9 Best Drum Sets for Metal 2024

Best Drum Sets for Metal

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If you’re someone who plays metal music, you need a punchy drum kit to stand on its own amongst all the heavy instrumentation that the style brings. While most drum sets would work quite well, there are a few common options that metal drummers tend to go with.

These kits are liked due to them having optimal shell sizes or specific tones. Look through this list of drum sets for metal to see if one of these stands out to you.

Tama Starclassic Walnut/Birch – Best Overall

Tama Starclassic Walnut Birch

The Tama Starclassic Walnut/Birch (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is a highly popular drum kit among metal drummers. There are several variations of the Starclassic kit, but this Walnut/Birch version is a superb choice for loud metal music.

This is only a 4-piece shell pack that includes toms and a bass drum, but it’s an incredible kit with pristine sound quality. If you’re not looking for several toms in your setup, I’d highly suggest this as one of your best options.

The mixture of walnut and birch for the shells gives an interesting combination. The walnut rounds out the tones a bit to create warm sounds, but the birch boosts the attack to add a lot of punch. The overall result is a set of beautiful-sounding toms that still sound incredible when playing quick patterns.

You also get zinc die-cast hoops on all the toms to add even more sharpness and tuning stability.

The Starclassics are most commonly used as gigging kits, but the sounds here are so good that you could happily use the set in a studio.

You’ll just need to buy a snare drum separately to go with the kit. Tama offers a Starclassic snare drum to match this kit, but you may want to go with a metal shell if you’re playing loud heavy metal tunes.

Shell Material: Walnut/Birch

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

Snare Drum: No

Included Hardware: Dual tom holder

Pearl Music City Custom Reference Pure – Premium Option

Pearl Music City Custom Reference Pure

The Pearl Music City Custom Reference Pure is one of the priciest drum kits on the market with this massive 8-piece setup. If money is no issue when looking for a kit to buy, this would be my strongest suggestion for metal drummers who use a large setup.

This is an absolute dream drum set, and it comes with dual kick drums as a base to create a monster setup.

The shell structure is fairly unique here, as Pearl uses a variety of different wood selections for each shell according to its size. This gives you varying tonal qualities as you play down the drums.

The rack toms are made from birch and maple to give attack that is blended with warmth. The floor toms have added mahogany to boost the low end. The kick drums have a mixture of maple and mahogany to give them plenty of body.

This kit also includes all of Pearl’s best hardware features, which include the STL tube lugs, Air Suspension Rubber Tips, stainless steel tension screws, and the 1.6mm Fat Tone hoops.

There are so many setup possibilities when you get this kit, or you could simply set the whole thing up to have a powerful kit that is ready for some thrash metal.

The big downside is that I don’t know too many drummers who would be comfortable spending so much moment on a kit, but that’s why I’ve listed it as the premium option.

Shell Material: Maple/Birch/Mahogany

Shell Sizes: 10” & 12” & 13” rack toms, 2x 16” & 18” floor toms, 2x 22” kick drums

Snare Drum: No

Included Hardware: None

Tama Imperialstar – Best Budget Option

Tama Imperialstar

The Tama Imperialstar (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is a fantastic choice for beginner drummers who don’t own any drum gear yet. All the other kits on this list don’t offer a fully playable setup, as you need to have stands and cymbals already.

This kit gives you everything you need. However, it’s only a good choice for beginners, as the tone and hardware quality are a lot weaker than all the other kits I’m suggesting.

You may be a metalhead at heart, but you’ve never gotten into playing drums before. This is the kit for you. The setup is large enough to play intricate drum fills across multiple toms, and the included cymbals are decent enough for beginner drummers to enjoy them.

As you get better at playing the drums, you may want to upgrade the cymbals, but the drums and hardware stands will still be usable for many years to come.

Just note that the drumheads that come with the kit are quite poor. The best thing to do is replace them as soon as possible with higher-quality options from major drumhead brands, and you’ll be able to tune the kit to sound good.

The trashy quality of the cymbals also makes them fairly suitable for grungy styles of metal.

Shell Material: Poplar

Shell Sizes: 14” snare, 10” & 12” rack toms, 14” & 16” floor toms, 22” bass drum

Snare Drum: Yes

Included Hardware: Throne, bass drum pedal, snare drum stand, hi-hat stand, 2x cymbal stands, dual tom arms 

Mapex Armory Studioease

Mapex Armory Studioease

The Mapex Armory Studioease (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is an incredible option for metal drummers for multiple reasons. The two biggest ones are that it comes with a metal snare drum and that the toms have very punchy tones.

It’s an intermediate-level kit, which is why I don’t think it’s the highest-quality option around, but it’s amazing for drummers who are looking around at kits in this price segment.

The shells features a combination of birch and maple, with birch outer plies surrounding and inner maple ply. The maple gives the drums smooth sounds, while the birch dries those out to add energy and force.

The Tomahawk Steel snare is my favorite addition to this kit. It’s always good to use a metal snare for metal music, as they’re generally a lot louder and more aggressive. That’s exactly what you get with the Tomahawk snare, but it’s also very sensitive to dynamics.

The two notable design features are the SONIClear bearing edges and SONIClear suspension mounts. The bearing edges are designed to get as much tonal response as possible, and the suspension mounts are designed to allow the rack toms to resonate freely.

Shell Material: Birch/Maple

Shell Sizes: 14” snare, 10” & 12” rack toms, 14” & 16” floor toms, 22” bass drum

Snare Drum: Yes

Included Hardware: 2x tom holders

PDP Concept Maple

PDP Concept Maple

The PDP Concept Maple (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is another top-tier intermediate kit, and it’s a very popular option for metal drummers due to the fact that you can get a 7-piece setup.

This kit is also popular with gospel drummers for all the same reasons that metal drummers love it. Even though it’s a maple kit, the toms are very punchy and effective when you play busy drum fills around the kit.

You get some high-quality design features that are inspired by high-end DW kits, as PDP and DW are the same brand.

The True-Pitch tension rods make tuning a lot easier than with many other kits, and the MAG throw-off on the snare drum makes turning the snares on and off very smooth. Those are two design features that you’ll find on most DW drum sets.

While this is considered an intermediate drum kit, it has superb tones that work in all professional settings. So, it’s a great option for drummers who want a large set at a bargain price.

If you have a bigger budget, you could spend the rest of it on high-quality cymbals and stands to go with the Concept Maple kit.

Shell Material: Maple

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

Snare Drum: Yes

Included Hardware: 1x dual tom holder, 1x single tom holder

Sonor SQ1

Sonor SQ1

The Sonor SQ1 (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is a small kit option for metal drummers who don’t need a large setup. However, it’s a top-tier drum set, so you’ll be spending a lot of money on it.

The punchy birch shells are the biggest reason for putting this kit on the list, but another reason is that it’s an incredibly good studio kit.

If you’re planning on recording metal music in a recording studio and you don’t mind playing on a 4-piece kit, this is an amazing option.

Sonor’s SQ1 line is a simplified version of the brand’s flagship SQ2 line. You get similar features, though, including the Cross Lamination ply process, the Optimum Shell Measurement shell sizing, and the lugs and hoops that come with the highest-end Sonor kits.

All these features add to this kit and make it one of the highest-quality kits available. You get incredibly powerful tones that are musical and have a wide range, and those tones transfer beautifully through microphones. That’s what makes it such a good studio kit.

The downside is that you need to get a snare drum to pair with it, and like with the other kits on this list that don’t include a snare, I’d suggest getting a high-end snare with a metal shell. If you’re getting this for recording, a brass snare may be one of your best options.

Shell Material: Birch

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

Snare Drum: No

Included Hardware: No

DW Acrylic Design Series

DW Acrylic Design Series

The DW Acrylic Design Series (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is a good option if you’re looking for a loud drum kit. Acrylic kits are the loudest types of kits that you can get, so this kit will work excellently for live stages where you need plenty of volume.

Acrylic kits are also fantastic for lighting setups where you want to use the drum set as a main feature. You can do some interesting lighting effects that will shine through the shells as you play them.

Both those aspects make this a good kit for live performances. There aren’t too many acrylic kits available from different brands, but I’ve always seen the DW Design option as one of the best ones in terms of quality and reasonable pricing.

This is also a professional-level drum kit that includes a snare drum, which is a great bonus when compared to other kits at a similar price range. The snare is very sensitive, and you can tune it to get all kinds of low or high tunings, and they all sound fantastic.

I wouldn’t say that this is the most versatile kit around, though. While it’s amazing for live performances, it may be a bit loud if you’re someone who practices on a kit in a shared household. Just keep that in mind when thinking about getting it.

Also, note that it doesn’t come with tom holders. You’ll need to buy those separately to attach the toms to your cymbal stands.

Shell Material: Acrylic

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

Snare Drum: Yes

Included Hardware: No

Pearl Decade Maple

Pearl Decade Maple

The Pearl Decade Maple (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is a kit that directly competes with the PDP Concept Maple. Both sets have very similar tones, but they have different hardware features that may make you prefer one over the other.

As with the PDP Concept Maple, this kit is a good option due to it coming as a 7-piece shell pack. It’s excellent for metal drummers who need a large setup at a reasonable price.

One of the biggest hardware differences is that the 10” and 12” rack toms mount to individual arms that stick into the bass drum, whereas the PDP Concept Maple toms mount to a shared tom holder.

A lot of drummers prefer the single tom arms, as they allow you to angle the rack toms a bit better. However, I’ve found that you need to do a bit more fine-adjusting with these Pearl toms to get them situated comfortably.

The best thing to do is to make direct comparisons between this and the PDP kit to see which one you prefer. They’re both incredible kits.

Shell Material: Maple

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

Snare Drum: Yes

Included Hardware: 3x single tom holders

What To Look For In a Drum Set for Metal

Size

Size should be the first thing that you consider when looking to buy a drum set for metal. The type of configuration you get will tie in with what your playstyle is.

Some metal drummers have ten drums surrounding them in their setup, while others only have a simple setup of four.

Drummers like Matt Halpern play progressive metal on simple setups, while drummers like Mike Portnoy have every drum shell that you could imagine in their set.

When buying a kit, you’ll mostly have the choice of getting a set that has three to eight shells. If you want more than that, you’ll need to buy them separately.

Shell Material

The shell material affects how the drums sound, but this isn’t the biggest thing to worry about for metal drumming, especially if you plan on playing quick and busy drum fills. Also, a lot of metal drummers use triggers that change the drum tones anyway.

However, the one thing to check out for is attack and volume. You’ll see that a lot of the kits I suggested above have birch shells. This is largely due to birch kits having slightly more punchiness, which is excellent for high-energy metal drumming.

If you’re planning on muffing your toms to get tight and quick tones, then you don’t need to worry too much about the shell material. Just note that poplar shells are the cheapest, often leading them to have the lowest-quality tones.

Hardware Stands

With all the kits that I suggested above, some of them come with cymbal stands and tom arms, while others don’t. Most shell packs don’t come with cymbal stands, so you typically need to buy those separately.

However, something important to note is that a lot of high-end shell packs don’t come with mounts to set the toms up. If the toms don’t attach to the bass drum, it’s normal for companies not to include the clamps that you need to attach them to cymbal stands.

Make sure to look out for that, as it can be a disappointing aspect of setting up a new kit that you just bought if you don’t have the clamps yet. Also, make sure to get mounts that fit the design that is on the rack toms of the kit you get.

Drumheads

All drumkits come with stock heads when you purchase them, but only high-end kits come with professional stock heads. When buying a beginner or intermediate kit that costs under $2000, one of the best ways to immediately improve the sound is by getting proper drumheads.

It can be quite pricey when you’re replacing all the heads on an 8-piece kit, but the investment is more than worth it when you get much better tonal quality.

Some drummers like to replace the bottom heads as well, but that won’t make as much of a difference as replacing the top ones.

Cymbals

It’s your cymbals that make or break your overall drum kit sound. While all the kits that I mentioned above are excellent, your kit can sound very poor if you have low-quality cymbals.

So, make sure that you match the shell pack that you buy with good cymbals. It’s always better to save money on a kit and spend that saved money on better cymbals.

When it comes to metal music, you need cymbals that are bright and cutting. Just keep that in mind when looking at different kits to buy. A $3000 drum kit with $300 dollar cymbals will always sound terrible.

Price

Pricing is the final thing to look into before you make the decision to buy a kit. While the number of drums you get is affected by the subgenre of metal you play, you also need to consider the fact that larger configurations are more expensive.

On the flip side, you could get a lower-quality set that has more shells, but you’ll be sacrificing sound quality for a more affordable purchase.

After that, you also need to factor in cymbals and stands to hold the kit together. Drums are never cheap, especially for metal drummers!

Best Metal Drum Set Brands

Again, any drum set would work perfectly well for metal drumming. Drum kits don’t get created to suit specific styles. However, here are some brands that the wider metal drumming community tends to prefer over others.

Tama

Tama has a large roster of metal drummers on their artist list, so aspiring metal drummers often have Tama players as their biggest influence. The high-quality available kits from the brand, along with their culture of metal music among artists, makes Tama a great option to go with.

Pearl

Pearl drums have some of the heaviest-duty and most durable hardware out of all the drum kits on the market. That’s a big reason for Pearl kits being excellent options for metal drummers. When you’re bashing on the drums gig after gig, you want hardware that will handle the intensity.

Pearl also offers several kits that come in seven or eight-piece setups, which are ideal for metal drummers who want big kits.

DW

When suggesting high-end drum brands, DW will always make the list. The brand makes some of the best drum sets in the world, and there are plenty of famous metal drummers that use the kits. Some big ones are Matt Garstka, Derek Roddy, and Chris Turner.

Mapex

Mapex is another drum kit brand with a large artist roster that includes metal drummers. The kits from the brand are known to be a lot more affordable, considering what they offer, so it’s a good idea to see if you can get a Mapex kit with a great deal of a price tag.

Top Drum Sets for Metal, Final Thoughts

There are so many subgenres of metal that one kit may not fit all sizes. You’ll also need to worry about things like cymbals and triggers. However, having a solid base will make setting up a fantastic setup a lot easier.

Check out all the options I mentioned above. I made sure to include a wide variety of brands, prices, and configurations that will all work excellently for most metal drummers.

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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