I absolutely love buying drumming gear online, mostly because it tends to save both time and also money (in most cases). Although you don’t get the authentic feeling of walking into a drum store and trying everything out, your local drum store probably won’t have everything you need.
Below, I’ll talk about some of my favorite online drum stores where you can get anything from entire drum kits, cymbals and hardware to smaller accessories like cowbells and drum brushes.
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If you’ve ever looked up drum gear on YouTube, chances are that you’ve watched some clips of Nick D’Virgilio playing and explaining different types of drum kits. Nick is the perfect guy to represent Sweetwater. He’s friendly, informative, and makes you feel like he’ll help you with whatever you need.
When it comes to drums, Sweetwater provides extensive information on every product along with a supporting video for most of them. Nick is the guy that does most of the drum kit demos.
Sweetwater first started as a remote recording studio in the 70’s, but have grown to become one of the top music gear retailers on the internet. In my opinion, it’s the best place to buy drums online, including drum kits, cymbals and drumming gear. Their stock is absolutely huge, and unless it’s a no-name rebranded Chinese kit, you’ll most likely find it on Sweetwater.
Buying an expensive cymbal pack online carries a bit of a risk. To mitigate that risk of potentially receiving counterfeit cymbals, I tend to avoid ‘general’ online drum shops like Amazon and stick to Sweetwater.
One thing that sets them apart from other online drum stores is the amount of educational content they have on their site. They have guides for microphones, drums, cymbals, and many other things relating to music gear. Reading these guides will help you make informed decisions on drum gear purchases.
My experience with their customer service has been excellent. If you’re confused between different models or yet to determine exactly what you need to accomplish something, you can simply give them a call and they should guide you sufficiently.
I’ve called them many times regarding mics, and recording interfaces and they’ve always been super helpful to ensure that whatever I was going to get were all compatible with each other.
I’ve found their prices to be competitive (although they don’t offer a price-matching guarantee or anything of that sort), and their shipping is relatively quick (they ship most stuff within 1 business day). It’s also free in most cases, which is a relief considering how costly it is to ship a drum kit on your own. Overall, Sweetwater is a great place to buy new kits and different types of drumming gear from.
You won’t find many online store lists without Amazon on them. It’s the most popular online store on Earth. The fact that their logo literally signifies that they sell A to Z should be sufficient to let you know that drums are included in their inventory.
The best part of buying gear from Amazon are the customer reviews. No other online retailer seems to have the sheer amount of product reviews that Amazon has, especially for cheaper items that people just opt to buy from Amazon without thinking twice due to their fast and free shipping no matter how small your cart is (for Prime members).
If you’re looking to buy a cymbal, for example, you can scroll down and read about 20 reviews from other drummers on how the cymbal sounds and in which use cases it works well, and where it doesn’t.
Another great feature from Amazon is their “best-seller” lists. If you’re unsure of exactly which cymbal to buy, you can go to a ‘best-sellers’ page to gauge the popularity of various cymbals with respect to each other. This might give you a better idea of what to get and provide you with some choices that you didn’t think of earlier.
Amazon’s customer service is pretty generic, as in, in most cases they don’t know anything about drums or musical instruments in general. This is not to say that it’s inefficient. They’re pretty good with returns which are free 99% of the time. You just won’t get any pre-purchase product selection advice or post-purchase troubleshooting tips from them.
I personally avoid buying entire kits from Amazon, and limit using them for small, recurring purchases like drum sticks and drum heads and very rarely some cases and bags.
The first thing you’ll notice when browsing through zZounds is how easy their site is to navigate. Everything is so clearly marked out, making it very easy to find what you’re looking for.
For example, if you’ve decided that you need a 3-piece drum kit (shell pack), they have a dedicated page on 3-piece kits, which will allow you to browse a range of 3-piece kits without having to sort through 4 and 5 piece kits.
One of my most favorite things about zZounds is their payment plans, which are the very best in my opinion. Drum gear can get extremely expensive, so paying off the gear monthly will make it easier on the wallet. For most items above $79, they offer payment plans that let you split the payment in 4, 6, 8 and 12 parts.
They charge zero interest, but you still need to pay an ‘application fee’ which varies (right now it’s between $7 and $25) depending on how many parts you’ll pay the price in.
In most cases they don’t require credit checks, and often it’s a big deal for those who are actually in need of payment plans in the first place!
Although their stock isn’t as comprehensive as Sweetwater, they still pack most of the popular products from big brands that most drummers look for. Pair this up with their free shipping on most orders, and you have a worthy online store to look into.
You can get hold of their customer service team via their website and they’re typically very quick to respond. The prices of all the drum gear are extremely competitive, and they even offer a 45-day lowest-price protection guarantee, ensuring that you’ll get the best possible deal.
I know someone who’d bought an acoustic kit from them once. He received it the next day (he was located within 100 miles of their nearest warehouse, though) in perfect condition. He just had to tune the kit and it was ready to play.
I’ve personally bought a pack of cymbals from them once, and also a pair of headphones on another occasion, which was not available on Amazon at the time. Overall, I have nothing to complain about their service. We’ve also published an in-depth review of zZounds.
Guitar Center is the only chain music store on this list with in-person stores scattered all throughout the USA. Their focus is mainly on their in-person stores. Unfortunately, this means that the overall experience with their online store suffers a bit compared to some of their peers. This is even worse with Sam Ash, another family-owned chain of retail music stores that also offer online sales.
Guitar Center does stock a wide variety of drum gear from the most common brands to far lesser-known ones. If you have a Guitar Center near your home, it might also be a good (and much faster) option to choose the ‘pick up in store’ option instead of shipping the item to your home.
You may find exactly what you’re looking for on the Guitar Center site. The downside of buying gear from them is that they often tend to have poor customer service. Many drummers have complained that their orders take a long time to ship to them. They’ve also said that the boxes have been damaged on a variety of occasions.
With that being said, they have a fantastic used gear section that allows drummers to buy used gear at extremely affordable prices. It’s a common thing to buy drums second-hand as the quality of kits doesn’t lower too much after years of use. So, Guitar Center is a great resource to have to find some bargain deals.
When it comes to asking their employees about drum gear, many of them aren’t as clued up as the team from Sweetwater. So, you may not get all your questions answered. But it’s still far better than Amazon in this department!
Each store has strengths and weaknesses and is ideal for different needs. Amazon might be good for getting cheap stuff delivered fast if you already have a Prime subscription. Sweetwater might be better suited for more expensive things that you need to be sure about before purchasing. And zZounds is excellent if you need the comfort of payment plans.
Ultimately, the best way to objectively know which store is best for you is to try all of them.
Lastly, I personally think that not many online drum stores can compare to the fantastic customer support you get from Sweetwater and the fast shipping and best-in-class payment plans offered by zZounds.