Music isn’t just a young person’s game anymore. There is more support than ever for musicians looking to enter the game late at both the hobby and even professional level.
Or maybe you’ve been playing for awhile and are closer to the intermediate or advanced level. Whatever the case, we’ve laid out the key factors you should pay attention to when purchasing a new kit. We’ve also reviewed the best adult drum kits to suit a wide variety of needs.
Adult Drum Set Buying Guide
Purchasing a drum set can seem like a daunting task for anyone without tons of experience. That is why we will cover some of the key things buyers should pay attention to when shopping for a new kit. If some of the terms above didn’t make sense, or you’re just looking for some general knowledge, read on and hopefully we can help!
The types of wood used to make a drum shell will have an effect on the drums tonal properties and overall sound. There isn’t a “wrong” type of wood, and most woods can be found in both low and high end kits, so a certain type of wood usually doesn’t indicate that a kit is low or high quality. Modern Drummer gives a quick breakdown of what sounds you can expect from what type of wood here.
One of the easiest, fastest, and cheapest ways to increase the sound quality of a kit is to replace the drum heads. Instead of buying a high end drum kit, you can usually get a relatively comparable sound quality by purchasing a mid to low tier set and replacing the stock heads. This is a great option for those who are shopping on a budget. (If you’re looking to get even more value, buy used!!). Our favorite drum heads are Remo and Evans. The Remo ambassadors are our top pick for snare and tom drum heads. Known for a bright and balanced sound, the ambassadors are extremely versatile, and will allow you to achieve a much wider range of sounds via tuning. For bass drums, the Evans EMAD head will give you a powerful yet controlled thud, perfect for most music styles and almost guaranteed to sound better than any stock heads.
Drum plies refers to the number of layers that make up the drum shell. More plies means more layers which generally means a thicker drum shell. More plies also means more glue holding the layers together, though this effect is usually negligible. One important thing to note is that plies can vary in thickness, so a drum made of 6 4mm plies will actually be thinner than a drum made of 5 5mm plies. Thinner shells usually have a richer, deeper sound. Thicker shells will have a higher pitch and will resonate with more volume.
Drum Bearing Edges
The bearing edge of a drum is important because the way the drum shell edge is cut determines how the drum head rests on the shell. This has some effects on the overall drum sound. Sharper edges will give the drums more attack and sustain resulting in a more energetic, lively sound. For a detailed breakdown of different bearing edge cuts and styles, check out this article.
Shell Packs vs Complete Kits
Some drums are sold as a shell pack, which means you will only be getting a kick drum and some toms. You will have to purchase a snare (this is sometimes included in the shell pack), cymbals, and necessary hardware to complete your kit. Other sets come with everything included and are ready to play right out of the box. The advantage to a complete set is that it’s much more convenient and it is easy to tell what the total cost of the kit is going to be. The beauty of shell packs it you have the freedom to build a kit that really suits your style by combining individual drums and cymbals.
Adult Drum Set Reviews
The main differences between a children’s and adult acoustic drum set are that an adult kit will be larger, will have more durable hardware and shells, and will cost more. There is a huge variety of kits with varying features, so hopefully this guide can help you find the perfect set. If you don’t have time to read the whole article, check out a few of our top picks in the table below. Otherwise, read on to learn about different features and a wider selection of products.
Last update on 2023-12-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Our Top Pick
There really isn’t a “best drum set”, each kit is going to offer unique pros and cons. For our top pick, we selected the Gretsch Catalina 6 Piece, the most versatile drum kit that offers professional quality and an amazing sound at a reasonable price. That being said, every kit on this list is high quality, and we encourage you to find the one that best suits your preferred style and sound. Hopefully, this guide makes that easy!
The Best Drum Sets for Adults Reviewed
Gretsch Catalina 6 Piece – Best Overall
The Gretsch Catalina 6 Piece tops the list of our acoustic drum kits. The drum shells are made with 7 ply maple wood and 30 degree bearing edges. The best way to quickly describe it’s sound is warm, booming, versatile, and honestly just amazing. It’s great for every style from jazz, funk, and fusion to rock and even heavy metal. These are sold as a drum shell pack, so you will have to buy cymbals and hardware separately. The set is advertised as a 6 Piece but it comes with a free extra tom, so it’s really a 7 Piece.
This drum kit is perfect for an experienced drummer, anyone looking to record drums, anyone looking for a professional sounding kit at a reasonable price.
Sound: The kick drum is perfectly balanced for a nice warm yet punchy thud. The snare drum is tight and crisp but still sounds very full. The toms have a lot of sustain for a very rich, deep sound. All of the drums come with Remo heads, which are without a doubt on of the top drumhead manufacturers, so these will just add to the already phenomenal sound of the drum kit. Check out the video demo below.
18×22″ Bass Drum, 7×10″, 8×12″ & 14×14″ Rack toms, 16×16″ Floor Tom, 6×14″ Snare Drum & FREE 7×8″ Rack Tom, All drums come with Remo heads
Pros & Cons
The Gretsch Catalina is an all around versatile drum kit, and is our choice for the best drum kit for intermediate/advanced adults looking for a great value drum set.
Overall Rating: 4.9 / 5
Pearl Roadshow 4 Piece – Best Beginner Drum Set
As far as acoustic drums go, the Pearl Roadshow is an excellent beginner and even semi-intermediate level adult drum kit. It comes with everything; shells, hardware, cymbals, even drum sticks and a stick bag. The kit is well crafted with 6 ply poplar wood and 45-degree bearing edges. The best way to quickly describe it’s sound is smooth with a nice low end frequency, good for jazz and classic rock styles.
This drum kit is perfect for beginning drummers, value hunters, and convenience shoppers who want to buy everything at once. The drums sound great for what you pay, and can be easily upgraded further with new drum heads to boost the sound even further for relatively cheap.
Sound: The bass drum has a nice mixture of low and mid frequencies so that it sounds deep but not muddy. The snare drum has a balanced sound that snaps nicely and doesn’t sound too thin. The toms have a high attack and sound bright and punchy, but again aren’t thin due to the nice low end tone of poplar wood. The cymbals have nice sustain and “get the job done”, but you are never going to get the same sound from stock cymbals as you would from custom high end names.
18×12 bass drum, 13×5 snare, 10×7 rack tom, 14×10 floor tom, cymbal stand, Hi-hat stand, snare stand, rack tom holder, kick pedal, drum throne, 16″ crash/ride cymbal, 14″ Hi-hats, 2pair of maple drumsticks, and stick bag
Pros & Cons
The roadshow is for sure one of the best beginner drum sets on the market.
Overall Rating: 4.5 / 5
Yamaha Stage Custom 5 Piece – Best Live Sound Drum Set
The Yamaha Stage Custom is an excellent drum set for live performances. That is because this kit packs a punch. It’s sound is loud, explosive and energetic. The drum shells are made of 6 ply birch wood and 45-degree bearing edges. The drum kit normally comes as a shell pack only, but there are options on amazon to purchase hardware and a drum throne along with the drum shells.
This drum kit is perfect for energetic players looking for a fun drum set, or anyone playing drums live and looking for a drum kit that cuts through the noise during a live performance. The drums aren’t too expensive but are high quality and sound great.
Sound: The bass drum is deep and has a lot of attack. The snare drum has a nice punch and decent sustain for an overall loud and clear tone. The toms are bright and have low sustain for a quick, energetic sound.
20×17 or 22×17 kick drum, 10×7 rack tom, 12×8 rack tom, 14×13 floor tom, 14×5.5 snare
Pros & Cons
The Yamaha Stage Custom is a lively and fun acoustic drum set to play. Check out this guide for more kits similar to this one.
Overall Rating: 4.5 / 5
Ludwig Element Evolution – Best All in One Drum Set
The Ludwig Element Evolution is a great option for anyone looking for all in one drum kits. The drum set has a tight, deep, punchy sound, perfect for punk and hard rock styles. The drum shells are made of 6 ply poplar wood and 45-degree bearing edges. The drum kit comes ready to play with shells, cymbals, and hardware.
This drum kit is perfect for anyone looking for a complete drum set for one price, anyone without any hardware looking for a new drum kit.
Sound: The bass drum is very boomy. The snare drum has a nice crack. The toms are punchy and have a lot of focus in the mid and low frequency ranges. The cymbals are made by Zildjan, one of the best brands in cymbal manufacturing. This kit comes with the Zildjan ZBT set, which is the companies “starter” cymbals. They sound great, but aren’t going to give the same performance as some of the higher end cymbals. Of course, this is reflected in the price. Overall, this is a great drum set for anyone looking for the convenience of an all in one purchase.
- 18″ x 22″ kick drum
- 16″ x 16″ floor tom
- 14″ x 14″ floor tom
- 9″ x 12″ rack tom
- 8″ x 10″ rack tom
- 5″ x 14″ snare
- 20″ ride cymbal
- 16″ crash cymbal
- 14″ hi-hats
- 2 Boom cymbal stands
- Bass drum pedal
- Snare stand
- Hi-hat stand
- 2 Tom holders
- 6 Floor tom legs
- Drum Throne
Pros & Cons
The Ludwig Element Evolution is our top choice for all in one drum kits.
Overall Rating: 4.4 / 5
Tama Starclassic Walnut/Birch 3 Piece – Best 3 Piece Drum Set
You’ve almost certainly heard the expression “less is more” when it comes to drumming, or even music in general. That is certainly true when it comes to the Tama Starclassic 3 piece. If you’re looking for a Neil Peart style setup with more drums than you can count, than this may not be the kit for you. If, however, you prefer a compact setup and have the experience to get a lot out of just a few drums, you should definitely consider this drum set. It comes with 4 ply birch + 2 ply walnut shells and dynamic bearing edges. As far as quality manufacturing and sound, this kit tops our list. The only reason it is rated this low is because it is pricey. Overall, the kit sounds very warm, clear and powerful. Superb for all styles of music. Please note that this is a shell pack only, so hardware, cymbals, and a snare are not included. If you’re looking for some decent snares to go with this kit, check out this list of amazing snares at a great value.
This drum kit is perfect for players that aren’t too flashy and don’t overplay, but want high quality expert made drums, players in a confined space that have to transport their kit frequently.
Sound: The bass drum is deep, full, warm and decays quickly. The toms are punchy but with a nice long sustain, especially from the floor tom.
- 8″ x 12″ rack tom
- 16″ x 16″ floor tom
- 14″ x 22″ bass drum
Pros & Cons
Overall Rating: 4.2 / 5
Thanks for reading our drum sets for adults reviews! Hopefully this was helpful and you found a kit that syncs well with your style.