenge because of the number of options both in brand names and possible configurations. Among other things, this buyer’s guide will help you determine how many drums you need to purchase as well as which brand and particular model to choose.
The average drum set usually has three different drum types which include the bass drum, snare drum, and tom-toms. When choosing a drum set, you’ll need to decide how many of each drum type you want to have in your kit. Most drummers have at least a bass drum, snare drum, and two to three tom-toms. Larger kits usually have more toms, for example, a 6 piece kit may have 4 toms.
The best drum setup options I recommend for beginners are known as either a 4-Piece (snare, bass, two toms) or 5-Piece (snare, bass, three toms). Some kits will include snare drums but others provide only matching bass drum and tom-toms sets, requiring the snare drum be purchased separately. However, either of these options is great provided you buy the right drums.
Supplying the bass element of the groove, the bass drum is the largest in the set. Placed on the ground and played with a pedal, a bass drum typically has both playing and resonant drumheads. Occasionally a hole is located in the resonant head for microphone placement.
Most bass drums are between 18 to 24 inches in diameter and 16 to 18 inches in depth. Rock drummers usually play a 22 inch bass drum and jazz drummers usually play an 18 inch or 20 inch bass drum. For the beginning drummer, I recommend a 22 inch bass drum.
Most individuals have a single bass drum, but some drummers have two in order to utilize double bass drum techniques. These techniques can also be performed on one bass drum using a double bass drum pedal.
The snare drum is unique because of the wire or cable snares spread across the bottom head of the drum to create a distinct “snappy” sound. Snare drums supply the backbeat of a groove and have top (batter) and bottom (resonant) drumheads. Most snare drums are 14 inches in diameter with a depth of either 5 inches or 6 1/2 inches.
Specialty snares are available in other sizes and are typically used for specific genres such as Hip-Hop. Most drummers only have one snare drum in their set but professionals usually have several in their collection for alternate sound choices.
These drums don’t have snares and are mostly used for fills. Sold in multiple sizes, toms feature stop (batter) and bottom (resonant) heads. Common tom diameters are 8, 10, 12, 13, 14, 16, and 18 inches. I recommend drummers start with a kit which includes three toms measuring 10, 12, and 16 inches.
The depths of these drums vary greatly but most are two to four inches shallower than the diameter. For example, a common tom-tom size is 12 by 8 inches (12 inches diameter and 8 inches in depth).
Floor toms are free standing drums with legs allowing them to stand on the ground and sometimes have the same diameter and depth (for example, 14 by 14 inches). Mounted toms, or rack toms, are mounted on stands or poles extending from the bass drum or tom stand.
Most starter drum sets have two mounted toms (usually 12 and 13 inches) and one floor tom (usually 16 inches). These sizes are fine, but I generally prefer the sound of smaller mounted toms. Some drummers have only one mounted tom and two floor toms, but this is a matter of personal preference.
The individual parts making up a drum set can be separated into three categories: drums, hardware, and cymbals. Higher end drum sets usually are sold as “shell only” packs, meaning you supply your own cymbals, drumheads, and hardware. The snare drum isn’t always included so remember to double check whether you’ll need to buy one separately. Drum sets designed for beginners usually come with hardware, drumheads, and some basic cymbals.
The shell of a drum is the most important factor in determining a drum’s tone. Shells are usually made from wood like maple, birch, or mahogany, although there are shells made from metal or synthetic materials such as fiberglass.
Most bass drums and toms are made with wooden shells. Snare drums are commonly made with wooden shells but many are also made with metal. Additionally, there are drum shells made from one solid piece of wood which are generally more expensive than their ply shell counterparts which are constructed from several pieces of wood.
A drumhead is a round piece of plastic or calfskin stretched across the top or bottom of the shell. When struck with a drum stick, the resulting vibrations create sound. The head struck with a stick is called the batter head and the bottom head is called the resonant head.
Hoops keep the drumheads in place and have holes for the bolts supplying the tension. Drums have metal or wooden circular hoops which rest on top and bottom of the shell.
Tension Bolts and Lugs
Tension bolts screw into metal lugs attached to the shell. These bolts are tightened with a drum key and adjust the tension of the drumhead, determining how high or low the pitch of the drum is.
Mounting hardware attaches the rack toms to the bass drum or tom stand. While there are several different designs for mounting hardware, the best mounting options don’t actually pierce the shell of the drum.
Newer mounting hardware designs attach to the rim and some actually suspend the drum for a pure sound. Mounting hardware often includes one or two poles attached to the bass drum for mounting the rack toms.
Bass Drum Pedal
The bass drum pedal allows the foot to play the bass drum. For a more complete description of the bass drum pedal please refer to the Bass Drum Pedal Buyer’s Guide.
Floor Tom Legs
Most floor toms have three metal legs to keep the drum upright. These can be adjusted for different height options.
Bass Drum Spurs
These are small metal poles which attach to the bottom of the bass drum and prevent it from rolling or moving around.
This is the stool the drummer sits on while playing.
Most beginning drum sets include a high-hat stand, a straight cymbal stand, and a boom cymbal stand. For a more complete description of these stands, please refer to the Cymbal Stand Buyer’s Guide.
Snare Drum Stand
The piece of hardware supporting the snare drum. It has three legs, a center post, tilter, and snare basket.
Drum sets designed for beginners often include a pair of high-hat cymbals, a ride cymbal, and a crash cymbal. For a more complete description of these cymbals, please refer to the Cymbal Buyer’s Guide.
While some drum sets do include cymbals, most do not. Remember to double check whether you’ll need to buy them separately
The sound of a drum set is the most important factor to consider when making a purchase. While the quality of the drums sound is in the eye (or ear) of the beholder, most drummers agree wooden drums (especially maple, birch, or mahogany) sound better than metal or synthetic types.
Besides sound, you should consider the quality and design of the hardware included with a drum set. Certain companies provide virtually silent mounting hardware that’s easy to adjust, as well as offering die-cast or triple flange hoops. Most drum sets are also available in different colors and finishes which look nice but typically don’t affect the sound. Naturally, there’s a price difference among all of these options which should be taken into consideration.
Certain companies including Ayotte, ddrum, DW, Gretsch, Ludwig, Mapex, PDP, Pearl, Rogers, Sonor, Tama, Trick, and Yamaha produce superior quality drum sets. While drum kits from these popular manufacturers can vary in price and quality, they can be considered very reliable picks that often last players a lifetime.
Price and Value
It’s no coincidence the most expensive drum sets often sound the best. Fortunately, finding a drum set within your price range won’t be too difficult as most companies offer product lines to fit any budget. Whenever possible, stick with well-known companies such as those listed above rather than an off-brand.
Often manufacturers will package an inferior drum set with hardware and cymbals at a discounted price. I find it’s better to buy these bargain items individually because the included cymbals usually sound terrible and the hardware isn’t very durable.
Cheap cymbals and hardware will often have to be quickly replaced and have little resale value. You may end up spending more money up front, but you’ll save yourself money in the long run by purchasing quality drums first and then adding quality hardware and cymbals separately.