Are DW Performance drum packs still considered overpriced in today's market?

GCRoberts

Member
I've been looking for a high quality kit without going to crazy. And when I say not going too crazy, that means I'm not interested in spending $6 to $8 thousand for DW Collectors. I've been comparing mid-range kits from different manufacturers. For pricing, I've just been using sweetwater. I keep hearing that DW Performance kits are great, but you can get more bang for the buck from the competition. What kits from the competition clearly match them at a much lower price? Or is this all over a few hundred dollars? For example, I'm interested in the DW Performance 5 piece shell pack and it runs $2480. For these comparisons, I'm not considering the snare, cymbals, and hardware...just shell packs. So I looked at Pearl (probably my second choice). They have the Music City Custom for the same price, but it's only a 3 piece pack. Stepping down to the Master Maple Complete, it's definitely less expensive at $1680, but it's also only a 4 piece. Another step down, and I'm looking at the Session Studio Select for $1580. Ok, this is definitely cheaper for a 5 piece, but it seems this is more comparable to the DW Design series in quality, so I'd expect it to be this inexpensive. Then I looked at Tama. Their Starclassic Walnut/Birch is "barely" less expensive at $2300. Ludwig was difficult to compare as every kit was a 3 piece. Yamaha had a very affordable 4 piece kit called Tour Custom for $1300, but again, that seems more like the DW Design market. Maybe Mapex Saturn V MH Exotic 5 piece for $2199? I'm just not seeing the DW Performance as being overpriced. If I'm missing something, please feel free to fill in my knowledge gaps for me.
 

JaysonJeanChannel

Active member
I've personally never owned a DW Performance kit myself, but have planned any many kits myself. And looking at the description Dw's website
These kits are made to be the highest quality of drums out there in every detail of their design. While I think many Dw kits are at a good price range for their kit quality and sound their products with even the stock heads, I would not recommend them unless you're a constant touring drummer or one with many gigs and have to bring your kit.
 

IBitePrettyHard

Senior Member
DW Performance Series drums are made in the USA. Because of the extremely high cost of labor and doing business in the US, drums cost about $500 to $1000 more than they would if the same drums were made in Asia.

The Tama Starclassic Birch/Walnut and Gretsch Renowns are every bit as good, if not better, and are $600 to $1000 less than the DW Performance series. I've played both of these kits and they look and sound as good as kits costing twice as much.
 

Tommy_D

Platinum Member
I think the Performance series is a great value in DW's line up. They are USA made (If that matters to you) and are built by the same people on the same line with the same wood and machinery as the Collector series kits. Considering they are essentially a Collectors kit (with many less customization options albeit), if you like their look and sound I can't see a real reason to go with the more expensive Collectors kits.

When you think about other brands high end maple kits: Tama Starclassic Maple, Sonor Prolite, Ludwig Classic Maple, Pearl Masters Maple Reserve, Yamaha Absolute Maple Hybrid, etc. The DW Performance series is positioned pretty much right in the middle of the pack. I would consider them as a competatively priced kit in the market today.
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
I could be wrong, but I think that the DW Performance series use the regular maple DW shells, but they are offered in limited finishes and size configurations in order to bring costs down in the manufacturing process.

I could be wrong, but this is the impression I have.

Although I love Ludwig USA and Pork Pie USA drums, I've never heard a bad word about Renowns. I'd probably check some of those out as well.
 

GCRoberts

Member
When you think about other brands high end maple kits: Tama Starclassic Maple, Sonor Prolite, Ludwig Classic Maple, Pearl Masters Maple Reserve, Yamaha Absolute Maple Hybrid, etc. The DW Performance series is positioned pretty much right in the middle of the pack. I would consider them as a competatively priced kit in the market today.
I would agree with you. I don't know the history of DW pricing, but I'm wondering if the DW Performance were higher priced in the past and that's what's driving the current criticism.
 

GCRoberts

Member
I could be wrong, but I think that the DW Performance series use the regular maple DW shells, but they are offered in limited finishes and size configurations in order to bring costs down in the manufacturing process.
That's basically correct. You can also choose your grain orientation with the Collectors. The Performance shells are only available in HVX (horizontal, vertical, cross). To be honest, if I was paying the big premium for choosing grain orientation, I wouldn't know which one to pick anyways!

As far as drum sizes, you can purchase just about any size drum you want for the Performance line. So while you can't specify exactly what you want, I'd think that anyone except the most demanding drummer could pick up stock shells that would work perfectly.

For fun, I looked at the most expensive kit sold on sweetwater (https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/DREX623OA--dw-collectors-exotic-6-piece-shell-pack-hard-satin-over-olive-ash). There is only one review and here it is: "Very nice! Just bought this kit for my 7 year old son! He is really enjoying his first drum set!" I sure hope that set is good enough for a child! LOL
 

IBitePrettyHard

Senior Member
It looks like you may have your mind made up already, so don't let me talk you out of getting the DW Performance kit. They are great drums! They will last you a lifetime. You will just be paying $500-700 more for them, compared to other drums that are built just as well. That's the only issue I've ever had with them.

Well, and then there's the question of sound. The #1 factor for picking a drum kit should be sound, no question. Close your eyes and listen to all the drum demos on Youtube. I had a preconception on how certain drums sounded, and then I closed my eyes and my perceptions changed in many cases.

For instance, I've always loved Craviotto drums, but once I started closing my eyes and ignoring how beautiful they look I began to realize they actually don't sound that great to me. Like a supermodel with no personality.

I think the DW Performance Series sounds very good. But not as good as the Tama Birch/Walnut or Gretsch Renowns or even Ludwig Classic Maples. After watching thousands of Youtube demos, I've concluded that the "DW sound" is somewhat "muddy". Their tone is not as clean and the attack is not as pronounced as the other kits I've mentioned. That's not necessarily a bad thing...some people love that DW sound.
 

GCRoberts

Member
It looks like you may have your mind made up already, so don't let me talk you out of getting the DW Performance kit. They are great drums! They will last you a lifetime. You will just be paying $500-700 more for them, compared to other drums that are built just as well. That's the only issue I've ever had with them.

Well, and then there's the question of sound. The #1 factor for picking a drum kit should be sound, no question. Close your eyes and listen to all the drum demos on Youtube. I had a preconception on how certain drums sounded, and then I closed my eyes and my perceptions changed in many cases.
Oh I can be talked out of them! I still plan on spending many hours listening to more youtube videos. So far, I really like the sound of the DW Performance, but I can't say anything bad about Tama, Gretsch, or Ludwig. Sounds like one of the biggest critiques of the DW is the stock heads they use on the bass drum. I'm not yet convinced it's $500-$700 more for DW. That's one of the reasons I started the thread is to make sure I'm not comparing Apples to Oranges. For example, my pricing showed the DW Performance shells only $180 more than Tama Starclassic Walnut/Birch. Considering that I don't like the looks of the Tama (ok, I can say something bad about them), I'd really only consider them if they sounded better to my ear. As stated before, I'm ONLY using sweetwater as my comparison. It's quite possible that they offer better discounts on DW than other online resellers. Thanks for your feedback, very much appreciated.
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
I don't know where you live, but if you are dropping that kind of money on a kit, it's going to be worth your time to travel to a decent drum store and try out everything. What you need will speak to you.

While I absolutely love YouTube, there's just no comparison to listening to drums and seeing in person. Out of everything considered, my choice would be Ludwig Classic Maples, but that's only because I've recently gone to a drum store and looked around and played a lot (as a matter of fact, I didn't like the finish on the Ludwigs but the sound has been haunting me for months). Those spoke to me the most, even more-so than kits at twice the price with better finishes.
 

Lee-Bro

Senior Member
re: that "DW sound" -as a self-professed fan of DW (not exclusively though) it's my opinion that a lot of people playing drums just don't understand what drums sound like 10 feet away or in the mix w/ a band and/or how to get a good sound out of drums. I'm sure I'm not the only one who's heard lots of well made kits sound uninspiring a la the "thud, thudier, thuddiest" tom fill on barely tensioned heads. If someone's preferred drum tone is that, it can be achieved on just about any kit, and I would argue that a specific model of drums or wood isn't more highly likely to achieve said "thud" sound than others.

As has been said in the thread, listen to your ears. Play with different tunings on the kits you're considering (if that's possible) and let your ears spend the money. DW drums may or may not be the final choice. As a side note, there's a 7pc Tama Superstar shell pack open box at Musician's Friend for just under $750. I'm seriously considering pulling the trigger on it - https://www.musiciansfriend.com/open-box-tama-superstar-classic-custom-7-piece-shell-pack
 

gdmoore28

Gold Member
re: that "DW sound" -as a self-professed fan of DW (not exclusively though) it's my opinion that a lot of people playing drums just don't understand what drums sound like 10 feet away or in the mix w/ a band and/or how to get a good sound out of drums. I'm sure I'm not the only one who's heard lots of well made kits sound uninspiring a la the "thud, thudier, thuddiest" tom fill on barely tensioned heads. If someone's preferred drum tone is that, it can be achieved on just about any kit, and I would argue that a specific model of drums or wood isn't more highly likely to achieve said "thud" sound than others.

As has been said in the thread, listen to your ears. Play with different tunings on the kits you're considering (if that's possible) and let your ears spend the money. DW drums may or may not be the final choice. As a side note, there's a 7pc Tama Superstar shell pack open box at Musician's Friend for just under $750. I'm seriously considering pulling the trigger on it - https://www.musiciansfriend.com/open-box-tama-superstar-classic-custom-7-piece-shell-pack
I wish everyone would read añd reread your first paragraph about tuning and what an audience hears. Sage truths there.

Lots of good folks will disagree with me here, but none of the major companies make bad or even mediocre drums, and 95 percent sound almost identical.

My advice (besides buying used) would be to pick your price and pick your color. You literally can't go wrong.

GeeDeeEmm
 

KEEF

Senior Member
re: that "DW sound" -as a self-professed fan of DW (not exclusively though) it's my opinion that a lot of people playing drums just don't understand what drums sound like 10 feet away or in the mix w/ a band and/or how to get a good sound out of drums. I'm sure I'm not the only one who's heard lots of well made kits sound uninspiring a la the "thud, thudier, thuddiest" tom fill on barely tensioned heads. If someone's preferred drum tone is that, it can be achieved on just about any kit, and I would argue that a specific model of drums or wood isn't more highly likely to achieve said "thud" sound than others.
This is interesting.....I bought a collectors,for a lot of money,waited 6 months for it, and was instantly disappointed when I got behind them. After all the waiting and excitement they were just.....meh. The owner of my local store saw the disappointment in my face and said ' go stand out front and listen' while he played them.......and they sounded great!
I gigged them for ten years all the while knowing that while they didn't rock my world from the throne they were great out front and certainly no one ever said differently.
BUT.......now i play a kit that cost only a quarter of the DW (Tama B/B) and they are just as awesome out front and equally good from the throne.
So many people play DW and I can't believe some of the biggest names would do so if they didn't like the pov sound, but thats how I found it.
Whatever kits you try make sure you play them AND go out front whilst someone else does!
 
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GCRoberts

Member
re: that "DW sound" -as a self-professed fan of DW (not exclusively though) it's my opinion that a lot of people playing drums just don't understand what drums sound like 10 feet away or in the mix w/ a band and/or how to get a good sound out of drums. I'm sure I'm not the only one who's heard lots of well made kits sound uninspiring a la the "thud, thudier, thuddiest" tom fill on barely tensioned heads. If someone's preferred drum tone is that, it can be achieved on just about any kit, and I would argue that a specific model of drums or wood isn't more highly likely to achieve said "thud" sound than others.
While I don't have the experience to have a definitive opinion, I highly suspect that in time I'll come to the exact same conclusion as you have stated. A small part of me wants to go with DW Drums because I like the name/company. But most of it comes down to a number of other factors. They have a decent selection of finishes in the Performance line. Plenty of availability on pretty much any size tom I want to upgrade to at a later time. I like their hardware (including their DW9000 Rack). And I prefer the virgin bass drums that DW uses. Maybe I can find all those things in a slightly less expensive alternative, but I haven't found it yet. If I do, I'll strongly consider going that route.
 

Lee-Bro

Senior Member
While I don't have the experience to have a definitive opinion, I highly suspect that in time I'll come to the exact same conclusion as you have stated. A small part of me wants to go with DW Drums because I like the name/company. But most of it comes down to a number of other factors. They have a decent selection of finishes in the Performance line. Plenty of availability on pretty much any size tom I want to upgrade to at a later time. I like their hardware (including their DW9000 Rack). And I prefer the virgin bass drums that DW uses. Maybe I can find all those things in a slightly less expensive alternative, but I haven't found it yet. If I do, I'll strongly consider going that route.
My experience with Drum Workshop goes back to 1994 when I convinced the music store I worked in to become a dealer. I worked w/ the people @ DW directly in setting up our dealership and everything that goes w/ that. I also got to experience the lengths they went to take care of the consumer of their products drums AND hardware. At the time I had the ability to buy at dealer price: Tama, Pearl, Ludwig, Yamaha, Premier, Gretsch, and DW. I never had a bad experience w/ any of those companies as a dealer and at the time my mind was set on Yamaha Maple Customs but DW's experience as a dealer changed my mind. Unfortunately I had to leave the job for college before I could buy my DW kit so that purchase ended up waiting 20 years when I bought my first DW kit in 2014.

I currently have kits from DW, Tama, Pearl, and Sonor. As I said, I'm a fan of Drum Workshop, but not exclusively. Enjoy your sound quest. There is an excitement and joy of discovering what certain drums with certain tunings and heads sounds like. Sometimes there's more joy in the that than the kit. Or as some say, "It's not the destination, but the journey." YMMV.
 

gdmoore28

Gold Member
Maybe I can find all those things in a slightly less expensive alternative, but I haven't found it yet. If I do, I'll strongly consider going that route.
Honestly, you can get the same sound character as a DW set by buying a PDP drumset, or any of a galaxy of available drum brands. You can read story after story from current DW owners that also own - and prefer - the sound of their PDP kits. Fact is, in the modern world of drum-making, it's not that hard to duplicate or even surpass the sound of DW drums. (And I say this as a DW fan. I don't prefer them over any other brand, but I have a great admiration for the lengths that John Good and company go to in order to provide customers with a very unique product and ownership experience.)

In your case, however, it's clear that you want to own a set of DW drums. There is no shame in that (what a statement!) and you shouldn't be shy about it. This is your dream, and you should fulfill it by buying some DW drums that fit your desire and preference, then enjoy the heck out of them.

I
f I was you, though, I'd take this a step further and make the most of your drum-buying money by finding and buying a USED set of Collector Series drums. The market is flooded with barely-used Collectors sets and the prices for them are steadily going down. The drum market - new and used - is simply glutted with an over-abundance of drums, and there is no reason that you cannot take the money you have for a new Performance Series kit and buy your real dream of a used Collector's Series kit. I can promise you, considering your devotion to DW, that you will always desire a Collectors kit, and that you will eventually see the Performance kit as one step too short for the fulfillment of your dream. So, use that money to actually make it happen.

Consider this, too: even though we all prefer the experience of buying a new drumset, as soon as you receive it, it becomes a used set. The newness wears off very quickly. But the experience of owning the drums that you really want - even though they might be used - is one that does not go away. Age does not define that kind of experience. And, if you buy a Collectors set, you will always be able to purchase matching add-on drums in the future. So, win/win for you.

Those are my thoughts. You can take them or leave them. But have fun, will 'ya? And let us know what you decide to do.

GeeDeeEmm
 

GCRoberts

Member
Honestly, you can get the same sound character as a DW set by buying a PDP drumset, or any of a galaxy of available drum brands. You can read story after story from current DW owners that also own - and prefer - the sound of their PDP kits. Fact is, in the modern world of drum-making, it's not that hard to duplicate or even surpass the sound of DW drums. (And I say this as a DW fan. I don't prefer them over any other brand, but I have a great admiration for the lengths that John Good and company go to in order to provide customers with a very unique product and ownership experience.)

In your case, however, it's clear that you want to own a set of DW drums. There is no shame in that (what a statement!) and you shouldn't be shy about it. This is your dream, and you should fulfill it by buying some DW drums that fit your desire and preference, then enjoy the heck out of them.

I
f I was you, though, I'd take this a step further and make the most of your drum-buying money by finding and buying a USED set of Collector Series drums. The market is flooded with barely-used Collectors sets and the prices for them are steadily going down. The drum market - new and used - is simply glutted with an over-abundance of drums, and there is no reason that you cannot take the money you have for a new Performance Series kit and buy your real dream of a used Collector's Series kit. I can promise you, considering your devotion to DW, that you will always desire a Collectors kit, and that you will eventually see the Performance kit as one step too short for the fulfillment of your dream. So, use that money to actually make it happen.

Consider this, too: even though we all prefer the experience of buying a new drumset, as soon as you receive it, it becomes a used set. The newness wears off very quickly. But the experience of owning the drums that you really want - even though they might be used - is one that does not go away. Age does not define that kind of experience. And, if you buy a Collectors set, you will always be able to purchase matching add-on drums in the future. So, win/win for you.

Those are my thoughts. You can take them or leave them. But have fun, will 'ya? And let us know what you decide to do.

GeeDeeEmm
Thanks for the input. By the time I make my purchase next year, everyone will have forgotten all about this thread, but I"ll post an update anyways. I hear what you're saying regarding the Collectors, but I really don't crave them as much as I suspect a typical DW fan does. I can't imagine outgrowing the Performance models for a very long time....if ever. But I have poked around looking for used Collectors...just in case a perfect set presents itself.
 

AzHeat

Platinum Member
I was all about the DW Performance series. I played PDP MX maples for years, so it was the natural upgrade. I then found a used set at a local GC, which happened to be the same sizes and heads as mine and I couldn’t have been more disappointed! There was virtually no difference in tone and I didn’t like the same things I didn’t like about my PDPs. Maybe it was that the PDPs were too good. Don’t know.

I then got way more serious about finding my sound and started really learning about the differences. That’s where things changed drastically.
 

EricT43

Senior Member
I have a DW Collector's kit that I got on clearance at GC - keep an eye on them, they occasionally have new DW kits on discount to used prices. It's funny reading KEEF's post, because I had a similar experience. I bought my DW's based on reputation and all the stellar endorsing artists, and I couldn't get them to sound good at home. It took me a long time to get them tuned up to where they were acceptable, but I was never blown away by them as I was expecting to be. My previous kit was a mid-90's Premier XPK (birch/eucalyptus shells), which I thought sounded better, tbh. But like Lee-Bro said, what we hear behind the kit and what the audience and/or microphones hear can be very different. The DW's sound incredible when I am lucky enough to play in a large venue with a good sound system. Maybe the XPK's set my standards for drum sound, because I recently purchased a Sonor SQ1 birch kit, and I'm very happy with how they sound in my practice room. Maybe I'm just a birch guy. Since you have lots of time to choose, I echo the recommendation to travel to some good drum shops, or find drummers in your area that have different brands and different shell materials, so you can narrow down your preferences.
 

beatinskins

Member
Im in a similar situation as im currently looking for the right kit. I will say having two used pdp mx kits, they are awesome. Just bought a DW black nickle over brass snare 14x8. Its unreal in sound and quality. I recently played a yamaha absolute maple hybrid kit and it was awesome. So im a bit all over the place on what shell pack i want but i will say so far that the Yamaha kit has me. PDP makes a great kit for under a grand. Hard to beat hence why i havent bought my "dream kit". Love my pdps
 
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