DW Design Kit in a studio

DW Design Review – Owner’s Thoughts After 2 Years

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The DW Design kit is an affordable alternative to some of Drum Workshop’s more expensive catalog. We all know that DW makes fantastic sounding drums, so it’s nice to see a somewhat-affordable line of kits.

I’ve had my Design for about two years now. In this article, I’ll give my thoughts on the drums and who I think they’re perfect for!

My DW Design Kit Reviewed

Best Entry-Level Professional Drum Set
DW Design Series Acoustic Drum Set
View Price at Sweetwater View Price at Guitar Center
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I picked up my Design kit recently from Sweetwater. I picked the Black Satin finish—which is my favorite of the bunch.

The kit ships in two boxes (five-piece configuration), and some assembly is needed. The two rack toms come pre-assembled with heads, but the kick and floor require you to put the heads on. The snare also is pre-assembled.

The tension rods fit perfectly in their respective lugs and feel smooth when turning. The build quality is incredible for an entry-level DW line.

Once I got everything together and tuned up, I was so happy when I struck my first note. The floor tom is massive-sounding. The resonance is incredible—sustaining for more than a few seconds.

The bass drum is big and open-sounding. DW ships specialized pillows for inside the kick drum, but I haven’t tried them out quite yet. For now, the kick is big and boomy.

The snare drum is very comparable to my DW Collector’s Series maple snare drum sporting similar dimensions.

The shells are lush and warm-sounding. The stock heads included with the kit are surprisingly fantastic.

Available Color Configurations of the DW Design

DW’s Design kit comes in a variety of different finishes and colors including:

  • Clear Acrylic
  • Cherry Stain
  • Gloss White
  • Tobacco Burst
  • Black Satin

The Black Satin is my favorite finish of the bunch.

The Design shells are built in Taiwan; I assume this helps keep the cost down a bit. The STM tom mounts we all know and love come standard with Design Series drums. Chrome hardware is also a nice touch.

Before the creation of the Design and the Performance series drums, all Drum Workshop kits were made to order like many boutique companies.

DW has excelled once again and is offering a product at a greatly more affordable cost for new and up-and-coming drummers.

DW gets the cost down to a price point that is more affordable for many more people. I know most of us won’t be dropping $7,000 on a new drum set any time soon.

Even though the cost of labor is drastically reduced, the quality of the drums is just as high, as they are produced with similar quality tools and profoundly skilled workers.

The Design Series also offers a wide range of add-on drums to expand the size of your kit.

The drums are hand-picked North American Maple, which is a superb choice of wood for many players. Many of the Collector’s Series drums are also made from NAM.

The Design of the Design Kit

Some things the DW Design does contrarily to other kits from the company includes slightly thicker veneers, different orientation of the grain, smaller lugs, and, according to DW, the sound.

I truly wish the lugs were the size of regular DW lugs, but this is just a small gripe. Despite variations in the build process, the shells sound incredible for the price-point.

Traditionally, DW drums are made with 1/36″ veneers, but the DW design shells are made of a thicker veneer, measuring 1/32″.

This results in a thicker shell wall and eliminates the need for the reinforced hoops found on most other DW drums.

Size Configurations

DW gives you the option to choose between different sized kits depending on your drumming style and preference.

The Design Series comes in four configurations:

  • 5-piece Design Standard
  • 5-piece Design Acrylic
  • 4-piece “Frequent Flyer”
  • 4-piece Mini-Pro

HVLT Shells

The DW Design series uses the same shell configuration process known as HVLT (Horizontal Vertical Low-Tension). DW utilizes an arrangement of vertical grained inner, horizontal outer and cross- laminate plies mixed together.

It’s new to the series and John Good believes this process is what gives the DW Design the inital attack and articulation. The snare drum included with the drums is the only drum configured with the traditional HVX ply configuration as we see in the Performance Series.

Add ons

Drum Workshop is currently offering a set of concert toms, a piccolo tom, a pancake gong drum, an 8″ tom, and a 14″ floor tom for add-ons.

Also, if you’re in the market for a DW Design drum set, Sweetwater usually offers some sort of interest-free financing on basically everything in their store (at the time of publishing).

For around $50 a month, you can have a brand new DW Design drum kit delivered to your door as a nice gift to yourself.

Best Entry-Level Professional Drum Set
DW Design Series Acoustic Drum Set
View Price at Sweetwater View Price at Guitar Center
We earn a commission if you click this link and make a purchase at no additional cost to you.

If you need a kit that’s a tad more affordable, check out my Tama Imperialstar review or read our roundup on the best cheap drum sets on the market.

Our Rating
  • Build Quality
  • Tone
  • Value


Drum Workshop’s Design Series is a fantastic entry-level option for those looking to enter the high-end drum market. The kit sounds, looks, and plays fantastic.