The 10 Best Drum Sets

Updated February 14, 2018 by Brett Dvoretz

10 Best Drum Sets
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 40 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Few instruments are as historic and important to music as the drum. If you learn to play today, no matter what your favorite style is, you'll always find people to jam with and bands to join. So we've compared some of the top complete kits, from tight, three-piece jazz units to booming, rock-and-roll trap sets. All of these come with most of the components you need to start rocking out. 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. It holds up well to abuse, so it's great for kids who are still learning and might not have the softest touch. It's shipped with everything you need to start playing.
  • very easy to set up
  • relatively amateurish look
  • cymbals sound tinny
Brand Mendini
Model MDS80-BL
Weight 83.5 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

9. Gammon Percussion Complete

The Gammon Percussion Complete is perfect for the prospective drummer who wants to test the waters before investing in a long-term instrument. It doesn't have the responsive, clean tone of higher-end models, but it's great for jamming away at home and learning the ropes.
  • high-gloss black finish
  • includes instructional dvd
  • heads aren't gigging quality
Brand Gammon Percussion
Weight 84.9 pounds
Rating 3.5 / 5.0

8. Yamaha Stage Custom

The Yamaha Stage Custom is a 5-piece set crafted of birch wood, one of the most popular shell materials throughout history. Its unique fastening system minimizes contact between the brackets and the tom-toms, keeping it sturdy and the sound unhindered.
  • easily tuned and tightened
  • cymbals not included
  • softer low-end than most other woods
Brand Yamaha
Model SBP2F56WRB
Weight 50 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

7. Pearl Roadshow

The Pearl Roadshow is a highly popular entry-level kit offered in 4 distinct styles designed for different styles of play, like jazz or rock drumming. It's perfect for the student who needs a well-constructed instrument but doesn't have thousands of dollars to spend.
  • available in 4 attractive finishes
  • thick 9-ply poplar for deep tone
  • only one crash and one hi-hat cymbal
Brand Pearl
Model RS525SCC31
Weight 50 pounds
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

6. Ludwig Accent Drive

From a subsidiary of musical giant Steinway, the Ludwig Accent Drive is a great beginner set at a price that's hard to pass up. Double-reinforced hardware and a surprisingly good sound make this an excellent value for the budding percussionist.
  • chain-driven kick pedal
  • setup can be tricky
  • somewhat poor quality cymbals
Brand Ludwig
Model JF-LC1758-KIT-1
Weight 90 pounds
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

5. Ludwig USA Keystone

The high-end Ludwig USA Keystone comes with everything you need to start playing and maintaining your set on the road. In addition to the instruments and stands, it includes cleaning supplies, cymbal and stick bags, and a drum throne.
  • maple and oak hybrid shells
  • large and robust sound
  • rock star-sized price tag
Brand Ludwig
Model JF-LK7243KXTQRP-KIT-16
Weight 21 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

4. Tama Imperialstar

The comprehensive Tama Imperialstar offers a full complement of four toms, a snare, and a bass drum for the beginner or intermediate rocker. The shells are made from six-ply poplar, giving it a rich low-end and a loud voice.
  • german-made meinl cymbals
  • comes with a stool
  • you may want to upgrade the heads
Brand Tama
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

3. Gretsch Catalina Club

From a company that has over 130 years of drum-making experience, the Gretsch Catalina Club is one of the richest and tightest kits on the market. It comes in a satin walnut finish with durable, long-lasting hardware and high-quality Zildjian cymbals.
  • cleaning and polishing tools
  • shells made of 7-ply mahogany
  • popular brand among iconic drummers
Brand Gretsch Drums
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

2. Pearl Export Series

The Pearl Export Series is a go-to set for many touring musicians on a moderate budget. Its bold tone and durable construction make it great for any genre. It features an innovative, adjustable foot pedal that lets you get the perfect response from your kick drum.
  • available with or without cymbals
  • proprietary locking system on mounts
  • a consistent favorite since 1982
Brand Pearl
Model EXX725/C
Weight 137 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

1. Gretsch Catalina Maple

The Gretsch Catalina Maple is a versatile set that has a bigger sound than their mid-range mahogany lines. Rounded, 30-degree bearing edges allow full contact with the heads, and specially-designed suspension and mounting systems turn those hits into precise, clean tones.
  • seven-piece full-size set
  • well-priced for such great quality
  • two floor and two mounted toms
Brand Gretsch
Model JF-CMT-E826P-SWF-KIT-3
Weight 180 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 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 February 14, 2018 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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