If you’re looking to get a new kit, you may feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices that you have. There are dozens of brands, and each brand has an extensive lineup.
You may have seen some brands because your favorite drummers play them, or you may know of a brand because that’s all that your music store stocks.
If you want to know what else is out there, this guide is for you. We’re going to look through all the major drum brands available. We’ll also look at a few custom drums and electronic drum brands.
Here is the ultimate guide to understanding all the various drum brands to choose from.
- 1 Mainstream Acoustic Drum Brands
- 2 Custom Acoustic Drum Kit Brands
- 3 Electronic Drum Kit Brands
- 4 Final Thoughts on the Best Drum Brands
Mainstream Acoustic Drum Brands
These are all popular drum brands that have instruments being sold worldwide. When you walk into a music store, the chances are high that you’ll find these brands on the shelves.
They all produce drum kits that are made for a wide range of budgets.
Tama is a drum company based in Japan. The brand has a seriously impressive range of drum kits, and one of the best things about them is that all the high-end options have die-cast hoops.
Another notable thing about Tama is that the brand has an impressive number of different compact drum sets available. If you want a small kit to use in clubs and pubs, you’ll have a field day looking through the Tama options.
The Tama Starclassic Maple is often referred to as one of the best rock drum kits ever made, but Tama makes drums that suit every style, with the Tama Star kits having the best features that the brand has to offer.
Popular Tama drum sets:
Famous drummers who play Tama drums:
- Eddy Thrower
- Stewart Copeland
- Anika Nilles
DW is a full-on American drum kit brand. John Good and Don Lombardi are the driving force behind the brand, and they’re very passionate about making high-quality drums with the best tones.
The brand has a reputation for being quite expensive, and that’s because they create luxury drum kits with materials sourced from the US. The cost of making the kits is high, so they come with high prices.
The DW product line is fairly simple, as it has three main types of kits. However, there are dozens of variations within those kits, and all of them are top-tier.
If you want an incredible drum kit with fantastic tones, unbeatable build quality, and appealing visuals, you can’t go wrong with a DW drum set.
DW also have an extensive range of heavy-duty hardware.
Popular DW drum sets:
Famous Drummers who play DW drums:
- Matt Garstka
- Tony Royster Jr.
- Chad Smith
PDP is the sibling brand to DW. They fall under the same company, but PDP drums are made in China. The materials used to make the drums are more affordable, and the production process is more streamlined.
So, PDP kits act as budget DW kits as they share a few hardware designs with the high-end DW sets. The most noticeable similarity is the True-Pitch tension rods. These are used on both PDP and DW kits, and they do a great job of keeping the drums in tune.
With PDP being under the same umbrella as DW, most DW artists play PDP drum sets at some stage or another. So, there aren’t many drummers who purely endorse DW.
Popular PDP drum sets:
Mapex is a brand based in Taiwan. While the drums aren’t as popular as the ones from the other major drum brands, their popularity has steadily been growing for a few years.
The best thing about Mapex kits is that a lot of the affordable ones have mixed shells. This is when two different woods are combined to create shells that demonstrate tonal qualities from each wood. You’d typically find mixed shells with high-end kits, but most of Mapex’s kits are like this.
For some reason, a lot of metal drummers tend to favor Mapex kits, so you’ll see plenty of heavy players in the brand’s artist roster. However, there are plenty of drummers from other styles that use their drums as well.
Popular Mapex drum sets:
Famous drummers who play Mapex drums:
- Don Famularo
- Chris Adler
- Russ Miller
Ludwig is one of the oldest drum companies on this list. They were the brand that created the first ever kick drum pedal, and several of the other drum kit innovations in the early 20th century came straight from the Ludwig warehouse.
There are big vintage aspects of most Ludwig drum sets simply because the designs have remained fairly standard for decades.
The drums are known to have large and booming tones, and a lot of classic rock drummers love Ludwig kits because of this. They’re also often used by jazz drummers.
Ludwig also offers several snare drums that are often referred to as the “industry-standard” options. These include the Acrolite, Supraphonic, Supralite, and Black Beauty snare drums.
Popular Ludwig drum sets:
Famous drummers who play Ludwig drums:
- Domino Santantonio
- Nate Smith
- Ringo Starr
Gretsch is another popular drum brand with a rich history. The Gretsch brand is also very well-known for their other instruments, but the drum division is what we’re focusing on here. Most of the kits are made in the US, and that gives you proud American quality.
Gretsch is one of the most popular mainstream drum brands for jazz drummers. A lot of the jazz greats played on Gretsch kits, and that trend has continued into the modern day.
All Gretsch drum sets have very resonant tones. They’re perfect for high tunings on toms and deep and bellowing tunings on bass drums. However, you can also tune them low to get thumping tones for all kinds of music.
Popular Gretsch drum kits:
Famous drummers who play Gretch drums:
- Mike Johnston
- Mark Guiliana
- Vinnie Colaiuta
Another booming drum brand from Japan, Pearl has been a main player in the music world for decades. The brand makes incredible drum sets, and the Pearl Export became the most-sold drum kit ever in the early 2000s.
Something that always impresses us with Pearl drum sets is the quality of their hardware. Even the cheapest Pearl kits have solid hardware that feels as if it will last many years.
The brand has an impressive line of drums that cater to every level of player. They even have a custom drum kit line called the Masterworks Series. You can custom order a Masterworks kit to fit your exact specifications. It’s not light on your wallet, though!
Popular Pearl drum sets:
Famous drummers who play Pearl drums:
- Dennis Chambers
- Omar Hakim
- Gabe Helguera
Yamaha is one of the biggest musical corporations in the world, and they sell almost every musical instrument that you can possibly think of. The brand has an exciting lineup of acoustic drum kits, with most of them looking quite similar to each other.
One of the standout features of Yamaha sets is that even the high-end kits have their rack toms mounted to the bass drum. Other high-end kits typically have virgin bass drums, but Yamaha opts not to go with that design. Some drummers prefer their kits because of this, while it has the opposite effect on others.
You just always know that a Yamaha kit is going to sound good, even in the lower price ranges. The entry-level-priced Yamaha Stage Custom Birch is one of the best value-for-money drum sets available.
Popular Yamaha drum sets:
Famous drummers who play Yamaha drums:
- Larnell Lewis
- Steve Gadd
- ·Dave Weckl
Sonor is the most popular drum brand in Germany, and their kits are known throughout the world for being extremely well-made. Like DW, the brand has a reputation for making luxury drum sets. However, they offer plenty of affordable options as well.
Sonor was one of the first brands to jump on the compact drum kit popularity train, offering their original Bop, Safari, and Jungle kits. Those have since been updated into the AQ2 line, along with a few other top-quality intermediate sets.
Sonor drums were used by a lot of classic rock drummers like Phil Rudd and Nicko McBrain, so they also have a bit of a reputation for being those beautiful drums that were heard on rock albums in the 70s and 80s.
Popular Sonor drum sets:
Famous drummers who play Sonor:
- Benny Greb
- Jost Nickel
- Chris Coleman
Natal is a drum brand that is extremely popular in the UK. The company is based in England, and it was acquired by Marshall in 2010. The Marshall acquisition is what boosted Natal’s popularity significantly, as it’s since then that you’ve been able to find these kits all over the UK.
The brand has been around for decades, though, and they started by making percussion instruments such as congas and bongos. Those were used by very prominent English bands like Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones.
The brand’s popularity is steadily growing outside of the UK, and they continue to make drum kits with great tones and build quality.
Popular Natal drum sets:
Famous drummers who play Natal drums:
- Adam Marko
- Mini Fairhurst
- Craig Blundell
ddrum is a unique mention in this list, as the brand is more well-known for their electronic gear. However, they started producing acoustic drum kits in 2005, and a good number of drummers have been using their acoustic products since then.
The brand’s Dominion Birch and SE Flyer drum kits are excellent options amongst drum kits that cost under $1000.
Popular ddrum sets:
Famous drummers who play ddrum sets:
- Carmine Appice
- Drew Steen
- Robb Reiner
Custom Acoustic Drum Kit Brands
These are brands that produce custom kits for drummers who order them. They’re made personally, and they’re typically a lot pricier than most of the kits from the major brands that we mentioned above.
You can find kits being sold by these brands that have already been made, but their main goal is custom-making gear for people.
A&F Drum Co.
A&F drums are all the rage at the moment. The brand has an extensive lineup of snare drums, and most of them have unique metal shells with arbitrary sizes that make them excellent additions to any snare drum collection.
The brand is most well-known for their snares, but you can buy a full drum set from them as well. They’re one of the few drum companies to make full drum sets with metal shells.
They’re also one of the most expensive drum companies on the market, as a single snare drum can cost as much as $3000.
When you listen to an A&F drum set being played, you’ll easily be able to realize why the drums are so expensive. They’re some of the best drums that you’ll ever hear.
Famous drummers who use A&F gear:
- Dan Mayo
- Brody Simpson
- Richard Scott
SJC Custom Drums
SJC Custom drums are massively popular in the rock, punk, and metal scenes. The brand was started in 2000, and it seemed like every drummer on MTV was playing an SJC drum set a few years after that.
The brand’s sets are known to have very expressive finishes, and you’ll typically find drummers that gig a lot playing their drums.
A lot of older drummers detest the brand for how vibrant the kits are. They’re also not fans of a few of the design choices that have gone into SJC kits over the years. However, most of the brand’s kits do sound fantastic.
Famous drummers who use SJC Custom kits:
- Josh Dun
- Jay Weinberg
- Josh Miller
C&C Drum Co.
C&C is an American brand that specializes in creating handcrafted drums with vintage inspiration. The whole goal that drives the people making the drums is that they want to build kits that last generations, similar to how you can find many vintage kits still being perfectly usable today.
Most C&C drum kits are a simple two-tom setup, but you can custom order a kit to fit whatever preferences you have.
The company creates vintage kits by using the same designs that were popular back in the 20th century. They combine those aspects with modern touches that do a better job of keeping the drums in tune. You get vintage design quality with modern durability.
Famous drummers who use C&C drum sets:
- James Barone
- Chris Bear
- Sean Carey
Craviotto drums are made in Nashville, Tennessee. The brand specializes in making single-ply snare drums and drum kits. These are referred to as solid-shell drums, and they have very unique tones compared to most kits out there that are usually made from multiple plies of wood.
Craviotto drums are incredibly niche, and they’re mostly used by jazz and indie drummers. However, their range of solid-shell snare drums are quite popular in the US.
John Craviotto used to make the snare drums and sell them under DW’s catalog, but he eventually parted ways with them to make Craviotto its own brand. That’s also when he started making more full drum sets.
Famous drummers who use Craviotto drum kits:
- Ronnie Vannucci
- Jason McGerr
- Jerome Jennings
Pork Pie Percussion
Pork Pie Percussion is yet another custom brand based in the US. Most drummers know the brand because of their high-quality drum thrones, but they make epic drum sets and snare drums as well.
The brand was started by Bill Detamore in 1987, and they offer touch-ups on existing kits as well as creating fresh kits for their customers.
A cool thing about the brand is that they remain very relatable and easy-going with their customers. It makes the buying and ordering process a lot more appealing when you’re dealing with such nice people.
Famous drummers who use Pork Pie Percussion gear:
- Frank Ferrer
- Matt Hayward
- Rory Koff
Electronic Drum Kit Brands
These brands all make incredible electronic kits. There are several smaller e-kit brands out there, but these are the ones that have been dominating this section of the drum industry for decades.
Roland is the biggest pioneering brand in the electronic drum kit industry. They’re the brand that brought out the first mesh pads, and most electronic drum brands use that same design on their kits.
If you want a high-quality e-kit with good build quality and a reliable drum module, Roland is typically everyone’s first suggestion.
That reputation comes with a price, though, as Roland sells the most expensive electronic drum kits out there. They’re all extremely reliable, though, and some people are still using Roland kits that were released in the early 2000s.
Roland is the only electronic drum brand that has digital pads. You can only get these on their high-end kits, but they’re far superior to all the other pads available. They have dozens of sensors to give you the most realistic playing experience possible.
Roland also offers the Roland SPD-SX, which is the industry-standard sampling pad that most drummers use in modern gigging setups for artists that need electronic sounds.
Popular Roland drum sets:
Alesis is the yin to Roland’s yang. While Roland has high-priced kits, Alesis offers affordable kits for new drummers to have easy access to the instrument.
The best feature of Alesis drum kits is that they all have mesh pads. Before these hit the market, most entry-level electronic kits had rubber pads.
Mesh pads feel a lot more natural to play, and they give new drummers a better drumming experience.
With that being said, Alesis also sells the Strike Pro, which is a full-on professional electronic drum set with loads of features. This makes Alesis a brand that caters to budget-conscious buyers, but you can still get a few top-quality kits from them.
The drawback is that Alesis kits tend to have the worst sound quality compared to Yamaha and Roland. Some drummers won’t mind this, especially if they’re new to playing. Experienced drummers will see it as a big con, though.
Popular Alesis drum sets:
With Yamaha being such a big corporation, it’s only natural that they produce amazing electronic drum kits alongside their acoustic kits.
Something to mention about Yamaha is that most of their electronic kits have silicone heads. These are a bit different compared to the mesh heads from the other brands. They feel a bit looser, which in turn, makes them feel slightly more similar to acoustic drumheads. Some drummers prefer these, while others prefer mesh pads.
Another thing to mention about Yamaha’s electronic drums is that you’ll find the DTX-PRO drum module being used for most of them. That means that you’ll just be paying more according to what kinds of pads and cymbals you get, with the DTX-PRO being a constant.
The entry-level kits have a module with lower specs, while the flagship kits use the improved DTX-PROX.
Popular Yamaha electronic drum kits:
Final Thoughts on the Best Drum Brands
When looking through each drum brand’s product lineup and history, you’ll find that most of them are on even playing ground. That’s why the choice is completely up to you over which drum brand to go with.
With acoustic drum brands, no one brand is better than the other. They all have competing kits in different price segments. With electronic drum brands, Roland always comes out on top, but you may end up finding a better deal from Yamaha or Alesis.
It’s a good idea to just pick your favorite brand according to the gear you gravitate toward the most. On the flip side, you could combine brands within your setup to get all the goods in one place.