Our Top Pick for 2018: Tama Superstar Classic Custom 7-Piece Drum Set
Read our full review.
With the dozens of musical manufacturing companies producing an array of drum sets, deciding on which one to invest your time and money in can sometimes be tough. There are several factors to look out for: price, configurations, sound quality, comfort, etc. Many sets appear to be roughly the same with the only major differences depending on brand. It all boils down to which one is the right fit for you personally. To smooth out that process, below is a comprehensive list of four of some of the best drum sets around today. Whether you are a professional looking for a new setup or just play recreationally, this list will help you find the best kit to suit your needs.
Let’s Have a Quick Look of Our Top 4 Picks:
|Tama Superstar Classic Custom 7-Piece Shell Pack Transparent Blue Lacquer||3 Reviews||Currently not available||Buy on Amazon|
|Pearl RS525SCC706 Roadshow 5-Piece Drum Set, Charcoal Metallic||176 Reviews||$479.00||Buy on Amazon|
|Ludwig Accent Drive 5-Pc Drum Set, Red Foil - Includes: Hardware, Throne, Pedal, Cymbals, Sticks &...||17 Reviews||$399.00||Buy on Amazon|
|Best Choice Products Drum Sets-1263 5 Piece Complete Adult Drum Set with Cymbals, Full Size (Black)||206 Reviews||$357.00||Buy on Amazon|
#1. Tama Superstar Classic Custom 7-Piece Drum Set
Tama Drums has managed to stand the test of time having been around for over 40 years now. They continue to make waves in the industry with their Superstar Classic kit designed in the Tama T-shaped badge just like the brand’s other popular series, the Starclassic Performer. The kit’s appearance is customizable with polished lacquer finishes as well as Unicolor wraps.
There are a decent amount of color choices available, all highly appealing while not being overtly flashy to turn anyone off. The lacquer finishes come in four primary colors: mahogany burst, classic cherry wine, silver snow metallic, and transparent black. There is also a fine-looking transparent blue, but the color is a limited edition. As for the Unicolor wraps, the five options contain midnight gold sparkle, indigo sparkle, galaxy silver, brushed charcoal black, and bright orange sparkle. These wraps top out at a price slightly lower than the finishes, but the difference does not appear to be drastic.
On the configurations side, the 7-piece setup includes mounted toms that are 8″ x 7″, 10″ x 8″, and 12″ x 9″. The floor toms come in at 14″ x 12″ and 16″ x 14″, while the snare is 14″ x 6.5″. As for the bass drum, it measures out as a 22″ x 18″.
During the design process, the amount of effort Tama put into developing just the right sound is clear. One of the kit’s most defining characteristics is the use of 100% maple shells made from maple plies rather than recycled material. The toms and snares are all 6-ply and 5mm thick, and the bass drum is 8-ply and 7mm thick. Looking at the specs, it is evident that the shells drift to the thinner side of the spectrum. Thicker ones do allow for a much broader and more high-end projection, but these thin shells produce a nice and smooth low resonance. It is best to go into this knowing what type of sound you prefer.
This resonance is increased even more thanks to the Star-Mount System which supplies support to the toms at four points. Another feature that benefits reverberation is the newly designed, small, low-mass lugs. These lugs help decrease the amount of space they need to cover on the shells.
The Superstar Classic is also equipped with Power Craft II drum heads. On the bass drum heads, there are ring mufflers in place in an attempt to exclude the need for internal muffling. With the toms, the batters are a clear single-ply while the snare is coated single-ply head.
An Amazon reviewer described the sound as, “The snare is crisp and projects very well. The toms are clear and have excellent attack ….” However, there is some mention of the downsides pertaining to the snare. One drummer writing in for DRUM Magazine noted that “the coating on the snare’s batter started to wear off after about a half hour of playing …,” (Brad Schlueter). Also, due to the thinness of the snare, it lowers the rim-click in comparison with some other kits. Another drawback focuses more on the bass drum and the muffling rings. The rings have the ability to take away from the full attack the drums could have, and instead keeps the sound just low. That said, it is possible to utilize a muffled head in order to give the bass a hint more punch if that is what’s desired.
On the comfort end, the kit is more than adequate. It is a good size for those beyond the starting phase of drumming. A small hindrance in the kit’s ease of play is that it lacks a sliding mount design that other Tama sets have such as the Silverstar. The mounts in the Superstar Classic are all in a fixed position, a design feature that fails to accommodate drummers of various heights and reach.
All in all, this drum set has great quality with a decent price attached to it around the $1K range. It plays well enough in a studio or at home, and can even act as a good set piece for small gigs when professionals don’t wish to lug around the more expensive gear. There is also the added bonus of a good warranty offered by the company. The drum shells have a 5-year plan, the hardware and parts have a year, and the bass drum hoops sport a 30 day warranty tag.
#2. Pearl Roadshow 5-Piece Drum Set
For decades, Pearl has been a notorious musical instruments manufacturing brand. In particular, their drum line has continued to maintain a strong popularity due to them serving a variety of musicians from those just starting out, to marching bands, to rock stars. Their success holds strong with their 5-piece Roadshow set.
The kit is a comfortable size to fit within a home, and it serves just as well in a club or on a big stage. The collection of finishes is quite small as they have only four main ones: jet black, wine red, charcoal metallic, and bronze metallic. However, these exclusive finishes are very attractive, and there is a nice gloss to them all to shiny up the presentation.
This kit is ready to set up and play from the get go. Straight from the box, there is a full drum set. It features a 22″ x 16″ bass drum, 12″ x 9″ and 10″ x 8″ toms, a 16″ x 16″ floor tom, and a 14″ x 5.5″ snare. The set further includes a set of cymbals: 14″ brass hybrid hi-hats and a 16″ brass crash-ride. It also comes with additional needed hardware such as a hi-hat stand, 2 tom holders, cymbal stand, snare stand, a bass drum pedal, and a throne.
This kit makes good use of its poplar shells, 9-ply and 7mm thick, in order to capture great resonance and tonal power. This is influenced more so with help from the 45° bearing edges which allow for better precision when the drum head makes contact with the shell. The kick drum promotes the drum’s strength as well. A good description of this sound can be found on Gabrian’s site: “The Roadshow’s kick drum features an extended tension/tuning range for low, chest-thumping bass frequencies, and includes locking, slip-free feet (or ‘spurs’), and secure mounting for toms and accessories.”
The setup altogether is another noteworthy feature. The kit can withstand various pressures during a single performance due to having a strong base. Its stands have double-braced legs, height and angle can be adjusted, and the stands themselves are dual-reinforced.
Just like with the Tama Superstar though, the Roadshow comes with some inconveniences. There are some critiques about the cymbals lacking high quality. One reviewer explained it as, “Pearl really needs better quality control,” (Amazon). Another Amazon consumer focused on the look, mainly the finish by saying how it “… came very scratched and like the wrap under the lacquer finish the bronze wrap were scrunching and the factory still lacquers it.” Quite a bit of complaints lies more in the factory’s treatment of the hardware, so be sure to examine all parts upon unpacking the set to see if the company needs to ship out replacements. Pearl is known for great customer service though, so getting help with this set is simple enough.
The Roadshow sports a pretty good price for the amount of hardware it offers. Depending on the finish, the cost can range from the mid $400s to around $900. It also comes with a great warranty from Pearl. The hardware like lugs, strainers, tension rods, etc. have a warranty of 3 years from the date of purchase, wood and metal hoops are given a year, and finishes (not including any specialty made ones) are guaranteed for a year as well. Any further details about what is or is not included in the warranties can be found either on the purchasing site or the manufacturer’s page.
#3. Ludwig Accent Drive 5-Pc Drum Set
Anyone interested in music instruments recognizes the Ludwig name. They are renowned throughout the industry, and their revamped Accent Drive series only further exemplifies their success. This is another ready-out-of-the-box type kits as it includes a full setup. There is quite a bit of assembling, and this set has been known to lack instructions. However, any help can easily be found on sites like YouTube that features extensive walkthroughs to aid in every step.
Once put together, this can serve as a great entry-level point for the beginning drummer who wants to take their playing to another level. It comes in only four fine-looking finishes: black, wine red, blue, and black and white.
Enclosed in this ready-to-play kit are a 22″ x 16″ bass drum, 16″ x 16″ floor tom, 10″ x 8″ and 12″ x 9″ toms, and a 6.5″ x 14″ snare. It features 13″ hi-hats and a 16″ crash cymbal. The rest of the hardware contains a kick drum pedal, a throne, and hi-hat, drum, cymbal and snare stands. Ludwig’s impressive double-braced hardware keeps the entire thing together, allowing you to drum as hard as you like as often as you like without worry of anything falling apart. A bonus here is the weight; the stands are still light, making transportation easy.
The overall quality of this kit is another prime reason it continues to gain popularity. Coming in at an affordable price (around the $400 to $500 range) may make some question its actual value, but the Accent Drive does not sacrifice sound. It uses 9-ply and 8mm thick poplar shells which make for a low sound and great projection.
If you’re picking up drumsticks for the first time, or you’ve already played ventured into the intermediate area, finding enjoyment out of this kit is easy as it is all-inclusive. The crash cymbal is highly useful to teach limb control based on its placement as it gives each arm something to do other than just hitting the toms or hi-hats. Another perk is with having three toms alongside the snare. It grants the opportunity to explore more techniques like trying out various fills.
Typically, there are some complaints, and the cymbals look to be the prime suspects here. Even the most positive review will claim that they should be tossed and replaced. One person on zZounds Music noted that, “The drums sound like a much higher priced kit. The cymbals however are junk. You need to plan on buying a nice set of cymbals.”
Beyond the cymbals, there can be a concern about the tom’s ability resonate. With the rack toms being mounted to the bass drum, the posts that go through the shells can hinder the tom’s resonance. Another lesser concern was with the kit’s statement on being perfect for those just learning. Some make the claim that the setup is not simple and that the quality is beyond a beginner’s stage.
In general though, the Accent Drive maintains good ratings. There is a warranty from Ludwig that covers the parts and labor for a year. However, there are some exclusions within such as damage caused from abuse or misuse. Contacting the manufacturer directly is the best course of action in this case.
#4. Best Choice Products 5 Piece Complete Adult Drum Set
If you have developed a thirst for drumming but don’t know where to start while being on a budget, this 5-piece Complete Adult Drum Set is perhaps one of the best options available in today’s market. The price stays within the $200 level, almost a steal when it comes to drums this size. The finishes come in either black or silver. Even with the selection being the least varied out of the four kits in this list, the end quality is still nice and glossy, giving this kit a professional appearance any beginning owner can be proud of.
The kit boast a design exclusively for beginners, and it can help anyone get into the rhythm of playing while not breaking the bank. Included is a fully functioning set to fulfill any amateur’s need. The configurations are as followed: 12″ x 14″ cymbals, a 23″ x 16.5″ bass drum, a 14″ x 6″ snare, and three toms, 10.5″ x 10″, 12.5″ x 10.5″, and 16.5″ x 16.5″ respectively. All incorporated stands are height and angle adjustable. Further inclusions are a regular pair of drumsticks, a chair, and drum pedals, all of which make it easy to start playing immediately after assembling.
Even though many sing the praise for this set as a useful practicing tool, some flaws can be noticed. The cymbals are not the greatest and may require an upgrade, and the snare drum can be known to be overly resonant depending on preference. Some reviewers mentioned the included chair being weak for anyone over 100lbs, with some even claiming that it broke. Acquiring another stool if needed should be simple enough to continue to play this comfortably.
One of the most helpful reviews can be found on Amazon with a consumer stating, “The hardware is solid and stable, and the tonal quality of each drum is excellent with minimal ringing. The two critical hardware features – hi-hat stand and bass pedal – are sufficient for beginning and intermediate drummers, but are a bit unresponsive for pros.” Again, this set is designed with a beginner in mind, so it maintains a wonderful quality for those starting out. It is best to seek out any warranty information on the purchasing site.
Arguably, cost is one of (if not the) most important things to consider before making any purchase. The price for drum sets can fall low closer to $200 or less, while the more costly can reach well beyond $2K. Examining your needs alongside the budget is a good start. Also, be aware of any potential upgrades. A kit that, at first, cost you roughly $300 can easily climb up past $500 once hardware like cymbals and heads are upgraded.
Also, consider whether or not a used drum set will meet your demands over a new one. For those just starting out, buying a good used set can greatly help curb any costs, especially if an upgrade is in order in the future. Keep in mind how the sets look, however, so you don’t wind up with something in poor condition.
No one wants to end up with a kit that breaks down within the first month or one that shows wear after the first few plays. How well a set holds up is perhaps on par with the budget. A well-made and kept together kit should be able to last any player for years. A cheap one may look good for your wallet, but if the material is as cheap as the cost, then all it will do is fall apart. In end, that can wind up draining the bank faster than purchasing from a more reputable brand right off the bat.
If you are not completely sure whether or not a kit is well made, ask any more adept drummer for their opinion or do some research online.
Understanding where you are at in terms of how well you play is another major factor to consider. There are many sets designed with a specific type of musician in mind. If you fail to read up on the details before you buy, it can cause future and unnecessary headaches. A budding musician can purchase the fanciest (and perhaps pricey) looking set just because they can, yet find it hard and time consuming to not only play it well, but to assemble it in the first place. On the flip side, no pro wants to waste money on a kit meant for beginners as they can wind up running head-first into a wall in terms of play style and technique.
This may be one of the last things on your mind when buying a drum set, but it is no less important than any other feature. As a drummer, you sit for long periods of time and have to utilize fully utilize your limbs. A lack of comfort can kill any performance. There are a few things to look out for in this area. The chair/stool is one of the more obvious things. Also, check whether or not the stands are adjustable by both height and angle. Anything lacking in this area can make it harder for those with various heights as well as reach.
Conclusion (Wrapping it up)
Purchasing a drum set can seem easy on the surface, but finding just the right one is where the challenge comes in. The above list is meant to aid those who still sit on the fence or don’t know where to start. Although several features are mentioned, both positive and some not so positive, it is always best to think about exactly what it is that you want. The needs of one drummer may be completely different than the needs of another. Some like higher tones, while others go for the low-end ones. In the end, the best thing a list like this can do is point you in the right direction so you can begin (or continue!) the thrilling journey into the drummer world.