Best Compact Drum Sets

8 Best Compact Drum Sets of 2023 – Portable Travel Kits

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Are you a drummer looking for the best compact drum set that doesn’t sacrifice sound quality and is portable enough to take on the road? Search no more because we’ve got you covered with our comprehensive guide of top-notch travel-friendly kits! 

As a drummer, there can be nothing more exciting than being able to transport your kit easily wherever you go – whether it’s to a practice room, studio, or even on tour. 

In this article, let us help unravel some difficult choices by reviewing the best compact drum sets available. We’ll also highlight several features they have in common and features that make them particularly suited to touring professionals or beginners alike.

Best Compact Drum Sets at a Glance

What is the best portable travel drum set currently?

By a long shot, the Ludwig Breakbeats by Questlove is the best bang for your buck out of all the drum kits—plus the funky drummer from The Roots created it. It’s neck and neck with the Pearl Midtown in terms of price, but the quality is better.

Moving up the price ladder, next is the Sonor AQ2 and Yamaha Stage Custom Hip. I like Yamaha a little more, but Sonor makes incredible shells.

The Gretsch Brooklyn Micro is another attractive, albeit expensive, option. This one is a no-brainer if you’re a jazz drummer actively gigging.

Finally, there’s the DW Low Pro shell pack at the upper end of the market. It has an attractive look—a tiny kit with a big sound. The shells are beautiful, but they’re insanely shallow. With the right combinations of mics and tuning, you wouldn’t know it’s a portable drum kit.

Let’s dive into the best portable, travel-sized, compact drum kits available.

1) Ludwig Breakbeats by Questlove

Ludwig Breakbeats By Questlove
4.6

Configuration: 16”x14”, 10”x7”, 13”x13", 14”x5”

Shell: 7-ply poplar

Finishes: White Sparkle, Black Sparkle, Wine Red Sparkle, Azure Blue Sparkle, SaharaSwirl

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The Ludwig Breakbeats By Questlove 4-piece Shell Pack was designed by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson of The Roots and boasts a small footprint and a portable drum kit design. 

It features high-quality construction with hand-sanded 45-degree bearing edges on each shell. This is the ideal drum kit for smaller spaces, street shows, and compact gigs, as it offers a great affordable solution for various drumming styles. 

It sports 7-ply select hardwood shell construction to deliver that classic Ludwig tone, while the 45° bearing edges allow drumheads to rest flat, supplying optimal resonance. 

Upgraded tom brackets, bass drum spurs, and bass drum hoops promote reliable functionality, while the nylon travel bag set makes transport a breeze and doubles as a dampening set when needed. The pack includes a 7-inch x 10-inch mounted tom, 13-inch x 13-inch floor tom, 14-inch x 16-inch bass drum, and 5-inch x 14-inch snare drum.

Read my full review of the Ludwig Questlove Breakbeats.

2) Pearl Midtown Series

Pearl Midtown Series
4.5

Configuration: 16”x14”, 10”x7”, 13”x12”, 13"x5.5"

Shell: Maple/Mahogany

Finishes: Black Gold Sparkle, Black Cherry Glitter

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The Pearl Midtown Compact Drum Kit is a professional drum kit with a small footprint that takes up minimal space on stage or in a practice room. As a result, it’s perfect for on-the-go musicians and is fun to play, sure to inspire new creativity. 

What’s more, it is affordably priced, so you can use it as your main kit or leave one at the club. Its crisp attack and quick decay work great for jazz/R&B combos, while its tight, punchy grooves add character to hip-hop and fusion music. 

Its 6-ply poplar shells are engineered for big sound, and its glitter wraps look great under stage lights. The included drum riser gives you bigger bass, letting you use standard kick pedals, while the OptiLoc suspension system allows your high tom to resonate freely.

Gig bags are not included—Ludwig wins on that front.

3) Yamaha Stage Custom Hip

Yamaha Stage Custom Hip 4-Piece Shell Pack
4.5

Configuration: 5"x10", 8"x13", 8"x20", 5"x13"

Shell: 6-ply birch

Finishes: Matte Surf Green, Natural Wood, Raven Black

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The Yamaha Stage Custom Hip 4-piece shell pack is perfect for small venues and practice spaces. It offers a big sound in a hip, compact package that can even fit into a 20″ kick drum case! 

Additionally, it features an all-birch construction from the Stage Custom family and features hip sizes (depth x diameter): 5 x 10″ tom, 8 x 13″ floor tom, 8 x 20″ kick drum, and 5 x 13″ snare drum. This makes it great for jazz, hip-hop, and light session work. 

Die-cast bass claw hooks with rubber inserts act as classy but quiet hardware, while Remo UT coated batter heads (toms: Ambassador, kick: Powerstroke P3) promise solid tone out of the box. In addition, the kit features Yamaha’s YESS mounting system which allows the high tom to vibrate freely in any position.

Plus, the kit also includes a snare strainer on the floor tom for adding an optional second, deeper snare. Kick pedal, cymbals, and stands sold separately.

4) Sonor AQ2 Safari

Sonor AQ2 Safari 4-piece Shell Pack
4.7

Configuration: 7"x10", 12"x13", 15"x16", 6"x13"

Shell: 7-ply maple

Finishes: Aqua Silver Burst, Titanium Quartz, White Marine Pearl

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Sonor was the king of Jungle setups in the 1990s—think drum’n’bass and hip hop of that decade. The Sonor AQ2 Safari 4-piece shell pack is a portable and compact maple drum kit that is perfect for smaller ensembles, gigging, and soft stages. 

It features 7-ply maple shells with incredible-looking wraps, perfectly suited for funk, hip-hop, swing, and jazz styles. Within this kit you’ll get professional shells that are focused and musical; the kick drum is fast and full that sits in the pocket; the matching snare adds a defined backbeat while the toms are big and warm.

5) Gretsch Brooklyn Micro

Gretsch Drums Brooklyn Micro 4-piece Shell Pack
5.0

Sizes: 4.5"x13", 7"x10", 12"x13", 12"x16"

Shell: 6-ply maple/poplar

Finishes: Orange Oyster, Satin Grey, White Marine Pearl

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The Gretsch Brooklyn Micro is a fast, portable and easy-to-travel size kit that honors Gretsch’s New York heritage and time-honored tone. 

It has classic open tone and deluxe Brooklyn series handcrafted construction, giving it the same attention to detail as full-size Brooklyn kits. 

This kit features 6-ply maple/poplar shell construction with 3mm, 302 double flanged hoops for maximum vibration. The included 4825 tom mount is secure and easy to set up. 

The Brooklyn Micro is made in Ridgeland, SC, USA with love and care. It exhibits amazing tone and response in a lightweight travel size design – perfect for on-the-go drumming.

6) Tama Cocktail Jam

Tama Cocktail Jam 4-piece Shell Pack
4.5

Configuration: 5"x10", 5.5"x14", 5"x12", 6"x16"

Shell: 6-ply birch

Finishes: Bright Orange Sparkle, Indigo Sparkle, Midnight Gold Sparkle

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The Tama Cocktail Jam drum kit is a dream for professional and recreational drummers alike. It’s a full 4-piece acoustic drum set that fits into just about any venue space and sets up and tears down in minutes. 

This compact drum kit includes 2 toms, 1 bass drum, and 1 snare plus kick drum pedal and all mounting hardware, making it easy to take anywhere. 

The included Sound Focus Pad helps tone down its boominess in small performance spaces while still maintaining a loud enough volume to play with a band or adapt for acoustic sessions. 

Standard shell sizes include 5″ x 10″ tom, 5.5″ x 14″ floor tom, 5″ x 12″ snare drum, and 6″ x 16″ bass drum; all of which can fit perfectly into the included bags for convenient carrying between venues and sessions.

7) Tama Club-Jam Flyer

Tama Club-JAM 4-piece Shell Pack with Snare
4.5

Configuration: 10"x14", 6"x8", 9"x10", 5"x10"

Shell: 6-ply poplar/mersawa

Finishes: Aqua Blue, Candy Apple Mist

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The Tama Club-Jam Flyer drum kit is the perfect drum set for smaller stages and home practice. The shell pack consists of a 10-inch x 14-inch bass drum with riser, 6-inch x 8-inch rack tom, 9-inch x 10-inch floor tom, and 5-inch x 10-inch snare drum which provides a big sound in a conveniently compact format. 

Its 6-ply, 7mm poplar/mersawa shells speak with powerful authority and are inspired by classic jazz kits of the past. Natural finished wood bass hoops complete the look. A custom drum bag set is also available separately to make transporting easier than ever.

Read my full review of the Tama Club-Jam 4-piece.

8) DW Performance Series Low Pro

DW Performance Series Low Pro 4-piece Shell Pack
5.0

Configuration: 3"x10", 3"x13" 3"x20", 3"x12"

Shell: Maple

Finishes: Black Diamond, White Marine

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The DW Performance Series Low Pro portable practice drum set is the perfect choice for drummers who want pro-level performance from a portable kit. 

Handbuilt in the USA, this single-headed nesting maple shells require minimal space and can provide tremendous punch and quickness for hip-hop, EDM, funk, and even metal. 

Its stand-braced 20″ kick drum is stable yet stimulating while its 12″ snare (which includes a stand) can also be converted to a tom for added versatility. FinishPly wraps add to the tone and resonance rather than inhibit it, while fine-threaded True-Pitch tension rods enhance tuning accuracy. 

Finally, graduated flanged hoops are tailored to each shell diameter (3″ x 10″ tom, 3″ x 13″ floor tom, 3″ x 20″ bass drum, 3″ x 12″ snare/tom) allowing this kit to fit into any playing style.

Conclusion

When it comes to picking a compact drum kit, everyone has their own preference. Whether you go with the versatility of the DW Performance Series Low Pro or prefer the studio-quality sound of the Gretsch Brooklyn Micro, you’re sure to be satisfied with your decision. 

For serious players looking to practice on-the-go in cramped quarters, these kits provide a fantastic solution for convenience and quality drumming combined. 

Keep an eye out for sales and bundle offers at Sweetwater as well; finding deals on preconfigured packages is one of the best ways to save money when shopping for drums! 

Don’t forget – which ever kit you pick, practice hard and rock out with confidence! Let me know your favorite portable drum kit down below in the comments!

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