Best sounding drums????


Gold Member
Over the years, we have all seen threads asking "what are the best sounding drums ever". The usual response is something like "Ludwig, DW, Yamaha, Slingerland, Pearl, Gretsch, Tama . . . the standard fare. Nothing wrong with that.

There has been a big push in recent years touting single ply shells and their superior sound. No one would seriously argue that single ply shells, like Craviotto, Guru, N&C, etc. don't sound great. But in most surveys, these names come up, but sparingly.

Are we to assume by the responses to posts, that most people identify the sound of standard multi-ply shells for best overall sound? Is this driven mostly by affordability, or is the vintage mindset so strong that that is what we congregate to? What do you think?

Duck Tape

Platinum Member
I'd say most people haven't heard single ply, or stave, or metal shell kits and they dismiss them altogether. Then you get the typical "I own this brand and I enjoy playing drums therefore this kit is the best" dudes.

Readers polls are always terrible because the average drummer is an average Joe.


Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
My only thought is that very few touring drummers use single ply, stave or segmented drums. Not sure if that is an endorsement thing, money thing, or convenience thing. Lots of if's. I have seen some Craviotto (sp) drums but not many no name drums. Almost all have some brand on the bass drum head. So yeah you will see the same names mentioned over and over and most of us will mention our current brand, since that is what we know best..


Silver Member
Sound is very subjective. So each his own. I tend to think my 68 Ludwig's are the best sounding drums I have ever heard but who am I to say. Besides, it's nearly impossible to replicate nearly 50 years of ageing in newly constructed kits.


There's a lot of marketing out there along the lines of "Our drums are superior because of yadda, yadda, yadda...." In the case of single ply or stave or block constructors, they would contend that it's because of less glue, more solid wood/continuous grain, and vertically aligned grain in the case of stave construction. Well, y'know...that's just like, ahhh....your opinion, man.

They aren't inherently better for those reasons, they are just different. Otherwise, why would Brady, a company known for its stave drums, have made ply drums too? Because they knew that plywood drums were just another option and they would offer up different sounds than their stave drums could provide. When it comes to sound, there isn't necessarily any good, better, best...there's just options. Sure you can take a high end kit and put it up against an entry level kit and 9 out of 10 players will think the high end kit sounds better, but if you blindfolded those same people and played a high end ply kit next to a stave kit, next to a single ply kit, I'm willing to bet the results wouldn't be nearly so decisive. You can spend $2000+ on a super high end, specialized snare drum, but for my money my favourite snare drums are Acros, Supras, or some of the other aluminum offerings from George Way or Oriollo. Well executed and quality snare drums all, but pretty much some of the simplest and basic snare drums available.

Hollywood Jim

Platinum Member
Shopping for your "Perfect" sounding set of drums is very difficult.

There are 7 large music stores in my area. There are probably over 2000 different guitars and 100 different amplifiers I could try out.
If I'm lucky, there are maybe 7 different drum sets I can try out. And I can't change the drum heads or tuning of those drum sets.
I feel uncomfortable having the store set up and tune up one of the drum sets on the shelf just so i can hear what it sounds like.

Also the room has a great deal to do with the sound of drums.
And how would I ever get a change to play and adjust the tuning of a set of Guru drums or Craviotto or etc.


Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
Regardless of model, most brands have a recognisable thing they're going for and then you still have those various versions of typical desings in those models if they do such things at all.

Any drumset that works and is fully functional sounds good for what it was intended to be.

Now, Craviotto, Guru, N&C and so on are NOT household names and do not hold that brand name value as Ludwig, Gretsch or like e.g. Fender and Gibson do in the guiar world. That is very imporant to many people.

Though it seems to be changing a little bit these days, we have had a long period of time in the western world where it's now been possible to afford more special and custom made stuff from small specialicd builders, the web spreads the information about such things, like here on Drummerworld, and the average Joe and Jill hobbyis or weekend warrior can get involved with the fancy schmancy stuff as opposed to just being happy they have an instrument at all.

Even in this case, people will often stay with their old fav brand and instead get a few special snares. In many ways a kit is a kit if you have one, but even if e.g. someone like me who just likes the Gretsch sound those extra snare make the bigger difference. They are the heart of the kit and when I scale down that is the drum that will stay together with the bass drum, which even if it has character, to most people is just a bass drum.

My sound preferrnce is simply what I like, for a number of reasons. It's what I relate to.

Superior sound is subjective and it's also a little bit about context. I can appreciate the qualities of different brands, but the me that Great Gretsch Sound is it. It is also purely the sound to me. It was inspired because I was exposed mainly through my here Vincent, which is sort of why a future kit will be "Vinnie white", but I would never consider it unless I had such a love for that particular sound,and the I can sort of humorously honour my hero like that, but I naturally like the look, too.

For some people it's different. It's just the brand, rhe same kit as Ringo or whatever...

Some well built specialist things sound good, but better?, no, just different.

Slingerlands are single ply and that's a big thing in what makes them unique. If you have a multi ply drum you laike and a metal shell you like I guess a nice single ply would be the obvious next option. The wood differences are more pronounced in such designs. It's a different type of drum, often with more tonal complexity.

These differences in design sound so different that it will often be hard to mistake one for the other.

If you do a lot of different things, you have a very dynamic style and would like to have just one drum I wouldn't be surprised if a single ply drum won out, though.

Still, it's just about taste and what seems to work.

Other variables are just what we are used to, what's accepted in our environment as the good stuff and so on...

But, in the end.... who cares?
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Platinum Member
With good heads and mic'ed properly a cheap drum kit can sound great to an audience. I think the key to the question is whose perspective-the drummer or audience. I'd like to know what non-drummer's think about the sound of various drums-they have a completely different perspective. The drum sound is more the preference of the drummer and what "sound" they want-which can be varied. I use to like the thuddy plastic sound of a drum now I prefer a kit with a distinct voice and some resonance. Spent lots of time getting rid of any ring or buzz or overtones and you can do it to the point it doesn't sound like a drum anymore LOL so I like a little ring, a little buzz, some overtones Ok. What constantly amazes me is the difference between what i hear with my ears and what I hear after I record it-it isn't the same thing. I think drummers look at more than sound too and examine specs of hardware etc.


"Uncle Larry"
It's not a valid question, there is no best sounding drums. What's the best tasting food? Best smelling perfume? Doesn't exist, it's all opinion and nothing more.

That said, the best sounding drums are made from walnut :)
The best sounding drums:
In any room.
From light jazz to the heaviest metal.
Miced or un-miced.
Outdoors or inside.
Played lightly or absolutely pounding them.
With any heads.
At any temperature.
To all listeners.

Are my 76 Ludwig Vistalites. It's because of the "Sound Projectors" that were only available on those drums for two short years.

There's your answer. Moderator, you can close this thread now.


Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
I'd say most people haven't heard single ply, or stave, or metal shell kits...
There are 7 large music stores in my area. There are probably over 2000 different guitars and 100 different amplifiers I could try out. If I'm lucky, there are maybe 7 different drum sets I can try out. And I can't change the drum heads or tuning of those drum sets.
That's a big factor: the ability of a drummer to actually hear everything that's out there. Is a store - even one with a lot of real estate - expected to stock every brand of drum? And where do they draw the line when it comes to the boutique builders? There are probably at least 50 drum brands out there, most so small that they can't offer terms to the stores (as do the major brands) so that's another strike against them appearing in a store next to Pearl or Ludwig or DW kits. Not to mention that stores rarely stock every model from every company that they sell. Even when stacked, drums simply take up more space than guitars and amps.

Snare brands get a little more exposure, because a store has more room (and budget) for them. Even GC carries snare brands, but not their kit counterparts.

So when a drummer is asked what they think is the best, it is completely limited to whatever they are exposed. The vast majority are familiar with the big names, and if they're diligent, might know Pork Pie & Craviotto.

But when it comes to subjective things like sound or feel, the "best" question rarely yields consistent answers.



Gold Member
To be clear, I wasn't asking what IS the best sound, but I observe that ply shells still dictate a lot what we consider to be the "best sound." I have heard some fabulous sounding ply drums, as have we all. I wonder if that is because of years of ear training to recognize that sound, or because those are the most affordable, thereby most purchased and played . . .


Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
My drums will never sound good because I don't have Clearsonic or Tympanic bearing edges...8+)


Platinum Member
6 lug bass and snare. You don't get much but wow!!!!!
My Stage Custom bop kits had 6 lugs on the bass drum and floor tom and they sounded pretty good.
I've got to admit though that they sounded better to me after I re-cut the bearing edges.

As to the OP - any 'best' question concerning drums is a subjective assessment.

Les Ismore

Platinum Member
Its not the drums, this is where drummers need to step-up. Its the tuning, its about making the drums you have sound their best. Drums 'are' tuned to notes, fight dumb drummer syndrome.

The best sounding drums are going to be those which are tuned to pleasing intervals. A $6000 kit can fail with poorly tuned intervals, or at least not stand up sound wise to a $700 kit that's tuned well.

Beginners should tune their drums every day, you play them every day, get good at both tuning and playing.