Best Acoustic Drums

1 Gretsch Catalina Jazz Drumset Review

Gretsch Catalina Jazz Drumset Review

It’s compact, portable and appealing. Available in 4 piece, 5 piece or 7 piece drumset with...

9.2
2 Ludwig Jr Drumset Review

Ludwig Jr Drumset Review

Bottom Line – This drumset comes with everything you need to get started including a kick p...

8
3 Questlove Ludwig Breakbeats Drumset Review

Questlove Ludwig Breakbeats Drumset Review

It’s portable and stackable- thats what makes it brilliant. This drumset is convenient for ...

8.9
4 Ludwig Accent Drumset Review

Ludwig Accent Drumset Review

A complete drumset that is affordable and includes everything you need to play all the way down t...

8
5 Yamaha Stage Custom Bop Drumset Review

Yamaha Stage Custom Bop Drumset Review

This is a drumset for stage performance with great sound, look and portability, giving it an over...

9
6 Pacific Drums New Yorker Review

Pacific Drums New Yorker Review

This drumset is portable, affordable and has great tone!

9.2
7 Sonor Martini SE Drumset Review

Sonor Martini SE Drumset Review

This drumset has great sound and is small enough that it could work for children

9.2
8 Sonor Safari SE Drumset Review

Sonor Safari SE Drumset Review

This drumset is affordable enough for beginners and is quality enough for professionals!

9.2
9 Pearl Roadshow Acoustic Drumset Review

Pearl Roadshow Acoustic Drumset Review

My take on the Pearl Roadshow Drumsets are that they are a great value buy regardless of the...

8.7
10 Tama Cocktail Jam Mini Kit

Tama Cocktail Jam Mini Kit

Watch Robert “Sput” Searight play this drumset with Ghost Note and you will want to o...

9.4

Acoustic Drums Buying Guide

Shopping Advice for Best Acoustic Drums

Drums are one of the most primal instruments in the world.  Drums can be dated back to 5500 BC as drums with alligator skins were discovered from Neolithic China, impressively dated drums to a time when they were predominately used by shamans and medicine men in ritual ceremonies.  Even before humans used drums, there are studies of animals, including monkeys and kangaroos that have used drumming as a form of communication.  

In its most simplistic form, a drum is a shell that has a membrane, referred to as a drumhead, stretched over it and hit with hands, a stick or mallet to produce sound.  What started as a primal form of communication and ritualistic device or sorts has evolved into one of the most popular instruments in the world…the drumset.

The evolution of the drumset made it’s biggest leap in the 1840’s when percussionist started experimenting with ways to play multiple drums at the same time.  This movement was largely inspired by budget cuts to pit orchestras forcing drummers to find ways to cover more ground with less percussionists in the section.  What started as a way to accompany marching soldiers and silent films evolved into a standing drumset that was created in 1904 by Dee Dee Chandler of New Orleans.  

In 1904 The Ludwig Brothers, founded Ludwig and Ludwig company introducing the first commercial bass drum pedal, referred to as the kick drum pedal, paving the way to the modern drumset.  

SHOPPING FOR AN ACOUSTIC DRUMSET:

Shopping for an acoustic drumset is an exciting time.  Whether it’s your first drumset and you are looking for a drumset for beginners or you are a professional drummer adding a new kit to your collection or swapping out your old drumset for a new drumset, there are some important questions to ask before you buy a drumset.  

At Music Minds we have tapped world touring drummers to help create a buyers guide that will help you decide which drumset is best for you.  Lettuce’s Adam Deitch, Mike Gordon Band’s John Kimock, and Adam Chase of The Chase Brothers have all weighed in on our buyers guide and we update the info as more professional drummers offer their expertise to Music Minds.

WHAT DOES A FULL DRUMSET CONSIST OF?:

While there are several ways to configure a drumset, a standard drumset consists of a bass drum, snare drum, tom toms, a floor tom and cymbals.  Depending on the needs of the player, which can be determined by the level they are at in their drumming or the gig they are player, the drumset can be bigger or smaller and can always be expanded.  

A good drumset for beginners typically consists of the following:

BASS DRUM 

SNARE DRUM

TOM TOMS

FLOOR TOM

HI HAT

RIDE CYMBAL

CRASH CYMBAL

HARDWARE

KICK PEDAL

THRONE

DRUMSTICKS

HOW MUCH DOES A SET OF DRUMS COST?:

Drumset can range in cost a great deal.  A drumset for beginners and many junior drumsets start at around $300 and can include everything you need to get started.  Sometimes the full packs do not include drumsticks or a drum throne but those are fairly affordable.  From there the prices go up and can cost into the millions if you are looking for custom and rare drumsets, especially if they were owned by famous drummers.

WHAT ARE THE BEST DRUMS IN THE WORLD?

Some of the best drums in the world are made by the popular drum brands:

Ludwig 

Pearl 

Yamaha 

Gretsch 

Tama 

Sonor 

Pacific Drums 

There are more rare drums made by small drum makers like Craviotto and vintage drumsets made by companies like Slingerland and Rogers that are considered to be some of the best drums in the world.  The cost and availability make these hard to access for many drummers.

ARE DRUMS EASY TO PLAY?

Drums are fairly easy to grasp as drumming is such an instinctual, primal reflex.  Learning the basics and getting a beat down can happen with only 1-2 lessons.  With that said, the more intricate rhythms that require independence of all 4 limbs can be very challenging and take a long time to master.

IS THIS THE RIGHT DRUMSET FOR YOUR LEVEL OF DRUMMING?

Depending on whether you a beginner, intermediate or professional drummer, every drummer will have different needs.  For all drummers it is wise to make use of our buyers guide and balance the the following factors:

LOOK: 

While it may seem vain, it is important to have a drumset that has a look that reflects your personality and style.  It wouldn’t look right for a metal drummer to be using a 4 piece jazz drumset on a death metal gig, just as it wouldn’t make sense for a jazz drummer to use a 10 piece double bass drumset on a cocktail lounge jazz gig.  

Beyond just the size of the drumset, there are a variety of colors and wood types, finishes and set up arrangements that can reflect a drummers’ personality.  If you never intend to play in public this might not matter as much, but even then you want to be able to look at your drums with loving eyes.

If you are a professional drummer, you definitely want to consider how your drumset will look on stage.  There is a reason why Dennis Chambers has a canary yellow drumset.  It matches his flashy style and hence his personality.  Billy Martin’s drumset has a look that reflects the jazzy funky style and vibe of Billy.  

Fall in love with your drumset when you see it and then make sure all the other needs are met before committing.

SOUND: 

The sound of a drumset varies based largely on the type of wood and the amount of plys used in the shells of the drums.  Drumheads can also affect the sound of a drumset.  What we at Music Minds suggest is to listen to your favorite drummers and figure out what tones speak to you the most and find out what drumset they play.

Alot of drummers love Carter Beuford of Dave Matthews Band.  Carter uses Yamaha drums.  While you might not be able to afford his exact drum kit, knowing that he plays Yamaha drums means that Yamaha is a good place to start looking.  

If Robert “Sput” Searight is your favorite drummer you will want to consider TAMA drums as those are the drums that he uses.  Feel free to ask questions in our comment section if you are not sure which kit your favorite drummer uses and we’ll see if we can help out!  

In our reviews of drumsets we include an analysis of the sound of each drumset.

FEEL: 

The feel of a drumset is not what the drumset feels like when you touch it with your fingers, but how the sticks respond and how it feels to play the drums. 

 If you are a beginner drummer, you might not know how a drumset feels as you have limited or possibly no experience playing drums.   That is why we included “feel” in our buyers guide.  Our professional drummers are sharing their feedback on the feel of a variety of drumkits so that we can report that information back to you so you can make the best decision for yourself.  

DURABILITY:

Whether you are a touring drummer or you are just drumming from the comfort of your home, you want to get a drumset that lasts.  If you are a touring drummer, you will most certainly need a drumset that can handle the wear and tear of the road.

For this, we look at each drumset, examine reviews and source our network of professional drummers for feedback to make sure you are getting a drumset that can handle whatever you are going to throw at it.  

If you are just drumming from home, you won’t necessarily need all the heavy duty hardware and the type of drumset that a professional touring musicians will need.  We still provide guidance in our buyers guide, regardless of level, to make sure that you aren’t buying something that will fall apart within days of buying it.  

Obviously, a drumset under $500 wont last as long as a drumset under $1500, but quality vs. price is something we put a lot of time into considering in our buyers guide.

COST:

Drumsets can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars, with the most expensive collectors vintage drumsets costing in the millions.  In our cost analysis we look at whether or not the cost reflects the value of the drumset.  

WHICH DRUMSET SOUNDS THE BEST OUT OF THE BOX?

Most drumsets sound rough out of the box, even the great expensive drumsets.  Most drumsets come with cheap drumheads that are not intended to be used long term.  With that said, some drumsets sound decent from the get go.  

Moreso, we have to consider the level of the drummer and what their needs might be.  A beginner drummer might not have the developed ears to hear the difference between one drumset and another.  For the beginner, it’s most important that it’s easy to set up and get going and doesn’t sound like complete crap.

For any drumset, the best way to improve the sound out of the box is to invest in decent drumheads.  A cheap drumset and can sound pretty solid with the right drums heads.  In the same vein, an expensive drumset can be tweaked to perfection with the right drum heads.

Best Acoustic Drums Reviews & Prices


#1 Tama Cocktail Mini

9.4/10 Read review
94 %
Last Amazon price update was: April 19, 2021 5:45 am
× Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon.com (Amazon.in, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, etc) at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
9.4 Expert Score

This drumset is quality and has good enough sound for live stage performances of many genres.

Sound
8.9
Price
10
Look
9.2
PROS
  • Deep kick drum tone for the size.
CONS
  • No bottom heads on the toms

#2 Gretsch Catalina

9.2/10 Read review
92 %
Last Amazon price update was: March 5, 2021 5:30 am
× Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon.com (Amazon.in, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, etc) at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
9.2 Expert Score

This drumset is compact, making it easy to transport. Its available with many variations for size, color, etc.

Sound
9.4
Price
8.6
Look
9.6
PROS
  • Also Comes as a 5 piece drumset and a 7 piece drumset
CONS
  • A little heavier than some of the other cocktail size drumset

#3 Pacific Drums’ New Yorker

9.2/10 Read review
92 %
Last Amazon price update was: March 15, 2021 4:44 am
× Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon.com (Amazon.in, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, etc) at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
9.2 Expert Score

The affordability of this drumset makes it a big contender for Best Acoustic Drumsets. It has a great tone, and its easy to transport.. so at this price, what’s not to love about it?

Sound
8.9
Price
9.3
Look
9.4
PROS
  • Great Tones For Smaller Drums
CONS
  • The heads they come with aren’t great (most factory heads aren’t great though)

#4 Sonor Martini

9.2/10 Read review
92 %
Last Amazon price update was: April 19, 2021 10:58 pm
× Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon.com (Amazon.in, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, etc) at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
9.2 Expert Score

The sound from this Sonor Martini drumset is powerful. This size of this kit would work for kids or beginners, so its really great on multiple levels.

Sound
9.3
Price
9.2
Look
9.1
PROS
  • Small enough for beginners
CONS
  • Does not come with set-up instructions

#5 Sonor Safari

9.2/10 Read review
92 %
Last Amazon price update was: April 19, 2021 10:34 pm
× Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon.com (Amazon.in, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, etc) at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
9.2 Expert Score

This drumset has a high sound quality that professional drummers use this kit. Its also affordable enough, that it makes sense for beginner drummers.

Sound
9.1
Price
9.4
Look
9.9
PROS
  • Small enough for beginners
CONS
  • Does not come with set-up instructions

#6 Yamaha Stage Custom Bop

90 %
Last Amazon price update was: April 19, 2021 1:28 am
× Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon.com (Amazon.in, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, etc) at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
9 Expert Score

This Yamaha drumset sounds great and works well for stage performance because of its quality, look, and portability. This is a great option for professional drummers.

Sound
8.7
Price
9.5
Look
8.9
PROS
  • It’s portable and small which makes it usuable for kids and urban living situations
CONS
  • Would require upgrade to 22” bass drum for rock drummers

#7 Questlove Ludwig Breakbeats Kit

8.9/10 Read review
89 %
Last Amazon price update was: April 18, 2021 5:20 am
× Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon.com (Amazon.in, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, etc) at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
8.9 Expert Score

This is the best kit for beginners needing somewhere to start.

Look
9
Sound
8.8
Feel
9.2
Durability
8.9
Value
9
PROS
  • Comes as shell pack only for drummers that already have cymbals, hardware etc.
CONS
  • For a true beginner there are some more affordable kits

#8 Pearl Roadshow

8.7/10 Read review
87 %
Last Amazon price update was: April 19, 2021 6:13 am
× Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon.com (Amazon.in, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, etc) at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
8.7 Expert Score

I wouldn’t be in any rush to take this kit on tour as a professional musician, but if I was flying into a gig and any of the variations of this was the backline drumset with decent drum heads and cymbals, I would feel good about it.  I would definitely recommend this for beginners and intermediate drummers, but if you are intermediate moving towards being a professional musician I would suggest The Pearl Export Series Drumset which is a great value drumset or a comparable drumset in the Yamaha Stage Custom Drumset which i love for the price.  Check out my article Pearl Export Series Drumset vs. Yamaha Stage Custom Drumset for more information if your considering the upgrade.

Sound
8
Price
8.2
Look
10
PROS
  • Even without updgrading anything on the kit, it sounds great for the price and will serve beginners and intermediate drummers well and is even good as an inexpensive practice kit for a professional drummer, should they want an extra drumkit for their practice space. Although I would suggest other drumkits for affordable studio drumsets, click here for more on that.
CONS
  • If you already own a drum throne, kick pedal, cymbals etc., don’t buy this kit. If you have all that stuff, for the same amount of money there are shell packs (click here for lists, reviews and comparisons) that I would highly recommend that sound even better out of the box and have more longevity when it comes to be able to use them professionally should you grow to that (or are already there)

#9 Ludwig Accent

80 %
Last Amazon price update was: March 5, 2021 5:30 am
× Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon.com (Amazon.in, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, etc) at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
8 Expert Score

This drumset is affordable, and it includes everything you need to open the drumkit and begin playing.

Sound
6.9
Price
10
Look
7.1
PROS
  • Poplar wood is standard for beginner drumsets but better than what some other companies use
CONS
  • Cymbals are fine at first but should be replaced to make the drumset sound good and to make it enjoyable for the players.

#10 Ludwig Jr.

80 %
Last Amazon price update was: April 18, 2021 5:17 am
× Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon.com (Amazon.in, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, etc) at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
8 Expert Score

The Ludwig Jr. Drumset includes a kick pedal, cymbals, and hardware- so it includes everything you need to pull it out of the box and start playing.

Sound
7.1
Price
10
Look
6.5
PROS
  • For kids, it’s a nice kit and not a toy kit like other “kids drumsets”
CONS
  • The cymbals should be upgraded if you beginner or child enjoys playing drums enough to want to stick with it.

Even with the excitement surrounding the technology of electronic drumsets, nothing has replaced the traditional drumset as the most popular form of drumming. With the added competition and advances in manufacturing, (some for better, some for worse) there are a ton of great and not so great options for drumsets for all skill sets.

This section reviews acoustic Drumsets that cover the more traditional drum set which are full kits that include a bass drum, snare drum, tom toms, and the necessary hardware for the drums.

For beginners and intermediate drummers, there are several drumsets under $1000 to choose from with several drumsets under $500 on the market that have a value that highly exceeds the price. There are also cheap drumsets that just flat out suck and wont inspire you to play and that’s just a waste of money.

For the professional drummer, spending a lot of money on drums we love is a given, almost an addiction based on necessity. But not every drumset is worth the expense and sometimes we just need a trusted ear or drummer to let us know what they think before pulling the trigger on buying the drumset that we’ve had our eyes and ears on.

View All Acoustic Drums Reviews