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Having a drum kit in worship adds an incredible sense of depth and energy to the room. While a drummer will keep the worship team in time, the parts he plays will also do an excellent job of raising the atmosphere of the room or venue.
You need a good drum set to do this with, though. Church drum sets also need to last decades living in one place. Here are some good options.
PDP Concept Maple Classic – Best Overall
The PDP Concept Maple Classic (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is one of the best kits that offer the classic church sound. This set has a massive 24” kick drum that sounds big and heavy, and the wooden hoops smoothen out the tomes to give you warm sounds.
The kit sounds best when tuned low, and it sounds incredible when you play different types of tom grooves around it.
It has excellent shell hardware features, including the DW-inspired lugs and tension rods. One of the best things about this kit is its appearance. While that doesn’t affect the tone at all, it’s just such a beautiful kit to have sitting on a stage.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with a snare drum, as all the other Concept Maple PDP kits do. However, not including a snare keeps the cost down.
This kit has the largest bass drum out of all the options I’ve suggested, so it’s the best choice for drummers that want a huge kick drum sound.
Shell Material: Maple
Included Drums: 13” rack tom, 16” floor tom, 24” bass drum
Ludwig Classic Maple Fab – Premium Option
The Ludwig Classic Maple Fab (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is a fantastic option if you’re looking for top-quality tom and bass drum tones. This is the best-sounding drum kit on this list, especially if you don’t apply any muffling on the drums.
They ring out beautifully, and the kit is a standard professional option for both recording and live gigging.
While it’s quite expensive, it will give you sound and build quality that will last a lifetime. So, it’s a more than worthy investment for any church.
The including rack tom needs to be mounted to a snare drum stand, which is a bit different from every other kit on this list. Having no mounting connection ensures that it has as much resonance as possible.
Like most Ludwig kits, the Classic Maple Fab has a vintage vibe to it. Many church worship drummers gravitate toward that kind of thing, so it’s an incredible kit to achieve similar sounds to what you hear on worship albums.
This kit also doesn’t include a snare drum, so just make sure to get one separately to pair with it.
Shell Material: Maple
Included Drums: 13” rack tom, 16” floor tom, 22” bass drum
Sonor AQX Jazz – Best Budget Option
The Sonor AQX Jazz (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is a smaller and more affordable kit that will work very well in small church venues. There are thousands of churches out there that have weekly congregations with fewer than 50 people.
For that sort of setting, getting a large and booming drum kit would be somewhat unnecessary. So, it’s a good idea to consider a kit like this one.
The 18” kick drum is still capable of producing deep tones, but the kit just won’t take up as much space. It’s also going to be a bit softer than a regular-size drum kit, which is what many church worship teams are looking for.
The kit even comes with a boom cymbal arm that mounts to the bass drum to save more space.
The tone quality isn’t as rich or musical as the other options on this list, but this kit will sound fantastic with high-quality drumheads and good tuning.
Shell Material: Poplar
Included Drums: 12” rack tom, 14” floor tom, 18” bass drum, 13” snare drum
Yamaha Stage Custom Birch
It has the best value for money of any kit costing less than $1000, as it’s regularly used in different professional settings.
The birch shells make it sound quite punchy, so you’ll get much brighter and more aggressive sounds out of the toms and snare drum. The kick drum also has a solid thump whenever you hit it.
This is one of those kits that would work excellently in gospel churches too. You can tune the rack toms to sound high and resonating while the floor tom and kick drum sound deep and booming.
It’s not the best option to get the low and warm tones that drums often have in Christian Contemporary Music, but it will fit perfectly into most church setups.
Shell Material: Birch
Included Drums: 14” snare drum, 10” & 12” rack toms, 16” floor tom, 22” bass drum
Gretsch Catalina Maple
The Gretsch Catalina Maple (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is a hugely popular drum kit option for churches. I’ve seen dozens of churches using this drum kit on their stages, as it offers those warm and musical tones that sound so good when you play tom grooves.
There are a few versions of this kit, but I’d suggest getting the 4-piece CM1 version. It gives you a classic church drum kit setup, and it even comes with a snare drum to use.
Pair this set with some large cymbals, and you’ll be all set to play CCM-style songs.
I’ve found the Catalina shells to be very easy to tune. I’ve just never been a fan of the rack tom mounting system. It’s a bit frustrating when trying to position two rack toms. However, that won’t be an issue with this specific set, as it only comes with one.
Shell Material: Maple
Included Drums: 14” snare drum, 12” rack tom, 16” floor tom, 22” bass drum
Pearl President Series Deluxe
The Pearl President Series Deluxe (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is a good option for churches looking for something a bit more luxurious. It offers similar quality to the Ludwig Classic Maple Fab, but it comes with a much lower price tag.
You also get the vintage aesthetic from this kit, as Pearl designed it to have that as a major feature.
The shells are made from lauan wood, which is also known as Philippine mahogany. It makes the drums sound very dark and thumping. They have the boosted low-end that mahogany is known for, but they’re slightly more aggressive in their character.
This means that they sit seriously well in a mix, sounding deep but being heard clearly through all the instruments.
The shells have adjustable tone mufflers, allowing you to dry out the tones without placing any external muffling. This helps keep the purity of all the tones, which is a great touch!
If you love the appeal of the Ludwig Classic Maple but can’t pay the high price, this would be your next best option.
Shell Material: Lauan
Included Drums: 13” rack tom, 16” floor tom, 22” bass drum
Pearl Session Studio Select
The Pearl Session Studio Select (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is a good option for church drummers that want a larger setup. You can play a lot more on the kit with two extra toms, and the mixture of birch and mahogany gives you deep tones that sound very punchy.
I’m a huge fan of the build quality of this set. The toms mount to cymbal stands, keeping the bass drum tones as pure as possible. The Opti-Mount Suspension System tends to work very well with these Pearl kits.
I also appreciate how the kick drum comes with a port hole in the resonant head. Church sound engineers typically want to place the mic inside the shell, so having that port hole will stop you from needing to buy a new drumhead to allow that.
This kit offers very similar qualities to Pearl’s high-end Masters line, but it’s slightly more affordable. I recommend getting this kit with four toms rather than getting a Masters kit that only has two.
It’s also a solid option that would work well for both CCM churches and gospel ones.
Shell Material: Birch/mahogany
Included Drums: 10” & 12” rack toms, 14” & 16” floor toms, 22” bass drum
What To Look For In a Church Drum Set for Worship
Cost should always be the first thing to consider when thinking about getting a drum kit for your church. The amount of money you’re willing to spend will allow you to categorize your options.
If you can only spend under $1000, you’ll be looking at beginner and lower-tier intermediate drum sets. Even those these drum kits are affordable, most of them sound quite good.
They just don’t come with great snare drums or shell hardware. They also don’t tune as easily as high-end drum sets do.
You can get a good intermediate or professional drum set when you spend over $1000. The shell hardware on kits in this price range is fantastic, and you’ll also be spoiled with finish options.
Keep in mind that most professional drum sets don’t include a snare drum. You’ll need to factor that in to purchase one separately. You’ll also need to consider getting cymbals and hardware to hold everything together.
A poor-quality set of cymbals will ruin the sound of a professional drum kit, so it’s a good idea to split your budget in half if you’re also looking for cymbals. Cheaper drum kits sound fantastic when they’re paired with high-end cymbal options.
Drum kits purchased for churches tend to stay in one place for many years. The Pearl Export drum kit that sits in my family church has been there for over two decades, and it’s still going fairly strong.
While all drum kits are very durable, I suggest paying careful attention to this feature when looking for a church drum kit.
Make sure that the hardware is solid, as well as the build quality of the shells.
Most churches have more than one drummer that plays the drum kit. Some drummers hit much harder than others, so you need to make sure that your drum kit can handle anyone that may come across and play it.
When looking for hardware stands to go with the drum set, make sure you get stands with double-braced legs. They’ll stay solid and secure for much longer than single-braced legs will.
If you’re working with a finance person from the church to help push for a new drum kit, it always helps them to know that the kit will last long. Having that knowledge will make them more willing to get a higher-priced and higher-quality option.
The sounds of a drum kit are determined by the wood used for the shells, the sizes of the shells, and the drumheads that are placed on the shells.
Maple, birch, poplar, and mahogany will be your main options when checking out shell wood types. For the sake of worship drumming, all of those work well, but I’d suggest sticking with maple or mahogany for CCM (Contemporary Christian Music).
Maple offers balanced and warm tones. You can tune them both high and low and they’ll sound great in any mix of instruments.
Mahogany drums have enhanced low-end tones. Those are fantastic for songs where you play a lot of grooves around the toms. Some worship drummers love using two floor toms in their setup, and having those sound very deep and booming is a common goal.
It will be easier to achieve that type of tuning with mahogany drums compared to everything else, but you can also do it with maple somewhat easily.
Birch drums have boosted high frequencies, and that boosts their attack to make them sound more aggressive. That’s not the best quality to have in a church that plays CCM, but it’s perfect for churches that play high-energy gospel music.
Poplar is the wood used for entry-level drums most of the time. Poplar toms sound quite deep, but they don’t sound as rich as mahogany or maple toms. If you get a set of poplar drums, you need to get a fantastic set of drumheads that will bring the best tones out of them.
You’re going to see a lot of shell packs when you look for drum kits to buy. A shell pack is a package that only includes a snare drum, toms, and a bass drum. Most shell packs above a certain price don’t even include a snare drum.
Be on the lookout for that, as you may need to buy extra parts to create a full drum set. Some shell packs come with a set of hardware, meaning you only need to get cymbals to make up a kit.
If your church already has a drum kit with worse quality, you can still use the hardware from that set with the drum shells of the new one. That’s usually what drummers do when they upgrade their drum kits.
If the drum kit you want doesn’t come with a snare drum, see it as an opportunity to get a higher-quality one. Every drum brand has a line of high-end snare drums that you can choose from. Getting one of those will improve the sound of your drum kit quite drastically.
For CCM, you’ll need to get a snare drum that sounds excellent in low tunings. For gospel music, you’ll need to get one that sounds great when tuned very tightly. Most gospel drummers prefer playing tight and cracking snares.
The final thing to think about is size. If you’re in a big church venue with a spacious stage, you should get a kit that has a 22” or 24” bass drum.
If you’re on a small stage where every band member fights for space, it may be better to get a kit with a 16” or 18” bass drum.
Smaller stages are usually found in smaller churches, so having a compact kit is actually very beneficial. It won’t be as loud as a larger kit, and that will help it blend more into the worship team that is leading a small congregation.
If you have a large congregation, you’ll need something large and powerful. Remember that CCM usually requires you to have low-tuned toms. You’ll get those sounds easier when using a larger kit.
Best Church Drum Set Brands
There aren’t any drum brands that specialize in only making church drum sets. Any drum brand will work perfectly well for worship music if you tune the kit right and pair it with good cymbals.
However, there are a few drum brands that many churches prefer due to having great value options or good hardware quality. Here are a few of them to check out.
PDP is a family brand of DW, and the whole idea behind the company is that they make more affordable drum kits than what DW offers. You get many of the same design techniques and ideas, but all of it is more streamlined to keep the costs lower.
The PDP Concept Maple is one of the better kits to get for Christian Contemporary Music purely for all the different size options that it has.
Yamaha is a world-famous brand, and the reason I’ve suggested their drum kits here is because the brand has some seriously well-priced options. The Stage and Oak Custom kits cost much less than kits that they rival, but they often sound just as good.
I highly suggest checking them out if you’re looking to get high-quality drums at an affordable price. Choosing one of those is a great way of reserving a bit of your budget for good cymbals.
Pearl is another world-famous brand, and I’ve suggested them due to the large number of professional maple drum kits that they offer.
Maple is one of the best shell types for worship music, as it allows you to get warm and booming tones from all the drums if needed.
Every Pearl drum kit also has incredibly sturdy hardware, which is what you want in a house of worship where the drum kit will sit for years.
Top Church Drum Sets for Worship, Final Thoughts
It’s arguably much more important to have a good set of cymbals for your church drum kit, as those will establish the overall sound that fills the room. So, make sure that you’re setting apart some of your budget to get those instead of spending all of it on a set of drum shells.
Once you have a good set of drums and cymbals, all the drummers that play in the worship team will be much happier!