You can find pretty good prices on Mapex Saturn kits and the new Saturn IV kits, and these kits are considered pro level/good quality.
I will say that I have found Pearl to have very good customer service--you can contact reps right from their forum and get fairly instant feedback--something I have not experienced when tried with Tama or Mapex. The Pearl Sessions Customs (birch/kapur shells) are pretty good for the money, and the Maple MCX kits are usually around $1500 or so for a 4 pc kit.
If you are looking for just an all-around solid kit at a reasonable price, I'd recommend the following (these kits usually run, new, between $1100-$1700, depending on the setup):
- Pearl SSC or MCX
- Mapex Saturn or Saturn IV
- Tama Starclassic Performer Bubinga/Birch
- Gretsch Renown Maple
- Yamaha new Oak Live Series kits
I would suggest DW Performance Series--DW's series to give players custom features at a good price--but even those kits have gone up a bit too much in price.
All of these kits will last you a good while and sound good with good heads and good tuning.
Once you go to the Gretsch Catalina series, or the Pearl Vision/Pearl Export series, or the Tama Swingstar, Mapex Horizon, Yamaha Gig Maker, etc.--all of which can be found in 4 or 5 pc setups for well under $1K--the quality of the kit really starts to take a nose dive.
In the under $1K range for a kit with decent quality, I suppose I'd recommend taking a look at the Tama Silverstar birch kits or the Yamaha Stage Custom birch kits.
Well, you can hardly go wrong with Mapex and i just hope you haven't bought a Catalina instead of a Meridian Maple! If you haven't bought a kit yet, look at a Mapex Big City kit too, it is cheaper than a Meridian Maple and sounds awesome.
I still haven't purchased on yet. My dad's friend offered me a deal on a Tama, but he didn't know the exact model on it because that is only his practice kit and he uses a Rodgers for everything else. So as of now I am still playing the PDP kit that is falling apart that my friend let me borrow, but hey I can't complain!