Which Drum Set Brands to AvoidPosted by Ben Heckler
So, perhaps we are looking for our first or second drum kit and we want to know which brands to avoid. We see a good deal offer and we are wondering if it is worth giving it a shot or should we save our pennies for a nicer drum set?
Cheap drum sets are tempting but are they really worth it? Let's read on and highlight some cheaper brands the market and see if they are worth our money or not.
The point of this article is not to tell you to never buy from these companies, rather it is to explain what you will be getting from these kits and the values you should hold when you are investing in your first drum kit.
Millennium drum kits
Millenium drums are incredibly tempting for their unbelievable price. When we start our search for drum sets, we often are looking solely at the price.
It is true that if a cheap drum set is what you want, a cheap drum set is what you will get—in both good and bad senses. Their wood tends to be incredibly cheap and their hardware is bulky and ugly looking. The drums just don't sound that good.
There are ways to make this kit (and all cheap drum kits) sound better, which is to replace the heads and work on tuning. This is a cheap way to make a mediocre kit sound decent.
Jinbao drum kit
Like Millenium, this drumkit is a working drum kit. But the wood and style are so bad that they are hard to recommend.
This company makes drum accessories such as high hat stands and bass drum pedals which all things considered aren't a bad deal for the price. If you want to save some money buying a drum throne (the seat), by all means, buy from this company.
But your drum set is a sacred item as you will see, and these machine pressed cheaply made kits just sound terrible and aren't worth the money.
Mapex standard kit
Unlike the two previous companies, Mapex does make high-end drum kits that are respectable and of quality. Even in their high-end drum sets, I'm not too big a fan of the Mapex sound—but this is just personal preference.
My gripe is with the cheaply made, lifeless kit that they are selling for 'cheap'. The standard kit is just barely above the price of the previous brands we've mentioned and not that much of a bump up in quality. Style-wise, it is on the same level as the Jinbao or Millenium—that is, remarkably dull.
Electronic drum sets: upsides and downsides
Electronic drum sets are often an attractive choice for those who are just beginning to play the drums. They are quiet, you can play them in an apartment, and at a gig, they can provide control over the sound.
They also don't require tuning the drums, changing heads or other types of drum maintenance. This can provide beginners with a simple kit to polish their drum fills, play along to music and develop their coordination with great built-in sounds.
Another good thing about these kits is that they can be recorded very easily. There is no need to invest in tons of drum mics and recording gear, you can simply plug the kit directly into a recorder or record it out of a loudspeaker.
However, a couple of things against the electronic kits should be mentioned. Depending on what kind of kit you get (especially the cheaper kits), they do not allow all the types of sounds that can be made with a real drum kit. Basic rimshots or cross-sticks are not necessarily included on many of the cheaper electronic drums.
These kits also do not mimic the feel of a real drum set. You may notice a drastic change from an electronic kit to an acoustic kit, which if you are practicing primarily on an electronic kit, may take some time to get used to.
Again, the cheaper the kit you get, the more you will notice the difference. Millenium, Behringer, and Yamaha all make very cheap kits that will give you nothing more than a very basic electronic kit.
So what should I buy?
Choosing the right drum set is an important element to look into if you wish to sharpen your skills as a musician. If you are desperate and don't have a lot of money, feel free to buy a cheaper kit and replace the heads and working on your tuning skills in order for it to sound good (Tama and Sonar make cheaper kits that sound better than the ones listed in my opinion).
If you are wanting to go the electronic drum route you can always go for a cheaper kit, but be aware of what you are buying. Many of these cheaper kits do not really simulate what it is like to play drums—if you must get one of these be sure to supplement them with time on a real drum set.
If you are interested in shelling out for a fancier electronic kit Roland makes very good ones. I would also recommend checking out using Sunhouse drum triggers on real drums with mesh heads. You can then use low volume cymbals to accompany the kit. Please visit the Jam Addict Instagram if you would like to see this latter option in action.
Best of luck in choosing your drumset!
Ben Heckler is a multi-instrumentalist and musician from Portland, Oregon. Currently Ben lives in Barcelona where he teaches drum lessons, writes and records original music for his band Sea Fuzz as well as playing drums for one of the biggest Beatles tribute bands in Europe, The Flaming Shakers.
Ben is constantly creating and composing various types of music, video, and artwork for a multitude of projects that come his way. He hopes to use his platforms to share, help and inspire others to create in their own ways.