Five Complete Kits Under $1,000

As for the included Sabian SBR cymbals, you should probably think of these as place holders until you can afford to upgrade. Don’t get me wrong, Sabian makes some fantastic cymbals, but those Sabians are typically made from cast bronze. These SBRs are stamped into shape from sheet brass and sound nothing like Sabian’s higher-end offerings.

What Sets It Apart?

With five drums, good hardware, and included cymbals, this kit offers the most quantity of gear for the least expensive price — all in an attractive-looking package. While not a professional kit, this is a good-quality beginner set of drums and hardware that could last you for years if you treat it well. You may need to replace the heads eventually, but you’d also have to do that with a professional kit.


Configuration 22" x 18" virgin bass drum, 10" x 7" tom (five lug), 12" x 8" tom (five lug), 16" x 14" floor tom, and 14" x 5.5" snare (eight lug).
Shells Poplar with natural interiors. 30 degree edges on toms and bass drum. 45 degree edges on snare.
Hoops 1.6mm on snare and toms; metal hoops with wrap inlay on bass drum.
Heads Gretsch clear single-ply.
Finish White wrap. Also available in Black and Grey Steel wrap.
Hardware Gretsch Energy medium-weight hardware pack (double-braced stands): boom stand with tom holder; straight stand with tom holder; snare stand; hi-hat stand; and single-chain bass drum pedal.
Cymbals Sabian SBR cymbal pack (sheet brass cymbals): 13" hi-hats, 16" crash, and 20" ride.
Price $699

Sonor Kit

Sonor Bop Drums: An Elegantly Designed Jazz Kit

The Bop series can be paired with Sonor’s medium-weight 200 series hardware pack, or its slightly heavier 400 series hardware pack.

You might think that if you’re looking to buy a kit with hardware for less than $1,000, you would be relegated to 1) a standard-size kit with a 22" bass drum, and 2) limited hardware choices. With Sonor’s Bop Kit (available in the U.S. only), you’d be wrong on both counts.

For 2012, Sonor offers its Bop shell pack for $399. This shell pack comes in the sizes jazzers love: an 18" bass drum; 12" mounted tom; 14" floor tom, and 14" snare. You can still keep the price under $1,000, while choosing between two hardware packs: Sonor’s medium-weight 200 series hardware pack ($479); or its slightly heavier 400 series hardware pack ($539).

These hardware packs look very similar at first glance but they have some notable differences. The 400 series boom stands have extra tubing with two height adjustments (other than the boom), as opposed to the 200 series booms, which have only one height adjustment per stand. The 400 series hi-hat stand has a black swivel spring-tension adjustment that’s nowhere to be seen on the 200 series hi-hat. The 400 series hardware pack is not that much heavier and only $60 more than the $200 series. All things being equal, I’d go with the 400 series pack.

Both the 200 and 400 series hardware packs are very attractive from a design perspective. Sonor’s wing screws are half-moon shapes. The double-braced legs have long parallel lines that look much different than the legs on any other drum brand. The rubber feet have a mallet shape that is similar to Sonor’s mallet logo. The mini booms have just enough length to allow cymbals to be positioned at any angle, but no extra length that would make them look or feel unruly. The bass drum pedal has a sturdy bass plate, a single chain, a round cam, and a relatively small footboard. The footboard shape again has the same mallet motif as Sonor’s logo. This pedal has a smooth feel. Plus, its nifty two-sided felt or plastic beater looks the same (or very similar) to the beater on Sonor’s more expensive Giant Beat pedal.

All drums have mini chrome mallet-shaped lugs — again a riff on the Sonor logo. These lugs include an internal Tune Safe safeguard designed to keep tension rods from loosening. These drums have thinner 1.6mm hoops, which I find are less likely to stay in tune than thicker hoops on any drum, so the Tune Safe feature is a huge plus on a kit like this. The bass drum legs have a quirky rounded shape and fold out from the shell. The tom mount is an infinite-angle ball mechanism that works easily and looks classy.

To my eyes, Sonor’s Silver Galaxy wrap is one of the better silver sparkle wraps available. The sparkles look smaller than normal. Consequently, they seem to catch the light in a unique way and glisten from any angle. The wrap is shiny enough that you might mistake it for a lacquer finish. (Red sparkle will also be available in 2012.)

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