In this article we will discuss some of the best acoustic drum sets which are available to buy today in 2021. As you might already know, a drum set can cost anything from a couple of hundred dollars to almost $10,000 depending on the quality and brand. In this article we will cater to all budgets from inexpensive drum kits to professional-level sets.
One thing to understand before we get into the drum set reviews is that some kits discussed with be shell packs only and others will be complete drum sets. A shell pack is typically when you buy just the drums alone. You can purchase a shell pack of any amount of drums and they will come complete with drum heads and hoops, and sometimes tom mounts. With shell packs a full set of hardware is not included. This means that you will have to purchase your own stands, such as snare stands and cymbal stands or racks, separately.
If on the other hand you want to purchase an acoustic drum set with hardware included, then you needn’t worry. We have you covered here too. Some of the drum sets on our list even come with cymbals as part of the deal. Let’s look at some of the contenders.
Here are the best drum sets 2021:
- Tama Imperialstar 6-Piece
- DW Collector’s Series 7-Piece
- Pearl Roadshow 5-Piece
- PDP Player 5-Piece Jr.
- Ludwig Element Evolution 6-Piece
- Pearl Decade 7-Piece Shell Pack
- Mapex Mars 5-Piece Shell Pack
- Gretsch Custom 4-Piece Shell Pack
- Yamaha Stage Custom Birch Shell Pack
- DW Design Series 5-Piece (Clear Acrylic)
1. Tama Imperialstar 6-Piece
The best value starter kit
Tama is a big name in drum making. Their kits are used by many professional drummers including Lars Ulrich of Metallica. The Imperialstar 6-piece drum set comes complete with cymbals and hardware. It’s a great price at around $800 and will appeal to many budding drummers.
The kit is available in six cool colors and all shells are made from poplar. There are two floor toms, 16 and 14 inches, and two bass drum mounted toms which are 10 and 12 inches in diameter. The snare is 14 inches wide and 5 inches deep.
The cymbals provided are made by Meinl, who are a well-reputed manufacturer from Germany. You get a 14 inch set of hihats, a 16 inch crash cymbal and a 20 inch ride cymbal.
|Image credit: Tama Check Price on Sweetwater||
This acoustic drum set from Tama is one of the best drum kits on the market when it comes to value. It’s one of the cheapest sets, considering the wealth of accessories that you get.
The drums are a good quality, the cymbals sound good and are better than most beginner sets, and most importantly the price is very competitive. It’s no surprise that many drum set reviews have this drum kit so highly rated.
2. DW Collector’s Series 7-Piece
The best high-end acoustic kit
For more serious drummers with a bit of a budget to play around with, there are many options. One of the best sounding drum sets, and the most expensive on our list, is the DW Collector’s Series. When dealing with top-end drum sets often they are custom made to specifications. In this case it is up to you to specify the individual sizes of each drum.
For drum nerds, this is a pleasure. You get to choose the depth and diameter of each drum and it doesn’t end there. There are a whole host of finishing options. DW has one of the most complete collections of custom finishes in the world. There is practically every design available, and if it’s not available, you can have it custom-made for you – at a price, of course.
With this shell pack you get the drums and nothing else. You’ll have to pick out and purchase the hardware separately. Of course if you want to buy a high-end drum set like the Collector’s Series with hardware, there are many stores who will supply pre-packaged bundles so that you don’t need to go shopping for individual hardware parts.
When it comes to the drums themselves, there are two options with this Collector’s Series. You can opt for either maple or mahogany as the base wood. DW has come up with new grading system to distinguish between different grains of wood. They claim that the different grain affects the tone of each drum, so based on this you can custom build your kit to the desired grain.
Each drum comes with graduated hoops which make for crisp and clean attack. These hoops can also be customized in color from chrome to gold to matt black, and more.
|Image credit: DW Check Price on Sweetwater||
The real selling point of DW Collector’s Series drums is the sound. Even with the stock factory heads, they sound amazing. The drums are quite heavy, especially in mahogany, but this is largely down to the quality metals used in the hardware.
Even the tuning rods are ‘true-pitch’ which effectively means they have an increased amount of threads per square inch for more accurate tuning. This range from DW truly is the Rolls Royce of acoustic drum sets.
3. Pearl Roadshow 5-Piece
Runner-up best value drum kit
If you’re looking for a good acoustic drum set to get playing on right away then this 5-piece from Pearl is a great option. It’s relatively affordable, coming in at just under $500 online and in stores. The Pearl Roadshow comes in various different models which have differing drum sizes. This kit we are reviewing is the ‘New Fusion’ model.
The ‘New Fusion’ Roadshow drum set comes with hardware and cymbals. The bass drum is a 22-inch drum and is 16 inches in depth. This is a nice size for rock, pop, and yes, even fusion music. This Roadshow drum set is full-size so it’s ideal for adults or older children. The tom sizes are 10 and 12 inches with a 16-inch floor tom. All drums match in color and there are four colors to pick from.
The Roadshow comes complete with hardware so you only need to make one purchase. The snare stand is adjustable so it can accommodate different size drums. There is a Pearl bass drum pedal, which is chain driven for extra durability. This is a single pedal and connects easily to the hoop of the bass drum. The hihat stand is also chain driven. This is one of Pearl’s most basic lines in hardware but, with that said, the quality is quite high.
There’s also a set of cymbals included in the deal. These cymbals are made by Pearl. There is a set of hi-hats and a ride cymbal. The ride cymbal is 16 inches and a medium weight. The hi-hats are a standard 14 inches. The sound from the cymbals is not amazing but perfect for beginners to learn on.
|Image credit: Pearl Check Price on Sweetwater||
With the Roadshow, you get a complete acoustic drum set and one of the best for the money too. If you’d like to experiment with drum sizes you can choose from some of the other Pearl options in this line. There are smaller setups, such as the ‘Jazz’ which comes with an 18-inch bass drum, a 13-inch snare, a 7-inch tom and a 14-inch floor tom. Such a smaller drum set might suit a junior player and the price is over $100 less than the Roadshow ‘New Fusion’. This drum set is good value all-around.
4. PDP Player 5-Piece
The best junior acoustic drum set
Buying for a youngster can be tricky. There are a lot of different child drum sets out there. If you find yourself in need of some direction, you may be interested in this neat drum set from Pacific Drums. Pacific Drums, or PDP, are a branch of DW and so they carry with them a reputation for quality drums and hardware.
The PDP Player 5-Piece has been designed to be playable for children of ages 3 upwards. The upper age really depends on the individual child, but around 7 or 8 years old is a good estimate.
This is a 5-piece drum set with two rack toms, a snare, bass drum and floor tom. There is also a set of hihats and a cymbal included. Both come with stands. The hihat stand is chain-driven which adds to the playability of this drum set. The two rack toms are mounted to the bass drum and can be raised or lowered to suit the player.
The snare is smaller than a regular adult snare. It’s 5 inches in depth and 12 inches in diameter. Like the snare the bass drum is smaller and comes in at 18 inches in diameter.
|Image credit: PDP Check Price on Sweetwater||
This is a good one-stop-shop for anyone considering purchasing an acoustic drum kit for a kid. PDP produce decent drum shells and robust hardware which should see even the most ardent drummers through their early career.
5. Ludwig Element Evolution 6-Piece
The Ludwig Drum Company has been manufacturing drums now for over a century. Their name has long been associated with quality and the Element Evolution stays true to that reputation. This 6-piece acoustic drum set comes complete with hardware, cymbals and even a drum throne. There is all you need to get going right away, and all in one purchase.
Most drum sets are 5-piece, which is typically a bass drum, snare two rack toms and a floor tom. With the Element Evolution, there is an extra floor tom thrown in for good measure. The sizes of the toms are (in order of smallest diameter to largest) 10, 12, 14 and 16 inches. Add to that a 22-inch bass drum and a 14 x 5-inch snare and you have a substantial rock or pop drum kit.
This set is available in a range of four colors. The drum shells are poplar and project well. This kit comes with stock factory heads, but it is recommended that you swap them out with a decent new set to achieve their full sound potential.
|Image credit: Ludwig Check Price on Sweetwater||
The Element Evolution by Ludwig is one of the highest-rated acoustic drum sets on the market. It’s cheap, when it comes to price, but value for money considering the complete package. As far as entry-level kits go, this is one of the top drum sets out there.
Yet it’s not strictly a beginner drum kit. The quality of build and the great tone from these drums makes them ideal for the weekend drummer who wants a great value acoustic drum set for under $1000.
6. Pearl Decade 7-Piece Shell Pack
This 7-piece drum set from Pearl is immediately striking to look at on first impressions. It’s available in many different colors from satin black to white satin pearl.
This drum set would really suit the drummer who likes big kits. There are three rack toms and two floor toms. All shells are made from 6-ply maple. Maple has traditionally been reserved for high-end professional-level drum sets so it’s great to see it available here at such a low price.
|Image credit: Pearl Check Price on Sweetwater||
While this is a shell pack only, the quality of the drums is commendable. This drum set would suit someone who wants to upgrade their beginner set to something better and doesn’t need to fork out for a completely new set of hardware. At the price of around $1000 it gives the more expensive drum sets on our list a run for their money.
7. Mapex Mars 5-Piece Shell Pack
This 5-piece shell pack from Mapex is the only kit from them on our list. Being a shell pack, there is no hardware included in this pack. That said, the tom mount which holds two toms on the bass drum is included.
The drums themselves are regular pop/rock sizes and project a healthy tone. You might want to replace the stock heads though – they don’t do justice to these shells.
|Image credit: Mapex Check Price on Amazon||
This is a decent shell pack for under $700. The drums are well built and nicely balanced with each other in terms of tone. The bass drum in particular packs a nice punch.
8. Gretsch Custom 4-Piece Shell Pack
Gretsch make quality instruments, from drums to guitar. This is a 4-piece shell pack which costs roughly $1000 per drum. Now that may be out of some drummers’ budgets but you’re paying for that quality Gretsch sound here.
|Image credit: Gretsch Check Price on Sweetwater||
9. Yamaha Stage Custom Birch Shell Pack
This is a nifty shell pack for any drummer that wants quality drums on a shoestring. Drum sizes are 10 and 12-inch toms, 16-inch floor tom and 22-inch bass drum. There’s no hardware, as per standard with shell packs, but Yamaha have included the required tom mount which fits on the bass drum.
|Image credit: Yamaha Check Price on Sweetwater||
Stage Customs are good drum sets and offer great value. This acoustic drum shell pack is currently under $700 online. That is a nice price for quality birch shells. Of course, being a shell pack, the amount of hardware you receive is limited. You do get the tom mount for the bass drum which holds the 10 and 12-inch toms.
Really this drum set would suit a drummer who wants to experience the birch drum sound on a budget. Birch typically has more attack and high end than your average maple drum. This means the drums can cut through a mix more sharply. Of course they are not limited to this sound, and as with every drum kit, a lot of the mix can be done in post-production.
Ultimately, if you want a birch drum set and the sizes appeal to you, then dive in!
10. DW Design Series 5-Piece (Clear Acrylic)
Acrylic drum kits were made popular in the 1970’s by drummers such as John Bonham from Led Zeppelin and Keith Moon from The Who. These drums are stunning to look at as they have a transparent glass appearance which means you can see right through them. Just like stained glass, they can also come in a variety of colors.
Not being porous wood has other benefits too – Keith Moon once even went so far as to fill one of his drums with water in order to house his pet goldfish. You can see his improvised aquarium here.
When it comes to acrylic drum sets, there are many brands out there. For just under $1600 you can get DW’s 5-piece shell pack offering. These five drums consist of a 14-inch snare, which is 5.5 inches deep. The bass drum is a standard 22-inch which is a nice and deep 18 inches. The three toms are 10, 12 and 16 inches in diameter. Overall this is pretty standard.
The sound from acrylic drums is typically louder than standard wooden drums such as maple or birch. They are popular for this reason. Of course their stunning look is also a factor.
|Image credit: DW Check Price on Sweetwater||
Acrylic drum sets are a lot of fun to play. They are loud both in volume and in looks. This type of drum set is popular among rock drummers, as the extra volume means they can easily keep up with loud guitarists and huge stacks of amplifiers. Some would say this limits the versatility of acrylic drum sets, but if you like the sound and look, then let that be the deciding factor.
We hope that you’ve enjoyed reading about some of the top acoustic drum sets to buy. There’s something in this list for buyers of all budgets. Beginner drummers will most likely want to buy a drum kit with everything included. This may mean with or without cymbals.
In most cases, when starting out, it is a good idea to purchase a drum set with hardware included. This means all the required stands. The Pearl Roadshow and the Tama Imperialstar on our list are both perfect for these reasons. They come with cymbals too.
Of course you can buy hardware separately but what you will find is that it works out cheaper to buy the hardware in a pack with the drums.
For professional-level drummers there are many options. There are many companies who cater to top-end drummers, such as DW, Pearl, Yamaha, Gretsch, Ludwig and others. Most of these top drum brands will offer the same selection in wood shells, from maple to birch, and yes even acrylic options.
When it comes to customization, DW offers the most options when designing your ideal kit. Their kits sound amazing and are known for their craftsmanship, but they really excel with finishing and attention to detail. DW started out as a hardware company, building the likes of bass drum pedals and stands, and eventually moved into making acoustic drum shells.
As you can see from our list, there are many options out there when looking for high-quality acoustic drum sets. Pay attention to your own preferences and your budget and you can narrow down the options from there. From cheap beginner drum kits to the most popular professional high-quality drum kits, we’re certain that you can find the right kit for you.