Drummers sometimes get a bad rep. They’re the butt of the old joke, ‘What do you call someone with no talent who hangs around with musicians?’ But this isn’t fair. Behind almost every great song there is a great drumbeat. Drummers drive the rhythm of the music, and even help other arguably less talented musicians keep time. When it comes down to it, you can’t dance to the music if the band doesn’t have a drummer. And a great drummer needs a great drum kit.
To help you find your ideal drum kit, we’ve compiled this rundown of the best drum kits for drummers of all levels, and with any budget.
Drum kits can be pricey. At a minimum, they’ll have three pieces of complexly-crafted and assembled equipment, all of which need to be of a high standard for the overall kit to a) sound good and b) survive repeated heavy poundings. As a result, prices can range up to thousands of pounds for professional kits. Thankfully, starter kits can come in at a few hundred, and serious drummers can still expect a decent result from a kit under £1,000 if they know where to look.
Price: around £300
Perfect for: entry-level drummers
Pearl’s starter drum kit is the perfect entry point for new players, and it still holds up for those who want to take their drumming further. Made from 9-ply mahogany, these drums are highly responsive, and create a classic, hearty tone. The kit is ideal for smaller venues, meaning there’s no real need to upgrade quickly to a more expensive model when you get your first gigs. The only downside for drummers this side of the pond is that the kit isn’t shipping to the UK at the time of writing.
Price: just under £1000
Perfect for: mid-level drummers and wealthy beginners
Officially a starter set, Ludwig’s Club Date kit may have a hefty price tag, but it is a hefty set of drums. They all have a vintage feel, with classic proportions and a general ‘60s aesthetic. The sound can be vintage, too. Though there’s no need to worry about sounding outdated, as you can get modern tones in no time by customising the setup. Perhaps too expensive for most starters, this drum kit is more like a next step up from something like the Pearl Sound Check. But if you can afford it, there’s no better place to start.
Just as the electric guitar revolutionised rock music, electric drums spearheaded the electronic dance music movement. While early electric drum sounds were generated by drum machines like the Roland TR-808 and the Roland TR-909, electric drum kits now fuse the traditional drumming experience with beloved electronic sounds. Drummers are looking for something different in electronic drum kits than they are in acoustic ones. Drum pads can be programmed with any number of sounds, but the best kits will make it easy to play them in an effective—and sometimes innovative—way. They’re also quieter, making them perfect for all-night practice sessions.
Price: around £400
Perfect for: entry-level electronic drummers
Yamaha’s portfolio of products is one of the most varied and wide-ranging of any company in the world. Far from spreading themselves thin, the brand always manages to produce high-quality electronics, with their instruments—such as the Yamaha DX7 keyboard—having a huge impact on the history of music. This electric drum kit may not change the world, but it’s a quiet, convenient practice kit with pleasantly customisable drum pads, a range of great sounds, and a USB port for easy DAW integration—perfect for bedroom producers.
Everyone likes a bargain, but for drummers who are serious about their craft, the time will come when an entry-level or mid-range kit just isn’t hitting the right notes (or, rather, cymbals). That’s where professional drum kits come in. With prices of £1,000 and over, these drum sets are serious investments which will no doubt reap returns for pro drummers with a regular touring schedule.
Perfect for: professional drummers who still won’t break the bank
This Taiwanese-made kit is only a few hundred pounds more expensive than some starter kits, but it plays like it costs six times the price. With extremely high quality materials, such as North American Maple wood, and DW’s trademark ‘HVLT’ shell construction, the drum kit is hugely dynamic and adaptable. Perfect for drummers who want to put their own stamp on a kit.
Price: around £3,000
Perfect for: true professionals
Every brand has their pro-level drum kits, but Tama’s is a cut above the rest in many ways. With unrivalled attention to detail and superb build quality, the Bubinga kit is still great value for money, even with such a high price tag. Beautiful in appearance and sound, every drum has its own sound clearly audible from the rest. This is the ideal choice for anyone who takes their drumming as seriously as they should.