7 Best Drum Sets for Metal – ‘Heavy’ Weight Kits!

Author: Brett Clur | Updated: | This post may contain affiliate links.

Metal music is full of busy drum parts with heavy grooves and intricate fills. You’ve probably seen that most metal drummers have giant drum kit setups with many drums and cymbals.

Although that’s true for most metal drummers, some prefer smaller setups with fewer drums and cymbals. Luckily, drum companies cater to both types of drummers, selling kits that will work for metal in all situations. Let’s have a look at some of those kits.

7 Rocking Drum Kits for Metal

Mapex is a highly popular drum brand amongst rock and metal drummers. The company has seemed to have hit a niche in the market with their punchy drums that work well in heavy environments.

The Armory Studioease is a fantastic kit that offers hybrid shells, shallow toms, and professional quality at an affordable price.

The toms and bass drum are a mixture of maple and birch. The maple makes the drums resonate and project while the birch provides the overtones and dry attacking sound. This mixture is a perfect combination for playing heavy music. The drums will cut very easily through a distorted mix.

The 10” and 12” rack toms are very shallow while the 14” and 16” floor toms add a bit more depth to the overall sound. The 22” bass drum has a deep thud that works well in conjunction with a double pedal.

The standout feature of this shell pack is the 14” snare drum. Although the rest of the kit is made from wood, the Tomahawk snare is made from steel. It has a penetrating cut that is great for blast beats and breakdowns. It’s pretty sensitive as well, so any delicate notes will also be heard.

The rack toms mount onto cymbal stands. This is something you’ll generally see in higher-priced kits. It seems like it would be a good feature. However, the toms can be quite difficult to position comfortably at times.

PROS

  • Maple and birch shell mixture
  • Attacking tones that cut through mixes easily
  • Tomahawk steel snare sounds fantastic

CONS

  • Toms are difficult to position comfortably

Gretsch drums have an extremely rich history. Being one of the oldest drum companies in the world, you just know that their kits are going to come with years of design innovation behind them.

The Gretsch Catalina is one of their most popular kits, and the Maple 7-piece is the ideal option for a metal drummer.

Firstly, there aren’t many kits on the market that have this many drums for the price, making it extremely high value for the money. 3 rack toms and 2 floor toms will allow you to play the most intricate metal drum fills.

The shells are made from maple which gives them a warm, yet explosive response. The tone is beautiful and this kit is often used in recording studios thanks to the drums being so easy to mix and work with. The punchy response is largely due to the 30-degree bearing edges.

Although the kit is great for metal, it fits perfectly with other musical styles as well. This means it’s a versatile option for any chameleon drummer to have. The sheer amount of drums you get gives you many options for different sized setups.

Unfortunately, the stock drum heads that come with the kit aren’t too great. So, you’d need to swap those out to get the best sound possible.

PROS

  • High price-to-value ratio
  • Versatile drum sound
  • Great for using in recording studios

CONS

  • Weak stock drum heads

When looking for drum kits to buy, there are two popular options that are famous for producing seriously professional sound quality at a hugely affordable price. The first option is the Yamaha Stage Custom kit. We will get to the second option later.

The Stage Custom Birch kit honestly has no right to sound as good as it does. Somehow, Yamaha has produced a kit that has beautiful tones, easy tuning, sturdy hardware, and beautiful visuals all for less than $800.

The kit includes a 14” snare, 10” and 12” rack toms, a 16” floor tom, and a 22” bass drum. These sizes make a standard kit that works well in many musical styles. However, the punchiness and quick response of the toms makes it a wonderful drum set for playing metal music.

The snare drum is tight and cracking. It sounds best when tuned medium to high. The toms are easy to tune and will sound great whether they’re tight or loose. The bass drum will fill up a stadium with its depth.

A great feature in all of Yamaha’s kits is the YESS mounting system. It makes mounting and positioning the rack toms an extremely easy task. This is a great kit. You may just need to purchase some extra toms if you are planning to have a bigger kit for metal.

PROS

  • Yamaha’s YESS mounting system
  • Beautiful tones at a hugely affordable price
  • Easy to tune

CONS

  • Some metal drummers will want more drums

The PDP Concept Maple is the other kit on the market that is famous for having unexplainably high quality at an affordable price. However, this kit is a bit more expensive than the Yamaha Stage Custom, largely due to having more drums.

PDP is a brother company to DW. These PDP kits are produced with similar build features to the professional DW kits, they just go through a more streamlined process which makes them cheaper.

These drums have a quick response and a heavy sound. They’re often used by gospel drummers since that type of drumming is very busy and needs short sustain in the toms. The same can be said for metal.

The kit has many hardware features that come straight from DW kits. The first would be the True-Pitch tuning rods. They make tuning a smooth process that will be somewhat easy for non-experienced drum tuners.

Another great feature is the MAG throw-off on the snare drum. It makes turning the snare on and off extremely smooth and quick, great for doing it mid-show or song.

Since PDP Concept Maple kits are so popular, they come in a large number of finish options. Chances are high that you’ll find one of these in your favorite color. With 3 rack toms and 2 floor toms, you have many tonal options when you’re playing.

PROS

  • Quick response and heavy sound
  • True-Pitch tuning rods
  • MAG throw-off

CONS

  • Stock drum heads aren’t great

The Pearl Decade Maple is pretty similar to the PDP Concept. However, it has a few features that make it stand out that many drummers may prefer. At first glance, you may think that this kit is similar to the Pearl Export.

Most people think that and then are pleasantly surprised when they realize this kit is on another level. The maple shells give the drums a warm low-end and very smooth mid-range tone.

They sound best when tuned low to medium, providing a round sound that compliments many styles of music very well. This sound is great for heavy metal, as it will fill up a stadium and provide a large presence.

The lugs and mount of the shells are influenced by Pearl’s Reference Series. This means the drums have construction that is borrowed from higher-end kits, giving you a sense of professional quality in a kit that didn’t cost you as much.

While the 3 rack toms and two floor toms are warm and round, the 14” snare is warm and explosive. It also sounds great when tuned low. However, it creates quite a punch when tuned high.

Every finish option for the kit looks beautiful and will create a great aesthetic on any stage. Overall, it’s a wonderful kit from Pearl that will fit comfortably in a metal setup.

PROS

  • Great sound when tuned low to medium
  • Hardware is influenced by Pearl’s Reference Series
  • Beautiful finish options

CONS

  • Stock drum heads will need to be replaced to get the best tones possible

One type of drum kit that will always work well in metal settings is an acrylic kit. Acrylic kits are those transparent ones. They’re punchy and loud, much louder than a standard wooden kit. They tend to be quite pricey, luckily DW offers an acrylic version of their Design Series kit.

Included in this shell pack is a 14” snare, 10” and 12” rack toms, a 16” floor toms, and a 22” kick drum. If you’re familiar with the standard DW Design Series, just know that the Acrylic version sounds a bit different. It’s amazingly punchy and absolutely perfect for metal.

The tones from the toms are surprisingly warm. The standout part of the kit is the snare drum. DW is notorious for having some of the best sounding snare drums around and this particular one accurately fits that description.

Along with the True-Pitch tuning rods, MAG throw-off, and solid hardware, the DW Design Series Acrylic kit is a beautiful drum set to look into getting. It is a bit more expensive than the other kits on this list, though. 

PROS

  • Loud and punchy
  • Excellent snare drum
  • True-Pitch tuning rods and MAG throw-off

CONS

  • More expensive than the previous kits

If you’re looking to get a professional quality kit with all the highest hardware specs and best tones, the Tama Starclassic Walnut/Birch should be high on your list of choices. It’s one of the best sounding kits on the market and it still has a somewhat attainable price point.

The Walnut/Birch shells produce an incredibly punchy attack with a lot of warmth underneath, giving you an explosive kit with smooth depth in the toms and bass drum.

A great feature of the kit is that it comes with high-quality Evans stock drum heads. These allow it to produce a wonderful sound straight out of the box.

A lot of the high-quality design comes in the hardware. The kit is extremely well put together and the lugs make the drums easy to tune. The tom mounts are very thick and sturdy.

Having toms that mount to the bass drum is pretty unique in a drum kit at this price range. The mounts make the toms very easy to position.

With so many metal drummers endorsing Tama and playing Starclassic kits over the years, you’ll be happy to know that this kit is a popular option for playing metal. It’s very expensive. However, you probably won’t need to buy another kit again after getting this one.

The shell pack doesn’t come with a snare drum, meaning you’ll need to buy one separately.

PROS

  • Punchy and warm tones from the Walnut/Birch shells
  • Extremely sturdy hardware
  • Popular professional kit choice for metal

CONS

  • No snare drum included
  • Expensive

Conclusion

You can’t go wrong with any of these kits. Each one will fit a specific budget and situation. When playing metal, just remember that you’re going to need a good double pedal along with some explosive cymbals to go with your drum set.

Some drummers are loyal to certain companies. If you’re not, I encourage you to have an in-depth look at each kit on this list and decide which one is best for you and how you play.

Not all metal drumming requires a 7-piece kit. Many progressive players like Matt Garstka and Matt Halpern play on standard 5-piece kits. So, choose your size, choose your kit, and get playing.

About Brett Clur

Brett has been drumming for almost two decades. He also helps his students get better at drumming. He can be found on Instagram (@brettclurdrums), where you can regularly catch glimpses of his drumming.

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