So far, you’ve had six months of drum lessons and you practise on your drum pad every day.
Your drum teacher feels you have proven your commitment to playing the drums and suggests you get a kit of your own to work on between sessions.
Those who have never sat on a drum throne or skimmed brushes on a snare might equate the elation you must have felt at that declaration as akin to their obtaining their first ever driving license.
But you... you’ve no doubt given a lot of thought to what you want in a drum set: the configuration, the colour and what type of wood the shells should be, how many cymbals and the make and model of each...
Before you go licking your chops at that Vintage Gretsch Catalina Maple – by some testimonials one of the finest kits you could own, let your Superprof give you some food for thought before presenting drum sets that might also suit your style.
Factors to Consider when Considering Your Kit
Just as the average, newly-licensed driver could not and should not buy a top of the line vehicle, so a beginner to intermediate drummer should not pour tons of cash into, say, a DW Timeless Timber set.
When selecting your first drum set, your budget should be a prime consideration.
By no means are we telling you to skimp or skate cheap. Rather, we put forth that you should consider what you will get for your money.
Is it better to buy a birch Ludwig or Pearl shell pack or a basswood Tama kit?
- The wording in drum sales adverts can be tricky. The shell pack mentioned above is just the drums – and possibly single-ply top and bottom heads – although the wood used to make them is of a higher quality.
The phrase shell pack generally means no mounts, stands or cymbals. No throne and no bass pedal, either.
The Tama kit may be of slightly inferior wood and perhaps doesn’t include a throne, but it will come with mounts for your toms and possibly a cymbal or two.
Bottom line: intermediate drummers may fare better with a complete kit, even if it might cost a bit more than a shell pack.
- The next variable to think about is space: how much of it do you have to dedicate to a drum set?
A fully-kitted Standard configuration, with two-floor toms and a full array of cymbals, can take up a lot of floor space.
If you intend to play in your garage, a shed or even in a disused room in your house, you should take into account how much room you will have to manoeuvre in, especially come time to tune your drums.
- How many pieces should your kit have?
Once you’ve calculated how much room you have, spare some thought to how many drums and cymbals you are comfortable playing.
Also think about the extra room you will need for drum maintenance...
If you’ve only just gotten good at paradiddles and figured out your favourite fills, perhaps you don’t need that second bass drum just yet.
We note here that, while the ride cymbal and crash cymbal, along with the hi-hat assembly are fixtures in drumming, the china cymbal and any splash cymbals are not necessarily so.
You might keep their purchase on the back burner, at least for now.
- Lastly, you should consider drum sets that will enhance the music you play.
If you are a jazz drummer, a Fusion configuration – smaller diameter drums would probably be more suitable than a larger Standard configuration.
The type of material your prospective drum shells are made of will have an impact on how your drums sound.
If you are going to play in an acoustic band, you may want to edge toward maple, but if you’re a hardcore heavy metal drummer, you might prefer birch for the bright, hard sound that it makes.
Now that you have all of this food for thought, let us present you with the best value we could find in drum kits.
We’ll even take a look at an electronic drum kit or two!
Entry Level Drum Kits
When you’re first starting out on the drums, you would obviously want a set that will play well, but you might not have a bunch of money lying around to buy it. These sets may work well for you...
Pearl Roadshow Series
Each of Pearl’s Roadshow kits comes fully equipped, including a pair of hybrid hi-hats and a crash cymbal, and even includes a throne.
As a bonus, you will receive a stick bag with two sets of drumsticks.
The shells are constructed of 9-ply poplar for an extra punchy sound. The hi-hat cymbals sound pretty good but the crash cymbal is a bit on the tinny side.
The bearing edge is set at 45 degrees for optimal tuning, tone and resonance.
Customers rated this drum set at five stars, claiming it to be the best entry-level drum set for beginners and intermediates.
The Pearl Roadshow series – there are several models available on Amazon, sells for £429.
Save money, take online drum lessons.
If you’re rather short on space or if you gig in cosy environments, this is the kit you need.
It only comes in one configuration; the kick drum is only 16 inches in diameter! It does come with a lifter, a tom holder and a stand for your floor tom.
You will have to buy your own cymbals, booms and stands, as well as sticks and throne. You may want to replace the stock Remo heads too, depending on the sound you are going for.
However, considering the price of £409, you really couldn’t do much better for an entry-level set of drums!
You even get to choose between four colours!
Mid-Range Priced Kits
If you have a bit more cash on hand – or have a few gigs lined up and know you can pay off your new drum set relatively quickly, you may consider spending a bit more and getting a bit more drum for your money.
Do you know all about the different types of drums?
Pearl Export Series
In a slightly higher price bracket, this series also features a complete kit that includes, believe it or not, Sabian cymbals!
Specifically, a crash cymbal, a ride cymbal and a pair of 16-inch hi-hats, all with their own stands.
However, you’d best have your own sticks, as there are none included with this kit.
Find out which drum sticks would serve you best.
All hardware, from the drum key to the kick drum pedal, is included.
This drum set’s beguiling sound comes from the blend of poplar and Asian mahogany used in its construction, and even the drum heads sound good (when properly tuned).
You might treat yourself to this kit for only £689.
You could also treat yourself to drum lessons London or in Manchester with Superprof!
PDP Main Stage
PDP has an excellent reputation; you may have read glowing reviews in any drummer forum or magazine, especially of their snare drums.
Like the Pearl series already mentioned, these Fusion configuration shells are made of poplar with a 45-degree bearing edge, and also features Remo heads.
Although this kit comes complete with booms and stands for cymbals, you will have to furnish said cymbals yourself. All other hardware and a drum stool are provided.
The entire kit could be yours for just under £700.
As we’ve highlighted entry-level and mid-priced kits so far, standard progression dictates that we should feature very expensive kits next, such as that previously mentioned Timeless Timber set, which retails for thousands of dollars.
Even though that is perhaps the finest kit available, listing it and others like it defeats the purpose of helping you find a suitable kit before your next gig.
To that end, we’ll look at electric drums, next.
Find out what else you should know before you invest in your drum kit...
Electronic Drum Sets
If you live in a flat and worry that your neighbours won’t appreciate your acoustic displays of rhythm, you may be best served by such a kit.
The Ion Audio Redline drums set comes complete with hi-hat and kick pedals, a four-post, adjustable-height stand and an easy-to-use control module. Even the headphones and sticks are included!
Did you know you could simply plug headphones into an electric drum kit module to mute the drums altogether?
Naturally, the most important feature of electronic drums is the module which, in this case, comes pre-loaded with over 200 sound ranges: whether you rock out or get your hip-hop on, you will find these drums responsive.
And you will be eager too, once you discover this kit’s price of only £173!
If you are already scoring gigs and want more of a sedate-looking set to put the focus on your music, you might prefer the Alesis Nitro Kit.
This kit more resembles the acoustic drum setup, with the floor toms to the side, the snare prominent by the throne and the cymbals in their usual place.
You have your choice of rubber pads, which other drummers report as most dynamic, or you could go for the less expensive mesh pads.
You will have to buy sticks and a drum stool if you don’t already have them. Other than that, you will be ready to play within minutes of unpacking and assembling this kit!
We'll now let you get to it! Let us know how you get on, won’t you?
Now join the discussion: how much should one plan to spend on their drum set for every level of playing?