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Ludwig is one of the oldest and most legendary drum brands in the world. Many of the original drum kit innovations were pioneered by Ludwig in the early 20th century, and the brand has continued to offer some of the best kits ever since then.
Whether you’re a new drummer looking for a first kit or a seasoned professional looking for a studio option, you’ll find a Ludwig kit that can do the job.
Here are seven of the best Ludwig drum sets you can get.
Ludwig Classic Maple Fab – Best Overall
The Ludwig Classic Maple Fab (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is one of Ludwig’s top drum sets. This is also a great kit for gigging drummers, as the price tag isn’t too high and it produces incredible tones that work for any style.
The 7-ply North American maple shells give the kit huge tones that are packed with projection and power. They’re quite warm and balanced too.
The hand-sanded bearing edges ensure that all the tones are even, and the drums vibrate freely to produce the purest tones possible.
The shells also go through what Ludwig call their RFST molding process, which strengthens the shells and ensures that they perform well at all times.
One thing to note about this kit is that the 13” rack tom doesn’t come with a mount or a hardware piece to mount it. Nothing is drilled onto the tom, so the only way to position it is by placing it on a snare drum stand. Make sure to have one that can be positioned quite high.
You can choose between a large number of finishes here, and all of them have somewhat of a vintage vibe, which is a classic Ludwig feature.
To conclude, this is an incredible drum set with no downsides to mention. You may just not like this particular version if you don’t enjoy 13” rack toms. However, you can easily find another Classic Maple kit with a smaller tom if you need that.
Shell Material: Maple
Size: 13” rack tom, 16” floor tom, 22” bass drum
Ludwig Legacy Maple – Premium Option
The Ludwig Legacy Maple (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is one of the brand’s most high-end drum sets. It’s the flagship option from Ludwig, meaning you get all the best tones and features possible.
If you need a professional gigging set that competes with all the best instruments, this is the one for you.
Ludwig Legacy drums have been around for decades, but this kit has many modern touches to make it a more viable option for the drummers of today.
The shells are a hybrid mixture of maple and poplar. You get maple on the outer parts and a core ply of poplar. The maple offers warmth and punchiness, while the poplar adds a bit of bite and focus to the overall sound.
Each shell has a one-ply maple reinforcement ring, which is a feature that strengthens the shells to keep them in premium shape for years.
The shells also have 30-degree bearing edges, which give them rounded tones that sound similar to the drum kits of old. That’s where some of the vintage touch still remains.
The toms on this kit can be mounted to cymbal stands, leaving the bass drum to sound clear and resonant.
This kit is very expensive, so it’s only a viable option for drummers with big budgets.
Shell Material: Maple/poplar
Size: 10” and 12” rack toms, 16” floor tom, 22” bass drum
Ludwig Breakbeats – Best Budget Option
The Ludwig Breakbeats (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is a very small kit that was created with the aid of Questlove. The whole design idea behind this kit is that it can be used by drummers who need a compact kit to play gigs with.
This was actually one of the first compact drum sets to become popular a few years back, with many brands following the trend later. However, this version of the Breakbeats has been updated, and it has much stronger shells with superior sound quality compared to the original.
The poplar shells make the drums sound surprisingly powerful, and they have a relatively decent tuning range.
The snare drum is the only weak part, as it has tones that aren’t too effective. So, I’d recommend using another snare drum if you’re going to use this kit to play professional gigs.
Another benefit of this set is that it’s one of the most affordable compact kits on the market. If you just need a small kit to use as an auxiliary option, this one may be a better option than more expensive kits from other brands.
If you don’t own a kit yet, I wouldn’t recommend the Breakbeats. It would be better to get a larger and more standard drum set.
Shell Material: Poplar
Size: 14” snare, 10” rack tom, 13” floor tom, 16” bass drum
Ludwig Element Evolution
The Ludwig Element Evolution (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is the brand’s intermediate-range drum set. This is an ideal kit for drummers that want something decent but aren’t yet willing to spend the high price for a professional kit.
It’s on the higher-quality side for beginners, but it’s a lower-end kit option for more experienced players. While it falls under the intermediate range, I’d mostly recommend it for beginner players that want something better than an entry-level kit.
Ludwig offers the Ludwig Accent as their first beginner kit, and the Element Evolution is a step up from that.
It comes with a full setup, including the drums, hardware stands, and cymbals.
The drums have poplar shells, giving them hefty deep tones on the toms and bass drum. The snare drum has plenty of power, but it sounds best when tuned a bit higher than usual.
The hardware stands that come with the kit are better than you may think, as they’re incredibly sturdy and easy to adjust. Ludwig isn’t known as a big hardware brand, so these stands aren’t far off from the premium Atlas stands that are meant to be used with higher-end kits.
You could comfortably use these with any of the professional kits mentioned on this list.
The only thing I don’t like too much about this kit is the way the toms hang from the mounts. They tend to wobble a bit, making them not feel stable and secure.
Shell Material: Poplar
Size: 14” snare drum, 10” & 12” rack toms, 16” floor tom, 22” bass drum
The Ludwig NeuSonic (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is a relatively affordable professional drum kit option. It doesn’t cost too much more than an Element Evolution, but it only comes as a shell pack with no snare, so the comparative price is actually quite a bit more.
With that said, it’s a lot more cost-effective than the high-end Ludwig kits, and the NeuSonic can be a workhorse in any environment. So, it’s an amazing option for gigging drummers that need something with great sounds and reliable build quality.
The shells are made from a unique mixture of maple and cherry. You get the classic balanced tonal frequencies from the maple plies, but the cherry plies add more projection and presence to the set.
The setup that I’ve recommended here has a 13” rack tom, 16” floor tom, and a 22” bass drum. It’s a great rock drum set that will sound incredible when tuned low and booming.
These NeuSonic kits also have very distinct finish options. Most of them are single colors that have an almost matted look, but you also get a Butterscotch Pearl finish which is a bit more out there.
To conclude, this is a sweet drum set for anyone wanting a pro option with an attractive price tag.
Shell Material: Cherry/maple
Size: 13” rack tom, 16” floor tom, 22” bass drum
Ludwig Legacy Mahogany Pro Beat
The Ludwig Legacy Mahogany Pro Beat (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is a high-end drum set with a supreme vintage touch. Many of the design features of this kit have been recreated to mimic the ones that came on Ludwig sets in the 60s.
The main feature is the 3-ply shells. These shells blend maple, mahogany, and poplar to offer unique tones that are both short and very musical. The 30-degree bearing edges further enhance those vintage-like tones, making this kit perfect for drummers that prefer an older sound.
The bass drum has a huge size of 24”, allowing you to get incredibly deep tones that resonate like crazy.
All the rest of the features are the same as the ones on the Ludwig Legacy Maple drum set. When comparing the two of them, I’d recommend going for this one if you gravitate toward shorter and tighter tones.
Think of how the drum recordings sounded in old Beatles albums. That’s the kind of thing this drum set is amazing for.
Shell Material: Mahogany/maple/poplar
Size: 13” rack tom, 16” floor tom, 24” bass drum
Ludwig Vistalite Fab
The Ludwig Vistalite Fab (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is yet another iconic Ludwig drum kit. Vistalites are the quintessential acrylic drum kits in the music industry, so this is your top option if you’re looking to buy a set with transparent shells and powerful tones.
Acrylic drum shells are far louder than wooden ones, so this kit is mostly a good pick for drummers that play in heavy music environments.
The set also comes with shell hardware designed to look like the hardware on 70s Ludwig kits, making it another Ludwig drum set with a vintage touch.
However, these shells still have 45-degree bearing edges, giving them more of a modern sound.
I’ve always thought that these drums sound best when tuned low or medium, as they give you solid and punchy tones that will easily rip through any mix. You just need to add a good metal snare drum to your setup to complete the rock/metal sound.
Shell Material: Acrylic
Size: 13” rack tom, 16” floor tom, 22” bass drum
What To Look For In a Ludwig Drum Set
Every drum set brand has a set range of drum kits to offer. These drum kits all have names or series numbers that group them into a category. You may find a few differences between kits within that category, but that’s the main way of establishing different drum set levels.
Ludwig has seven main drum kit lines, with all of them offering sets to players of various levels and with different budgets.
Here’s a quick summary of each line:
Ludwig Breakbeats – Compact drum sets with affordable price tags.
Ludwig Accent – Beginner drum sets that come with hardware and cymbals.
Ludwig Evolution – Intermediate drum sets that come with hardware and cymbals.
Ludwig NeuSonic – Affordable professional kits with unique cherry wood shells.
Ludwig Classic – Professional drum sets with maple or oak shells.
Ludwig Legacy – High-end professional drum sets with maple or mahogany shells.
Ludwig Vistalite – High-end acrylic drum sets with transparent shells.
The type of wood or other material used for drum shells is one of the main things that determines how the drums sound. While all drums sound quite similar to non-drummers, drummers and musicians will be able to tell the slight differences between drum sets.
Certain sounds work better for drummers than others, so it’s important to understand the shell materials and their sound qualities when buying a drum set.
With Ludwig having such a diverse range of drum sets available, you’ll see many different wood types being used for the brand’s drum kits.
Here’s what you can expect from various woods:
Poplar – Strong lows and mids with weaker highs. Most inexpensive wood to use.
Maple – Balanced tones across the lows, highs, and mids. Most popular wood for pro drum sets.
Mahogany – Dramatically boosted low-end tones with balanced mids and highs. Great for deep drum sounds.
Cherry – Balanced tones across the frequency spectrum but sounds slightly different compared to maple.
Oak – Accented mids and highs with rich lows. Very defined sounds.
Acrylic – Not a wood shell. Acrylic shells are incredibly loud and powerful, and they’re mainly used for rock music.
While all drum sets are big compared to other instruments, the shells can vary in size, and the combination of all the shells will determine how big the entire drum set is.
You get a few common setup options, including compact kits, standard kits, big rock kits, and fusion kits. Ludwig offers all of these, so it’s good to know what they are and what shell sizes you tend to prefer.
Compact drum sets are identified by their small bass drums. Any kit with a kick from between 14” and 18” can be considered compact. It will take up far less space, and it’s easy to travel to shows with.
Standard kits have a 22” bass drum, and their toms are usually 10”, 12”, and 16”.
Fusion kits have a 20” bass drum, and the toms are 10”, 12”, and 14”.
Lastly, big rock kits have larger bass drums and toms, and Ludwig is the one brand that is known to offer many of these.
It’s common to see a Ludwig drum set with a 24” bass drum or a 13” rack tom.
When someone mentions hardware, it could mean two things. The first is the set of stands that hold a drum kit together. This includes cymbal stands, snare drum stands, bass drum pedals, and drum thrones.
The second is the hardware attached to the drum shells. This hardware affects how the shells operate and also how they feel to play.
Since only two Ludwig drum sets come with stands, you’re mainly going to look at shell hardware when you’re checking build quality out.
On a snare drum, you should look at tension rods, lugs, snare strainers, wires, and snare beds.
On toms, you should look at tension rods, hoops, lugs, and tom mounts.
On bass drums, you should look at spurs, hoops, legs, and potential tom mounts.
The more money you spend on a drum set, the better these hardware features will be. Cheaper kits don’t offer anything fancy, but pricier kits often give you useful hardware features that make the kit feel a lot better to use and play.
The color of a drum kit is just as important as the sound to many drummers. I don’t personally agree with that statement, but you should definitely get a finish that you love. There’s nothing worse than owning a drum set that you don’t like the appearance of.
Unfortunately, Ludwig isn’t a brand known for offering dozens of weird and wonderful finishes. All the finish options for Ludwig drum sets are fairly standard.
None of them look bad, but they’re not as exciting as the ones from a brand like Tama.
The higher-tier Ludwig drum sets offer more finishes than the more affordable ones, which is quite standard for professional kits.
Something important to note about professional shell packs is that most of them don’t come with snare drums, especially the ones from Ludwig.
You’ll only get snare drums with the Accent, Breakbeats, and Element Evolution sets. Otherwise, you’ll just get a shell pack that includes toms and a bass drum.
With that said, Ludwig is one of the top brands to offer high-quality and professional snare drums. Some of the best and most used snare drums in history have been Ludwig ones, so you should definitely look at Ludwig options if you need a snare to match your set.
Here are all the Ludwig snare lines:
- Ludwig Supralite
- Ludwig Jazz Fest Series
- Ludwig Classic Maple
- Ludwig Legacy
- Ludwig Acrolite
- Ludwig Hammered Brass
- Ludwig Raw Brass Phonic
- Ludwig Copper Phonic
- Ludwig Super Series
- Ludwig Supraphonic
- Ludwig Black Beauty
- Ludwig Universal Wood
- Ludwig Universal Metal
- Ludwig Bronze Phonic
Finally, you need to consider how much you’re willing to spend. The Ludwig Breakbeats kit is the most affordable option for adults, but you’ll need to get hardware and cymbals on top of that.
The Accent and Element Evolution kits cost below $1000, and they come with everything you need. However, they’re mainly for beginners and low intermediate players.
All the other Ludwig sets cost between $1000 and $4000. These are pro sets that will last incredibly long. Many drummers buy them and don’t feel the need to ever upgrade again, so they’re well worth the money spent.
Top Ludwig Drum Sets, Final Thoughts
Picking a drum set can be a challenging decision to make, but it gets a lot easier when you know what to look for and understand all the different drum kit lines offered by a brand.
If you’re interested in the Ludwig brand, do your best to learn about all the drum set lines, and you’ll be able to find a good kit for your situation quite easily.
If you’re not convinced on Ludwig yet, just know that many of history’s greatest drum set parts were recorded on various Ludwig drum kits.