10 Drum Sets Go Under The Microscope

10 Drum Sets

In the market for a new drum kit? Don’t spend a nickel until you’ve read the final verdicts of our expert review team on these kits from GMS, Pearl, DW, Mapex, Ddrum, Crush, Gretsch, Yamaha, Whitney, and Tama.

Take a tour of these top kits and you can vote in a poll at the end to choose your favorite. [Editor's Note: These reviews were done over the last few years and combined for this article. Features of these kits have changed or been upgraded in some cases. For ordering details on any kit, visit the manufacturer web site.]

First Up: GMS Special Edition Pro kit with superb finishes, clear tones, and a great price.

#2. Pearl Reference Series Pearl succeeds in blending wood species for optimum sound.

#3. DW Collectors Series Birch See what happens when John Good gets his hands on high-quality birch.

#4. Mapex RetroSonic A unique vibe and limited edition status makes this kit a collector's item.

#5. Ddrum Reflex A pro kit at an affordable price — great for the gigging drummer on a budget.

#6. Crush Drums A very impressive showing from such a promising young drum maker.

#7. Gretsch Catalina Club Save your back with this great jobbing set for relatively quiet gigs.

#8. Yamaha Absolute Birch Custom Game changer — when Yamaha introduced the Nouveau lug on its Absolute Birch Custom kits.

#9. Whitney Nesting Penguin A lightweight, portable, and eccentric kit with professional-quality sound.

#10. Tama Silverstar Remarkably affordable drum kit that delivers excellent features.

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  • What a strange collection of kits! How do you compare an obviously vintage rock sounding kit with one smaller and more designed for fine details? To compare a Whitney Penquin with a Mapex Retrosonic is impossible really and unfair to both. The Mapex gets my vote in vintage heavy styles and the Whitney for portability, design and versatility. Of course knowing the readers of DRUM! for the most part, it isn’t surprising that DW and Pearl won out but they are in a very different style and sound category. I fell a disservice has been done to all the sets putting them head to head. Each has it’s forte and all are quality kits but again, too large a price range from Catalina to DW! I guess the poll means little in actual use or sound quality but only shows what your readers like and maybe the style of music the majority of your readers play or listen to most. Now you know you target group!