The 10 Best Drum Sets

Updated November 27, 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

10 Best Drum Sets
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 38 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. So you've resigned yourself to never having any roommates and never being able to live in an apartment. OK. Now you can pick out the perfect drum set. Whether you are just starting out or are a full-gigging professional, you'll find your next kit in our comprehensive selection. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best drum set on Amazon.

10. Mendini MDS80

The Mendini MDS80 comes in seven different color options and has a low price tag. The 22" x 16" bass drum has a chain-driven pedal, and the stands keep all the pieces firmly in place no matter how hard you play, so bang away all you want.
  • comes with a pair of drumsticks
  • has a very amateurish look
  • cymbals sound tinny
Brand Mendini
Model MDS80-BL
Weight 83.5 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

9. Gammon Percussion Complete

If you are a beginner drummer who wants a set that doesn't cost an arm and a leg and has decent sound, then consider the Gammon Percussion Complete. Nobody will claim its the best set out there, but it stands up well to abuse and makes learning about drumming fun.
  • very glossy black finish
  • includes drum instructional dvd
  • low quality drum skins
Brand Gammon Percussion
Weight 84.9 pounds
Rating 3.5 / 5.0

8. Ludwig Accent Drive

The Ludwig Accent Drive is a great beginner set at a price that is hard to pass up, especially once you hear the sound quality. It comes with cymbals and a premium hardware package of the kind you normally see in high quality sets.
  • chain-driven bass kick pedal
  • good resale value
  • require a lot of assembly time
Brand Ludwig
Model JF-LC1758-KIT-1
Weight 80 pounds
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

7. Pearl Export

The Pearl Export is an affordable set that is a step above entry level, perfect for those who have already taken the first step towards being a musician and are ready to move on. They have airtight shells that resonate well and offer a wide tonal range.
  • pedal allows for a lot of adjustment
  • holds up well to heavy use
  • included heads don't sound great
Brand Pearl
Model EXX725/C
Weight 71.4 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

6. Ludwig USA Classic

The Ludwig USA Classic is a great set that comes with everything you need to sit down and get started, literally. It even includes drumsticks, cymbals, and a stool. The red oyster finish screams classy and will make you look great, even if you don't sound that way yet.
  • powerful sound right out of the box
  • easy to replace teardrop lugs
  • good for live performances
Brand Ludwig
Model L8303AX52WC
Weight pending
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

5. Gretsch Catalina

The Gretsch Catalina is a professional quality set for half the price of competing brands. It seems perfect for jazz with its 18-inch bass, though would also serve drum-n-bass musicians well. It is made from beautifully-finished 6-ply 100-percent mahogany shells.
  • rich tone without sounding muddy
  • center-mounted low-mass lugs
  • has a cool retro style
Brand Gretsch
Model JF-CMT-E826P-SWF-KIT-4
Weight 156 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

4. Ddrum Hybrid

If you like electronic drums, but don't want to sacrifice that acoustic sound and don't have money for two sets, the Ddrum Hybrid is your solution. Its low price, versatility, and unique sound makes it perfect for the metal-loving community.
  • internal-mounted triggers
  • all of the electronics are hidden
  • heads produce a dry focused response
Brand Ddrum
Weight 109 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

3. Pearl Crystal Beat

The Pearl Crystal Beat has seamless acrylic shells that produce a ton of resonance, and can be purchased in multiple configurations, including rock and jazz. The included toms are easy to tune, and the entire set seems to have a sweet spot in the mid range.
  • clear pearl branded heads
  • bright and punchy sound
  • lightly rounded bearing edges
Brand Pearl
Model CRB525FP/C730
Weight 100 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

2. Yamaha Gigmaker

The Yamaha Gigmaker is an entry level set that is perfect for the beginner who knows they are going to stick with the hobby, but can't justify a huge cost outlay just yet. It features combination basswood and poplar shells that enhance the mid and low ranges.
  • beautifully applied finish
  • double-braced yet lightweight stands
  • wet attack is great for rock music
Brand Ludwig
Model L8303AX52WC
Weight pending
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

1. Gretsch New Classic

The Gretsch New Classic may seem expensive for a 4-piece set, but once you hear the deep, rich sound, you'll understand why. It produces a vintage tonality, while still producing a unique sound with its versatile tuning capabilities.
  • 30-degree edges warm the sound
  • toms have a sensitive response
  • chromed deep profile rims
Brand Gretsch Drums
Model NC-E824-BSL
Weight 85 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

A Few Areas to Consider Before Buying a Drum Set

It's pretty obvious that drum sets vary in size depending on their layouts, and thus require adequate room to be placed. That being the case, you'll want to measure whatever space you have allocated for a drum set, and then compare that space to a drum set's square footage, and getting those specifications should be an easy task.

For traveling musicians, and especially bands, you may need to take similar precautions to ensure that a drum set will fit into the back of a van, bus, or the backseat of a car. You may also need to take note of a drum set's weight, especially in the event that you'll be carting that drum set several nights a week, from door to door.

Drums are no doubt an investment, and besides measuring out a specific space for them to nest, it's ideal to assess if maintenance is required for the pieces, prior to placement. Check for things like, bald tripod foot support, worn out heads, and built up dust. The more the drum set is cared after, the more likely it is to last longer. When everything looks squared away, place the bass drum in the center of your chosen spot, and build up around it with the other pieces. Ideally, you'll want your equipment to rest on tripods or four-point bases with rubber caps along each leg for better floor contact. Professional drum sets tend to connect the tom-toms to a bass drum, thereby increasing the overall center of mass.

If you happen to be buying a drum set for the first time, it's important to strike a balance between seeking out a (relatively inexpensive) beginner's set and seeking out a kit that can generate great sound. This may require some research, including listening to a handful of video demonstrations by way of a manufacturer's website. Once you've found a set that meets your needs, check to see whether that set comes with an adjustable stool. You cannot get very far on the drums if you don't have a place to sit down.

Several Little-Known Benefits Associated With The Drums

Playing the drums can provide you with a sense of rhythm, sure, but did you know that playing the drums can also provide you with a running list of ancillary benefits? Physically speaking, for example, learning to play the drums can help you to build strong forearms and biceps. Playing the drums can also channel your energy, a reality which has proven therapeutic for patients who are suffering from acute anxiety, attention deficit disorder, or similar symptoms of duress.

Playing the drums will likely enable you to understand sheet music and scales, both of which are based on mathematics. Playing the drums may also open the door to performing with a band, an ensemble, or perhaps even an orchestra, any of which can allow you to engage in a collaborative process that finds its roots in the ancient drum circles of old.

Biologically speaking, repetitive drumming catalyzes your white-blood-cell count, which, in turn, increases your body's immunity to disease. Focusing on the drums can also enhance your everyday cognitive skills, if not your IQ. In terms of rhythm, learning how to speed up a song's time signature can improve your ability to think on your feet.

Music, at its best, has the power to unite people, and to raise their spirits. Learning to play an instrument can provide you with access to that conversation, regardless of whether you aspire to play in the philharmonic, or you'd simply like to keep a beat in the garage.

A Brief History of The Drum

According to historians, early primates were the first beings to beat, or drum, their chests rhythmically as a way of establishing dominance, or communicating displeasure. This learned behavior is so rudimentary - and yet universal - that it is still practiced by apes throughout the world to this day.

While drumming as a concept dates back millions of years, the earliest man-made drum dates back to China around 5,000 BCE. This excavated drum - much like several similar drums that have been recovered from the ruins of Ancient India, Peru, Egypt, and Greece - was made from a cylindrical gourd that had been hollowed out, before being covered by an animal skin. A lot of these primitive drums were designed to be played not by wood, but by hand.

Whereas the Ancient Chinese were the first to use a drum during their marching exercises, the Ancient Romans were the first to use a drum as an instrument of war. Centurion drummers were enlisted to send coded messages across sprawling battlefields. These drummers were also enlisted to let civilians know whenever a military faction was about to enter, invade, or cross through a small town.

American Indians, by way of comparison, are known for using drums during their healing rituals. American Indians are also known for developing the drum circle as a means of encouraging community, while passing down the oral histories of their tribes.

The drum has evolved over the centuries as an instrument that is defined by different cultures. Bongo drums and conga drums have remained a prevalent part of many island cultures, giving birth to ska, and reggae, and calypso. American drum sets have incorporated elaborate kits, along with hi-hats and foot pedals, giving rise to the ramshackle sound of rock and roll, and blues, and jazz.

Today, a drummer could be anyone from a professional percussionist to a beach bum, busking for tips in the sand. As fate would have it, drumming is not only the oldest, but also the most accessible form of rhythm known to man.

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Last updated on November 27, 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as behind the computer screen, Brett can either be found hacking furiously away at the keyboard or perhaps enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He hopes to one day become a modern day renaissance man.

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