Our list of the best drum sets under $1000 will help you choose a high-quality kit that fits both your needs and your budget!
By Contributing Author Dango
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When I was growing up, the drum market was a lot more limited. Because of that, there was a huge gap between entry-level drums and pro-level drums.
These days, every major brand has some decent beginner options and especially impressive mid-level stuff.
Every big drum company makes great drums at the pro-level, but what’s been so interesting to see over time is how these companies have competed with each other to offer pro-level features on mid-level kits.
This has changed the market, giving buyers many quality kit options at an affordable price point.
5 Best Drum Kits Under $1000
Today we’re going to take a look at some of the best kits under $1,000, and because we’re going for the best quality, I am purposely not including kits that come with hardware or cymbals. The options on my list are all shell packs.
The reason for this is because all-inclusive kits fall in the beginner category and realistically shouldn’t be compared to shell packs.
Specifically, we are looking at mid-level kits that are really gig ready. These kits all sound good under a mic, and are well-built and made for playing out in clubs or on outdoor stages.
These are great kits for the mid-level to semi-pro players, such as guys and girls who are filming social media content, playing bars, clubs, and churches, and who simply need better sound quality than beginner drums.
For consistency, we will also be looking at 5-piece kits, as that is the general standard most go by, especially when they’re a student.
I most often play on a 4-piece, but I wouldn’t limit my students to that because I want them to discover what setup and configuration works best for their playing.
Pearl Decade Maple
- 6-ply/5.4mm 100% Maple SST shell
- Gloss lacquer finish
- Matching Maple snare drum
The Decade Maple kit is an 6-ply all maple shell, as the name would imply.
This series is a big brother to the Export series, but still budget-friendly before stepping up to the Session series.
The kit features some pro level hardware, including the opi lock mounting system, and some beautiful lacquer finishes. It includes a matching maple snare in 5×14.
It’s offered in 4 configurations, but the 5-piece setup is either a 20 or 22 kick, and a 14 or 16 floor tom. Both have a 10 & 12 rack and all have the shallow snare.
This is a great sounding kit that’s still very cost effective due to some limitations on sizes, colors, and hardware.
This kit is a noticeable step up from the Export, in my opinion. You can read my full Pearl Export review to see how they compare.
Gretsch Catalina Maple
- 16x20" Bass Drum, 7x10" & 8x12" Rack Toms, 14x14" Floor Tom, 5.5x14" Snare Drum
- Gretsch-formula 7-ply maple shells, round Catalina Maple badge & Remo drumheads
- 2.3mm triple-flanged hoops, 30-degree bearing edge
Gretsch has been very competitive in recent years with the student market, and the Catalina Series has become extremely popular.
The top of this line is the Catalina Maple, which falls just below the Renown Series.
Catalina Maple features a 7-ply maple shell and has similar features to the Pearl Decade Maple.
It is offered in 5 finishes and 4 configurations. Both Catalina 5-piece setups are the same sizes as Pearl offers.
This is a very well built kit also, and I’d say I probably slightly prefer the sound of this one over the Pearl Decade.
Gretsch is able to keep costs down on this kit with their limited sizes and finishes, and slightly cheaper hardware than their pro lines.
Basically all of these kits we’re checking out are solid, but just don’t have as many bells and whistles, or as many options. The finishes aren’t bad, they’re just not as striking as the higher end lines, but that’s part of what makes these kits accessible.
Tama Superstar Classic
Tama has changed their lines a lot over the years, and it’s a little bit confusing in my opinion.
The Superstar line is just below their SLP series and seems on par with all the other kits we’re checking out. They say these drums are made of all-maple shells, but then on their site they list the shells as maple and pine.
They offer 13 finishes which is by far the most options of any of these companies. It’s confusing to figure out all the configurations and why they are offered differently with different finishes.
The hardware looks more retro like 80’s Tama, as well as the Superstar badge.
These may appeal more to rock players just based on their look, as they remind me of all the metal and thrash bands who made Tama so famous.
This is still a solid kit and sounds great. If you dig Tama then you may love it. I personally think the hardware doesn’t look as nice on this kit and the Pearl.
Yamaha Stage Custom Birch
- Included Drums: 20x17 kick, 10x7 rack tom, 12x8 rack tom, 14x13 floor tom, 14x5.5 snare
- Included Hardware: TH-945B 3-hole receiver with (2) YESS tom mounts, (3) floor tom legs
- 100% birch drum shells with air seal system
This Yamaha kit stands out a bit as an oddball in the lineup because it features birch shells instead of maple. It’s also priced a little bit lower, making it more comparable to a Pearl Export kit.
Birch is pretty famous with Yamaha though, as the legendary Recording Custom series is all birch as well.
The Stage Custom even looks like a baby version of their top lines with similar ball mount and clamp tom holders and their YESS suspension system.
Similar to the other kits, it comes in 5-piece setup with the 22/20 kick option, and the 10/12/14, or 10/12/16 toms. Both feature the shallow 14×5.5 snare.
It’s available in 5 finishes which are all basic but look nice. Birch toms always hold a special place in my heart and that’s what keeps this kit on the list, even though it’s not as popular as maple.
PDP Concept Maple Exotic
- 7-Ply European Maple Tom and Kick Shells & 10-Ply European Maple Snare Shell
- True Pitch Tension Rods
- Suspension Tom Mounts
PDP was once known as just an entry-level line of drums, but now they are making drums that rival some pro-level stuff.
The Concept Maple line is their current offering that features a lot of great options, like 7-ply all European maple shells. However, this line does share similar limitations with all these other companies.
PDP is DW’s smaller brother and this line falls just below the DW Design Series. The 5-piece setup is a 22, 10, 12, 16 with a matching 14×5.5 snare.
It’s offered in 4 configurations and 5 wrap finishes. Their normal Concept Maple isn’t offered in any lacquer finishes but the Exotic series is. The Exotic series features a walnut or mahogany veneer in a beautiful wood grain lacquer finish.
The toms feature the STM tom mounts for suspension and sustain.
When I was coming up, none of the lower end kits featured this. Now every single one of these kits suspends the toms and doesn’t have an arm go right into the shell.
PDP kits are also super easy to tune due to their very high standards of consistency in production. You can read my full PDP Concept Maple review to learn more about it.
Things to Consider When Buying a Drum Set on a Budget
If you’re looking into buying a new kit, there are a couple of things to consider to make the choice easier for you.
Is this Your First Kit or an Upgrade?
If by chance this is your first kit, then the reality is that any of these choices will be a great kit that would work well for you.
But most likely, if you’re buying a kit at this price level, it’s probably not your first kit.
You may be upgrading from your entry-level First Act kit, or the beginner setup you may be on.
Hopefully you already have hardware and cymbals, but if not, all of these companies offer hardware shell packs for reasonable prices, some can even be added onto the kit through Amazon or Sweetwater.
If you have been gigging already then look at the options and see what stands out to you.
- As far as appearance goes, I would probably say the Gretsch looks the best.
- As far as the hardware, they are all solid, but I would say the PDP and the Pearl seem the toughest and most durable.
- If you’re looking for a more unique sound, the Yamaha birch kit may appeal to you versus all the maple kits.
Because most pro kits are all maple, I would lean towards one of those personally.
How are You Using Your Kit?
If you are gigging outdoors or traveling at all, setting up and tearing down often, the finish may matter to you.
If you are out gigging, I would definitely encourage you to get a wrap finish because it will hold up better and not scratch as much. It will also do better under sunlight, rain, or moisture.
Even with my super high-end DW kits that I tour with, I always get a wrap to avoid damage.
There’s always a chance a stage hand bumps its, drops it, and scratches the finish. Sound guys also drop cables on your kick drum, rain sometimes comes down mid set during festivals, and 110 degree temperatures can really mess up some nice finishes also.
With that said, lacquer finishes are beautiful and look great on camera.So if your kit stays home, that’s the way to go.
Upgrading the Snare
My only real hangup with each of these budget-friendly setups is the shallow snare. It’s almost obsolete in today’s musical styles, at least for what most of us are using.
Personally, I would still want a 6.5×14 metal snare. I’m surprised none of these kits come with a metal snare, which would be more versatile, in my opinion.
Our Top Picks for the Best Drum Sets Under a Grand
After reviewing all of these kits, I honestly don’t think there is a bad choice here. All of them sound good and will do a good job.
If your budget is strictly under $1K, you can’t go wrong with any of the options in this lineup. While the kits may look a bit cheap due to their simplicity, they all sound good. And that’s the most important thing.
I have personally played every one of these kits, and I can confidently say that they will all do a good job.
My top choice is the Gretsch Catalina Maple, followed by the PDP Concept Maple.
If I was giving you my professional opinion on mid-level kits, then I would recommend raising your budget to $1500 if at all possible. Then, you can get something that really knocks it out of the park and will last for a long time.
To go up to the DW Design Series, the Pearl Session Studio, the Gretsch Renown, Tama SLP, or the Yamaha Tour Custom would put you at the beginning of the pro lines.
If you aren’t able to swing the higher price tag, I totally understand. In that case, stick with one of these options under $1000. You’ll still be playing on a solid kit that sounds great. Plus, you can always upgrade later on down the road. Good luck!