7 Best Drum Sets for Rock & Metal – Kits for Heavy Hitting 

Updated on by Brett Clur | Please note that there may be affiliate links on this page.

Heavy music and drums go hand-in-hand. Rock and metal are driven by distorted guitars, powerful vocals, and driving drums. They’re styles of music that need hard hitting with lots of energy.

When it comes to being a rock and metal drummer, you’re going to need a kit that can take a beating. So, you should look for durability as well as a great sound.

These are some of the best drum kits for rock and metal.

Best Drum Kits for Rock & Metal - Huge Sound

Gretsch has been putting out high quality drum kits for a long time, with a lot of rock drummers in the 80s playing on them. More recently, rock drummers such as Taylor Hawkins from The Foo Fighters have been endorsing them.

The Catalina Maple is a 7-piece shell pack that consists of a 14” snare drum, 8”, 10” and 12” rack toms, 14” and 16” floor toms, and a 22” kick drum.

The shells are made from maple wood which gives them a musical tone that is dynamically responsive. The toms have a wide range of sounds, with the 8” sounding punchy and loud and the 16” having a deep thud.

The 22” kick drum sounds huge and is responsive to articulate playing. This makes it work very well with a double pedal. The tone is warm and open, great for a full rock sound. You’d have to muffle it a bit to get a tight sound for metal.

The snares on the snare drum rest in a very shallow bed, causing sympathetic snare buzz when hitting the toms. This can be fixed with some extremely fine tuning. However, it’s not the easiest thing to do.

Overall, the Catalina Maple is an affordable shell pack that provides a great sound with a lot of drum setup options.

  • Wide range of tones
  • Kick drum sounds huge
  • Affordable
  • A lot of sympathetic snare buzz

The Stage Custom is a 5-piece shell pack that includes a 14” snare, 10” and 12 “ rack toms, a 16” floor tom, and a 22” kick drum. The shells are made from birch wood, giving the drums a punchy accented tone.

The toms are resonant and the kick drum is pretty beefy. These drums are some of the best sounding drums in their price range. This has made the Stage Custom one of Yamaha’s best selling drum kits.

The snare drum has 10 lugs, something that isn’t very common in cheaper snares. This adds to the overall tuning range of the kit. It can be tuned low to high. However, it will sound best when tuned somewhere in the middle. The drums will produce a solid medium tone which is great for rock and metal.

A standout feature of this kit is the mounting system used for the toms. Yamaha’s Y.E.S.S. mounting system makes it easy to position rack toms comfortably. It also looks really good.

The stock drumheads on this kit aren’t great, so you’ll need to swap those out with some durable ones.

  • Good for large venues
  • Great sound for an affordable price
  • E.S.S. tom mounting system
  • Stock drumheads aren’t great

The Mapex Saturn is a 4 piece shell pack that comes with 10” and 12” rack toms, a 16” floor tom, and a 22” kick drum. It’s one of Mapex’s intermediate kits, having high build quality and a big sound.

The shells are made from a mixture of maple and walnut woods. The maple gives the drums projection while the walnut gives them resonance. The mixture of woods makes this kit a great option for both live gigging and studio recording.

The drums have Mapex’s SONIClear hardware, giving the kit a seriously high quality build. The drums are easy to tune and will stay in tune for a long time.

The Mapex Saturn kit is a great option for rock and metal thanks to the thundering tone from the toms and kick drum.

Due to the high build quality, this 4-piece shell pack is quite pricey. However, it comes with some great stock drumheads, making the price a bit more worth it. It doesn’t come with a snare, meaning you’ll have to buy one separately.

  • High build quality
  • Great for live and studio
  • Great stock drumheads
  • Doesn’t include snare drum

The DW Design Series is the most affordable kit from DW, a company known for its high quality drum construction. One of the coolest things about the Design Series is that it has an Acrylic version. Acrylic drums are louder than wooden drums, making them great for rock and metal.

This kit comes as a shell pack which includes a 14” snare, 10” and 12” rack toms, a 16” floor tom, and a 22” kick drum.

The acrylic shells have a surprisingly warm tone that is loud and powerful. They sound bright and are perfect for cutting through a mix of heavy instruments. The projection of the snare drum is particularly impressive, making it a great snare for heavy hitters.

The benefit of Acrylic drums is their aesthetic look. This kit has see-through shells that look seriously cool on a stage with lights pointing at it. The one downside is that the resonant head of the kick drum isn’t see-through.

Overall, the Design Series with Acrylic shells is a loud and powerful drum kit that is going to look fantastic on stage with all those stunning lighting.

  • Acrylic shells are loud and powerful
  • Snare projects really well
  • Looks great
  • Kick drum resonant head isn’t see-through

Tama drums are used by a lot of rock and metal drummers. Mike Portnoy, Lars Ulrich, and Kenny Arnoff have been using Tama kits for years. Their drums are made in a way that suits heavy playing very well. The Superstar Classic is one of their affordable intermediate drum kits.

It comes as a shell pack which includes a 14” snare, 8”, 10”, and 12” rack toms, 14” and 16” floor toms, and a 22” kick drum.

The shells are made from a thin maple wood that gives the drums a very clean and powerful sound. The rack toms have a rich sound while the floor toms are low and beefy. The kick drum has a lot of low-end, causing the crowd to feel it every time you play it.

The size of this drum kit caters well to playing metal. The number of toms helps with playing intricate drum fills that are fast and full of different tones. The depth of the toms gives them a lot of sustain which is great for a big rock sound.

This kit comes in at a great price considering how much it offers.

  • Great price
  • Easy to tune
  • Great size for metal
  • Stock drumheads aren’t great

The Session Studio Select is a drum kit from Pearl that is designed to produce a pro-level sound that is great for recording in a studio. That controlled sound works pretty well for live gigs as well though.

The kit comes as a shell pack that includes 10” and 12” rack toms, 14” and 16” floor toms, and a 22” kick drum.

The shells are made from a mixture of birch and mahogany. The birch gives the drums a solid tone that cuts through when you hit them, while the mahogany provides a lot of warmth. The controlled tone is what makes this kit such a great studio recording option.

The kit has Pearl’s famous sturdy hardware that keeps it together, making it a great kit for heavy hitters. The tom mounts are solid, meaning the rack toms won’t wobble no matter how hard you hit them.

The one downside of this shell pack is that it doesn’t come with a snare. You’ll need to buy the Pearl Session Studio Select snare drum separately.

  • Great for studio environments
  • Solid hardware quality
  • Doesn’t include snare drum

The PDP Concept Maple is one of those drum kits that is famous for being an affordable high quality product. It has a lot of design features in common with DW that boost its overall build quality, yet it is highly accessible to beginners and pro drummers.

I’ve put the 7-piece option on this list, seeing how it’s better to have more drums when it comes to metal. The shell pack includes a 14” snare, 8”, 10” and 12” rack toms, 14” and 16” floor toms, and a 22” kick drum.

The shells are made from maple, giving the drums a warm tone that is quick and punchy. The toms have a lot of projection with a short sustain, making them ideal for fast metal drum fills. The kick drum has a deep thud and is responsive to fast playing.

The snare drum is versatile, sounding great when tuned low or high. It has DW’s MAG throw-off system which is always a great feature on DW’s drum kits.

Overall, this is a great drum kit for metal. The large size along with the punchy tone makes it fit the style almost perfectly in my opinion.

  • Punchy toms
  • Affordable
  • Great for metal
  • Stock drumheads aren’t great

Drum Heads

The durability and sound of a drum kit largely depend on the type of drum heads that it has. There are 2 main types of drum heads: single-ply and double-ply. Single-ply heads are thinner, produce an open sound, and bring out a lot of overtones from a drum.

Double-ply heads are thicker, have a controlled sound, and cut out many of the overtones from a drum. Moreover, they are also more durable than single-ply heads, making them a better option if you’re going to be hitting the drums hard. 

It’s a general rule that double-ply heads are great for rock and metal. This isn’t always the case though.

Sometimes, a rock drummer will want a big open sound from the toms, meaning a single-ply head would be a better choice. Those heads won’t last very long if the drummer is a heavy hitter, though.

Drum Kit Size

This is largely dependent on your preferences as a drummer. However, metal drumming does require a bigger drum kit. A lot of drum fills in metal will match the guitar riffs, meaning you’ll need to have many toms with differing tones.

You’ll notice that most famous metal drummers have massive kits. Think of Mike Mangini and Lars Ulrich.

A lot of metal drummers choose to have 2 kick drums. No drum kit comes with 2 kick drums, meaning you’ll have to buy a second kick drum separately. If you don’t have space for that, then just use a double kick pedal. It will be easier to have a double pedal if you gig a lot. No one wants to carry 2 kick drums around.

Rock doesn’t need as many drums. Many rock drummers just play with a 4-piece setup. You’re good to go with any kit size as long as the drums are sounding loud and powerful!

Conclusion

There’s no better feeling than smashing on some drums. Rock and metal are some of the most fun styles of music to play on your kit. They require stamina, energy and a durable drum kit to bash on.

If you’re a heavy hitter, then you’re going to need one of the kits from this list. Pair it up with some solid hardware and cymbals and you’ll be ready to play any rock or metal gig.

Each drum kit has a unique quality that makes it great. It’s up to you to choose one that will best reflect your playing style!

Brett Clur

About Brett Clur

Brett has been playing drums for 18+ years. He's a huge drumming gear enthusiast and also teaches drumming to his students. He's most active on Instagram (@brettclurdrums), where he regularly uploads drumming videos.

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