Thinking about drums in church brings me back to the days when a lot of people were weary of it and thought that it was turning worship music into a rock show. Nowadays, drums in church have become a vital aspect and are an important tool for building energy in the music. Look how far we’ve come!
The type of music that you hear in church will differ from congregation to congregation. You have Christian Contemporary music, Gospel music, and then somewhere in between. I’ve put together a list of the best drum sets for church to cover all the different styles. Let’s get to it.
Best Church Drum Kits - Top Acoustic Sets
The Catalina Club Jazz is a 4-piece drum kit that includes a 14” snare drum, a 12” rack tom, a 14” floor tom, and a 20” kick drum. The name tells you that this kit is good for jazz, but it’s also great for small and intimate venues like local churches.
The shells are made of mahogany wood which gives the drums a lot of bottom end. This kit sounds huge for its size, meaning it will fit just fine in a mix of keyboards, guitars, and vocals.
The snare drum sounds great when tuned low and loose, allowing you to get that typical fat snare sound that you hear in a lot of Christian Contemporary music. The kick drum is quite boomy and will fill up a small church venue.
The stock drumheads that come with this kit aren’t extraordinary. They’re also single ply. To fit well in a church setting, you’ll need to replace the heads with some thick double-ply heads which will control the tone of the drums a bit more.
The Yamaha Stage Custom is one of Yamaha’s best selling drum kits. It has a professional sound at an affordable price. Its shell pack is kitted out with a 14” snare, 10” and 12” rack toms, a 16” floor tom and a 22” kick drum.
The shells are made from birch wood which gives the drums sharpness and punch. The rack toms are very resonant while the floor tom has a good thud to it. The 22” kick has a big sound that is very present.
Overall, the drums sound quite open and will work very well in a large church venue. You won’t find a better sounding drum kit at this price point.
The one downside to this kit is the snare drum. It’s not bad, but it doesn’t have the same great sound quality as the rest of the drums.
The AQ2 Bop is part of Sonor’s line of compact drum kits that are designed for easy portability. Its shell pack consists of a 14” snare, 12” rack tom, 14” floor tom, and 18” kick drum.
The shells are made from maple which gives them a focused tone that is very responsive. This means that this kit works well for soft dynamics as well as loud accents.
It has quite a wide tuning range, sounding the best when tuned somewhere in the middle.
The snare drum sounds really good, having a tight crack and distinct ghost notes. A high quality snare drum isn’t common in compact drum kits.
The AQ2 series of drum kits have really high build quality, with their hardware on the drums being very sleek and solid.
The portability of the AQ2 Bop makes it a great option for church drummers that move around. If you’re playing church music in different venues constantly, you’re going to need a kit that is easy to travel with.
The PDP Concept Maple kit is a high quality drum kit offered by DW at a very affordable price. Equipped with a 14” snare, 10” and 12” rack toms, a 16” floor tom and a 22” kick drum, its shells are made from maple wood that gives the drums a warm and balanced tone.
The toms are full of projection and the kick has a sharp punch and deep thud to it. The pitches between each tom make this kit great for playing intricate drum fills.
This kit works well in high energy Gospel settings. The snare can be tuned high and cracking while the drums respond well to ‘Gospel Chops’. The overall sound is very loud and open, with the sustain of the drums cutting quite short after they’re played.
The snare has DW’s MAG throw-off system, which makes it really quick to turn the snare on and off.
You’ll find that the PDP Concept Maple is used in a lot of Gospel churches around America. It’s affordable and it sounds fantastic.
Drummers have been using Pearl drum kits in churches for years now. A lot of their drums provide that warm and open tone that suits houses of worship very well.
The Pearl Decade Maple follows up on that reputation. You will find a 14” snare, 10” and 12” rack toms, a 16” floor tom and a 22” kick drum in this shell pack.
The shells are made from maple wood that gives the drums a warm tone that is balanced and responsive. The toms sing while the snare drum cracks and the kick drum thuds.
This drum kit could work well in both smaller and bigger venues. The drums respond well to dynamics, so the sound wouldn’t be overwhelming in a small venue. The drums would also be able to open up when played harder in a bigger venue.
The one downside to this kit is that the rack toms are quite difficult to position comfortably.
Taking Venue into Consideration
The type of kit you get for your church greatly depends on the surroundings it’s going to be placed in. If you’re going to be playing in a large church, a louder kit would be a better option to go with. Drum shells that are deeper are usually louder, so pay attention to the depth of each drum the set comes with.
Shallower drum shells will produce softer tones and be more suitable for small venues. Some church services are small with only twenty to fifty people in the congregation. That would be the ideal venue to use a softer kit.
Different Types of Church Music
Christian Contemporary Music (CCM) and Gospel are the two main types of music you’ll hear in a church. They’re very different to each other, meaning your choice of drum kit will be different as well. CCM is fairly similar to pop or light rock, meaning your kit will need to suit those styles as well.
Drums in CCM albums will typically sound large and heavy. The snare drum will be tuned low while the toms sing with deep authority.
Gospel music is rooted in fusion and jazz. If the band is playing Gospel music in a church, the atmosphere will be full of high energy and complex instrument parts. The musicians that play in Gospel churches are always high-level players.
When choosing a kit for your church, you need to decide which one of these styles you need to get a kit for. Drum kits in Gospel churches need to have powerful toms and a tightly tuned snare drum. The sustain on the drums will need to be shorter than drums used for churches that play Christian Contemporary Music.
Drums in Gospel settings need to have a wide tuning range. Gospel drummers often play intricate linear fills that need a wide array of voices. If the toms are tuned too low, the fills will sound muddy and unclear. So, the kit needs to be tuned high at the rack toms and low at the floor toms.
Christian Contemporary Music is big and heavy, so the drums need to be tuned low. A booming kick drum will sound a lot better than a tight one in many songs. Tom builds that link bridges and choruses will also be more effective when the drums are tuned lower. If the drums are tuned too high, a tom build will lose its impact.
The size of the kit links back to the type of venue you’re in. If you’re playing drums in a huge arena, you’ll need the 22-inch kick drum. If you’re playing at a small home church, a 16-inch kick drum will get the job done perfectly well.
The tuning of the drums is more important than the size. Some drums can be tuned surprisingly low, even though the shells are small. The Sonor AQ2 Bop is a great example of this. It will hold its own in a larger venue. It just won’t be the most ideal option.
Drum kits generally live in a church until they’re on the verge of breaking. This means that you’re going to need to get a durable kit for your church that is going to last a really long time.
It will also have several different drummers play on it with some of them hitting harder than others. Once you have the kit, you need to take care of it by changing the drumheads when they wear out.
All the drum kits on the above list are shell packs. You’re going to need a set of hardware and some cymbals to go along with them. I've listed some of the best hardware packs here. I've also written about some of the best hi-hats and crash cymbals.
Musicians who play in church need to be very sensitive and aware of what’s happening with the congregation. So you should have an instrument that helps you do that.