8 Best Professional Drum Sets 2024

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Drum sets have a reputation for being quite expensive, with most drummers ending up getting beginner or intermediate kits and sticking with them for many years. However, there are some incredible options available if you’re willing to spend a bit more.

This list includes some of the best drum sets available. Every drum kit brand has high-end options, but these are the ones that stand out, and they tend to be the most popular.

Tama Starclassic Maple – Best Overall

Tama Starclassic Maple

The Tama Starclassic Maple (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) has been one of the most loved professional drum kits in the world for decades. It has a special reputation for being a rock drum kit, but it can easily be used for any musical style.

The kit features thin shells that have been cross-laminated. They offer amazing projection, power, and resonance, and dozens of drummers have mentioned how good they sound when playing on them in large venues.

The other feature that makes this kit very recognizable is the inclusion of die-cast hoops on each drum. They mostly enhance tuning stability, but they also sharpen up the attack from the drums.

Die-cast hoops are a lot heavier than standard triple-flanged hoops. You’ll find these drums to feel a lot heavier than most others, but it also gives you a strengthened sense of durability.

The rack toms are designed to have Tama’s quick-lock tom brackets. These allow you to place the toms very easily, and you can lock the positioning height in place without using memory locks. It’s a neat feature that Tama uses on a lot of their high-end drum kits.

These Tama Starclassic Maple kits are incredibly popular gigging options. However, this kit would sound brilliant in a recording studio as well.

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

Snare Drum: No

Shell Material: Maple

DW Collector’s Series Exotic– Premium Option

DW Collector’s Series Exotic

The DW Collector’s Series Exotic is one of the highest-quality drum sets available. This is the type of kit that drummers put as their wallpaper on their phones and computers, mostly due to how good it looks when set up.

The tonal quality is just as good as the visuals, as you get North American Hard Rock maple shells that sing and resonate beautifully when you strike them.

The kit utilizes DW’s Specialized Shell Construction Method. This is a blanket term for DW using different shell technology depending on the size of each shell. So, the same technology isn’t used for the whole kit. Rather, you get unique designs for each drum to create an overall incredible kit.

This is undoubtedly a dream drum set for many players, and it’s one of those kits that you’ll only need to buy once in your lifetime. Once you get it, you’ll never need to buy a kit again, as not much will compare in overall quality.

The downside to kits this expensive is that drummers will be hesitant to take them out for gigs. So, you’ll mostly find drummers using this kit as a studio option. That’s perfectly fine, as the sounds that you’re able to get from this kit in the studio are out of this world.

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

Snare Drum: No

Shell Material: Maple

Yamaha Stage Custom Birch – Best Budget Option

Yamaha Stage Custom Birch

The Yamaha Stage Custom Birch (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is the most affordable kit that I’ll mention for this list. It’s significantly cheaper than all the other kits, but I’m mentioning it here due to it being a regular kit that gets used at professional gigs.

If you need something reliable for gigging and recording but you don’t have a high budget for high-end gear, this kit will always be one of the best options to consider.

It has birch shells that offer boosted attack for high-energy playing. It gives you the impression that this kit is slightly louder than common maple kits, but the difference isn’t too noticeable.

The biggest reason for this kit making the list is that the tonal quality is excellent. The toms sound very musical, and the kick drum packs a tight punch, even without muffling.

Another bonus is the included snare drum. It’s nowhere near as good as a high-end snare drum, but it sounds incredible with some good tuning.

The drawback of this kit is that you don’t get hardware quality that is as good as any of the other options on this list. You’ll easily feel the difference when playing this kit compared to the others.

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

Snare Drum: Yes

Shell Material: Birch

Ludwig Vistalite Zep

Ludwig Vistalite Zep

The Ludwig Vistalite Zep (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is a highly unique drum kit with a rich history. It’s modeled after the acrylic setup that John Bonham regularly used when playing with Led Zeppelin in the 70s.

All the shells are much bigger than normal, giving you a kit that is loud and larger than life. The 26-inch bass drum is the standout feature, as most drummers in the world have never had the opportunity to play a kick drum that is so big.

The fact that the shells are acrylic also adds to the volume of the set, as acrylic drums are always the loudest drums out there.

There are two types of drummers that would use this set. The first would be fans of John Bonham that want a collector’s piece to add to their collection. The second would be rock drummers that need volume and power for live stages.

It’s the least versatile set on this list, but it’s also one of the most interesting. A bonus is that it comes with a Ludwig Supraphonic snare drum, which is a high-end snare drum with plenty of versatility.

Shell Sizes: 14” snare, 14” rack tom, 16” & 18” floor toms, 26” kick drum

Snare Drum: Yes

Shell Material: Acrylic

Pearl Masters Maple Complete

Pearl Masters Maple Complete

The Pearl Masters Maple Complete (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is one of the most reliable drum sets available. The Master Maple drum kits from Pearl are very regularly used in both recording studios and on live stages, and the tones that you can get from this kit will fit any musical style.

The standout part of this kit is the hardware, though. It has Pearl’s SuperHoop II steel hoops, which add a bit of punch to the drums without sacrificing any of the body. The drums also have the Masters Bridge lugs. These are unique to the Masters Series, and they help enhance the tones of all the drums.

The toms are mounted to cymbal stands with the OptiMount suspension design. It’s yet another hardware component of this set that enhances resonance and tonal quality. The toms tend to sing very freely, and it comes from this suspension design.

Another great aspect of this shell pack is the price tag. While it’s still a pricey buy when you include a separate snare drum, it’s a lot more affordable than many of the other kits that I’ve listed.

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

Snare Drum: No

Shell Material: Maple

DW Performance Series

DW Performance Series

The DW Performance Series (compare price on Sweetwater and Amazon) is a popular drum kit option from DW. These Performance kits were designed to offer Collector’s Series quality with more attainable price tags. The brand keeps the prices down by offering standardized shell technology and drum sizes.

You’ll find countless drummers using Performance kits in recording studios and on live stages, as the quality you get from these shells is immaculate.

The HVX maple shells go through a unique construction process, and the end result is a set of drums that sound very rich and musical.

The kit then utilizes DW’s Graduated Counter Hoops, STM Suspension Tom Mounts, and True-Pitch tension rods. These are all hardware features that keep the kit in tune and make it feel amazing to play.

There is also a varied range of high-quality finishes to choose from.

The main way of differentiating this kit from a Collector’s Series kit is by looking at the lugs. This kit uses smaller turret lugs.

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

Snare Drum: No

Shell Material: Maple

Sonor SQ2 Maple

Sonor SQ2 Maple

The Sonor SQ2 Maple is one of the highest-quality kits that Sonor offers. Sonor is known to be a high-end drum kit brand, so this kit has a good reputation for being a good work of art. The obvious downside is that it’s very expensive, even though this kit is just a 3-piece shell pack.

The most significant feature of this kit is Sonor’s shell design process. The maple shells are designed with a combination of Optimum Shell Measurement and Cross Lamination Tension Free Technology. These two designs essentially end in the drums having incredible tone quality and very stable tuning.

The rack tom has Sonor’s Total Acoustic Resonance tom mount for uninterrupted resonance, and each drum has Sonor’s TuneSafe lugs that keep the drums in tune for extended periods.

All these features are the best that Sonor has to offer, which is why the SQ2 is such an incredible kit. Typically, the SQ2 line is customizable, but you can buy premade shell packs at various stores.

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

Snare Drum: No

Shell Material: Maple

Gretsch Brooklyn Micro

Gretsch Brooklyn Micro

The Gretsch Brooklyn Micro is one of the highest-quality compact drum kits available. It’s based on the popular Gretsch Brooklyn line of drums, but the shells are much smaller. However, it uses all the same construction technology, which is why it’s a better-quality kit than the compact ones that cost a lot less.

This is a good kit option for drummers who need something very small for playing in pubs and clubs. It’s mostly jazz drummers that need something like this, but the kit can easily be tuned low for rock and pop gigs.

The shells are made from a combination of maple and poplar, and they’re richly detailed in all tunings.

You get Gretsch’s 302 double-flanged hoops with roundover edges, which further add to the tone of the shells. They also alter how the drums feel to play, making them feel more resemblant to what you get from vintage kits.

This kit is quite expensive for a compact kit, especially considering most of the popular options cost less than $1000. However, it’s a good pick for drummers who want the best possible kit in that segment.

I just wouldn’t recommend getting this as your main kit unless you’re a jazz drummer. The shells are too small to work well in all settings, especially in large venues where you need oomph from your bass drum.

Shell Sizes: 13” snare, 10” rack tom, 13” floor tom, 16” kick drum

Snare Drum: Yes

Shell Material: Maple/Poplar

What To Look For In Professional Drum Set

Shell Material

The first thing to look at when picking a pro drum set is the shell material used for the drums. This is the first aspect that affects how the drums sound, as various shell types offer differing tonal qualities.

With professional sets, you’ll mostly find maple, birch, walnut, and mahogany being used. Each wood has slight tonal differences, with maple being the most common wood used.

Maple is a very balanced wood, offering even tones across the lows, mids, and highs. It’s great for both live gigging and recording for this reason.

Birch is a bit more aggressive. You’ll get stronger frequencies in the highs, giving the drums punchier tones. This makes birch drums fantastic for gigging.

Mahogany has boosted low frequencies. These drums are excellent for getting rich, low tones that are warm.

Walnut drums are very similar to maple, but you get boosted attack.

Shell Hardware

While a lot of beginner and intermediate kits also use all the woods I mentioned above, the real difference between professional drum kits and more affordable ones is the hardware quality. This refers to the hardware components that hold the kit together.

When buying a pro kit, you should look at parts such as the rims, lugs, legs, tom arms and mounts, etc.

A lot of high-end drum kits will have special features that you may not have seen before. For example, high-end Pearl kits have retractable spikes on the legs of their bass drums and floor toms.

Another possible hardware inclusion would be die-cast hoops. These are higher-quality hoops around the drums that round out the tones and make your rimshots a bit livelier.

Shell Construction Technology

The final drum kit component to look out for would be how the shells were designed. Every drum kit company has a unique way of creating their high-end drum shells. This is why you get slightly different tones across the board.

You can read about these methods on the official websites of every brand, and they’ll give you an idea of what makes each kit so special from a design standpoint.

All the kits I’ve mentioned above are comparable in quality. I wouldn’t say that certain shell construction technology methods are better than others. They’re just good to know about when looking to buy a kit!

Snare Drum

With all the kits that I suggested above, I mentioned whether they come with a snare or not. Unfortunately, most high-end drum kits don’t come with a snare drum when you buy them. It’s common for all drum kit brands to sell their top-tier kits as shell packs without snares.

The good thing about this is that it brings the cost of the kit down. The bad thing is that you need to buy a snare drum separately if you don’t already own a good one.

A lot of the high-end kit lines have matching snare drums to check out, but I’d suggest looking at professional snare drum options instead. The best snare drums are always ones that have been created in their own capacity and not ones that are designed to match a particular drum kit line. 

Finish Options

The final benefit to mention of professional drum kits is that they always have the most finish options. Beginner and intermediate drum sets typically have fewer than ten finish options to choose from.

Most professional drum sets have more than a dozen to choose from, and they always look much better than the options for affordable kits.

When buying a pro kit, pay special attention to what finish you’re looking to get. These kits are pricey, so it’s a good idea to get a kit that you’ll love the look of for years to come.

Size

Different drum kits come with various shell sizes. If you have specific preferences for shell sizes, you should look for a kit that offers those.

If you’re not sure what you want, the two biggest areas to look at are the bass drum and floor tom. Some kits come with a 14-inch floor tom, while others come with a 16-inch one. The larger it is, the deeper the tone will be.

When it comes to bass drums, you’ll be choosing one with a size that ranges from 16” to 26”. Larger bass drums have deeper and more powerful tones, but they also feel a lot looser.

20-inch and 22-inch bass drums are typically the best options to go with unless you want something very small for easy transportation.

Price

Most of the best drum sets available range from $2000 to $10 000. You can get an amazing professional drum set for only $2000. So, you don’t need to pay an arm and a leg.

However, the higher-priced kits will always have better hardware qualities and features. That’s why all the best drummers in the world tend to use them.

The budget option that I mentioned above costs less than $1000, but it doesn’t offer quality nearly as high as any of the other options. It can just be considered professional as it’s passable for gigging settings. There are plenty of other kits like that as well, but if you want a luxurious playing experience, you’ll need to spend north of $2000.

Best Professional Drum Set Brands

There are over ten major drum kit brands that professional players love to use, but here’s a short list of four of them that tend to be the most popular in the modern drumming space. This doesn’t mean they’re better than the other brands. It just means you’re more likely to find these brands being stocked in music stores.

DW Drums

DW is known to be a luxury drum kit brand. Their drum kits come with a reputation for being pricey, but the hardware and woods they use are all top-tier quality.

Every DW drum kit has incredible tones, which is why this is such a popular brand that pro drummers love to use.

Yamaha

Yamaha is a powerhouse musical instrument brand, and Yamaha drums are particularly impressive. Most of the kits share similar visual qualities, no matter how expensive they are. However, you can feel a definite difference in the top-tier kits when it comes to feel and tone.

Pearl

Pearl has been one of the most well-known drum brands in the world for decades. The hardware used for their professional kits stands out the most, but you also get amazing tones and finishes.

While the Masterworks Series is the top-tier kit from the brand, the Masters Series kits are quite a bit more affordable, and they’re very commonly used in professional settings.

Tama

Tama is the final popular brand to mention. The Starclassic kits are the most popular options from the brand, and there are several variations to check out, ranging from the Starclassic Maple to the Starclassic Performer kits.

Those aren’t even the highest-quality kits from the brand, but they’re the most commonly used ones for professional gigs and recording sessions.

Top Professional Drum Sets, Final Thoughts

Remember that most professional drum sets don’t come with a snare drum, hardware, or cymbals. The odd one may include a snare, but you’ll need to buy everything else separately. That’s where the extra expenses come in.

Check out all the kits I suggested. Each one offers something unique and appealing for certain types of drummers. They all work in every setting, but some of them work slightly better than others, depending on where and how you play.

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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