If you’re just getting started, the first step is to find the best drum brand that meets your needs. As a professional drummer who has been playing for 20+ years, I can promise plenty of great drum brands out there—but not all of them will be right for every player.
To help you find the right set, I’ve reviewed some of the top drum manufacturers and kit types on the market today. Here are my top 12 recommendations based on quality craftsmanship, sound versatility, durability, and cost-effectiveness!
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Pearl Drums is a drum company with an impressive history in the music industry. Founded by Katsumi Yanagisawa in 1946, Pearl was one of the first companies to manufacture drum sets in Japan and quickly gained traction as a top producer of quality drums worldwide.
Pearl has released various instruments, from mid-range to professional-level drums, that some of the world’s most famous musicians use. In addition to its wide selection of traditional drums and hardware, Pearl has branched out into producing more modern acoustic and electronic percussion instruments.
Pearl Drums continue to lead the industry with influential designs and cutting-edge technology, pushing the boundaries of what drummers can do with their craft.
Notable drummers who endorse Pearl drums include:
- Matt Halpern
- Ray Luzier
- Mike Mangini
- Calvin Rodgers
Yamaha drums are one of the leading drum brands in the world, boasting an impressive history of over 125 years. Yamaha is renowned for their creative and innovative designs, quality materials, and outstanding craftsmanship.
Yamaha has pushed the boundaries of drum technology and production, from introducing the revolutionary “Air Seal System’ shells to their kits featuring Yamaha’s Oak Custom drums.
Yamaha drums have been used by some of music’s most iconic figures, including Steve Gadd, Matt Cameron, and Clyde Stubblefield, to name a few. Yamaha drums are trusted by professional musicians everywhere and continue to set new standards in the drum industry today.
Yamaha makes some of my favorite drum shells on the list. Even in their more affordable lines, their drums sound incredible.
Notable drummers who endorse Yamaha include:
- Steve Gadd
- Tommy Aldridge
- Roy Haynes
- Dave Weckl
Ludwig drums have been the choice of pro drummers for more than a century. Initially developed in 1909 by William Ludwig Sr, Ludwig drums quickly became the industry standard and have been used in virtually every musical style since then.
Ludwig drums have graced countless recordings in the last decade, from classic rock, pop, and jazz to hip-hop. Ludwig’s lasting legacy is not only attributed to its quality but also its innovation.
Ludwig was among the first major drum companies to introduce multiple finishes and shell measurements, allowing musicians to tailor their sound further.
Ludwig drums are still made today with the same passion and dedication that William Ludwig Senior put into them over 100 years ago.
If you’re going into a studio session, you can’t go wrong with a set of Ludwig drums. The Black Beauty snare drum is iconic—probably one of the most requested snare drums in recording sessions.
Notable drummers who endorse Ludwig drums include:
- Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson
- Ringo Starr
- Alex Van Halen
- Patrick Carney
Tama drums, manufactured by the Japanese musical instrument company Hoshino Gakki, are known worldwide as high-quality and reliable drum sets. They have been a favorite among drummers for over 40 years.
Tama was an early innovator in the drumming industry. They introduced revolutionary tools like the Drum Tension Watch and collaborated with some of the greatest musicians to bring new sounds and techniques to drums.
Tama began making drums in 1965 and has become a leading manufacturer of professional drum hardware and percussion instruments worldwide.
Tama’s dedication to quality craftsmanship, practical innovation, unique features, and affordable pricing has kept them at the forefront of the drumming community ever since.
Tama drums are known for their amazing durability, affordability, and wide variety – from snare drums to bass drums – so it’s no wonder that Tama has been an industry favorite for over 40 years.
Notable drummers who endorse Tama drums include:
- Simon Phillips
- Kenny Aronoff
- Stewart Copeland
- Peter Erskine
- Tim Alexander
5) Drum Workshop
DW Drums, or Drum Workshop, have been revolutionizing the music world since its founding in 1972. DW Drums is known for their craftsmanship and design, marrying advanced technology with artistry to create some of the best drum sets in the music industry.
DW Drums’ modern production process leverages cutting-edge techniques while maintaining its commitment to handcrafting every drum set with quality materials.
DW has become increasingly involved with unique collaborations such as signature drum kits and outreach campaigns that bring drum education to young students.
DW Drums are trusted by professional drummers who rely on DW’s reliability and innovation in the studio and stage.
Notable drummers who endorse DW Drums include:
- Chad Smith
- Roger Taylor
- Dave Grohl
Gretsch drums have a long and glorious musical heritage. Emerging in the late 19th century, Gretsch drums have been a staple piece of drum equipment in big band and rock n” roll music since then.
Created by Friedrich Gretsch, these innovative drums stood out from the competition with an attention to detail and craftsmanship that quickly made Gretsch a mainstay for musicians worldwide.
Gretsch drums are now renowned for their excellent timbre and craftsmanship across various genres of music.
In recent years Gretsch helped revolutionize drum kits by adding modern innovations like adjustable bass drum spurs and tom suspension systems.
Gretsch remains a top name in drumming technology today as they pursue their mission to build the best drums using both traditional craftsmanship and cutting-edge technologies.
Notable drummers who play Gretsch drums include:
- Cindy Blackman-Santana
- Will Calhoun
- Keith Carlock
- Nicholas Collins
- Mike Johnston
Mapex drums have been producing quality instruments since its establishment in 1989. Mapex’s innovative craftsmanship has made them one of the leading drum manufacturers in the industry, offering drums ranging from entry-level to top-of-the-line professional kits.
Mapex takes pride in building drums that meet the needs of all drummers and promotes an ethos of musical exploration and expression.
The brand is ever-evolving and continues to provide industry-leading quality and performance with its broad offerings. With more than 20 years of experience, Mapex continues building instruments used by professionals worldwide while inspiring those who are just beginning to explore their musical journey.
Notable drummers who endorse Mapex include:
- Chris Adler
- Brittany Bowman
- Josh Devine
- Dom Famularo
- Tony Coleman
Sonor drums have brought powerful rhythms to music for almost one hundred and fifty years. Started by Johannes Link in a small German workshop, Sonor has established itself as an essential percussion instrument maker since its appearance in the market back in 1875.
Sonor continues to produce the highest quality drums today with the same dedication their founding started with. As a result, Sonor drums boast iconic prestige among drummers everywhere. They are now a must-have staple for any passionate percussionist.
Sonor carries through its commitment to producing beautiful, classic drums tailored for each individual’s need and sound preference, honoring generations of Sonor’s innovative engineering since the beginning.
Notable drummers who endorse Sonor include:
- Jojo Mayer
- Benny Greb
- Chris Coleman
- Danny Carey
- Gavin Harrison
9) SJC Drums
SJC Drums is a drum manufacturing company based in Massachusetts, United States. It was founded in 2000 by Mike Ciprari, a drummer and engineer, to create high-quality, customizable drums at an affordable price.
In the beginning, SJC Drums focused on producing drum kits and snare drums but expanded to include a wide range of drum and percussion products.
The company has gained a reputation for its attention to detail and use of innovative technology, such as 3D printing, in the manufacturing process.
SJC Drums has also established itself as a leader in the drumming community through its artist collaborations and sponsorship of events and organizations.
Notable drummers who endorse SJC include:
- Josh Dun
- Tre Cool
- Jay Weinberg
- Daniel Platzman
- Kristina Schiano
PDP (Pacific Drums and Percussion) drums have been revered as some of the best quality hardware in the drumming community for decades. The PDP brand was created back in 1999 when Drum Workshop (DW) established Pacific Drums and Percussion.
PDP has a long tradition of manufacturing entry-level drums. That said, PDP’s craftsmanship is regarded to be on par with DW drums without the higher price tag that comes with it.
PDP also boasts a wide array of drum finishes and sizes, allowing musicians to find a perfect kit that works specifically for their needs. PDP is an iconic brand in modern drum history and will remain popular among drummers for many years.
ddrum has been around since 1983 and has been an impressive option for drummers of all levels. ddrum is well-known among professional musicians but is also used by those in local bands playing gigs regularly.
ddrum offers several levels and price points, making them great for budget-minded drummers looking to get a good sound on their kit without breaking the bank.
ddrum is known for its craftsmanship, innovative design, and selection, so you’re sure to find the perfect set that fits your needs and play style. Whether you’re just getting started or recording in the studio, ddrum has the ideal choice to help you get the sound you want out of your drums.
Notable drummers who endorse ddrum include:
- Vinnie Paul
- Carmen Appice
- Drew Steen
- Paul Mazurkiewicz
Rogers Drums was founded in 1849 and was among the most popular and sought-after drum makers in the United States. Rogers Drums were known for their superior quality and craftsmanship.
Their catalog featured snare drums, bass drums, hi-hats, cymbals, and accessories like practice pads and sticks.
Rogers became a leader in the drum industry until they closed their doors in 2006 due to losses. Yamaha Corporation of America then acquired Rogers Drums. In 2013, the rights to Rogers were acquired by Joseph Chen, then president of Dixon drums.
The older kits are now sought-after by vintage collectors for their unique sound, quality construction, and unique designs that set them apart from other drum makers of their time.
Newer Rogers kits are available today with the same look, feel, and sound as the older kits desired by drum connoisseurs.
Notable players who endorse(d) Rogers drums include:
- Mick Fleetwood
- Al Jackson Jr
- Earl Palmer
- Brian Downey
After exploring all the major drum brands, I’m convinced each has something unique and special.
Gretsch offers classic vintage style coupled with modernly updated tonal articulation. Yamaha remains grounded in providing bang-for-your-buck options for all playing styles. Finally, drum Workshop is a go-to for high-end kits that won’t compromise sound or any feature you expect from professional-grade drums. These brands have an impressive array of products just begging to be played.
So if it sounds like a drum and looks like a star, one of these distinct companies would likely be the source. But now I want to give the floor over to you. So the real question is, who’s your favorite? Let me know which you think is the best drum brand down below in the comments!