The 8 Best Drum Sets for Metal (2021)

Metal drum sets need to be punchy and loud enough to cut through a heavy mix of distorted guitars and vocals. Here are some of the best options available in 2021.

My top pick is the Tama Starclassic Walnut/Birch. These drums sound amazing and the shells are perfectly suited to metal music. If you’re looking for something on a budget, then check out the Pearl Export, which is a very popular entry-level metal drum set.

Keep in mind the difference between “shell packs” and “full drum sets”. Shell packs only include the drums and essential hardware for toms and the bass drum (such as bass drum spurs). If you’re getting a shell pack, keep in mind that you will generally need to buy a snare, cymbals, and other hardware separately.

The Best Drum Sets for Metal (2021)

1. Tama Starclassic Walnut/Birch

My Top Pick as the Best Drum Set for Metal
Drum Kits with shells made of walnut and birch.
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The TAMA Starclassic Walnut/Birch is a very sought-after drum set. The combination of walnut and birch wood gives these shells great dynamic range while having both great warmth and attack. They are very nicely suited to metal drumming.

The resulting sound of this shell kit is characterized by the warm lows and mids (walnut) as well as highs with punch and clear attack (birch).

Pros

  • Great range
  • Focused sounds
  • Shells made of walnut and birch

Cons

  • Price
  • It’s a shell pack (snare/cymbals/hardware need to be purchased separately)

With the Starclassic Walnut/Birch series, Tama replaced a longstanding classic, the Birch/Bubinga line, in its range in 2019. This series is also in the upper-middle class and is intended to appeal to ambitious players.

Drum Set TypeAcoustic
Number of Toms (including floor tom)3 or 4 (depending on the version)
Bass Drum Size22 x 16 inches
Drum Shell MaterialWalnut and birch
Shell Pack or Full Drum Set?Shell pack

Anyone who likes assertive, tonally malleable, and generally more controlled sounding wooden snares could find what they are looking for here.

2. Pearl Export EXX725

Budget Pick
Popular entry-level acoustic drum set with poplar and mahogany shells.
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The Pearl Export is one of the most popular entry-level drum sets ever. If you get good drum heads and tune them well then you can make a very decent metal drum set out of this.

The Export is available in a total of four configurations. All the drums have a classic black foil, but the series is delivered in various finishes.

The shells are made of Asian mahogany and poplar wood, a new six-layer mixing shell version.

Pros

  • With good tuning, this kit can sound very decent.
  • Robust, flexible hardware
  • Very smooth tuning screws
  • A good demonator bass drum pedal included
  • New Opti-Loc tom holder included

Cons

  • The sound, as expected, can’t compare to the higher-end drum sets on this list.
  • Cymbals may or may not be included (check with your retailer)

The new Demonator bass drum pedal runs very smoothly and easily. The tuning screws on the entire set can also be adjusted extremely smoothly.

Drum Set TypeAcoustic
Number of Toms (including floor tom)3
Bass Drum Size22″ x 18″
Drum Shell MaterialPoplar and Asian mahogany
Shell Pack or Full Drum Set?Full drum set (cymbals may or may not be included – check with your retailer)

3. PDP by DW - Double Bass Drum 8-Piece Shell Pack

Double Bass Drum Set
Eight-piece drum set with double-kick configuration.
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This double drum set is an eight-piece shell pack. The drum from sub-company, Pacific Drums and Percussion (PDP), is a brand from the famous drum manufacturer DW.

The PDP Double Bass could best be described as an extremely good entry-level or intermediate set for metal drummers.

Pros

  • Double kick configuration
  • Good mix of sustain and punch
  • Includes eight pieces
  • Comes with three rack toms
  • Shell made from decent quality poplar wood

Cons

  • Just a shell set
  • 2 bass drums is not for everyone (takes up more space, they need to be tuned consistently, etc)

The drum shells were made of 6-ply poplar wood. Poplar wood is very popular with cheaper drums because it is affordable. However, it has some sound similarities to the higher quality woods such as birch and mahogany.

Drum Set TypeAcoustic
Number of Toms (including floor toms)5
Bass Drum Size22″ x 18″
Drum Shell MaterialPoplar
Shell Pack or Full Drum Set?Shell pack

4. Roland V-Drums Acoustic Design Electronic Drum Set

Best Electronic Drum Set for Metal.
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With the new V-Drums Acoustic Design (VAD) models 306, 503, and 506, Roland is expanding its range of products, and they are going much more into the range of “hybrid drums,” which blends acoustic and electronic drumming elements together.

This is an electronic drum set that has the stage presence of an acoustic set, which is very important when it comes to metal music. This VAD 506 uses the great TD-27 drum module.

The hardware is first class, as we have come to expect from Roland, and the sensitivity of every part of this kit is fantastic. Everything is easy to adjust, with no hooking or sliding.

Pros

  • Great for use in more modern metal sub-genres
  • A great variety of good sounds
  • Good pad response
  • Clean and solid sound
  • Responsive digital snare and ride
  • Good playability

Cons

  • Pricey!
  • The e-cymbals don’t have the same sound or response as acoustic cymbals.
  • It’s the pity the VAD 506 doesn’t include Roland’s flagship drum module (the TD-50), but the TD-27 module is still great.

The sounds may not satisfy the taste of every drummer straight away. However, there are so many parameters that can be used that will surely lead to the result.

Pretty much any sound can be created with pitch, compressor, or the numerous effects onboard. Whatever is not there, you load it yourself quite simply via SD card in WAV format.

Drum Set TypeAcoustic-designed electronic drum set
Number of Toms (including floor tom)3
Bass Drum Size20 inches
Drum Shell MaterialPoplar
Shell Pack or Full Drum Set?Full electronic drum set

5. Tama Imperialstar IE52C

Best Beginner Set
A great-value beginner drum set (with good cymbals).
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The Imperialstar is a very decent drum set that packs a whole lot of value. The shells are very decent for this price range, and the kit also includes Meinl HCS cymbals, which are leagues ahead of many stock cymbals that you often find on beginner drum sets.

I started playing metal drums using stock cymbals that came with my budget Stagg drum many years ago, they didn’t take long to crack! The HCS cymbals on these are far more likely to last.

Tama’s concept for the Imperialstar series is simple and clear. It’s an entry-level drum set with a reasonable selection of drums, functional hardware, and cymbals at an affordable price.

Pros

  • Very decent shells
  • Good hardware
  • Meinl MCS cymbals

Cons

  • The stock drum heads are not amazing.
Drum Set TypeAcoustic
Number of Toms (including floor tom)3
Bass Drum Size16″ x 22″
Drum Shell MaterialPoplar
Shell Pack or Full Drum Set?Full drum set

Overall, the Tama Imperialstar is a very decent entry-level set for metal music.

6. Pearl Export Double Bass Drum Set

Double bass drum set with a snare drum.
View Price at Sweetwater

View Price – Pearl Export Double Bass Drum Set

We’ve already mentioned the pearl export range in this list. However, if you want to take it to the next level, check out this double bass drum set, which includes 2 bass drums, 3 rack toms, 2 floor toms, and a snare. If you want to have a big metal sound then this is a big enough drum set to make it happen.

It’s a similar kit configuration to the PDP by DW Double Drive 8-Piece Shell Pack which was mentioned earlier in this list.

Pros

  • Decent shells for this price range
  • 2 bass drums and 5 toms
  • Good shell hardware

Cons

  • Cymbals not included
  • The wrap finish on the shells are nice but not amazing.
  • The heads are not too bad but I’d still recommend replacing them with premium heads
Drum Set TypeAcoustic
Number of Toms (including floor tom)5
Bass Drum Size22 inches
Drum Shell MaterialMahogany and poplar
Shell Pack or Full Drum Set?Shell pack

7. Ludwig Element Evolution 6-Piece Set

Full drum set with 2 floor toms.
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The Ludwig Element Evolution shells are made from poplar and have great character and overtones. Its second floor tom makes it very useful for metal music to get a deeper sound.

Designed as an intermediate drum set, this model includes everything you need to put together and be ready to continue your evolution as a drummer. It comes with a 6-piece hardware and a Zildjian ZBT cymbal set, which are far better than your average stock cymbals on entry-level kits.

Pros

  • They look and sound great
  • Affordable price
  • 2nd floor tom included in this kit configuration
  • Comes with Zildjian ZBT cymbals

Cons

Drum Set TypeAcoustic
Number of Toms (including floor toms)4
Bass Drum Size22 x 16 inches
Drum Shell MaterialPoplar
Shell Pack or Full Drum Set?Full drum set

8. Alesis Strike Pro SE Electronic Drum Set

The flagship e-drum set from Alesis, which offers a ton of value for its price.
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The Alesis Strike Pro SE E-drum is a major competitor to the top electronic drum set manufacturers such as Roland and Yamaha. It offers an absolute ton of value for its price. The SE stands for “Special Edition” and it corrects some of the build-quality errors that the original Alesis Strike Pro faced.

This drum set has a big enough presence to be great for practice and stage when playing metal music.

Of course, this e-drum set will not work in all types of metal music, but there may certainly be plenty of sub-genres where this would fit in nicely.

The drum module on the Strike Pro SE is one of the best in the industry and outperforms even the popular Roland TD-50 and Pearl Mimic Pro in a number of different areas.

Pros

  • Great and expansive stage presence
  • Large selection of sounds
  • Diverse editing options
  • Good electronic sounds
  • Rich selection of effects
  • Device-internal sampling function

Cons

  • Responsiveness not quite as good as Roland e-drum sets
  • Some build-quality issues may still have persisted from the previous generation of this drum set
Drum Set TypeElectronic
Number of Toms (including floor tom)3
Bass Drum Size20 inches
Drum Shell MaterialReal hybrid wood
Shell Pack or Full Drum Set?Full e-drum set

Buyer’s Guide – What’s Important When Buying a Drum Set for Metal?

Drum Heads

I love to use 2 ply Remo drum heads for metal on the toms as you can get a really punchy sound from them. You can also use moongels to control the sound even further.

Double Bass Drum Pedal or 2 Bass Drums?

A double bass drum pedal is more practical to transport, set up and it’s easier to tune, whereas two bass drums look better on stage and they resonate independently when hit.

What Wood Type Should You Use for Metal Drumming?

In the lower price range, soft, inexpensive woods such as poplar and Asian mahogany are generally used. The sound of these woods is soft and rather dark and somewhat limited in terms of the dynamic range. However, they’re still very passable to use for metal music.

If you like it loud and flexible in terms of sound, you should try to buy drums made of maple or birch wood, which are offered by almost all manufacturers. Other commonly used woods are African mahogany, beech, linden, and various precious woods. However, it’s important to be practical here. It’s better to go for a more modest type of wood and invest in great quality drum heads, cymbals, and snare drum, rather than blow it all on your shell pack.

Drum Set Size for Metal

It’s great to play a large drum set, but keep in mind that they are much more trouble to carry around. In addition, it is more difficult and expensive to buy good drum heads. Lots of cymbals also seriously add up the expense!

Verdict

In this list, I’ve included drum sets for metal that should work across almost every different sub-genre as well as budget. It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner, intermediate drummer, a professional stage or live drummer, or you are a rehearsal room manager looking for a drum set to use in one of the rooms, you should find something suitable on this list.

My Top Pick is the Tama Starclassic Walnut/Birch, whereas those on a lower budget should certainly check out the Pearl Export

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