Whitney Nesting Penguin Kit Reviewed!

Whitney Nesting Penguin Kit

A Portable Powerhouse

Whitney Drums

Many close-minded drummers may think there is no reason to reinvent the wheel, but fortunately for the rest of us, JT Whitney of Whitney Drums has gone ahead and done so anyway. The Nesting Penguin kit is an innovative drum set and hardware package that throws conventional drum design out the window, and gives gigging drummers something to smile about.

In essence, this is a nesting drum set with an integrated hardware package that’s designed to answer a working drummer’s needs. You may wonder, “What’s a nesting drum set?” Think of those Russian Matryoshka dolls that sit inside one another, or if you prefer just think of the recently discontinued Yamaha Hip Gig kits, where the drums all sit within each other, from snare to bass drum.

Shells And Design

Whitney has managed to do away with a lot of the weight associated with conventional drums by doing away with lugs and traditional tom mounts and other hardware like bass drum spurs, badges, and vent hole grommets. In place of lugs, the drums have the tension screw receivers set directly into a 9-ply birch collar that’s vaguely similar to the old Peavey Radial Bridge drums. Whitney’s design takes advantage of the collar and expands the shell size to the outer diameter of the hoop, creating a drum with a straight cylindrical shape, dubbed a Maxi-Shell. This allows each drum to have a larger interior volume than the head diameter would suggest. Penguin drums are so named because they’re “fat in the middle,” like a penguin. They’re designed to sound bigger and deeper than either their diameter or depths might indicate.

In an effort to reduce weight and promote tone, all the shells are handmade from three plies of a European birch, resulting in an extremely thin 0.175" drum shell. This is the thinnest wood drum shell I’m aware of on the market. This effort has paid off since the bass drum weighs about 10 lbs. In their bag, the shells weigh just 30 lbs. total, and the hardware is about the same. In real-world terms, I took the kit to a gig while it was raining and rather than set the hardware bag down on the wet pavement to open the door, I transferred it to the same hand holding all the drums. I can’t think of another pro kit that I could carry in one hand.

The bearing edges are sharp like many modern drums and this too adds to each drum’s sensitivity. One feature unique to the snare drum is the six internal 0.375" dowel rods used for additional support that allow high tunings with such a thin shell.

I received Whitney’s standard Nesting Penguin kit with an 18"-diameter bass drum, 13" snare, 10" and 14" hanging toms and the hardware package with the folding Quickstand and two nice Protection Racket bags for the nested drums and hardware. My kit had the optional wood hoops, which look great and also warm up the tone. There are five different Nesting configurations available or you can order yours à la carte with bass drum sizes ranging from 16" to 22" in diameter. There are also a variety of tom and snare sizes offered.


My drums had a rich reddish-brown mahogany stain finish that revealed the birch’s swirling grain striations and contrasted nicely with the blond maple hoops on the drums. There are a variety of colors certain to appeal to a wide variety of tastes, including some beautiful exotic wood veneers, but no sparkle or crazy painted finishes. These drums look expensive and classy, like something you’ll keep forever rather than something hip and trendy you’ll eventually tire of and sell.

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