13 Best Drum Brands 2024

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With so many different drum brands to choose from, it can be tricky to pick just one. All of them offer something special, and most drummers tend to develop preferences over time.

I’ve compiled a list of all the best gigging kits from the best drum brands in the world. Most of these kits sit somewhere in the middle of the price range. They’re not the most expensive flagship sets, but they’re not too affordable either.

They’re all sets that professional drummers love to use in studios and on stages.

Tama Starclassic Maple – Best Overall

Tama Starclassic Maple

The Tama Starclassic Maple (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is one of the best gigging kits in the modern music industry.

This set is beautifully built, consisting of thin maple shells with high-quality die-cast hoops. The maple shells are warm and powerful, while the die-cast hoops round out the tones to give the drums a modern edge.

The kit performs reliably due to the high-end hardware features. Things like the rubber-base claw hooks and Air Pocket rubber feet help the drums resonate freely.

Another thing to mention about this set is the sheer number of outstanding finishes available. The Tama Starclassic line has some of the best finishes that I’ve seen on drum kits. There’s something for everyone, and not one of them doesn’t look amazing.

The kit comes stocked with high-quality Evans G2 batter heads, giving you the best tones straight from the box.

Shell Material: Maple

Sizes: 10” & 12” rack toms, 16” floor tom, 22” kick drum

DW Collector’s Series – Premium Option

DW Collector’s Series

The DW Collector’s Series (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is the pride and joy of DW Drums. It’s a custom line, but you can find hundreds of these prebuilt Collector’s Series kits being sold.

The shells are made from maple, but they go through something that DW calls the 333 layup. It alleviates the tension on each shell, and it causes them to produce really deep and powerful tones.

The toms on this drum kit sound thunderous, while the kick can be felt in your chest every time you play it.

The kit is easily recognizable by the large turret lugs, which signify that you’re using one of DW’s best drum sets.

You’ll find a few different shell designs with these Collector’s Series kits, but the 333 layup option is definitely a favorite. Just note that the kit is really pricey.

Shell Material: Maple

Sizes: 10” & 12” rack toms, 14” & 16” floor tom, 22” kick drum

Yamaha Stage Custom Birch – Best Budget Option

Yamaha Stage Custom Birch

The Yamaha Stage Custom Birch (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is one of my favorite drum sets from Yamaha. This is the best gigging kit available with the lowest price.

It sounds incredible and has top-quality hardware, but it costs the same as most entry-level options from other brands.

The shells are made from birch, giving them punchy attacking tones that suit live situations really well.

The YESS mounts allow you to position the rack toms seriously easily, and they’re sturdier than most other mounts that you’ll find in this price range. Yamaha uses these same mounts in their high-end drum sets, so I love how they’re included on this kit too.

Yamaha also recently upgraded all the finish options, with the new ones looking more refined and pristine. Overall, it’s an amazing drum kit for drummers of all levels.

Shell Material: Birch

Sizes: 14” snare, 10” & 12” rack toms, 16” floor tom, 22” kick drum

Ludwig Vistalite Fab

Ludwig Vistalite Fab

The Ludwig Vistalite Fab (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is a legendary drum kit from Ludwig. Drummers were using these Vistalite kits in the 70s, and they’re commonly known as the big rock kits with huge sounds.

Acrylic shells tend to be a lot louder than wooden shells, and that’s why drummers mostly use Vistalites for rock and metal music.

This particular kit comes with rock sizes as well, as the 13” rack tom produces huge and deep tones.

There are a few other acrylic drum kit options from different brands, but none of them match up to the reputation of the Vistalite set. John Bonham played one of these kits, and countless other rock legends have as well.

It’s a bit pricey, but it’s well worth it to get the big rock sounds.

Shell Material: Acrylic

Sizes: 13” rack tom, 16” floor tom, 22” kick drum

Mapex Saturn Studioease

Mapex Saturn Studioease

The Mapex Saturn Studioease (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is probably one of the most underrated drum kits on the market. A lot of people write Mapex off as being a smaller brand, but I know so many drummers that have played this kit for the first time and been blown away.

The shells are a mixture of maple and walnut. The maple plies give the drums warmth and roundness, while the walnut adds a boosted amount of resonance. This combination gives you drums that sing beautifully when you strike them.

The kit also has several high-end design features that make it feel great to play. These are the same features that you’d find on a DW or Sonor kit that cost thousands more.

If you’re looking for a top-quality drum kit with a relatively affordable price tag, I highly suggest looking deeper into the Mapex Saturn line.

Shell Material: Maple/walnut

Sizes: 10” & 12” rack toms, 14” & 16” floor tom, 22” kick drum

Gretsch Brooklyn

Gretsch Brooklyn

The Gretsch Brooklyn (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is a smaller drum kit that is heavily inspired by the drums in the 50s that were played in clubs and pubs.

This is one of the best sets you can get for playing jazz, as the wide and open tones from the toms suit the style perfectly.

The vintage tones come from the maple and poplar shells. They have 30-degree bearing edges to make them speak quickly, while the double-flanged hoops let the drums ring freely.

This is a proudly American-made drum set, so the quality is outstanding. However, it’s not the most versatile option in Gretsch’s product range. I’d only recommend getting it if you’re looking for a compact kit with really expressive shells.

The last thing to mention is the rack tom mount. It’s a simple design, but I just love how well it works.

Shell Material: Maple/poplar

Sizes: 12” rack tom, 14” floor tom, 18” kick drum

PDP Concept Maple

PDP Concept Maple

The PDP Concept Maple (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is a great kit option, especially if you’re looking for a 7-piece setup.

It’s an affordable professional maple set that works well in every style of music. You’ll see a lot of gospel and metal drummers using this set, mostly due to the larger configuration option.

The hardware features are inspired by DW, and you get a few shared designs like the MAG throw-off and True-Pitch tension rods.

There is also a seriously impressive range of finishes available for this kit. There’s an option for everyone, as you can get the kit in most popular colors.

The only downside is that the kit comes with poor-quality drumheads. It will sound a lot better once you replace those with better heads from a major drumhead brand.

Shell Material: Maple

Sizes: 14” snare, 8” & 10” & 12” rack toms, 14” & 16” floor tom, 22” kick drum

Sonor SQ1

Sonor SQ1

The Sonor SQ1 (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is an incredible professional drum set with top-tier performance quality and playability.

It’s a simplified version of Sonor’s flagship SQ2 Series, but the drums sound just as good. The SQ1 drums were designed with inspiration from classic sports cars, so you get that sort of vibe from them.

The shells are made from birch, giving you punchy and vibrant tones. They’re also designed with a few special processes to ensure that the tones are consistent, and the drums are easy to tune.

If you’re looking for the famous Sonor quality but can’t afford the high-end SQ2 or Vintage Series kits, I think the SQ1 drum sets are just as good. This set will perform brilliantly on stages and in recording studios.

Shell Material: Birch

Sizes: 12” rack tom, 16” floor tom, 22” kick drum

Pearl Masters Maple Pure

Pearl Masters Maple Pure

The Pearl Masters Maple Pure (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is one of the options from Pearl’s recent High-End Re-Imagined campaign. They did a complete overhaul of all their professional drum kits, improving hardware qualities to make the sets perform better.

The Masters Maple Pure is one of my favorite new designs from these updates. Pearl Masters kits have been one of the most reliable gigging options for decades, but this version of the kit takes things to a whole new level.

The biggest feature here is the R2 Air Suspension System. The rack toms are held at four different points to ensure that the toms vibrate as freely as possible. This leads to some of the purest tom tones you’ll hear.

All the drums then have die-cast hoops to control the tones and make them sound very distinct.

This kit is quite a bit pricier than previous Masters options, but it’s well worth the cost.

Shell Material: Maple

Sizes: 10” & 12” rack toms, 16” floor tom, 22” kick drum

A&F Drum Company Raw Aluminum

A&F Drum Company Raw Aluminum

The A&F Drum Company Raw Aluminum is the most unique drum kit on this entire list. Instead of the shells being made from wood, they’re made from raw aluminum.

It’s not very common to have a full drum kit made from metal shells, so this is definitely one for drummers that are looking for something a bit different.

The entire kit is crafted by hand, and the drums sound incredible once they’re tuned up. You get a bit of a vintage vibe, but the drums work well for any musical style.

With the kit being entirely made by hand, it’s one of the most expensive options on this list. This means it’s not a good pick for everyone, but drummers who do own A&F kits tend to keep them for life.

Shell Material: Aluminum

Sizes: 13” rack tom, 16” floor tom, 22” kick drum

Rogers Cleveland

Rogers Cleveland

The Rogers Cleveland is another professional drum set with heavy vintage inspiration. Rogers kits were really popular in the 20th century, and this kit adds a modern touch to those older designs.

The maple and poplar blended shells give the drums warm tones that are wide open when you strike them. They also have an impressively wide tuning range.

The kit comes in two great finishes, but I think the Dark Mahogany one is undoubtedly the better option.

This is an epic option for drummers that play jazz or rock. The 5-ply reinforcement rings give the kit excellent tones in higher tunings, but the vintage roundness also makes the kit sound big and powerful when tuned low.

Shell Material: Maple/poplar

Sizes: 13” rack tom, 16” floor tom, 22” kick drum

Pork Pie Percussion Hip Pig

Pork Pie Percussion Hip Pig

The Pork Pie Percussion Hip Pig is one of the only pre-built kits you can get from Pork Pie Percussion, but it’s quite a popular option in the US.

This kit has 8-ply mahogany shells that give it massively deep tones that offer plenty of warmth and character. I’d say it’s a full-on rock kit, but those deep sounds also make it fantastic for Christian Contemporary Worship environments.

This is yet another kit on this list with vintage inspiration, as the tension rod and lug design look very similar to older kits from the 20th century.

Overall, it’s an excellent kit to consider if you want something with a bit of character. While Pork Pie Percussion is most well-known for their thrones, I think this drum kit offers just as much in terms of quality and attractiveness.

Shell Material: Eastern mahogany

Sizes: 13” rack tom, 16” floor tom, 22” kick drum

SJC Custom Drums Tour Series

SJC Custom Drums Tour Series

The SJC Custom Drums Tour Series (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is a drum set designed with touring the world in mind. While SJC is a brand that mostly custom makes drum kits, they offer this one with custom quality without the waiting period.

The maple shells produce warm and powerful tones, and all the hardware features make the kit perform very reliably on stage.

The kit comes with USA Evans heads, so it sounds fantastic straight from the box. You can use it for any style, but you’ll mostly find rock and punk drummers using SJC drum kits.

The last thing to mention is that the kit comes in four finishes, with all of them looking very striking. The Natural Wood is a strong favorite, though.

Shell Material: Maple

Sizes: 12” rack tom, 16” floor tom, 22” kick drum

What To Look For In a Drum Brand

Product Range

Most drum brands have a long list of drum kits that fall under different price ranges. The most affordable kits are known as entry-level options, and they typically come with a few more accessories to get drummers started.

Slightly higher-priced ones are called intermediate sets. These are typically maple or birch sets that sound great, but they don’t have the best hardware features.

All drum brands have a few different high-end options, and these drum kits offer all the best features that the brands have innovated.

By looking through a brand’s product range, you’ll get the general idea of how the drum kits look and what they’re good for.

Hardware Features

All brands tend to use the same shell materials for their kits. Poplar, maple, and birch are incredibly common. So, the biggest differences to look at between brands is what hardware they use to hold the shells together.

For example, Yamaha uses the YESS mounts to position their rack toms. These mounts feel awesome and add a lot of stability to the kit, but you only get them on Yamaha kits.

Every brand has something like this, so it’s a good idea to clue yourself up on all the designs and innovative ideas to see what you may like the most.

Availability

If you live in the US or UK, you’ll have no problem finding any of these kits being sold in most places. However, other countries around the world may not have suppliers that bring the brands in.

For example, Pork Pie Percussion is an excellent brand, but you’ll mainly find Pork Pie products in the US. To get a Pork Pie kit into a smaller country somewhere else, you’ll need to ship it and pay import fees.

There are a few other brands that don’t have good worldwide reach, so just pay attention to those before deciding that you want to buy one.

With that said, you shouldn’t let it stop you from buying your dream kit!

Prices

While most brands offer entry-level, intermediate, and professional kits, some are a bit pricier than others.

Sonor, DW, and A&F are the three most expensive brands from the list above. An intermediate Sonor kit costs over $1000, while an intermediate Pearl or Tama kit costs quite a bit less than that.

Brands that make their drums in the US tend to be more expensive, while brands that make their drums in Asian countries aren’t as bad.

Artist Rosters

Looking at what drums your favorite drummers use is one of the best ways of seeing all these brands in action.

Every brand has a list of artists that are endorsed by the company. They get support from the brand, and the brand supports them in turn.

Check out the artist roster of the brand you’re looking at, and you’ll be able to see some big names using the drums that you’re thinking of getting. Ludwig sold millions of drum kits because of Ringo Starr, and you still see a lot of that happening with famous drummers today.

Best Drum Brands

Here are brief explanations of each brand, along with information about where they’re based and what they’re known for.

Tama

Tama is a big drum company based in Japan. They’re mostly known for their professional Starclassic drum sets and top-tier hardware.

The Star drum sets are the flagship options, while the Superstar Classic and Imperialstar kits are the more intermediate and beginner products.

DW Drums

DW Drums is regularly referred to as one of the most pristine drum brands in the world. Many drummers dream of owning a DW drum kit.

The brand has three main lines, which are called the Design Series, Performance Series, and Collector’s Series. All these kits are made using luxurious design techniques to achieve the best sounds and playability.

Yamaha

Yamaha is another big Japanese drum kit brand. The overall Yamaha brand is one of the biggest in the world when it comes to musical instruments, and the drums are known to be very reliable.

One of the more interesting things about the brand is that they opt to use bass drum mounted rack toms in their higher-end kits. This is something you don’t see much from other drum brands.

Mapex

Mapex is a Taiwanese drum kit brand that makes some incredible instruments that are surprisingly affordable.

One of the things I love most about Mapex sets is that they have blended wood shells, giving you unique sounds. It’s one of the few brands that offer this with lower-priced kits too.

Ludwig

Ludwig is one of the most legendary brands in the drumming industry. Many of the first drum kit designs were made by Ludwig, and the brand has continued to be a leading force in the music world.

If you’re looking for a good professional drum set, you can never go wrong with any of Ludwig’s products.

Gretsch

Gretsch is another American brand with a long and rich history in the drumming world. Most Gretsch kits have a lot of vintage inspiration, and they have a distinct sound that has been a staple for decades.

A lot of rock and jazz drummers love using Gretsch kits, as the drums cater very well to those styles of music.

PDP

PDP is the sister company to DW. PDP kits share many design techniques with DW ones, but they’re made in China to keep costs low. They’re also made using a lot of machines, whereas most DW drum sets are made by hand.

Sonor

Sonor is the biggest drum brand in Germany. The brand’s drum kits are known to use highly innovative technology to get the best sound and performance quality possible.

All Sonor kits have incredibly rich tones, often being seen as highly luxurious options.

Pearl

Pearl has been one of the biggest drum companies in the world for decades. Most non-drummers know about Pearl due to the popularity of the brand’s drums. 

The drums are made in China and Taiwan, and the brand offers an array of beginner to professional drum kits.

A&F Drum Company

A&F Drum Company is a small custom brand based in the US. The brand is most well-known for making snares and drum sets with metal shells.

All the drums are very expensive, but you won’t find a single A&F snare or drum kit that doesn’t sound incredible.

Rogers Drums

Rogers Drums was one of the most popular brands in the 20th century. You saw some of the most famous drummers playing Rogers Drums in the early days.

The drums are made in the US, but the brand isn’t nearly as popular as it used to be. However, you can still get some great Rogers kits, with all of them being vintage-inspired.

Pork Pie Percussion

Pork Pie Percussion is an American brand most well-known for their great collection of drum thrones. However, the brand also makes drum sets when they get custom ordered.

The only readily available Pork Pie set is the Hip Pig, but it’s such a great drum set that it was easy to mention in this list of best drum brand sets.

SJC Custom Drums

SCJ Custom Drums is an American brand that mainly makes custom drum sets for rock, metal, and punk drummers.

The brand offers a few standard drum kit options, but the custom kits are their most popular export.

Top Drum Brands, Final Thoughts

The competition is really tight between all the drum brands. It’s hard to say which one is the best, so it mostly comes down to what you prefer.

A brand like Gretsch is great for drummers that love vintage flavor, while a brand like Tama is better for drummers that want modern punch.

Look through all the brands I listed, pick which ones you like the most, and then go find your dream drum set!

P.S. Remember though, none of what you've learned will matter if you don't know how to get your music out there and earn from it. Want to learn how to do that? Then get our free ‘5 Steps To Profitable Youtube Music Career' ebook emailed directly to you!

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