I'm with you on these four, not necessarily in that order. I could throw a dart, hit any one and be happy with the drums, hardware, etc.This type of thread has probably been done before, and I didn't search.
But I have some time to kill, so I'll start this up and see where it goes.
One drum company for all your needs, who would you pick?
I'm talking hardware, toms, snares, everything (except cymbals, of course).
I realize this is all a matter of opinion, but here's my picks, with some reasoning to back it up.
*** #1 - Tama
Pros: Very nice hardware and excellent pedals. My favorite is the good old Iron Cobra.
I've also enjoyed Starclassic and Starphonic snare drums. Probably my favorite by far.
Good selections of types of woods across the board for toms and bass drums.
Cons: I really don't like the latest rubber gasket tom mounting brackets.
Sure it isolates the shell and the resonance is good, but the toms flop around too much for me.
I position my toms as low to the bass drum as possible, and I'm always having to adjust them to keep them from bumping into the bass drum and each other.
It's also a drag that it takes sometimes 6-8 months to get any add-on toms for my kits.
*** #2 - Pearl
Pearl was a big player in the 90's but for some reason, unknown to me, that aren't as popular as they once were, at least in my area (central PA).
My local drum shop doesn't even carry that much Pearl equipment anymore. They used to have it all.
Pros: Nice hardware and pedals. I really like the Eliminator pedals. Demon pedals never worked for my personally, but that's not to say they are "bad".
Nice snare drums, the sensitone line is very good quality for the money.
I think the Session Studio (select and classic) are really good drums for the price.
Cons: Many people dislike the tubular tom mounting system, mostly based on "looks". For me, it's fine.
*** #3 - DW
A lot of folks seem to really like or really hate DW. I'm somewhere in the middle.
Pros: They make some really nice snare drums.
Add on toms are readily available in many sizes, especially in the Performance line.
If you want to make a kit with very specific tom sizes and depths, you can probably get it done with DW.
Cons: The hardware stands are high quality, but often too heavy and very expensive.
I have a love/hate thing with my 5000 series bass drum pedals.
Sometimes they feel right, and other times they don't.
I did grind down the "meat tenderizer" heel plate on my pedals.
*** #4 - Yamaha
Pros: The stage custom is a good starter kit and a good kit to take out on gigs.
I have a Recording Custom kit, and it might be the best sounding kit I ever played (after some mods, which I'll state in the cons).
Snares are nice, but I never ended up keeping any of them, favoring the brands listed above.
Cons: While the stage custom is "good for the money" it's not without flaws.
I've had issues with memory locks stripping out and once received a new bass drum that had some separation of the plys.
The Recording Customs and Absolute Hybid Maples are nice, but very expensive.
While I like the positioning ability of the YESS mounts, they do seem to kill the resonance on my RC toms.
When I hold the tom by the mount, in my hand, they resonated nicely.
When I mounted them, the resonance vanished. I tried many different heads and tunings.
I finally resolved the issue by adding the RIMMS suspension to the toms.
More money spent on an already expensive kit.
So, what about Sonor, Mapex, Ludwig, etc?
I did try the Ludwig Atlas Pro BD pedal. It was nice, but I ended up sticking with my Tama and Pearl pedals.
I do have a Supraphonic snare drum that came with my first real kit in the 80's.
It's okay, and I keep it for sentimental reasons (so many gigs played with it), but I prefer the other brands mentioned above.
Honestly, I don't have enough experience other brands to make an opinion.
How many different brands can one person own?
I have two flying dragon pedals, one a single chain, and then one a direct drive. They're great.Are you "all Yamaha" guys using their bass drum pedals too?
Agreed! I like that order. I happen to still own drums by both Tama and DW, and they're excellent products. I didn't care much for the Stagemaster hardware I had in the early 1990s; it was fine, but the Yamaha equivalent was always the better bet. I've owned their Rockstar, Granstar, Artstar ES, Artstar II and Artstar Custom kits. All of these were fantastic, with the exception of the Artstar ES, which was a mildly dressed-up Rockstar and really didn't deserve the Artstar badge (but still sounded fine).Yamaha by a mile
In that order