When you’re learning to play drums, you may have a lot of questions about what gear you need to pursue your new passion. Here, Edmond, OK drum instructor Tracy D. breaks down the best drum set brands.
So, you have decided to take drum lessons. Congratulations! With all the gear out there, you may feel a bit overwhelmed with all the choices. This guide will help you make a more informed decision in your search for your first set of drums. This guide will compare acoustic and electric (E-kits) drums, some of the best brands on the market, and various practice pads.
When it comes to acoustic drums, there are the standard sets that are usually constructed with various types of wood. The shells are made in various depths and diameters. Acoustic drums require head changes and tuning. If you are concerned about noise levels, you may purchase mutes, which are relatively inexpensive.
Here are some of the best drum set brands who offer fantastic entry-level drum kits.
Acoustic Drum Sets
Photo from Gretsch
Gretsch offers the Renegade series, which has brass 13-inch hats and an 18-inch crash/ride. The Energy series is a step up, boasting 30-degree bearing edges (which convey more of Gretsch’s distinctive sound) and Sabian SBR cymbals. Both have fast-size toms, constructed of poplar, which allow for lower positioning for younger players.
Street prices are $499 and $699.99 respectively.
Pacific Drums (PDP)
Photo from PDP
PDP offers the Player kit, which is sized for kids with 10-inch hats and a 12-inch crash. Step up with a student model Z5 (full size) or a full-size Mainstage, with a four-piece Sabian cymbal pack and hardware pack.
All are constructed of hardwood. Street prices are $329.99, $399.99, and $699.99 respectively.
Photo from Pearl
Pearl offers the Roadshow, with a choice of four finishes, three configurations, hardwood construction, hats, and a 16-inch crash/ride. They also offer the Export (EXL or EXX) which is their most well-known entry-level set.
Pearl drum kits come in a variety of finishes and configurations, and are constructed of poplar and Asian mahogany. The street prices for five-piece configurations are $449 and $599-$749 respectively.
Photo from Yamaha
Yamaha offers the GigMaker set for beginner to intermediate drummers, with a choice of five finishes and two configurations (made of basswood and poplar), and wood bass drum hoops (as opposed to plastic on some models). Street price range from $399.99-$599.99.
Some of the perks of acoustic kits include aesthetic beauty, feel, response, resonance, configuration possibilities, and reliability.
Electric drum kits have different drum presets and metronomes (depending on brand/series). They are usually made with mesh or rubber pads which trigger sounds to a “brain” or module, and they can be used with headphones. Here are a few choices for you to consider.
Electric Drum Sets
Photo from Roland
Another option is the TD-4KP, which features natural-feel rubber surfaces, coach/record, eight pads, and customizable sounds. Street prices are $499 and $699 respectively.
Photo from Yamaha
Yamaha offers the DTX400K, which features 7 pads, 10 presets, sound customization, and recording capabilities (into a DAW).
Photo from Alesis
Alesis offers the DM Lite kit, which features 10 presets, a coach feature, metronome, 200 sounds, and four pads. Street price $209.95-$299.The advantages of electronic kits are compact/portability, volume level control, sound libraries, on-board metronomes, and direct MIDI/DAW connectivity.
If you’re not quite ready to splurge on a drum kit, practice pads are always a great option. In fact, practice pads will be with any serious drummer for the long haul.
They can be outfitted with various surfaces, such as gum rubber or a coated side for brush practice. These are great for quiet practice and for the drummer who is always on the go.
Gibraltar Pocket Practice Pad
Photo from interstatemusic.com
Gibraltar’s Pocket Practice Pad straps securely to your leg; it’s compact design allows for maximum portability. (I own this practice pad, it comes in handy and is fun to use.)
Evans Real Feel
Photo from interstatemusic.com
The Evans Real Feel pad is 12 inches and can be situated in a snare stand or set on any surface. This drum pad is very durable (I’ve punished mine for many years now, and it’s still in great shape).
Remo’s Practice Pad
Photo from Sweetwater.com
Remo’s practice pad is tunable, comes in different sizes, and may be mounted onto a stand.
When it comes to drum sets, there are so many great options. That being said, I would recommend a five-piece kit configuration, because it’s standard, and most instructional materials are written with this in mind.
***TIP*** Some sellers, such as Guitar Center or Musician’s Friend, will sometimes offer specials with the purchase of a kit, such as cymbal/hardware packs or an extra tom (usually around the holidays).
Use this guide to get you started, but make sure to talk to the experts at your local drum shops. With some patience, you can find the perfect kit to help you reach your drumming goals.
Looking for a drum teacher in your area? Find one here!
Tracy D. teaches percussion and drum lesson in Edmond, OK, as well as online. She has been playing the drums in various bands for more than 13 years, and has also played intermittently with the OKC Community Orchestra for the past five years. Learn more about Tracy here!
Photo by Jana Reifergerste