I Analyzed the Drum Set Cost from the 8 Best Brands – Here’s What I Found

February 4, 2024

In this case study, I decided to determine drum set cost 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:

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

Key takeaways:

  1. Pearl’s average shell price is the lowest at $160.
  2. DW’s average shell price is the highest at $560.
  3. Beginner drum sets typically cost around $300, with accessories included.
  4. Professional drum sets start from $1,400, shells only.
  5. Pearl’s Roadshow Jr. has the market’s cheapest shell at $74, ideal for budget buyers.

Yamaha drum set cost

Drum set
Yamaha Rydeen
Yamaha Stage Custom Hip
Yamaha Stage Custom Birch
Yamaha Stage Custom Bop Kit
Yamaha Junior Kit
Yamaha Tour Custom
Yamaha Live Custom
Yamaha Absolute Hybrid
Yamaha Recording Custom
Yamaha PHX

*PPS = 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



Pearl drum set cost

Drum set
Pearl Roadshow Jr.
Pearl Midtown Series
Pearl Roadshow
Pearl Export EXX
Pearl Export EXL
Pearl Decade Maple
Pearl Crystal Beat
Pearl President Series Deluxe
Pearl Masters Maple
Pearl Session Studio
Pearl Masters Maple Reserve
Pearl President Series Phenolic
Pearl Reference
Pearl Masters Maple/Gum
Pearl Reference Pure Studio

*PPS = 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



Drum Workshop drum set cost

Drum set
PDP Concept Maple
DW Design Series
DW Performance Series
DW Collector's Series
DW Collector's Series Jazz
DW Limited Editions

*PPS = 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



Ludwig drum set cost

Drum set
Ludwig Questlove Pocket Kit
Ludwig Breakbeats
Ludwig Accent
Ludwig Element Evolution
Ludwig NeuSonic
Ludwig Classic Maple
Ludwig Legacy Mahogany
Ludwig Vistalite
Ludwig Legacy Maple

*PPS = 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



Mapex drum set cost

Drum set
Mapex Mars
Mapex Storm
Mapex Armory
Mapex Saturn
Mapex Saturn Evolution
Mapex Black Panther

*PPS = 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



Sonor drum set cost

Drum set
Sonor AQX
Sonor AQ1
Sonor AQ2
Sonor SQ1
Sonor Vintage
Sonor ProLite
Sonor SQ2

*PPS = 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



Gretsch drum set cost

Drum set
Gretsch Catalina Club
Gretsch Energy
Gretsch Catalina Maple
Gretsch Drums Renown
Gretsch Brooklyn
Gretsch Broadkaster
Gretsch USA Custom

*PPS = 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



Tama drum set cost

Drum set
Tama Cocktail-Jam
Tama Club-Jam
Tama Stagestar
Tama Imperialstar
Tama Superstar Classic
Tama Starclassic Performer
Tama Starclassic Walnut/Birch
Tama Starclassic Maple
Tama Star

*PPS = price per shell

Most Tama kits are in the intermediate range with a pretty affordable price per shell. The Tama kit with the best value-for-money ratio is the Tama Imperialstar.

We don’t see much price increase until Tama Starclassic Maple kicks in. Then the price goes almost 2x up.

Compared to prices, Tama has the most similarities to Pearl and Sonor; it sits right in the middle, now as expensive as Dw but still more expensive than Mapex.

With such a tradition of craftsmanship, Tama’s drum kits are everything but not overrated; it’s well worth the money they are charging.

If not, Mike Portnoy, Simon Philips, and Ronald Bruner Jr. Wouldn’t play Tama.

Check out also:

Electronic drum set price

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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