When playing the drums in a church setting, you can expect to thoroughly use the entirety of the drum kit. While some folks may have a tendency to place all religious music in a single category, it actually spans multiple genres, feels, and tempos.
Church drummers need a kit that is versatile, expressive, durable, and able to keep up with the rotation of music heard in the church setting.
When considering the number of different configurations, styles, and sound qualities available, picking the right drum set for your church worship team can be a daunting task.
While sifting through the offerings available it became clear that there are some options that stand out amongst the swatch of drum kits on the marke
Top 3 - Church Drum Sets
Let’s take a look at six drum kits that would be a heavenly sight to the gospel drummers of the world.
Best Drum Kits for Church / Worship Music
Table of Contents
1. Yamaha Stage Custom Birch
If you’ve ever played a venue or church with a backline kit before, chances are it was one of these Stage Custom Birch kits from Yamaha.
Yamaha’s Stage Custom Birch Shell Pack is a popular choice for drummers who particularly enjoy a bright tone with a strong attack and an ability to project.
The birch shell's ability to project is especially important when playing to a room with a larger audience or when accompanying a larger group of musicians on stage as it can help you really cut through the mix.
This five-piece pack includes a 17” x 22” kick drum, a 5.5” x 14” snare drum, two rack toms measuring 7” x 10” and 8” x 12”, and lastly a 15” x 16” floor tom.
The snare has a delightful pop that contrasts nicely against the highly punchy kick drum. Though I would recommend changing out that snare head as the one that comes with it does give off that weird basketball-bouncing-sounding tone with the stock head.
The rack toms sound so good when tuned up even a little together than I normally would. The attack and response are just amazing! The floor tom is beautifully low as well and a lot of fun performing some rising rolls on.
Yamaha has equipped the hardware in this shell pack with their low-mass lugs. Yamaha claims these lugs allow the shells to vibrate freely for better sustain.
The quality for the price is good enough to make me a believer!
2. PDP Concept Maple
PDP’s Concept Maple series should be familiar to most drummers as it has become a popular choice due to its quality and friendly price point. It certainly helps that they utilize much of their parent company, DW, hardware components within the PDP line of drums.
In this 5-piece shell pack you get a boomy modern sounding 18” x 22” kick drum. You also get a 5.5” x 14” snare, 8” x 10” and 9” x 12” rack toms, and a 14” x 16” floor tom.
This kit from PDP produces a decent overall sound right from the box. I would however suggest changing out the heads to something double-ply for greater tuning ability.
The maple shells create a warm and well-balanced sound that is nicely suited for the gospel, worship, and even contemporary Christian music as well.
The rack toms are clear and articulate sounding even with the stock heads. Again, changing the heads will only serve to make them sound even better.
While the snare drum could use a head change, I enjoyed playing the rim when using a cross-sticking technique. An application that I can see being heavily in more subtle music.
It’s worth noting that the snare also features a genuine DW MAG throw snare drum throw-off as well. A great piece of hardware that makes adjusting the snare tension much less time-consuming.
You will love the sturdy DW-inspired hardware as well. The smaller lugs give the kit a more modern, sleek look that really shines.
3. Gretsch Drums Catalina Maple
Gospel drummers who desire vibrant bright tones should consider the Gretsch Catalina Maple kit.
The Catalina would be great for a drummer who wants to keep a smaller footprint on the stage without sacrificing sound within the overall mix.
With this 5-piece shell pack you get a 16" x 20" bass drum, 7" x 10" rack tom, 8" x 12" rack tom 14" x 14" floor tom, and a 5.5" x 14" snare drum.
The shell sizes of Gretsch Catalina Maple are adequate for a drummer who desires their kit to be more compact and portable. While most Churches have a house kit, it is nice to have something that is easier to move around should the occasion call for you to do so.
I was happy to learn that these maple shells are crafted using Gretsch’s popular 30-degree bearing edge cut. A desirable choice for drummers who prefer their toms and snare to have a strong attack and sustain that can help cut through a mix and provide clarity in their live performance.
The tone that resonates from these shells is well-balanced and warm. While I didn’t get to try it for myself, placing some thicker textured heads on the toms would probably get this kit sounding near perfect.
I have to note that the Satin Deep Cherry finish on the shells is really a beautiful color. The finish helps the drums stand out without affecting the tone of the shells and that is really important.
4. Pearl Decade Maple
Pearl’s Decade Maple 5-piece kit comes with an 18” x 22” kick drum, a 16” x 16” floor tom, a 5.5” x 14” snare drum, and two rack toms measuring 7” x 10” and 8” x 12”.
Pearl does something that I think is pretty great with their Decade Maple kits. Pearl utilizes a slightly thinner ply of Maple in order to get more resonance from their shells.
Pearl uses a 5.4mm thick ply for their tom shells, while the snare drum and bass drum feature 6-ply 5.4mm and 7-ply 7.2mm maple shells, respectively. For comparison sake, other manufacturers typically make thicker shells, such as 6-ply or 7-ply shells that are constructed from 6mm or greater ply of maple wood.
The product of the thinner-shelled drums is a more responsive drum with greater resonance, providing a warm and very natural-sounding tone.
As Pearl players have come to expect these shells are of course made with that familiar Super Shell Technology in which Pearl takes great pride.
Because of the SST build process Pearl has become known for producing high-quality drums that are durable and reliable. This can be important for Church or Gospel music, where a drum kit is often used frequently within a variety of settings that include rehearsals, performances, and recording sessions.
Having durable shells that can endure thousands of hours of playtime without going out of tune is of the utmost importance, especially when it comes to times of worship.
5. SJC Custom Drums Pathfinder
For drummers who prefer a more modern, minimalist drum kit, the SJC Custom Pathfinder 3-piece pack is a great option. The Pathfinder’s natural wood finish is simple and understated. It would fit nicely into most worship spaces but, if you want to stand out with a pop of color there is a teal finish option available that looks great!
Constructed from a blend of maple and mahogany this 3-piece kit comes with an 18” x 22” kick drum, an 8” x 12” rack tom, and a 14” x 16” floor tom. There is no snare drum included here in this pack, but you can acquire a matching 6.5” x 14” snare drum separately to complete the kit.
The hardware is a beautifully dark flat black color. A great choice if you aren’t a fan of the fingerprints that tend to accumulate on chrome hardware.
The Pathfinder series has an ultra-punchy quality that carries over across all three components. I’d attribute this to the mahogany wood layered in between the maple. That mahogany really brings that lower tone out in spades.
The layers of maple do an excellent job of rounding out the natural tones with some higher-frequency vibrations.
I can see the Pathfinder kit’s sound working well for more contemporary styles of worship and gospel music.
While the looks may be somewhat off-putting to some Church music directors' sensibilities, this kit overall sounds and looks great!
6. Mapex Venus 5-piece Rock
Mapex reintroduced the Venus kit as an affordable, nicely equipped option for entry-level drummers. The Venus kit is a complete drum kit ready to perform at your worship service right out of the box.
The Mapex Venus 5-piece kit comes with a 16” x 22” kick drum, a 5” x 14” snare, two rack toms size 7” x 10” and 8” x 12” respectively, and a 14” x 16” floor tom. You’ll also get a kick pedal, boom stand, and hi-hat stand, with an 18” crash/ride and 14” hi-hats.
Honestly, you aren’t going to want to use the cymbals for any sort of live performance. They don’t sound great.
The shells are constructed from 9-ply poplar wood, which while it’s not everyone's first choice it does an adequate job of producing a decent even warm tone. This is largely due to the innovation of the SONIClear edges of the shells, which allow the heads to sit flat and evenly on the shells for maximum contact and resonance.
I’d absolutely recommend changing out all the heads immediately and replacing them with thicker multi-ply heads. The stock heads are thin and do not do any favors for the kit’s sound quality.
With some better heads and dampening accessories, I believe this kit can actually do a serviceable job for a worship service. The pedal and stands are also well made and can continue to be used even if you consider upgrading from this kit in the future.
What Qualities Make a Good Drum Kit for a Worship Setting?
When considering what drum kit would best fit your Church’s worship service you should consider things like style, sound, volume, durability, and obviously price.
The first thing you should consider is the style of worship music you are playing. For example, if your Church or place of worship tends to play more contemporary worship music, you might want a kit with a bright, modern sound. A kit like the SJC Pathfinder or PDP Concept Maple Series would do well within a more modern context.
If you’re playing more classic worship songs, you might prefer a kit with a warmer, vintage sound like the Gretsch Catalina.
Keep in mind that in general, you'll want a kit that can produce an even and full tone that compliments the other instruments accompanying your music. You don’t want to overpower anyone.
While not the most important feature, the aesthetic of the kit shouldn’t be overlooked.
The look won’t always affect the sound but, the way a kit looks can telegraph what sound can be expected when the kit is played.
Take for instance the classic-looking Yamaha Stage Custom kit and contrast that with something like the SJC Pathfinder.
The Pathfinder's more modern appearance suggests it would naturally fit into modern music stylings whereas the Yamaha has a style that insinuates that it’d work well with more classical or musical stylings.
While much of the time you can control volume by playing softer or using a different kinds of sticks, or heads, there are kits that are just noisier than others because of the materials they are made from.
On one hand, when playing larger venues it would be an intelligent move to find a kit that projects well and can produce the desired tone even with a soft touch. Something like the Pearl Decade Maple kit with its thinner shells could be a perfect choice.
On the other hand, if you’re playing in a smaller venue with lower ceilings, something so powerful might be a bit too much. Consider something that can be a bit tamer when played without a ton of effort.
The quality of your kit will not just affect the sound it makes but, it affects how long it will last you.
Church drum kits go through a ton of play hours sometimes from multiple players. Some players are bound to have heavier hands than others and you need a kit that can withstand the punishment it is dealt.
Consider a kit with sturdier hardware and shells that are able to handle the occasional mishap.
You’ll be happy to know that every kit discussed is just at the cusp of or well under the $1,000 mark. There is no need to completely empty your wallet to get a good-sounding professional kit that can keep the beat for your congregation.
Keep in mind that most of these kits are shell packs, meaning you’ll need to purchase cymbals separately.
Most of these kits will also require a head change to sound their absolute best. So, set aside a bit of cash for some new quality heads so you or your drummer can really shine!