Drum Set Price – Best Drum Brands Compared

In this case study, I decided to determine drum set price of the 7 biggest drum manufacturers. To do this, I established my own measurement unit, PPS = price per shell.

Some sets are sold as a 7 piece, some as a 3 piece set. That’s why I decided to find out the average cost per single element.

I will compare drum set cost by seven best drum manufacturers:

  • DW
  • Yamaha
  • Pearl
  • Ludwig
  • Sonor
  • Mapex
  • Gretsch

If you are just here for the short answer on how much does a drum set cost, here it is:

Drum set for beginners cost around $300 (drum set, 2-3 cymbals, 2 stands, drum throne, drum pedal). Professional drum set goes from $1400 to $8000 or more just for shells. The rest of the equipment is bought separately.

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Drum set
Price
PPS
Yamaha Rydeen
$419
$83
Yamaha Stage Custom Hip
$700
$175
Yamaha Stage Custom Birch
$710
$142
Yamaha Stage Custom Bop Kit
$724
$241
Yamaha Junior Kit
1,073
$214
Yamaha Tour Custom
$1,360
$340
Yamaha Live Custom
$3,406
$851
Yamaha Absolute Hybrid
$3,627
$906
Yamaha Recording Custom
$3,760
$940
Yamaha PHX
$7,410
$1852

*PPC = price per shell

Yamaha drums offer excellent entry point at only $83 per single shell for Yamaha Ryden, a set made of poplar, same as many cheap drum sets for beginners.

Yamaha offers great budget drum sets with a good value for money ratio like Yamaha Stage Custom. This drum set is one of the most exploited beginners drum sets worldwide. 

This set is used by many companies who rent equipment, so it is not uncommon to see Stage Custom on a bigger stage.

Professional drum sets like Live custom (Ex-Oak), Recording Custom, and Yamaha Absolute made of Maple and Wenge also have a great price per shell.

Premium models by other companies such as Pearl and DW go higher than that. In the case of DW, even $500 higher per single shell.

Best value for money

8.2

ThatScore

Pearl drum set price

Drum set
Price
PPS
Pearl Roadshow Jr.
$370
$74
Pearl Midtown Series
$590
$147
Pearl Roadshow
$630
$126
Pearl Export EXX
$930
$186
Pearl Export EXL
$1,050
$210
Pearl Decade Maple
$1,342
$268
Pearl Crystal Beat
$1,570
$392
Pearl President Series Deluxe
$1,600
$533
Pearl Masters Maple
$1,800
$450
Pearl Session Studio
$1,970
$394
Pearl Masters Maple Reserve
$3,358
$839
Pearl President Series Phenolic
$3,690
$922
Pearl Reference
$3,790
$947
Pearl Masters Maple/Gum
$4,083
$1020
Pearl Reference Pure Studio
$4,092
$1023

*PPC = price per shell

Out of all manufacturers from this list Pearl has widest range of models, even 15 of them while others produce 7 on average.

Pearl does offer widest range of possibilities and has low entry point for the Pearl Roadshow Jr. ant only $74 per single shell.

Same as Yamaha, Pearl also has great intermediate level models exploited worldwide. Probably most knows is Pearl Masters, Crystal Beat and Decade Maple.

Anytime you can get maple shells at low costs it’s a great opportunity. With Pearl Decade Maple you get shells made of thin 6-ply maple.

When it comes to premium models such as Pearl Reference or Reference pure Studio price per shell is not overpriced but if we compare it to other manufacturers is somewhere. in the middle.

Best value for money

7.9

ThatScore

Drum Workshop drum set price

Drum set
Price
PPS
PDP Concept Maple
$900
$180
DW Design Series
$1,950
$390
DW Performance Series
$3000
$600
DW Collector's Series
$4,700
$940
DW Collector's Series Jazz
$6,160
$1540
DW Limited Editions
$7000
$1400

*PPC = price per shell

American quality comes with a price. That brings us to Drum Workshop aka DW, a company located in California with highest price per shell for the entry models and also highest PPR for premium models.

Is it worth it?

Only if you are a fan and you like the sound of DW more than others.

I had chance playing  DW Collector Series on a big stage but on the other hand I tried Yamaha Recording, Absolute maple, Pearl Reference, Mapex Plack Panter and other premium models from various companies.

Collector series sound great, big strong, easy to tune with no over tones just like premium drum model should sound like but is it higher quality or better sounding than other manufacturers, NO.

It all comes to personal prefenrece.

Best value for money

8.5

ThatScore

Ludwig drum set price

Drum set
Price
PPS
Ludwig Questlove Pocket Kit
$300
$75
Ludwig Breakbeats
$470
$117
Ludwig Accent
$600
$120
Ludwig Element Evolution
$1,200
$200
Ludwig NeuSonic
$1,300
$433
Ludwig Classic Maple
$2,410
$803
Ludwig Legacy Mahogany
$3,400
$1133
Ludwig Vistalite
$4000
$800
Ludwig Legacy Maple
$5,660
$1415

*PPC = price per shell

In the past, I’m talking about the ’50s and 60’s era when Ludwig ruled the world with almost no competition. Unfortunately for the company, the significant band era when all drummers played Ludwig has passed.

All left is legendary sound and quality that should not be underrated. Let’s leave legendary snare drums like Ludwig Supraphonic and Supersensitive for some other article and focus on drum sets.

Ludwig has great entry point drum kits for only $75, which equals Pearl. These are the drum kits with the lowest PPC made by famous drum manufacturers.

I would dare say Ludwig Questlove Pocket Kit is worth more than $300, but I will not complain about getting it cheap. It’s one of the best beginner’s drum sets on the market.

I am not overwhelmed getting the maple shells at $803 PPC, the price per shell for Ludwig Classic Maple. Even DW offers maple at $600.

For old school rockers who chase the “John Bonham sound,” Ludwig Vistalite is out of the competition.

Best value for money

6.5

ThatScore

Mapex drum set price

Drum set
Price
PPS
Mapex Mars
$670
$134
Mapex Storm
$680
$136
Mapex Armory
$960
$192
Mapex Saturn
$1,290
$322
Mapex Saturn Evolution
$2,810
$562
Mapex Black Panther
$3,223
$644

*PPC = price per shell

Mapex is a company that has become highly popular in the past decade. I would say it’s because of modern-sounding drum kits and good value for money ratio.

Mapex is my personal preference. I play model from a few years ago, Mapex Saturn IV. The shell is Maple which gives it an open sound, and a Walnut provides a note of modern.

Having a “modern” sound was the reason I switched to Mapex.
Low entry series PPC is not that low. However, Mars and Armory series are not in the class “children drumsets.” These are well-manufactured drums made of poplar, that’s the low price reason.

Mapex Black Panther is the cheapest premium drum set, with the lowest price per single shell.
The built quality and quality of sound Black Panther offers are outstanding. There is no better value for money ratio drum set on this list.

Best value for money

9.7

ThatScore

Sonor drum set price

Drum set
Price
PPS
Sonor AQX
$430
$107
Sonor AQ1
$1,208
$241
Sonor AQ2
$900
$225
Sonor SQ1
$2,700
$900
Sonor Vintage
$3,090
$1030
Sonor ProLite
$3,284
$1094
Sonor SQ2
$4,346
$1086

*PPC = price per shell

Like Mapex, Sonor emerged few years ago with complete makeover. All the series you see above are part of this makeover and I must say, I like it.

When I hear the word “Sonor” I instantly think of Benny Greb’s sound, but offcourse Benny would sound great on any drum set.

Don’t let this overshadow the fact these drums sound great. Maple shells come with AQ2 series, at the rate of $270 per shell which is outstanding.

After that we see substantial price increase. At this level Sonor started experimenting with ultra thin maple shells on ProLite series, beech wood on Vintage series and European Birch on SQ1.

Is it worth the price jump? It’s up to you, whether or not you like the sound and you are ready to sacrifice additional money.

Best value for money

7.2

ThatScore

Gretsch drum set price

Drum set
Price
PPS
Gretsch Catalina Club
$800
$200
Gretsch Energy
$980
$196
Gretsch Catalina Maple
$1000
$200
Gretsch Drums Renown
$1,600
$400
Gretsch Brooklyn
$2,590
$647
Gretsch Broadkaster
$3,925
$981
Gretsch USA Custom
$3925
$981

*PPC = price per shell

Gretsch doesn’t go wild with shell prices. As you can see from the table above even premium drum kits like USA Custom don’t go over $1000 per single shell.

Kits like Catalina Maple rule the market of intermediate level drums by offering maple shells at such a low rate.

Together with Mapex and Sonor, Gretsch offer maple shells at lowest rates. What is disappointing is that Gretsch Brooklyn series that come at such a high rate still use poplar.

If you are dedicated to “That Great Gretsch Sound” and won’t compromise having poplar wood in your kit go with Gretsch USA Custom with maple/gum shell.

Overal, Gretsch has good rates but introduces all maple shells very late in the lineup. In compare to other companies who use poplar only for low entry series, Gretsch use this wood in almost all their drum series.

Best value for money

7.3

ThatScore

On what to pay attention while buying a drum set?

When you go to a drum store to buy an expensive drum set, you will only get only 4-piece drum set (only wood without a snare drum) unless you pay for the rest. 

When it comes to drums for beginners, they usually come with a whole package containing:

  • cheap cymbals (crash, ride, hi-hat)
  • cymbal stands
  • drum pedal
  • drum throne. (sometimes)

As a beginner on drums, you will search for a cheap drum set.

One premium cymbal cost more than entire set of cymbals for beginners. Have it in mind that music equipment, in general, are, is costly, so it will be hard to buy all you need at once.

After all, there are plenty of things that you may not get by default. Here is the list:

  • Cymbals
  • Bass drum pedal
  • Drum throne
  • Snare drum stand
  • Crash and ride stand
  • Hi-hat stand
  • Bags
  • Sticks

Disclaimer:

Depending on the stores, a beginner drum kit package can vary. Sometimes, you can get a cymbal set, drum throne, or some bags for the drums with a drum set.

The second thing I want to emphasize is that heads are as crucial as wood. There are no two kinds of wood entirely the same. This can, therefore, cause drum sets from the same series to sound different.

About sizes; if you buy on a low budget (under $1000 new) drum set, stick to smaller toms. It will be easy to tune them, and they will not quickly go out of tune. The larger and cheaper the drum, the more tone issues you should expect, especially when mic the drum kit.

Although any drum kit can sound good with a good drummer, there is a massive difference between a beginner drum set and an expensive drum kit. 

Check out also:

Electronic drum set price

Beginner's drum set VS Pro drum set

Type of wood

Every drum company works similarly when it comes to drum lines. The most popular drum wood for manufacturing premium series is maple. The best and most expensive drum series is made of pure maple or maple mixed with exotic wood.

On the other hand beginner drum sets are usually made of poplar, some cheaper birch, maple, and oak.

In the beginning, you don’t need to spend a lot on drums. Focus on:

You can find maple in a cheap drum set but not wholly maple. It is, however, not the same quality as the more expensive series. That is for sure. Also, think about some custom-made drums.

Hardware

For hardware, expensive series have hardware that will hold a tune longer.

You will have a tough time tuning beginner drums. They will not sound as good as expensive drums when you tune them and, they will not hold a tone that you set.

The reason for this is low-quality lugs.

Cymbals

Professional cymbals are usually made out of B20 bronze. 

From my experience, professional cymbals have a little more durability, but the main difference is sound.

I made a complete guide on the best cymbals in the world right now.

I suggest for you check it out.

Conclusion

Only expensive drum series have some fancy, good looking finishes. Sometimes drum manufacturer will add one ply of some exotic wood in order to get a better finish.

So, when it comes to design, you can’t get much out of a $500 drum set.

Try listening to a sound in this video, see if you will notice the difference.

Denis Loncaric

Denis Loncaric

My name is Denis. I am a drummer, percussionist, music enthusiast, and blogger. Drums have been my passion for 15 years now. My idea is to write about the things I like and I am interested in. I want to share my drum passion with fellow musicians who walk, talk, and breathe drums.

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