Drum kits generally fall under - entry-level, mid-range, and high-end.
Although high-end kits are great, there are plenty of decent mid-tier drum kits under $1000. Most drum companies design kits in this range so that drummers have a good instrument to perform with that doesn’t cost too much.
Mid-tier kits are going to get the job done. If they have decent drumheads and are tuned well, they can sound amazing. In this article, we’re going to look at some of the best options on the market to help you make a calculated decision.
Best Drum Sets Under $1000 - Quality Acoustic Kits
The Yamaha Stage Custom is one of Yamaha’s most popular kits. This is thanks to the low price point and high build quality. The shells are made from a birch wood that gives them sharpness and punch.
The shell pack comes with a 14” snare, 10” and 12” rack toms, a 16” floor tom, and a 22” kick drum. The rack toms are highly resonant, meaning they have a wonderful singing tone that sounds great when tuned well. The floor tom is quite boomy with a lot of attack.
It has a thick thud followed by a warm tone. The kick drum is very present within a mix, letting you feel it every time you play it. Overall, the toms and kick have a nice open tone that can be easily controlled.
The snare drum has a great rimshot crack and a wide tuning range, thanks to the 10 lugs around the head. It’s also very responsive to ghost notes. It doesn’t sound as good as the rest of the kit and pro players tend to swap it out with a better snare option. However, it gets the job done if you don’t swap it out.
The toms use Yamaha’s YESS mounting system, allowing you to position the rack toms very comfortably. When it comes to mounting rack toms on a kick drum, Yamaha has one of the best hardware systems. The toms are going to stay securely in place and not lose any of their tone.
The stock drumheads aren’t the best with this kit. You’ll need to replace them with higher quality heads to get the best sound possible.
The PDP Concept Maple is a bang for the buck kit produced by DW. They’ve taken a lot of their high production value and put it into an affordable drum kit. The PDP Concept Maple is an extremely popular drum kit for many reasons.
Included in this shell pack is a 14” snare, 10” and 12” rack toms, a 16” floor tom, and a 22” kick drum.
These drums have maple shells that give them a balanced sound. The toms are full of projection while the kick drum has a sharp punch. The overall sound between the toms is quite musical since there’s a pleasant difference in pitch as you go down the drums.
They sound best when tuned low to medium. The sound becomes quite harsh when tuned high.
The snare drum has a crisp tone that is highly responsive. You’ll be able to play intricate notes with each one of them being clearly heard. This snare has DW’s MAG throw off which allows you to turn the snares on extremely easily. This is great for times when you need to turn it off in the middle of songs.
The drum shells use DW’s True-Pitch tuning rods which are designed to make tuning the drums an easy process. This means that you’ll be able to get a great sound without knowing too much about tuning drums.
The stock drumheads that come with the kit aren’t great, meaning you’d need to replace these to get the best sound. It’s very common for companies to save costs on drumheads, giving the kits low-quality stock heads.
The Ludwig Element Evolution is arguably one of the best kits for beginners in terms of sound quality. It’s the only drum kit on this list that comes with a set of cymbals as well as hardware. It’s the perfect drum kit for someone looking to buy a whole setup for under $1000.
This kit is designed to be playable straight out of the box. The 10”, 12”, and 16” toms have 2-ply Remo drumheads that make them sound warm and controlled. The 14” snare is dynamically responsive with a tight crack.
The kick drum has a pre-muffled drumhead, giving it a thick sound that is quite boomy. The shells are made from poplar wood which is a cheaper wood that is used in most entry-level drum kits.
The cymbals included with this drum kit are the Zildjian I Series cymbals. They’re a rebranded version of the ZBTs that have higher build quality. They’re very bright and heavy, making a loud sound whenever they’re hit.
They don’t have much sustain and they’re not responsive to dynamics, meaning they’re not great cymbals for intermediate or pro drummers. They’re great for beginners, though.
A huge highlight of this kit is the included double-braced hardware. The cymbal stands have boom arms that allow for a lot of maneuverability. The kick pedal and drum throne are solid and can be used for a long time.
If you’re a first-time drum kit buyer, the Ludwig Element Evolution is a great choice for you. It provides everything you need as a beginner. It will work for intermediates and pros as well. You’d just need to swap out the cymbals with something better.
7-piece kits are a bit extreme for some drummers. However, for others, they have the perfect amount of drums. The Gretsch Catalina Maple 7-piece is an absolute bargain, giving you so many high-quality drums in $1000 range.
You get 8”, 10”, and 12” rack toms with this shell pack. They all have a beautiful tone that is warm and balanced thanks to the maple shells. The 14” and 16” floor toms sound very deep with a lot of attack. The 22” kick booms have a lot of resonance.
The great thing about having so many drums is that you get to have several different setup configurations. You could play a hip hop gig where you need bright sounds, having a 4-piece setup with the 8” rack tom and 14” floor tom. You could then play a metal gig using all the drums you have.
The snare drum with this kit has a classic vintage tone. The snares are very present, making rolls and ghost notes very noticeable.
These drums tune very easily and have a wide tuning range. They sound great when tuned high as well as low.
One negative thing about this kit is the tom mounts. They don’t make it easy to position your rack toms comfortably. There’s a trick to them that you need to get used to. It’s frustrating but it won’t bother you after some time.
Gretsch also sell a 5-piece version of this kit that is cheaper.
The Pearl Decade Maple is a kit that falls under the mid-tier category of drums. It’s a maple drum kit with singing toms and a booming kick drum. It’s full of musicality and has some great finish options.
It has a balanced and responsive tone that is warm and great for playing in large venues. The drums will resonate all the way to the back thanks to how loud this kit is.
It has a 14” snare, 10” and 12” rack toms, 16” floor tom, and a 22” kick drum. These drums are great for recording in the studio as well as playing live.
The Pearl tom mounts make positioning the rack toms quite a mission, especially if you like your toms at a sharp angle. This is an issue with all of Pearl’s lower-priced kits.
It tends to bother some people but not others. So, it just depends on how you like your toms. You may have to adapt and change your setup slightly with this kit.
If you need a solid mid-tier kit that looks great, the Pearl Decade is a good option for you.
6. Mapex Armory
Mapex drum kits are highly underrated. The Armory is one of their best kits, providing some seriously great qualities at an affordable price. This kit uses a lot of design features of the high-end Mapex kits, making it a great option for gigging and recording drummers.
The drums are made from a mixture of birch and maple wood. Mixing woods is one of the things that high-tier drum kits do. The maple gives the drums resonance and projection while the birch dries the overtones and gives the drums solid attack.
The 14” snare drum is bright and articulate, producing a solid punch that works well for aggressive styles. Unlike the rest of the drums, the snare drum is made from steel, giving it a loud and penetrating cut.
The shell pack comes with a 14” snare, 10” and 12” rack toms, a 16” floor tom, and a 22” kick drum. The high build quality of the shells allows them to have a wide tuning range, making this kit versatile for any style of music.
The rack toms mount to cymbal stands, meaning the kick drum doesn’t have any holes in it to mount toms. This is another common feature of high-end kits.
If you need a professional drum kit at an affordable price, the Mapex Armory is something to consider.
The standard DW Design Series kit is priced a fair bit higher than $1000. However, you can get this 3-piece version for less than that. Included with this shell pack is a 13” rack tom, 16” floor tom, and 22” kick drum.
This kit is for the gigging drummers that need a seriously great tone from their drums. The shells are made from a maple wood that punchy sound that is versatile. The 13” rack tom produces a huge sound along with the deep 16” floor tom. These drums are versatile, working well in almost any style of music.
My favorite aspect of this kit is the choice of finishes. You can choose between a black or red satin look as both of them look seriously cool.
This kit doesn’t come with a snare, meaning you’ll have to purchase one separately. It also doesn’t come with a rack tom mount. Purchasing a separate rack tom holder is the biggest frustration when it comes to Design Series drums.
Shell Packs vs Full Kits
When buying a drum kit, you should know the difference between a shell pack and a fully equipped kit. A shell pack only comes with drum shells. It doesn’t come with any hardware or cymbals. Some shell packs don’t even come with snare drums.
A fully equipped drum set will come with everything you need to start playing. This includes drums, hardware, and cymbals. Some of them even come with drum thrones and sticks. Packages like this are only offered with lower-tier kits. They’re aimed at beginner drummers.
The Ludwig Element Evolution is a good example of a fully equipped drum kit. It’s an intermediate kit that includes solid hardware and some Zildjian cymbals.
While shell packs are typically more expensive in the long run, you’re getting higher-quality drums that sound and feel better. You can get some great deals on shell packs. If you already have hardware and cymbals to use, getting a pro-quality kit like the DW Design Series won’t seem so expensive.
There are many drum kits on the market that have no long-term value. The cheaper the drum kit is, the more this statement is true. While all the kits we’ve looked at cost under $1000, they all have the potential to sound like pro drum sets.
You need to make sure that the drum set you’re buying can be improved on in different ways. The Yamaha Stage Custom isn’t the highest-quality kit Yamaha has to offer, but it will sound amazing if you equip it with good drumheads and use pro-level cymbals. I know many pro drummers who are perfectly happy with that kit.
It’s often better to save money on drums and then spend the saved cash on getting some high-quality cymbals.
Every popular drum brand has a great kit on offer that costs less than $1000. Let’s look at Tama, Pearl, PDP, and Gretsch. These companies offer us the Tama Superstar Classic, Pearl Decade Maple, PDP Concept Maple, and Gretsch Catalina Maple.
There are many more where those came from that are offered by different brands. If you’re loyal to one brand, you’ll undoubtedly be able to find a great kit that costs less than $1000. However, I’d suggest you explore everything on offer. Some kits have a unique edge over others. That edge may just change your loyalty!
Compact Drum Sets
One type of kit that has become increasingly popular over the past decade is the compact kit. The majority of compact drum sets on the market cost less than $1000, so they may be just what you’re looking for!
Compact sets are great for using as gigging drum sets. They’re small and easy to carry around everywhere. A lot more convenient than trying to fit a 7-piece kit into your car.
Their small size also makes them great for children. If you’re looking for an affordable drum set for your child, a compact kit would be a fantastic option.
As you can see from this list, each drum company produces a mid-tier drum kit that is highly affordable with great qualities. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. So, it’s up to you to choose which one will be best for your situation.
Pair the drum kit up with some quality cymbals and hardware and you’ll be good to go!