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  #1  
Old 07-03-2017, 02:43 AM
Chadack Chadack is offline
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Default Cheap vs expensive kits

I know this has probably been posted but what are your experiences with cheap vs expensive kits ? Like hardware, sound, shell type, shell quality... overtones, resonance and singing tone?


And all In all did you notice the difference ?
If anyone has a video on this that would help I've searched it on YouTube and cant find anything...

I want to know what makes a good drum and do you guys mute your drums (tape and moongell tone tell, hoops and such?) want to know if you guys find that there is a difference between the sound of a pearl starter set and high class kit? Or is it just hardware? Can a starter kit from a good brand sound just as pleasant as a high class kit? Both live and in studio?
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Old 07-03-2017, 03:02 AM
Woolwich Woolwich is offline
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Default Re: Cheap vs expensive kits

I used a Gretsch Catalina Club for over a year and was knocked out by it. It looked great, it sounded great. Granted the hardware wouldn't have stood up to a world tour, but when I sold it it was a little under 18 months old, had done around 2 to 3 gigs a month, and looked new and all of the hardware performed as new. I'd even used a tiny bit of effort and had the snare drum sounding the business as well.
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  #3  
Old 07-03-2017, 03:02 AM
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Default Re: Cheap vs expensive kits

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ti6u-Aqo1Ik
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Old 07-03-2017, 06:31 AM
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Default Re: Cheap vs expensive kits

Here are my experiences, in condensed form:

1. Cheap starter kit.
Sounded very average, but it didn't matter as I was learning the basics. Dreadful cymbals upgraded to UFiP Supernova crash, ride and hats.

2. Early 90's Pearl Export
Great bang for buck. Replaced heads. Augmented with Ludwig Blackrolite snare. Experimented with additional cymbals, hats replaced with 15" New Beats. Did 2 head changes, second of which was G2 clear over G1 clear for the toms and EMAD for the kick (using the thin foam ring).

3. Mapex M Birch
Very pretty in Hormosa Fade (orange burst) lacquer. Much nicer looking than the Exports, not dramatically different sound. Possibly because I was using the same heads as on the Exports.

4. Mapex Saturn V
Gorgeous red/blue sparkle. Great tone. Probably the best bang for the buck new kit out there (but if you disagree, hey, that's cool). Still with the Blackrolite snare, and running the Remo heads that the kit was supplied with. I no longer lust after other drum kits. This kit has a big fat, beefy sound. The 16" floor tom growls like a grumpy bear and the kick drum rattles windows and rib cages.

Some additional background: My first decent kit was the Exports, and I chose them because I watched the Forum kits that my son's primary school used. Those kits were dragged around from pillar to post and had the snot beaten out of them by 9-12 year olds every day of the week. They still had the original Pearl heads on them that they were supplied with and they sounded...like drums. They didn't sound mind blowing but they didn't sound bad either, and they had led a hard life with not much love. For the record, I don't equate drum brand choice with religion, and other kits from other manufacturers may have stood up every bit as well.

Unless you're being paid to play, none of us need anything better than an entry level kit. Remarkably, better drum kits don't translate to better drumming. But if you see something better (and we can leave to one side what we mean by "better") and you like it, and can afford it...fill your boots!
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Old 07-03-2017, 06:50 AM
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Default Re: Cheap vs expensive kits

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Originally Posted by drumming sort of person View Post
"This thing isn't going to do anything until I hit it". No truer words have ever been spoken. I don't care for most of his videos, but this is the absolute gospel, truth, defining moment, etc.
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Old 07-03-2017, 11:45 AM
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Default Re: Cheap vs expensive kits

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Originally Posted by ineedaclutch View Post
"This thing isn't going to do anything until I hit it". No truer words have ever been spoken. I don't care for most of his videos, but this is the absolute gospel, truth, defining moment, etc.
weirdly I actually watched this video yesterday as it came up in my youtube recommended list. He is right on the money.

However, I do think that a cheap kit made by cannon, cb or any other budget make will not come close to the quality of a budget Yamaha kit.

Yamaha kits sound great at all prices. I honestly don't know how they do it. I've also never heard an export or APK that I didn't like.

For me "cheap" drums sound a lot fuller than expensive ones, the overtones seem to be under control and you always get a good attack. Expensive drums ring for a lot longer, have a more controlled decay and focussed note.

Expensive drums are actually more difficult to process in the studio too and you have to spend more time tuning them as they are so much more delicate.

Just me 2 cents
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Old 07-03-2017, 12:35 PM
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Default Re: Cheap vs expensive kits

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Originally Posted by Woolwich View Post
I used a Gretsch Catalina Club for over a year and was knocked out by it. It looked great, it sounded great. Granted the hardware wouldn't have stood up to a world tour, but when I sold it it was a little under 18 months old, had done around 2 to 3 gigs a month, and looked new and all of the hardware performed as new. I'd even used a tiny bit of effort and had the snare drum sounding the business as well.
I have a Catalina Club Mod.

Cost me under two hundred quid. Whenever people play it they rave about it, especially the snare and bass.

I love it. I don't think I'll ever buy another kit. No need to.
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Old 07-03-2017, 02:06 PM
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Default Re: Cheap vs expensive kits

Acoustically, spending some money will get you a better sound, but once mics and a PA enter the picture, all bets are off and tuning makes a bigger difference than the quality of the drums. One of the best live sounds I ever heard came from a mid-level Tour Custom kit with old, pitted Pinstripes tuned so low they buzzed when they were hit. Acoustically from behind the kit, they sounded like garbage, but add a soundman who knows what he's doing, a good sound system, and some gated reverb, and watch out!!!
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Old 07-03-2017, 02:15 PM
WallyY WallyY is offline
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Default Re: Cheap vs expensive kits

I have a cheap Sonor set. It has one good tuning. Head differences are not as evident on this set because it doesn't have as many overtones as a nicer set.
Tuning any higher on this set will sound bangy. The one good tuning sounds good and I would put it up against any drum at that tuning and it would fare comparably, but maybe with less overtones and airy-nes.

I also have a set of SonorLites and a Reference Pure set. Both those sets will sound good at different tunings. The Lites will sound good at even very high tuning, something I've never seen a cheap set do.

One difference I can notice is cheaper drums can sound good, but have less playability at the same tone as the better drums. Better drums have better action, maybe because they're more rigid? For instance, there is no playability to the Sonor Bop snare drum. it's just terrible. Some brands, like Pearl make a very solid shell even in their budget lines, so it's not universal.
There are however, a lot of good sounding cheap drums, but it should be understood what you're getting before assuming all drums sound good. It's not just the cheaper metal, you may have to fix things on your own to make them sound good.
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Old 07-03-2017, 02:52 PM
Rosemarydrumco Rosemarydrumco is offline
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Default Re: Cheap vs expensive kits

I think with some tech'ing skill you can get just about anything to sound good. I've gotten great recorded sounds out of stuff that shouldn't sound good theoretically. I think you can get away with this much more with kicks and toms though. A terrible snare is much harder to get sounding and playing well IMO.
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  #11  
Old 07-03-2017, 03:09 PM
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Default Re: Cheap vs expensive kits

Even in mid level kit, I remember having felt a great difference between kits I owned.
Started with a Rockstar RK, punchy and dry, next I owned New rockstar custom, I think the main diffrence in quality of sound came from the tom suspension, longer sustain, rounder sound from the bass drum, because of increased depth and wood hoop I guess.

One big leap (to my ears) was the superstar, Birch. The rockstar sounded flimsy next to it. The snare of the Superstar (birch, Die Cast hoop) sounded much fuller, richer. The wood rockstar snare was, ehh, uninteresting. Came few months through a Silverstar, the superstar sounded better, definately. I regretted it.
It was easy to compare all the kits because : same drummer (obviously), +/- same sizes, same skins, same room / situation.
Next I went through upper class kit : Signia Maple : to be clear, everything sounded bigger, more powerful, warmer too ; the dimensions were the same but it was as if each shell was 2" more in diameter compare to my Tamas.

Mid level kit can sound very good, as long as the drummer is good and that it's tuned with right skins. In studios, we all felt sad when they replaced the old Premier XPK by Pearl ELX, side by side, the old battered XPK sounded better than the brand new Pearl.

Last edited by Tamaefx; 07-03-2017 at 03:24 PM.
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  #12  
Old 07-03-2017, 03:41 PM
beyondbetrayal beyondbetrayal is offline
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Default Re: Cheap vs expensive kits

I have been able to make cheap kits sounds pretty good. I have seen guys who are bad at tuning making a $4,000 kit sound like pure garbage.


A high end kit has the POTENTIAL to sound different if your looking at specific sizes, wood types, etc.. A cheap kit is usually created for the masses and has a pretty standard size, tuning, bearing edge etc. I'd never recommend a top tier kit to a new drummer or a beginner kit to someone playing a while.

The hardware does tend to be a bit better on mid/high range kits. And yes they do tend to sound better. If your asking this though I am assuming you are possibly a bit newer and as a long time drummer I always buy used and mid range. Heads will make a ton of difference in your sound.

EVERY kit sounds different. 2 high end kits or 2 low end kits will sound different. Find out what style your playing, what sound you want. select the heads you are going to use and base your choice on this. Changing the hoops and heads can make even more of a difference from a warm open sound to a tight punchy sound. Certain woods have very specific characteristics, shell thickness etc.
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  #13  
Old 07-03-2017, 04:24 PM
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Default Re: Cheap vs expensive kits

Pro quality drums will be easier to tune and will sound better in a range of tunings and dynamics, and have a better sound overall. Cheap drums can sound OK, but it's often harder to get them there-- often it will be difficult to get them to sound good in lower tunings. And there will be a narrower volume range where they sound OK. They'll especially tend to choke when you try to play them louder. In general pro drums will have a cleaner, more focused tone-- cheap drums always sound a little grubby to me.

Gretsch Catalinas, Tama Stagestars/Imperialstars, Yamaha Stage, and the latest cheap Sonors are the cheap drums I have the most experience with. The pro drums I have the most experience with are Gretsch (the one pro line they made from the 50s-90s), Yamaha Recording Custom, Sonor Phonics, Ludwig, and Keller and Eames shelled custom drums. Of those, the Catalinas are the worst cheap drums and the Ludwigs are the worst pro drums. I've had students who had Pearl Exports, Peace, First act, Taye, etc, which are worse than any of the cheap drums except the Catalinas. Catalinas had better look and build quality, though.

Oh, and the Yamahas are probably the best cheap drums and pro drums, though I own and prefer playing Gretsch or Sonor Phonic.
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  #14  
Old 07-03-2017, 04:35 PM
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Default Re: Cheap vs expensive kits

The main things that define the sound of drums are Heads, Tuning, Bearing Edges, and Hoops.
Most inexpensive kits have thin triple flanged hoops and sharp 45 degree bearings edges. They all sound good but they also sound very much the same.
The biggest bang for the buck so to speak is in the mid priced kits. There is a great deal more diversity to be had in that price zone.
Example; A Gretsch Catalina Club can be purchased in several versions with different shell and hoop configurations. Mid price drums can sound almost as diverse as the highest priced kits.
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Old 07-03-2017, 05:30 PM
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Default Re: Cheap vs expensive kits

Usually the main thing is the hardware and snares on cheap kits aren't as high quality. Assuming that one always puts fresh heads on drum kits and tunes them then the sound difference becomes subjective. I have played cheap luan kits and expensive luan kits. cheap maple and expensive maple etc. I found that the more expensive kits don't necessarily sound better or worse. Sometimes they are easier to tune and sometimes not. I will say that at the moment modern cheap kits are about the equivalent in quality as flagship kits 50 odd years ago. Sound and hardware wise at any rate. We live in a time of some very high quality gear at almost every price level.
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Old 07-03-2017, 09:43 PM
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Default Re: Cheap vs expensive kits

Not sure how we're defining cheap, but i think mid priced kits sound every bit as good as top of the line. But you have people who feel good about themselves driving a $75,000 car that gets dusted by a $30,000 Mustang, and this is the mindset you are dealing with. In a live situation, blindfolded, no one is ever going to be able to tell the difference.
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Old 07-03-2017, 10:50 PM
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Default Re: Cheap vs expensive kits

The very top end artisan kits out there will be a huge, huge difference in all aspects. Spending that much time and attention on everything pays off big time.

The majority of mass produced top-end kits will sound a bit better and be easier to tune up, but the returns diminish.

The middle ground is where it's at. Good tuning and head selection will make it so 90% of folks literally couldn't tell the difference between that and the 15k DW kit next to it.

The bargains are not bargains. The lowest end kits are not good and should be avoided.
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Old 07-03-2017, 10:50 PM
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Default Re: Cheap vs expensive kits

Quote:
Originally Posted by Axe View Post
Not sure how we're defining cheap, but i think mid priced kits sound every bit as good as top of the line. But you have people who feel good about themselves driving a $75,000 car that gets dusted by a $30,000 Mustang, and this is the mindset you are dealing with. In a live situation, blindfolded, no one is ever going to be able to tell the difference.
What $75k car gets dusted by a $30k Mustang, please?

It really depends on the "live" situation, doesn't it?
A scummy club with a scummy PA doesn't do anyone justice.

Here's another analogy.
A good set of headphones is typically worthless in comparison to a set of dollar store earbuds, well, because you are only listening to it in mp3, or on a pocket bluetooth speaker, so that fidelity everyone "fancys" is really just tooting their own horn about how cool they look with their Beats or whatever they have to feel good about for no other reason than they say so.
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Old 07-04-2017, 12:24 AM
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Default Re: Cheap vs expensive kits

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Originally Posted by Chadack View Post
And all In all did you notice the difference ?
Yes
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chadack View Post
If anyone has a video on this that would help I've searched it on YouTube and cant find anything...
Confused, are you looking for a video focused on sound, or flaking chrome, bubbled wrap, ply separation, wrapped hoops, out-of round drums, seized tension rod threads, cracked swivel nuts, chopped up bearing edges, etc?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chadack View Post
Can a starter kit from a good brand sound just as pleasant as a high class kit? Both live and in studio?
Yes.

Disclosure.. While I don't necessarily have an expensive kit, I do have a posh kit (George Way).
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Old 07-04-2017, 12:25 AM
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Default Re: Cheap vs expensive kits

Good heads and an ear for tuning can make a cheap kit sound great.
The hardware may not be as durable, but you can make them work.
think expensive kits are nicer on the ears, however it's not a deal breaker in every case.
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Old 07-04-2017, 02:10 AM
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Default Re: Cheap vs expensive kits

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Originally Posted by toddbishop View Post
.... Ludwigs are the worst pro drums...

That's a pretty bold statement. Care to elaborate?
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Old 07-04-2017, 02:15 AM
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That's a pretty bold statement. Care to elaborate?
No they ain't !........!
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Old 07-04-2017, 02:27 AM
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Default Re: Cheap vs expensive kits

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That's a pretty bold statement. Care to elaborate?
Sure, I think they're inferior to the other pro drums I mentioned.
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Old 07-04-2017, 02:35 AM
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Default Re: Cheap vs expensive kits

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Originally Posted by toddbishop View Post
Sure, I think they're inferior to the other pro drums I mentioned.

I guess we'll all just have to take your word for it then.
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Old 07-04-2017, 02:58 AM
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I guess we'll all just have to take your word for it then.
You can if you want.
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Old 07-04-2017, 03:52 AM
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Default Re: Cheap vs expensive kits

No thank you.

I like my Ludwig set just fine.
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Old 07-04-2017, 04:03 AM
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Default Re: Cheap vs expensive kits

Legacy Maples are pretty much the same as the earlier models. I'd love to hear you tell Bonham his drums are inferior.
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Old 07-04-2017, 05:36 PM
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Default Re: Cheap vs expensive kits

I have owned several kits over the years. These days I'm on a Pearl Jazz Roadshow kit. Extremely inexpensive. I love it.

My two cents on the topic:

- If a drummer is asking if a higher end kit is necessary, it's probably not time for a higher end kit.

- There are many live playing situations where a low end kit with good bearing edges and good heads will sound fine.

- There are many live playing situations that are so loud and distorted that the kit becomes completely irrelevant.

- There are some studio situations where, yeah, you'll hear a difference with certain high end, well cut shells.

- With some low end kits that come with hardware, the hardware will be fine for lighter touch players and eventually not so fine for bashers.

And the last is specific to me, not most others: I enjoy playing a low end kit. I like getting good tone out of them, and I like not being concerned with their value when out and about.
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Old 07-04-2017, 06:05 PM
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Originally Posted by paradiddle pete View Post
Legacy Maples are pretty much the same as the earlier models. I'd love to hear you tell Bonham his drums are inferior.
They're fine, I might buy some if I come across the right set for the right money. The other brands I mentioned are better drums. It's not a big deal, they're just products.
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Old 07-04-2017, 10:01 PM
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Default Re: Cheap vs expensive kits

.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proof_by_assertion


Let's beat a dead horse.
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Old 07-04-2017, 10:14 PM
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Default Re: Cheap vs expensive kits

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Originally Posted by Chadack View Post
I know this has probably been posted but what are your experiences with cheap vs expensive kits ? Like hardware, sound, shell type, shell quality... overtones, resonance and singing tone?


And all In all did you notice the difference ?
If anyone has a video on this that would help I've searched it on YouTube and cant find anything...

I want to know what makes a good drum and do you guys mute your drums (tape and moongell tone tell, hoops and such?) want to know if you guys find that there is a difference between the sound of a pearl starter set and high class kit? Or is it just hardware? Can a starter kit from a good brand sound just as pleasant as a high class kit? Both live and in studio?
Well, the reason there are "pro" kits and "beginner" kits, IMHO, is down to durability. When you consider what a touring kit goes through, night after night, the beginner-level kits will just not survive. I've had kits rented from S.I.R. delivered to me in well-worn road cases, and I set it up on a stage in the morning while the rest of the stage is being constructed - the whole time the kit is sitting in the sun, getting mic'd up. Then the stage lighting comes on and increases the temperature at night by almost 100-degrees, after the kit cooled down after sitting in the sun, then having the temperature drop when the sun goes down. Then it's played on, and at the end of the show, all packed up again and jostled around onto a truck to go to the next place.

Shells have to be built well to survive, and the hardware is better made to be able to take the abuse. Unfortunately, drums are not treated like guitars or horns, and their life is harder than other instruments. So that's why you would want a pro kit. If you occasionally gig out of your house, and the drums are not exposed to the elements, a Pearl Export would suit you well for most of your life.

This is arguable, but I've made cheap kits sing with the right heads and tuning, and I've even seen beautiful pro kits sound like crap due to lack of tuning skills by the owners. So it's really down to your expertise. Having a pro kit will definitely not make you a better player, your playing does that, and your relaxed, professional work attitude will encourage more people to call you instead of somebody else so you can go out and play.
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Old 07-04-2017, 10:18 PM
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Default Re: Cheap vs expensive kits

My experience is...it depends. The main difference in expensive vs inexpensive is the hardware, fit and finish and consistency from drum to drum. I can take a set of Pearl Exports and with the right heads and tuning make them sound as good as any kit out there. Same with Yamaha Stage Customs and other "inexpensive" kits. I have a set of Mapex Meridian Maples that several professional sound guys have raved about. It took work to get them to sound great. When you pay big bucks for any brand's top of the line drums you expect and should get great hardware, perfect bearing edges and attention to detail in manufacturing. You may or not get that with less expensive drums. Inexpensive drums may not stay in tune either (see vintage drums). In the end for me it comes down to sound. I don't care if they cost $300 or $3,000 if they have the sound and quality I want. Listen with your ears, not your wallet and you may be surprised.
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Old 07-05-2017, 12:41 AM
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Default Re: Cheap vs expensive kits

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Jeez, look up opinion.
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Old 07-05-2017, 01:16 AM
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Default Re: Cheap vs expensive kits

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Originally Posted by drumming sort of person View Post
Yes this!!! and watch his accompanying video on why your snare sounds like crap. Learn to tune, and you would be surprised at how well your less than 3000.00 drums will sound.
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Old 07-05-2017, 01:37 AM
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Default Re: Cheap vs expensive kits

From what I surmise, anyone who is lifelong satisfied with the sound of cheap drums has a tin ear, and anyone who prefers the sound of top shelf drums is a bonafide dupe.
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Old 07-05-2017, 02:20 AM
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Originally Posted by WallyY View Post
From what I surmise, anyone who is lifelong satisfied with the sound of cheap drums has a tin ear, and anyone who prefers the sound of top shelf drums is a bonafide dupe.
I'd rather be stupid than deaf!
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  #37  
Old 07-05-2017, 02:24 AM
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Default Re: Cheap vs expensive kits

I think the idea is that you don't need a Mazeratti to drive to work.
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  #38  
Old 07-05-2017, 02:33 AM
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Default Re: Cheap vs expensive kits

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Originally Posted by GruntersDad View Post
I think the idea is that you don't need a Mazeratti to drive to work.
But what if you do? Then what? ;)
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Old 07-05-2017, 02:39 AM
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Default Re: Cheap vs expensive kits

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But what if you do? Then what? ;)
Custom build one to fit a cheap kit!
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Old 07-05-2017, 02:47 AM
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Default Re: Cheap vs expensive kits

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But what if you do? Then what? ;)
Then you have wasted a ton of money.
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