Favorite high end drum kit- model and brand?

RickP

Gold Member
I have owned most of the high end kits, not bragging just stating a fact . Most of the major drum companies and some boutique brands make great drums. I have owned more Yamaha ( Recording Custom, Club Custom, PHX, Maple Custom) and Gretsch (7 USA Custom) over the years than all other brands I have owned. That being said, I own none today. I still like Yamaha and their new offerings but every Gretsch kit I owned had some middling quality issue that drove me nuts.

My favourite drums that I own these days are from Noble and Cooley’s Horizon Series. These are wonderful drums, undeniable quality and they tune up faster and hold their tuning better than any drum set I have ever played or owned.

One other drum brand that really intrigued me are the Jenkins Martin kits. I recently picked up a snare and it is excellent. The kit I played at the Chicago Vintage Drum Show was superb. Weather proof and great sounding drums. The look is not for everyone , but I really like, their bleen blue finish.

If I was to buy another kit from a major manufacturer , Sonor would be my first choice.Great build quality and great sounding drums.
 

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beyondbetrayal

Platinum Member
I have an MCX and love it. Hey BO What did you not love about the Reference Pure? I have been looking into these for a bit and was on the fence.

I'm a Pearl guy and have owned a few myself, I had a 10 piece professional DX series kit a while back. 2 kicks and 7 toms was excessive haha.

I agree that I will probibly never own a Masterworks / SQ2 and am fine with it. The main reason those exist is customization. If I built my MCX kit to the same specs (wood, bearing edge, hardware, sizes) using the masterworks configurator, it would probibly cost me 10k for the EXACT SAME KIT.


It's like buying a car. Sure, you can buy the tippy top of the line car brand new, and I can buy the one for 1/3 of the price 1 model under it. I am still going to love my car, get from point A to point B in style and have a blast doing it.

I always say this too. I can tune up a noname drum kit with new heads to sound pretty darn good. Even a used $200 POS. I could also make that SQ2, or Masterworks sound like trash too.

The playing is an entire other story. The pro's would make that $200 kit sound amazing too where as most guys don't' have the touch to make all the difference on the high end stuff.


the middle of the road range is where its att.. Id say anything between 1500 - 4000 for a kit new is reasonable.. (absolute upper end) Unless you are endorsing a company getting a huge deal for the top tier stuff.
 

Stroker

Platinum Member
I have owned most of the high end kits, not bragging just stating a fact . Most of the major drum companies and some boutique brands make great drums. I have owned more Yamaha ( Recording Custom, Club Custom, PHX, Maple Custom) and Gretsch (7 USA Custom) over the years than all other brands I have owned. That being said, I own none today. I still like Yamaha and their new offerings but every Gretsch kit I owned had some middling quality issue that drove me nuts.

My favourite drums that I own these days are from Noble and Cooley’s Horizon Series. These are wonderful drums, undeniable quality and they tune up faster and hold their tuning better than any drum set I have ever played or owned.

One other drum brand that really intrigued me are the Jenkins Martin kits. I recently picked up a snare and it is excellent. The kit I played at the Chicago Vintage Drum Show was superb. Weather proof and great sounding drums. The look is not for everyone , but I really like, their bleen blue finish.

If I was to buy another kit from a major manufacturer , Sonor would be my first choice.Great build quality and great sounding drums.
Smokin' finish, Rick! That's a real beaut.
 

Vintage Old School

Gold Member
I have owned most of the high end kits, not bragging just stating a fact . Most of the major drum companies and some boutique brands make great drums. I have owned more Yamaha ( Recording Custom, Club Custom, PHX, Maple Custom) and Gretsch (7 USA Custom) over the years than all other brands I have owned. That being said, I own none today. I still like Yamaha and their new offerings but every Gretsch kit I owned had some middling quality issue that drove me nuts.

My favourite drums that I own these days are from Noble and Cooley’s Horizon Series. These are wonderful drums, undeniable quality and they tune up faster and hold their tuning better than any drum set I have ever played or owned.

One other drum brand that really intrigued me are the Jenkins Martin kits. I recently picked up a snare and it is excellent. The kit I played at the Chicago Vintage Drum Show was superb. Weather proof and great sounding drums. The look is not for everyone , but I really like, their bleen blue finish.
Birds of a feather. I'm currently very content with my Yamaha Custom Recording kit. Absolutely no complaints.

If my wife ever told me "I don't think you own enough drums" and I had the space to add more drum kits it would be in no particular order:
Noble & Cooley Horizon, Guru and Jenkins Martin/Blaemire. The odds of those two conditions coming around are slim and none . . . . . and Slim just left town.

Sound--first and foremost--and quality build top the list.
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
If you can try out a Sakae Almighty Birch, do it. I would love to try one out some day. EVERY video I've listened to sounds out of this world.
 

rummy

Senior Member
Ludwig Classic Maple would be my high end kit.
If I could be greedy, I'd love to have a Yamaha Absolute Hybrid.
 

WallyY

Platinum Member
I think the best way of going about deciding what you want is to know what character you’re looking for in a new high end set.

You list Recording Custom and Gretsch, but they are very different sounding sets.
The RCs have heavy lugs and 1.6 hoops where the gretsch have cast hoops.

I have Reference Pure that I got for a good deal used. I liked the sound online So I got them. I can’t say they’re better than the Sonorlites that I have, because it’s a different sound, but they stay in tune very well.

I haven’t heard all the fancy sets, so I’m not an expert. I just own what I least don’t like. They’re noisy machines after all!
 

Groov-E

Silver Member
Ludwig Classic Maple would be my high end kit.
If I could be greedy, I'd love to have a Yamaha Absolute Hybrid.
I don't know for you guys down south, but in my parts the Ludwig classic maples are priced in the same ballpark as the amh. Just saw a natural maple go by on yamaha's fb page, pretty freakin sweet !
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
In the best part of all possibilities worlds: beech Sonor SQ2, birch Kumu, and walnut Guru would all be nice. I can do drum battles against myself on different kits, play a different kit each day of week, and ponder my good fortune. I have saved up for my dream kit fund numerous times only to deplete it for “unforeseen circumstance”. Helped out family -more important in the grand scheme. So I gave up because the pool of money is too handy for such and I felt like “Fate” was telling me to screw off I don’t deserve one :0
 
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gdmoore28

Gold Member
I have owned "high end" kits (DW Collectors, Yamaha Recording Custom, Pearl Reference Pure) and I have owned "low end" kits (PDP Concept Maple, Concept Birch, Tama Rockstar, etc...). In the end, I sound the same on all of them.

I did a head to head comparison with my DW Collectors and the PDP Concept Maple maybe a year and a half ago. Same heads, same tuning, same sizes... Honestly, there was not a discernible difference between them for me to justify keeping the DW. I sold the DW for more than 3x what I paid for the PDP and I don't regret it one bit.

That said, I'm a "most bang for the buck" kind of person. For me, the most band for the buck kits are the "upper low end" to mid-tier ones. The PDP Concept Maple/Birch kits and Yamaha Stage Customs are in the "upper low end" and can be purchased for such little money, its crazy. The mid tier kits that are great bang for the buck are Gretsch Renown, Tama B/B, Mapex Saturn, Yamaha Tour Custom, Pearl Masters, DW Design, etc...

The upper end drums like USA Customs, Broadcasters, Recording Customs, Reference, Collectors, etc. all are nice, but you really see diminishing returns as the prices increase. Yeah, they have pretty finishes on them... but so do the mid-tier kits. They have nice fit and finish... but so do the mid tier kits. They sound good and have good tuning ranges... but so do the mid tier kits.
TommyD-

Your post is the best summary of the truth about current drum quality that I've yet read. Every young drummer who feels the pressure to buy up, buy up, and buy up, needs to read your post. You just nailed it, my friend.

GeeDeeEmm
 

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
TommyD-

Your post is the best summary of the truth about current drum quality that I've yet read. Every young drummer who feels the pressure to buy up, buy up, and buy up, needs to read your post. You just nailed it, my friend.

GeeDeeEmm
The main reason I occasionally buy new kits is to find the sound that “fits my soul”, so to speak.
 

Tommy_D

Platinum Member
The main reason I occasionally buy new kits is to find the sound that “fits my soul”, so to speak.
Well, there is a "uniqueness" factor that has played part in my gear choices, I will admit. I wanted a high end maple kit, so I got the DW's. I really enjoyed them. Really I can't say anything bad about them. Then I got the PDP's at a good price thinking, "yeah, maybe they will be a practice kit.". Then I did the head to head comparison and I really couldn't say the DW's were a better sounding kit. Build quality on the DW's was better, but it didn't make them better performing. So I sold them.

The Mapex Saturn's are unique due to their maple/walnut shell construction. Add to the fact that they are the best built set of drums I have ever owned (better than the DW, the Reference Pure and leaps and bounds better than the Recording Customs). So those stay with me.

The Reference Pures are unique with their shell construction and some of the hardware they use(unique tube lugs, stainless tension rods, aluminum suspension mounts, etc.), but I'm not blown away by how they make me feel to play them. They also need to have some work done to their edges as they are not perfect.

However, out of all my kits the one that really speaks to me is the PDP Concept Birch. I really can't say why. They sound good, they look good and they just feel good. I want to cut new edges on them and finish their interiors as well, but I just haven't gotten around to it.

I have owned, and still own, much "higher end" kits, but like PPS says, you have to find the one that speaks to your soul. Sometimes it's not the high end one that speaks to you. I think having owned 10-15 kits over the last few years has taught me that I really like underdogs.
 

AzHeat

Platinum Member
Tommy_D,

I noticed the same about DW, compared to my PDPs, but interesting read about your Concept Birch. My oval lug PDPs were never speaking to me, regardless of heads or tuning. My Brooklyns blew me off my throne. They don’t have a fancy finish or cutting edge hardware, but they are articulate, warm, project well and just a joy to play. I think one of the things I like about them most is they aren’t sterile sounding. Tough to explain!

If I had to choose a high end kit, I’m not sure what it’d be. Pretty happy with things as they are.
 
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DaleClark

Senior Member
If I could go out and get a top of the line kit right now...Sonor SQ2 ot Tama Star Maples (22 or 24 with 3 up two or 3 down). I'll probably end up ordering and SQ 1 set or DW Performance series (DW brought back the Cherry Laqcuer as a standard option). For vintage sounds, I'm keeping my late 60's Ludwig maples
 

Lennytoons

Senior Member
Guru drums are a thing of beauty. I'd love to own a kit some day. Fabulous sound PLUS you're playing a piece of art.
 

whiteknightx

Silver Member
I think what people tend to forget with higher end stuff is a lot of the price is going to be tied to the labour involved of the finish. The basic components of an average intermediate or high end 12" shell, heads, mount and lugs, isn't going to be a huge difference between manufacturers. But the work in painting and sanding is probably where a lot of the cost kicks in. This isn't necessarily going to be reflected in a difference in the final sound. And you lose the efficiency of mass production, so that will also be a big factor.
 
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