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Purchasing a Drum Set

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Purchasing a Drum Set

The point of this section is to give the consumer a guide as to where certain drum-makers' lines fall in the overall hierarchy of price and quality. It is not a which set is better than which. Some of these drumsets may not be available in all countries around the globe.


Sub-Entry Level Drumsets -

Sets in this category often fall below $350 [£275] (street price). They often come in the standard 5-piece configuration (12", 13", and 16" toms, 14" snare, 22" bass) with cheap hardware, often a hi-hat stand, a straight cymbal stand, a throne, and occasionally brass cymbals. These drumsets are good for new students under 10 years of age where the level of commitment may not be as high as that of someone older or with a more refined ear. They have a mid-range sound and benefit from two-ply batter heads. These drums have poor bearing edges, poor stock heads, wrinkled plastic wraps, sticky lugs, and bad resale value.

  • CB700/CB Maxx by Kaman Music (CB Music)
  • Peace
  • TKO
  • Rockwood
  • Atomic

Note: Chances are a set is sub-entry level if it’s made in Taiwan (or a similar low-grade manufacturing country), the sales person cannot identify the wood (select hardwood is not good wood), and/or if it’s low-grade mahogany (a.k.a. lauan). The hardware packaged with these sets is cheap; although it is sometimes double-braced, flimsy looking hardware is flimsy.

Entry Level Drumsets

These kits are excellent choices for people 10-15 years of age or for those who do not have the $500 [£350](or desire to spend that money) on a student level kit. Often made of lauan, single-braced hardware comes pre-packaged and they are found mostly in the standard 5-piece configuration but manufacturers such as Pearl and Premier are now offering jazz size kits. "Jazz" kits often have 12" and 14" toms, a 14" snare, and an 18" or 20" bass. The jazz configuration is good for smaller players or those who desire a higher-pitched sound. Cymbals are rarely found packaged with these sets. Again, 2-ply batter heads help alleviate the mid-range sound of these kits.

  • Forum by Pearl
  • Swingstar by Tama
  • Cabria by Premier
  • Accent by Ludwig
  • Venus by Mapex
  • DB by Yamaha
  • Sunlite Brand


Student Level Drumsets

Drumsets in this class are some of the best selling models. They are good for ages 10 and up and make an excellent choice for adults who used to drum as kids, stopped playing for many years, and have decided to take up the instrument again. Shell kits (just the drums, no hardware) can be found for $400 [£275] and $600-$800 [£400- £550]with hardware, depending on configuration choices. Again, the standard 5-piece is most common but fusion kits (10", 12", and 14" toms, 14" snare, 20"-22" bass), jazz kits, and 4-piece kits (10"-13" rack tom, 14"-16" floor tom, 14" snare, 20"-22" bass) are sold in pre-packaged kits as well.

The quality improvement of these drums over entry-level kits is remarkable and their higher price is justified. The feature sturdier hardware, better wraps, and better shells. Some manufacturers offer their student-level kits in a "deluxe" style model as well. These "deluxe" models often feature upgrades such as a wood shell snare drum, lacquer finishes, and suspension mounted toms.

  • Rockstar by Tama
  • Rockstar Custom by Tama
  • Export by Pearl
  • Export Select by Pearl
  • XPK by Premier
  • Stage Custom by Yamaha
  • Mars by Mapex
  • Mars Custom by Mapex
  • Rocker by Ludwig
  • Rocker Elite by Ludwig


Semi-Pro Drumsets

The semi-pro level of drums are the happy medium between pro and student level sets. It is at this level that bearing edges are pretty good (perfect is a term I’d rather not use), lugs stop sticking, and more professional woods are used. These sets can vary in price from $800 [£550] for shell packs to $1600 [£1100]for complete sets. Pre-packaged sets are available in 4 and 5 piece sets, in standard, jazz, and fusion configurations. The separate components available in this level are greater too, featuring less popular sizes such as 8" and 15" toms. These kits can also come with lacquer or wrapped finishes, suspension mounts, and brass snare drums. At this point, drums lose that mid-range sound that is common to cheaper models, providing the player a greater choice of suitable heads.

  • Sonic Plus II by Sonor
  • Session by Pearl
  • Prestige Session by Pearl
  • Prestige Session Select by Pearl
  • ArtStar Esprit by Tama
  • Rocker Pro by Ludwig


Mass-Produced Pro Drumsets

This type of pro set is a type of kit that is mass-produced by one of the large drum makers. Most feature shells made of one tone wood, suspension mounted toms, wood snare drums, lacquer finishes, and a wide choice of options. Shell kits at this level can start at around $1200 [£800] with pre-packaged sets going as high $4000 [£2750]. The hardware that comes with these kits is top of the line; double-chain drive bass drum pedals, double-braced hardware, and low-mass lugs, among other things. Manufacturers make many different types of pro drums, with the series differing by wood type and shell thickness, among other things. These drums are played by many professional and amateur players, from basements to arenas. The player can use any type of heads he wishes but many opt for more "open" sounding heads such as one-ply, dot, and non-dampened two-ply. They make that choice because the overtones produced by these drums are often more pleasant than cheaper drums.

  • Signia Marquis by Premier
  • Signia by Premier
  • Genista by Premier
  • S-Class by Sonor
  • Workshop Series by Drum Workshop
  • Classic Series by Ludwig
  • Vintage Series by Ludwig
  • Drumsmith by Ayotte
  • Beech Custom by Yamaha
  • Maple Custom by Yamaha
  • Recording Custom by Yamaha
  • Birch Custom Absolute by Yamaha
  • Maple Custom Absolute by Yamaha
  • Masters Custom by Pearl
  • Masters Studio by Pearl
  • Saturn by Mapex
  • Orion by Mapex
  • ArtStar Custom by Tama
  • Starclassic Maple by Tama
  • Starclassic Performer by Tama


Pro Drumsets

Drums like these are at the top of their game. The best hardware, the best shells, the best quality, the best attention to detail; these are the things you find in a professional set. Drums in this range can be had in almost any finish, any thickness, and any size. The price tag on these starts at approximately $2000 [£1300] with the sky as the limit. Are you a drummer who just won the lottery? These are the drums for you.Spaun

  • Collector’s Series by Drum Workshop
  • Custom Series by Ayotte
  • Fibes
  • Designer Series by Sonor
  • Masterworks by Pearl
  • Gretsch
  • Slingerland



Sub-Entry Level Cymbals

Cymbals in this range are usually not made of bronze, the alloy of choice for cymbals. They are usually found with sub-entry level kits.

  • 302 and 402 by Paiste
  • Solar Brand
  • Pearl Cymbals


Entry Level Cymbals

Entry level cymbals have come a long way. Most are made of B8/CuSn8 (92% Copper, 8% Tin) bronze alloy and have a pretty good choice of models. Gone are the days of just having 14" hi-hats, 16" crashes, and 20" rides. Entry level cymbal lines of today include effects models such as splashes and chinas, rock weight cymbals, and a myriad of sizes. On the downside, these cymbals tend to crack a lot. These should be the cymbals you buy for your kid with his first set.

  • ZBT by Zildjian
  • B8 by Sabian
  • 502 by Paiste


Student Level Cymbals

Cymbals in this range break less than their cheaper counterparts. A wider range of models are offered and some lines are offered in brilliant finish. A better choice for a first set of cymbals, but if you are upgrading from cheaper ones, skip this level-your money is better spent higher in the spectrum. Again, the B8 alloy is popular.

  • B8Pro by Sabian
  • ZBT Plus by Zildjian
  • 802 by Paiste

*Note: Pretty much all of the cymbals above the student level can be considered pro cymbals. I’ll group pro cymbals by the application they are typically used for. Understand though, that the following groupings are not carved in stone and it is up to the player to decide what type of cymbals they want to use. I am just grouping them by possible application and your mileage may vary.

  • Professional Level Cymbals
  • Rock Cymbals
  • These cymbals are made to cut through the music, excelling in high volume situations and gigs where bright cymbals are desired.
  • 2002 by Paiste
  • Pro by Sabian
  • Z Custom by Zildjian
  • Edge by Zildjian


Multi-Application Cymbals

The cymbals in this grouping are the most versatile cymbals offered. They excel in most styles of music and their lines usually offer the greatest choice to drummers.

  • Avedis (A) by Zildjian
  • A Custom by Zildjian
  • AA by Sabian
  • AAX by Sabian
  • Alpha by Paiste
  • Sound Formula by Paiste
  • Signature by Paiste
  • Visions by Paiste


Jazz Cymbals

Cymbals in this classification are characterized by dry sounds, low pitches, and thin weights, all of which lend themselves to jazz music. These also happen to be the most expensive of all cymbals, which is puzzling because jazz musicians aren’t known for their fat wallets. :p

  • Hand Hammered (HH) by Sabian
  • Traditionals by Paiste
  • Kerope (K) by Zildjian
  • K Custom by Zildjian
  • K Constantinople by Zildjian
  • Bosphorus Brand
  • Istanbul Brand

All content is intended to be a subjective guide only , however any opinions expressed are those of the author only

User -

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