Nothing feels better than grabbing a pair of sticks and getting a rhythm going on a high-quality drum set. We remember when we received our first drum set for Christmas when we were about 4-years-old and immediately fell in love with the entire process. There’s something cathartic about being able to jam (or go along with a band in a set song) with some different tones of drums and letting our bodies do the rest of the work. Since we’re such big drum fans, today we decided to review, compare and contrast the top 10 best drum sets in the market.
As compared to electronic drum sets and the continuing advancement of drum machines, digital audio workstations and VST instruments, we still know of many others would say nothing beats an acoustic and real instrument, especially a drum kit. When it comes to building our own set however, we’ve seen quite a split among drummers — those who lean towards building their own custom kits (who have been able to amply research different types of snare drums, hats, crashes and more in terms of what exact sound they want) while others prefer the already-complete drum sets (as seen in here) that all go together to create a similar, whole-sounding kit. It all depends on your preference, of course. If you’re here, you most likely prefer the latter, which we’ve attempted to focus on today.
How to Choose the Best Drum Set
- Budget – The best drum sets that include the necessary pieces to get going aren’t exactly cheap. Of course, there are some decent budget-friendly models were able to include in here to give you some options. However, if you want to get going on a drum kit that will be lasting you quite a few years and provide some exceptional quality, you’ll have to grab a middle price-point or even top-of-the-line set. It all depends on how much you have at hand to spend, or what you intend on saving up after reading this guide.
- How many pieces? Standard drum sets come with 5-pieces, especially already-complete kits for sale in here. However, as seen in our best drum set for beginners, it all depends on the level of play you can gauge yourself to be in (and may be in the future if you’re serious about drumming). Keep in mind you can always add-on to your drum set in the future if you want let’s say an extra crash, tom or snare. There are some that go down to 3-pieces, while others above 8+.
- Shell material\build – Some are a mere metal, while others a nice wooden, 7-ply maple. The more custom of a finish and make your drum set is, the most likely higher priced. The material of both the shell, stands, and mounting system of your drum set will give it not only a more stable build, but a different sound as well. We’ve provided video demos to help you decide on this.
The Top 10 Best Drum Kits in the Market
The following is our list of the top 10 best drum sets in the market today. Since there are hundreds of drum kits out there (MusicRadar did have 46 best drum sets in their guide for a reason), it all depends on preference, and we did our best to choose the ultimate 10 to take a look at. We tried grabbing a wide range of drum sets — price points, material of the make, number of pieces, and brand.
Let us know if we missed a few gems and we’ll be happy to take those into consideration. If you do need some extra help, our guide on choosing drums can help with some details to keep in mind while you pick your set (or perhaps you’ll end up creating your own after reading). Remember these are already-completed drum sets below and you can always customize them how you like later down the road.
Pearl Road Show Series
As far as our research went, we concluded that this is one of the best drum sets in the market for quite a few reasons. For one, the Pearl’s Roadshow Series is extremely popular among drum enthusiasts and the reputation of this group of kits is pretty high when it comes to the overall quality and build of the kit. It’s a 5-piece set that includes a series of high-quality, a warm-sounding snare, cymbals and bass drum. Coupled with the great-sounding and important pieces, the set will give you some high quality hardware as well (the cymbals, hi-hat and snare stands are sturdy and balanced tripods) to ensure stability while you play.
There are also different configurations available to give you some choices, but this particular model includes a symbol stand, hi-hat stand, snare stand, pedal, throne, tom holders (two of them), a crash\ride hybrid (17″) and hybrid hi-hats (14″). With the Pearl Road Show Series, you also have a few drum sticks (two pairs) and a stick bag in the box to give you a complete package. You’re getting a few choices in terms of color\finishes, too: jet black, red wine, charcoal metallic (pictured above), and bronze metallic.
Gretsch Catalina Series
Here’s another one of the best drum sets for the money, especially when it comes to the make — a nice high-quality maple wood (7-ply) that many adore. Aside from the great build and smooth, contemporary-feeling maple shell material, the sound is clear and it is easy to play. The low-profile GTS mounting system is a lot better than many out there, and this helps keep those drums and cymbals sturdy. Their T-wing screws and bolts with rubber isolated die-cast drum claws also aid in the overall build of this drum set, making it well worth the money if your budget allows.
You lastly have a 30-degree bearing edge and natural shell interior to add to the overall quality of the kit. The Gretsch Catalina Series is great if you can afford it. It’s available in a few different finishes as well as configurations if you were looking for more than the standard 5-piece drum set. Don’t forget you can always add-on to it later as well.
PDP New Yorker
You most likely have heard of PDP drums make appearances in numerous best-of guides throughout the internet, especially when it comes to their snares (they made it a few times in our best snare drum guide earlier this year). However, here’s one of their best completed drum kits that’s quite popular among many. Although it was difficult to choose one particular series from the brand, The New Yorker is solid because of the overall quality yet middle price-point it offers — if a lot of the kits in here are too expensive for you, this will still bring some high quality and won’t break your wallet too much.
In terms of features, the PDP New Yorker includes a poplar drum shell material, 45-degree bearing edges, and a few different styles (diamond and sapphire — basically, their color). Many would consider this an entry-level kit but we’d also recommend it for those who are looking for just the essentials without a fancy build or shell material that will up the price significantly. Check out the video demo to see if it the sound fits your ear.
Odery Drums EYE.135-BS-EX(WS)
Up next we’ve got a pretty pin-pointed drum set here, and it was so loved by many it was hard to ignore. This brand is pretty rare and there isn’t a feasible amount of distribution\information with their sets (although we were able to find a link to this one for you), but the quality it brings still lead us into including it this early in our top 10 guide. This is a 4-piece set included in their new “Eyedentity” series praised for the overall sound as well as meticulously crafted shell and build of the set. We love the Odery Drum Sets if you’re into superb build quality and excellent sound.
It’s equipped with a nice 10 x 7″ and 12 x 7.5″ tom, 16 x 13″ floor tom, 22 x 18″ kick, and 14 x 6″ snare. It’s praised for having some Evans drum heads and shells are made of 50% bubinga and 50% sapele, (this material is what really highlights this thing as one of the best drum sets out there).
Pearl Export Series
Here we have another one Pearl’s best drum sets to check out. This particular kit is a part of their Export series, and it’s praised for the decent price-point as well as clear and crisp sound it offers. There’s an ‘opti-loc suspension system‘ (an easy-to-use and sturdy three-way attachment design to help with stability), chrome hardware, and solid tom holders. Check out the video demo for a nice drum solo with the set in action. This is another one of the best drum sets for the money because of Pearl’s solid construction, mounting system as well as the mere great sound it offers.
The Pearl Export Series is available in either wrapped or lacquer finishes as well as numerous colors (smokey chrome, jet black, pure white, red wine, electric blue sparkle, grindstone sparkle) to give you some options when it comes to aesthetics (we’re all at least a little concerned with that, right?). It’s a little more expensive than their Roadshow series listed previously, so if you wanted to take a step up in terms of quality yet still grab a Pearl set, check it out.
Gammon Full Size Complete Adult 5
This was one of the most popular drum sets on the large eCommerce websites, so what that says is it fits the build for confidence of the quality-to-price-ratio aimed towards the broader masses, especially if you’re just starting out. It’s one of the lowest-priced drum sets in this guide and will not break your wallet whatsoever. You’ve got a full-size complete set with 5-pieces; hi-hat, crash, two toms, floor tom, snare and even seat — you’ll be able to use it right out of the box. No maple\high-quality exotic wood make here but that may not be what you’re looking for — some of us just want a standard drum set to play with that’ll keep up with our rhythm and not posses some fancy shell builds for a bunch of cash.
The Gammon Full Size is topped off with a high gloss black finish and some chain driven pedals. It isn’t a professional drum set by all means and we may catch some heat for including this one in the guide, but we really do think it’s a great option to keep in mind, depending on who you are. The customer reviews are super positive on top of it.
Gretsch Renown Maple
Here’s another one of Gretsch’s best drum sets for the money (granted they have many), and this is again considered top-of-the-line and well worth the money if it fits within your budget. This thing is super versatile — it has great projection and attack with a crystal clear sound. Like their previous drum kit, this one is also made of 7-ply maple shells, 30-degree bearing edges and amazing interiors (“silver sealer”). It’s been stated to give off that 1950’s groovy vibe, but it all depends on how you position and customize it. It’s definitely aimed towards a specific taste when it comes to drum sounds.
To combine with the overall build quality, the hoops of the Gretsch Renown Maple are ‘302’. Not to mention the suspension system is solid with their beloved T-wing nuts and bolts to make sure this thing is lasting quite a while, regardless how hard you bang on it. It’s a bit more expensive than the previous Gretsch series, so if you’re going for a high-quality set with some brilliant finishes, grab which one you think is worth the money.
PDP Double Drive
PDP is at it again with one of the best drum sets that’s more than just the standard 5-pieces and typical mounting system\build. This Double Drive series is up there for the semi-pros, and it offers solid sustain and punch, high quality demo heads with black lugs and hoops, and some double-kick action for those who can use both feet. The sound is punchy with big tones, and it’s quite sensitive to your sticks to give you some control over the velocity of your beats.
The PDP Double Drive is recommended for those who wanted more than just 5-pieces in their already-build drum set at a decent price. It’s actually a bit lower than the higher-quality maple finish kits we’ve surveyed thus far, so if you were concerned with having a double kick, a few more pieces and a build that isn’t completely fancy, check this drum kit out for sure.
Mapex Saturn V
If you haven’t heard of Mapex drums, they’re up there when it comes to some high quality complete drum sets. The Saturn V is one of their many high-quality series of kits, and it provides us with some great professional sound, stability and build. Although it depends on which configuration and finish you’re looking at, the maple and walnut shells ensure a unique vibe and distinct feel. You have a choice for a rock or fusion focus, while also getting either a 3, 4 or 5-piece set. However, it isn’t cheap, whatsoever.
All of the Mapex Saturn V are quipped with a “SONIClear Edge” bearing edge. If it fits within your intended budget and you aren’t messing around, check this beast out. You’ll be set for quite a while considering the quality, even if you’re still starting out but want to look towards the future as well.
Ludwig Breakbeats by Questlove
Last but not least, we have a particular set here that isn’t offered in any configurations but just this one. This is great for those who are entry-level and want to get rid of all of those options of configs\finishes for an immediate answer, not to mention it’s made by one of the slickest drummers in the last few decades (Questlove of The Roots). Partnered up with Ludwig (they have a few snares in our best snare drum article), this 4-piece kit gives you some 7-ply poplar shells, a dry and punchy sound, 45-degree bearing edge for great response, as well as triple-flanged hoops if you’re into rimshots to give a pretty complete and essential package for a complete drum set.
The Ludwig Breakbeats is great for smaller venues, apartments, home studios and more since it isn’t too big of a set, but how you use it and where is completely up to you. It’s pretty affordable on top of everything, too.