So I finally got a decent practice space, which is making me wanna upgrade my kit (Ddrum D2 i got for like 100$ on craigslist...piece of crap). So basically anything is an improvement. Im looking for an intermediate or better kit, anywhere up to like 1,000 (so sadly no DW).

The kits I had in mind were
Gretsch Catalina Ash, Mapex Meridian Birch, Tama Silverstar, Gretsch Catalina Maple, Pearl VBL Vision Birch, PDP Concept Maple, Pearl Vision Maple, Crush Chameleon Ash, or Tama Superstar (I know, there are a lot)

Anyway, Im not a drummer. I dont pretend to be either. I just know Maple is the warmest and highest quality, Birch has better attack, and Ash is like a combination. I also know a shit brand from a good one (which is why im not sure about the Crush)
I'm thinking about renting my "studio" out to bands to record demos and stuff, so i need something that can handle any genre, and that wont break when some a-hole thinks hes being cool or impressive and does something stupid with the kit.

Right now im just trying to narrow it down so i know how much i need. I also dont plan on buying it dry. Im gonna bring my two drummer friends (One heavy metal, one alt rock and prog) to try them with me, so I get the opinion of two people i really value it from.

So i guess just give me what you think is the best, any you think are awful that i have on here, any i left out, etc
Thank you and rock on
Looking at the list there, they all pretty much occupy the same price bracket, except the Silverstar which I think is a more entry-level kit.

In terms of woods, you're correct with your descriptions, except Maple isn't really 'highest quality', although it is probably the most commonly used.

I can recommend from those the Mapex Meridian Birch, I bought one around 3 years ago and it hasn't let me down since. Holds tuning well, and has a nice round sound. Snare could be better, its OK for lighter music but a bit too quiet if you need oomph.

Only other one I've played is the Vision Birch (it was between that and the Mapex over which I'd buy), they really were very similar but went for the Mapex because it was the same price for a 6-piece as the Pearl was for a 5-piece. Having more drums and therefore more options could also be useful if you're looking at renting out your studio with you kit in, since it gives the drummer coming in more options.

Also, don't rule out the Crush kits. They've only recently appeared on the scene, but they seem to be making good kits at good prices, and already have a lot of people swearing by them. Your best bet is to just try out as much as possible, hopefully one kit will stand out for one reason or another
The reason i was considering the silverstar was the more drums=more versatility, because i can get a 6 piece kit and an extra tom for the same price as some of the others
And the Mapex was probably my top choice, as its the cheapest of all of them, a 6 piece, and just as good in quality.
And the reason im iffy on Crush is because they just came out, and I havent heard too much about them. Also, with like Pearl and Tama, people have 30 or 40 year old kits that havent quit, so you know the company is doing something right. Crush has only been around for 3 or 4 years, so you cant say with the same certainty as Pearl or Tama that they arent gonna break down in a few years (can drums break down? i mean anything can right?)
Last edited by teleobrien at Jun 26, 2014,
That's a good point actually, I've never thought about the reliability issue like that.

Drums definitely can break down, whether its just the hardware gives in and starts collapsing on you, so you have to buy new stands etc. (that reminds me, Pearl tom mounting is pretty bad, they're very limiting and also mean you have a massive hole drilled through your rack toms, mounting systems that keep the whole shell (like Mapex's) are much better IMO).

Bigger problems are with the shells warping, but that's generally avoidable if you keep your drums somewhere thats fairly stable temperature-wise (i.e. anywhere but a garage or shed), or if you get (very) unlucky and chip a bearing edge. You can still use the drums if either of these things happen, but they won't sound as good and repairs will be expensive, if not having to buy a new kit.

But yeah, Pearl make good shells and have good quality control, their hardware is generally good except the dumb tom mounts. Tama are dependable, but no-one seems to own or stock them round here so I haven't been able to play any, although I know the hardware is good. I've had no problems with the shells or hardware with my Mapex, stands have never collapsed on me, the pedals are solid too
You can buy a DW for $1000 if you go used... Just sayin'. I'd suggest you go used, either way - you can afford a pro-level kit for that much money (Tama Starclassic B/B, Yamaha Oak Custom, DW Performance & smaller Collectors kits, Ludwig Classics, etc.), but if that's not an option...

Off that list, the Mapex Meridian would be at the top of my list. Mapex is putting out some excellent drums recently, at great prices.

I've never really been too impressed with the Gretsch Catalina series. I know a lot of guys love them, but they've always sounded fairly average to me.

Those Tamas are pretty decent for the price, but compared to the Mapex, they're nothing spectacular, unless you can find a great deal - same with the Pearl, I find those to sound pretty meh.

I've always had good luck with PDP, but I've never tried that particular model. I used to own a CX kit that was phenomenal and every bit as nice sounding as my friend's DW Performance that cost 4 times the price.

The only Crush drum set I'd buy is an acrylic one, because they're cheap. They're not really known for having the best quality control, and I'd probably steer clear on their cheaper kits.

What cymbals are you using? TBH - a lower quality kit can be tuned to sound great, but cheap cymbals will always sound cheap.
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As of now im using 100% shit cymbals that sound like trash cans, however for my birthday in a few weeks im getting a pair of New Beats and some crashs/rides. The drummer also has his own fairly good Wuhan set.
What do you guys think of the Mapex Armory Studioease? 200$ more, Maple/Birch ply shells, 6 Piece, Steel Snare, and Toms that mount from stands (no holes in the toms or bass drum), and Lacquered finish (not wrapped)
One more thing, i hope i dont sound too stupid, but does a shell pack come with tom mounts or am i gonna have to buy them? I have cymbal stands, but buying clamps and mounts would put a dent in my current budget
I like the look of the Armoury, definitely consider it especially if they've still got the snare improvement program (basically allowing you to pick a different snare from the stock one, the Exterminator looks tasty). I personally like toms that mount from cymbal stands, gives you more placement options as well as meaning the bass drum won't get damaged in the long run.

Technically a shellpack should just be the drums themselves, with no hardware, but it does depend, sometimes they include tom arms etc, sometimes not.
I believe they do have the trade out... my buddy already has a quality steel snare so i dont need one. On musicians friend it says
Maple/Birch 6-Ply 7.2mm Shell
SONIClear™ Bearing Edge
SONIClear™ Tom Suspension
Saturn IV style lug
SONIClear™ Floor Tom Legs
Armory Tomahawk Snare Drum
Mounted tom: 10 x 7 and 12 x 8"
Floor toms: 14 x 12" and 16 x 14"
Kick: 22 x 18"
So it seems like itd come with the Tom Suspension. I tried to find some unboxing videos, but they dont exist so i cant be sure.
And Ive heard "virgin" (finally learning some drum lingo" bass drums sound better, although we usually prefer open/ported bass and toms, so it wouldnt make a difference
Ive done some more looking, and I found the Mapex Mars. It was announced at NAMM this year, and has all those Soni Clear things theyre marketing on the new Armory and Saturns. Looking at the specs its almost exactly the same as the Meridian Birch, but 100$ cheaper (and better colors imo).
My problem now is that on ebay I can get the shell pack with hardware for 730$.
Thats only 130$ for hardware. The page says its a LUDWIG 400 Series Hardware Pack, which is 200 (plus a Mapex Shirt and some shitty sticks). Is this shop just being generous or should I look out?
Last edited by teleobrien at Jul 20, 2014,
Oh yeah, the new Mars does seem to just be an updated Meridian Birch. Which shellpack is it? I really like the look of the Big Beat/Rock 24 or whatever its called (the 4-piece with the 24" bass drum) and the crossover (1 up 2 down config).

The 400 Series hardware looks like its fairly entry-level, since there is only one height adjustment on the cymbal stands, and the boom arm for the booms doesn't looks a little short. But it seems to get pretty favourable reviews, and most modern hardware is pretty durable and substantial now so it should definitely be enough to get started on