The Ultimate Guide to Acrylic Drums

Acrylic drums have transparent shells while offering a punchy sound. They allow the audience to actually see the drummer while adding a whole new level of style to your set.

We’re going to go through some of the best modern acrylic drum sets available to buy online. Acrylic drum sets are back in fashion with a bang, so check these out.

Later on in this article, we answer some of the most common questions about acrylic drums, to help you figure out if you should go for them or opt for the more traditional wooden shells.

Some of the Best Acrylic Drums To Buy

1. Ludwig Vistalite John Bonham Zep Set Shell Pack

An Iconic recreation of John Bonham's famous acrylic drum set

Ludwig decided to reissue its most iconic acrylic drum set (and maybe the most famous one in the world). Vistalite Amber set recreates the one that John Bonham of Led Zeppelin used during the second part of his career. It comes with 5 shells, 14” snare drum, 14”, 16” and 18” floor toms, and 26” bass drum.

You can instantly get the sound of one of the greatest drummers in history when playing these drums. Also, they look cool in this amber version, so you will also get all the looks when you fashion these babies on the stage.

2. DW Design Series 5-piece Shell Pack

Great quality clear acrylic set from DW

This is a classic, transparent, acrylic 5 piece drum set from DW. It comes with a 14” snare drum, 10” and 12” rack toms, 16” floor tom, and a 22” bass drum.

This drum set comes at an affordable price and will give you quality, reliable, and long-lasting drums, good for both beginners and more advanced players to play.

3. Pearl Crystal Beat Shell Pack 3-pc

A more affordable 3-Piece acrylic shell pack from Pearl

In this set, you will find a beautiful 3 drums, including a 24” bass drum, 13” rack tom, and 16” floor tom. Crystal Beat was one of the first acrylic drums series Pearl has ever done and today you can get them in this reissued series.

You will get for a nice price this small set of high-quality, high-end drums that are built for the road and durability.

4. DW Design Series Clear Acrylic Snare

A great quality acrylic snare from DW

If you’re looking to liven up your drum set or just change something in it then you can consider buying an acrylic snare drum. DW’s Design series is a perfect fit for almost any drum set you have, no matter if it’s wooden or acrylic.

It comes in a standard 5,5” x 14” size and it’s transparent, giving your drums a fresh new look when used. With this drum, you will get a no-nonsense, quality, reliable snare drum that will last you for years.

Are Acrylic Drums any Good?

If you look at the price of these drums, it is obvious that they are quality and overall good-sounding ones. They are multi-applicable that sit right in any genre and style, plus, the visuals on these drums are simply off the charts.

Acrylic drum sets don’t improve your playing overnight. You’ll also need the appropriate drum heads, cymbals, and tuning, as well as plenty of practice time.

What do Acrylic Drums Look Like?

Acrylic drums generally have clear, tinted, or frosted acrylic shells. The use of acrylic in drum making allows for a much more interesting look when compared to standard wooden drums.

Transparent drums mean that you can see the drummer as a whole while playing. Transparent drums are visually really cool and glue the audience’s attention to them because they are still seen as a novelty and something new.

Also, using different colored plastic in the making of the drums can be used to make awesome-looking drums that can never be achieved in wooden drums.

They are great when used in conjunction with led drum lights or colored drum heads. Dual-sided LED lights are the best ones to go for when lighting up acrylic drums (compared to single-sided lights commonly used on wooden drums). Under the stage lights are where the acrylic drums shine.

The Build and Weight of Acrylic Drums

Acrylic drums are built in a similar way to wooden drums. The plastic is heated and made in the rounded shape of the drum and then different layers are all glued up or welded together to make a drum shell.

Acrylic drums are generally heavier than wooden drums, which is an important thing to note. It should not make a major difference to your touring, but if you’re struggling with the weight of your wooden drum set, then this might be an issue for you.

The Difference in Sound Between Acrylic and Wooden Drums

Acrylic drums sound very similar to wooden drums, but they generally appear a little louder. The acrylic material makes for a higher level of attack when you strike the drum head. However, the volume difference is not extreme.

There is a subtle difference in the actual sound between wooden and acrylic drums. Acrylic tends to be a bit punchier, while the wood absorbs some more of the sound. All in all, it does not make for a large difference once the drums are mixed in with the rest of the band.

How to clean your Acrylic Drums

An acrylic drum kit is a big investment and one that will require some taking care of if you want to use it for a long time. Not only cleaning but regular and proper tuning, being careful around mounting and shell contact, minding every part – the bass drum, the floor toms, the snare drum, the rack toms, etc.

In order to clean acrylic kits, you’d want to use a soft and dust-free cloth to remove any dirt, dust, fingerprints, and you want to cover all the parts like the hoops, lugs, even give the floor tom legs a sweep. For storage, hard drum cases are the way to go if you want to preserve them well.

Really important note: keep your acrylic drums away from extreme heat and very cold places, so direct sunlight should be out of the question. It is best to keep them in a shade as a means of not damaging them.

More About Acrylic Drums

Using plastic as drum material was a concept that was truly succeeded first by Bill Zickos. Zickos was a big band jazz drummer and a music store owner in the USA that first started experimenting with acrylic drums in the 1950s.

By the 1970s all of the big drumming companies have adopted this experiment and started producing their versions of plastic drums.

The most prominent drummer to ever play the acrylic set and promoter of them to the wider public was John Bonham of Led Zeppelin. Famous for his strong and punchy playing style, he started playing on Ludwig Vistalite acrylic drums in 1972. After that, other professional drummers followed.


Acrylic is a great drum material because of both the look and sound quality that it produces. If you’re looking for a punchy sound, while having a stylish drum set, then acrylic drums might be for you.

Luckily, lots of drum manufacturers have reintroduced acrylic drums back into their product lines, so it’s a great time to go out and get one.

Featured image by Rodrigo Della Fávera from Rio de Janeiro, Brasil / CC BY

Mike O'Connor
Mike O'Connor

I've been playing drums for over 18 years. I work as both a session drummer and a drum teacher, and I love to share my knowledge and tips on this site. You can also find me on the Electronic Drum Advisor YouTube channel.

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