Drum Costs vs. Guitar Costs?

nightraider43

Senior Member
Someone enlighten me. Why is it drums (shell packs) are comparable in price to guitars. Examples would be maybe Taylor 900 series elec/acoustic vs DW Collector series $4,000-$5,000. Mapex Saturn about same as a Gibson '61 SG reissue. You get my point. Drums are much larger instruments with seemingly more wood and MUCH more hardware. At one point I had a very impressive guitar collection that would be equivalent to owning 10 DW collector's kits. I'm just kinda dumbfounded by the amount you get in drums to a single guitar price wise. That and the fact that a lot of very nice guitars are standard production whereas it may take months for you to have your drum order processed, built and delivered. I would think in this case drums would be much more in value.

This may be a stupid question but I haven't seen it on here yet. I think Keep it Simple may have a good explanation since he is the Guru guy.

Steve
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Well, what about the million+ for a Stradivarious violin? Or a Selmer MkVI tenor sax for 10K? Or even a tuba in the 12K range?

I think musical instruments (other than drums) require more hands-on work. Yes, most guitars are production models, but it takes more hands to make it. Drums are just plies and glue fed into a machine and forced into a circular shape (not counting the single ply drums, which are a bit more involved). I just spent $1500 on a ukulele that was completely hand-made and there's a big difference in sound and craftsmanship when compared to a uke you only have to spend $150 on.
 

nightraider43

Senior Member
I completely understand what you are saying Bo. I have seen guitars being manufactured but never seen drums made. Had a friend who would build electric guitars and he was quite good at it I must say. He made a guitar that cost him roughly $500 which included all hardware and it sounded just as good as my ESP MII. He put it all together himself albeit the components were made by a different manufacturer as is a lot of parts for drums. And I know about how pricey guitars can be auctioned off for. I'm sure John Bonham's original drumset he used or RIngo's would fetch quite the high dollar but that is just what people will spend to have that instrument. It certainly isn't worth it material wise.
 

Davo-London

Gold Member
OK i'll play. You can buy a very decent bass or guitar for $500. This instrument wouldn't disgrace a pro. You can spend a lot more of course e.g. a gold top 1959 Les Paul for $100,000 +. I think most modern instruments are very cheap. A modern $1000 drum kit with hardware is incredible value for money. So I wouldn't worry about comparing guitars and drums. We live in a period where modern instruments are very reasonable. Thank your lucky stars.

Davo
 

FoolInTheRain

Senior Member
So many variables....cost of materials, production costs, attention to detail, and even simply the name that's being stamped on it.

I have a Gibson Les Paul Standard that cost about $2,800.

My MCX kit cost about $1,800.

When looking at the two completely different instruments, I feel as though the difference in price is understandable. While the drums are fantastic, the Les Paul has a beautiful flame maple top, asymmetrical neck, was completely built here in the USA. It also required more human hands to get the top perfectly carved, frets installed, binding applied and the finish scraped away before shooting it with more clearcoat.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Wow. I just realized the watch I'm wearing (Omega Speedmaster Pro) is worth about $3500. And it's not ever going to make me any money ;) Consider the diamond rings all of our wives, or ex-wives, or soon-to-be-ex-wives have. Buying a drumset is a drop in the bucket compared to other things that don't help you earn a living (as meager as it is).

I say, if you think the drums are worth more than a guitar, I'm sure the music store would be more than happy to take more money if you're giving it ;)
 

Ian Ballard

Silver Member
I think the biggest rip-offs are "custom shop" bolt-on guitars. One example is the Jeff Beck "Signature" model. A signature is supposed to represent the instrument the guy actually plays. The Fender for sale version, has an alder body and Fender ceramic noiseless pickups. The rest of the specs are pretty spot on, but Jeff's actual #1 Strat has a basswood body and custom-wound Suhr pickups. For $4000, you most certainly could BUILD your own "Beck" model and order the same spec pickups from Suhr and get a basswood body CHEAPER than an alder one... and have a few grand left over to buy a killer amp rig. I built my own Strat from parts, did all kinds of custom work on it and it sounds and plays as good as any Fender I've played off-the-rack and it only cost about $600 which includes locking tuners, a Floyd Rose bridge (non-floating and no locking nut) and custom-wound '78 Seymour Duncan humbucker. I'm a flippin' drummer and I can build a decent Strat. The whole point behind bolt-on guitars, in the mind of Leo Fender was CHEAP production and not needing luthier-trained workers to build the guitars. I won't even get into their Clapton "Blackie" that went for $25K. Flippin' robbery.
 

nightraider43

Senior Member
And this is why I posted this thread...to find out more. I am very familiar with the guitar industry, after owning several high end Gibson's, Taylor's, Marshall's and so forth. But with me getting back into the drumming arena again after such a long departure I have found myself looking at drum kit pricing, cymbal pricing and so forth. Maybe it was just more sticker shock with comparing the two even though technology is different for both. Almost all of my guitar gear is gone nowadays thanks to a "wonderful" ex-wife. And with her destroying my Gibson '58 Korina Flying "V' reissue few years back I never really got the lust of buying more gear. But I started on drums when I was 12 a measly 35 years ago and wanted to get back into it again.

I think the biggest rip-offs are "custom shop" bolt-on guitars. One example is the Jeff Beck "Signature" model. A signature is supposed to represent the instrument the guy actually plays. The Fender for sale version, has an alder body and Fender ceramic noiseless pickups. The rest of the specs are pretty spot on, but Jeff's actual #1 Strat has a basswood body and custom-wound Suhr pickups. For $4000, you most certainly could BUILD your own "Beck" model and order the same spec pickups from Suhr and get a basswood body CHEAPER than an alder one... and have a few grand left over to buy a killer amp rig. I built my own Strat from parts, did all kinds of custom work on it and it sounds and plays as good as any Fender I've played off-the-rack and it only cost about $600 which includes locking tuners, a Floyd Rose bridge (non-floating and no locking nut) and custom-wound '78 Seymour Duncan humbucker. I'm a flippin' drummer and I can build a decent Strat. The whole point behind bolt-on guitars, in the mind of Leo Fender was CHEAP production and not needing luthier-trained workers to build the guitars. I won't even get into their Clapton "Blackie" that went for $25K. Flippin' robbery.
I'm with ya there Ian. I just sold a G&L 30th anniversary Legacy on Ebay. They are all single coil and the first thing I did when I got it was rip out the bridge pickup and put in a Seymour Duncan Custom HB. Then it screamed since I'm a HB guy. All those custom shops for the most part are a rip off. However I do love the Jimmy Page Gibson Les Paul (drooling).
I have also kinda wondered why some of these major drum companies don't have a lot of signature drums like guitars where EVERYONE has a model guitar. I'm sure Justin Bieber will have one soon enough...just saying. Is it the fact that you can pretty much request sizes you want if you go with the high end kits?

Wow. I just realized the watch I'm wearing (Omega Speedmaster Pro) is worth about $3500. And it's not ever going to make me any money ;) Consider the diamond rings all of our wives, or ex-wives, or soon-to-be-ex-wives have. Buying a drumset is a drop in the bucket compared to other things that don't help you earn a living (as meager as it is).

I say, if you think the drums are worth more than a guitar, I'm sure the music store would be more than happy to take more money if you're giving it ;)
Oh no Bo...I am quite happy to spend much less. Now I have come to realize the cymbals can really add up quickly though. Plus I won't be having 10-15 drum kits sitting around my living room. Just the one and I'm happy. Now I may end up having 10-15 cymbals though ;)

And I just spent $6,000 on the engagement/wedding ring for my fiance/e. Whichever one the female is lol.
 
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Ian Ballard

Silver Member
I wanted to add a 14" floor tom to my Silverstar kit but I was shocked to discover that buying them a la carte is WAAAY more expensive than buying a pre-packaged kit from a big online retailer. I'm probably going to have one custom built from my friend Herb Naster at Kansas City Drum Company. I can get a custom birch-shell drum with a similar-color wrap for $50 less than I can order a overseas-made Tama component drum. I have zero cmplaints about the sound, build-quality and hardware of my Silverstars... very good for the price but the component prices are outrageous.
 

Aeolian

Platinum Member
With most of these things it is the amount of hand work what drives up the price. You can get a set of Renowns for $1500 but a set of Pork Pies with essentially the same Keller maple shells but lots of hand work on the edges is several times that.

On guitars, there's lots of CNC work being done but to get a really good one, it's more a matter of the fitting and the hand craft work done after the shapes are cut out. Even on Fender types, knowing where on the blank to cut out the body, and then fitting neck pockets to necks is something that separates the Chapins and Suhrs from the production guitars. You can search around for a production guitar that came out right by the luck of the draw, or you can go do someone who knows how to make each one come out right. That costs money.

I do agree that the Fender Custom shop isn't quite what folks expect. They do the selecting and fitting for the actual artists, but the "production" guitars are just that. They get the fancy wood for the jewelry collectors who can't tell the difference in sound and buy with their eyes. But there's no assurance that it will sound like the actual artist's instrument. I have a Strat that I spent more than a year trying out production guitars looking for one that had good wood and fitment. Then I put Callaham metal in it, new frets and Suhr pickups. I handed it to a friend who is a serious player when he broke a string on his $3K Custom Shop Strat and he was amazed how much better it was. Kept going on about "wasting money". But it took a lot of selecting and then a lot of manual labor getting everything to that level. But I know how to do that stuff and put the time into my own instrument.

I know less about the fine points of drums although I have cut edges and learned from everyone I could for many years. Which is why I recently went ahead and bought a kit from the guy who showed me the most about finishing edges, Gene D'Amico. Even picking his brain wouldn't give me the years of experience and attention to detail that he has. The edges on my Renowns were nice for mid range production drums, but I can slide tissue paper across these without snagging. And they have a wonderful balance between sustain and shell resonance.
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
Apples and oranges, vs supply and demand, just that plain and simple.
The laws of economics always prevail.
 

nightraider43

Senior Member
I wanted to add a 14" floor tom to my Silverstar kit but I was shocked to discover that buying them a la carte is WAAAY more expensive than buying a pre-packaged kit from a big online retailer. I'm probably going to have one custom built from my friend Herb Naster at Kansas City Drum Company. I can get a custom birch-shell drum with a similar-color wrap for $50 less than I can order a overseas-made Tama component drum. I have zero cmplaints about the sound, build-quality and hardware of my Silverstars... very good for the price but the component prices are outrageous.
I'm adding a 8" tom to my new Mapex Saturn IV which I still haven't received btw. Gonna cost me $220 through Rupps Drums. I thought that was a good deal since it's the exotic natural ash burl to match my kit I ordered. But wanted to do it now before I procrastinate on it and Mapex stops offering it.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Oh no Bo...I am quite happy to spend much less. Now I have come to realize the cymbals can really add up quickly though. Plus I won't be having 10-15 drum kits sitting around my living room. Just the one and I'm happy. Now I may end up having 10-15 cymbals though ;)

And I just spent $6,000 on the engagement/wedding ring for my fiance/e. Whichever one the female is lol.
I always say if you're not working all the time, you can get by with an intermediate kit but ALWAYS have a selection of professional cymbals. You can make any drum sound good. Cymbals you're definitely' stuck with what they are ;)
 

Aeolian

Platinum Member
I always say if you're not working all the time, you can get by with an intermediate kit but ALWAYS have a selection of professional cymbals. You can make any drum sound good. Cymbals you're definitely' stuck with what they are ;)
Yep, cymbals, snare, hardware, heads and the rest of the shells. In that order of precedence. I know I at least as much in cymbals as I do in shell pack. And use snares with my Safari kit that cost as much as the kit did. And as you allude to, the more you work, the more pro hardware comes into play. Not breaking down or slipping. Lightweight stuff that holds up. That will run you as much as a usable shell pack.

After that, it's all attractive gravy.
 

nightraider43

Senior Member
Well my cymbals are all Sabian as of now. AAX stage hats, HHX 16" & 18" Evolution crashes , HHX zen china, HH rbdr, HHX custom hand hammered 10" splash and a 16" paragon crash. So a little bit of the ole casholas invested ;-)

Steve
 

Ian Ballard

Silver Member
I always say if you're not working all the time, you can get by with an intermediate kit but ALWAYS have a selection of professional cymbals. You can make any drum sound good. Cymbals you're definitely' stuck with what they are ;)
Troof!!! For the first several years of my playing, as my primary rock kit, I used a '91 Tama Rockstar DX. Not a BAD kit but certainly not a top-end pro kit. It had a basswood inner-ply and some mystery wood in the middle and a thick plastic wrap around it, long lugs... not exactly a "toneful" instrument but I learned how to tune it and what heads worked the best to make it sound pretty good. You also have to PLAY the thing well, but I digress. However, I NEVER bought cheap cymbals. I'd always buy used Zildjian A's or Sabian AA's, Paiste Sound Formulas, etc... you CANNOT get cheap cymbals to sound good. Ever. No matter how good of a sound engineer you are, you cannot make B8's or ZBT's or whatever, sound like pro cymbals. Drums, yes. There are plenty of wonderful plugins in Pro Tools that can optimize attack, decay, reverb and EQ to get drums such as my Rockstars in the ballpark of something pro. What are you going to do with shrill, ugly harmonics coming from cheaply-made B8 bronze or brass cymbals?
 

TColumbia37

Silver Member
I wouldn't just consider it guitar costs vs drum costs. You have to take into consideration the other things you need (cymbals, hardware, amps, cabs). When you look at the whole picture, buying a professional level guitar rig is often cheaper than a professional level drum setup, but it really depends on your tastes and what you use.

Personally, I think cymbals are insanely overpriced, and that leads to the cost of drumming being so high, given that the average drummer needs to replace cymbals more often than drums. And take into consideration that an average set of guitar strings is around $5-$10, and active guitarists usually change strings once monthly on the low end. Some change strings before each gig. Drum heads, however, are usually $100 or more to outfit an entire kit, but usually don't have to be replaced as often.

My guitar rig, at new prices, was around $5,000, and I would consider it a professional rig. My drum kit, at new prices, would be under $2,000. I certainly wouldn't consider it to be a professional level setup, but it's great for what it is.

Guitars, typically do take more hands-on work, and many times use more exotic woods, especially when you get into the high end stuff. Not to mention the electronics and hardware (though manufacturers are cheaping out on that stuff lately).

Bottom line, to me, is that a pro level guitar rig, and a pro level drum kit can cost about the same. It just depends on what size setup you want and how often you do the necessary maintenance.
 

porter

Platinum Member
Consider the diamond rings all of our wives, or ex-wives, or soon-to-be-ex-wives have.
Or husbands ;)

I wouldn't just consider it guitar costs vs drum costs. You have to take into consideration the other things you need (cymbals, hardware, amps, cabs)...

...Personally, I think cymbals are insanely overpriced, and that leads to the cost of drumming being so high, given that the average drummer needs to replace cymbals more often than drums. And take into consideration that an average set of guitar strings is around $5-$10, and active guitarists usually change strings once monthly on the low end. Some change strings before each gig. Drum heads, however, are usually $100 or more to outfit an entire kit, but usually don't have to be replaced as often.

My guitar rig, at new prices, was around $5,000, and I would consider it a professional rig. My drum kit, at new prices, would be under $2,000. I certainly wouldn't consider it to be a professional level setup, but it's great for what it is.

Guitars, typically do take more hands-on work, and many times use more exotic woods, especially when you get into the high end stuff. Not to mention the electronics and hardware (though manufacturers are cheaping out on that stuff lately).
I'd say pretty much correct for all points. My entire kit, at new price (at least what I use for most stuff) would be somewhere around $4000 (though my new kit is upgrading that figure a bit...)- and that's much more massive than a guitar rig, but guitars have a lot of intricate electronics and crafting to be considered, whereas drum parts on the whole are fairly simple machines or manipulations of relatively large materials.
 
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