Question: upgrading sets

markkarj

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My main question is how much of a difference did you experience going from a mid-line kit to something at the top?

I have a Premier XPK kit from the late 90s with some additions... it's served me well. The toms are RIMS mounted, and I've generally used Ambassadors or G1s for heads (with the exception of Super Kicks on the bass drum). I've added some toms over time, and a larger custom bass and floor tom. It's a mutt of a kit, but it seems to work.

Lately I have seen some decent deals for used kits such as a Yamaha Absolute Hybrid (bass and four toms plus cases for $2500 CAD), and an Oak Custom (bass, snare and four toms for $2350 CAD).

Inasmuch as I'd like to upgrade, is it worth it in your opinion or do I just have gear envy? More specifically:
1) Will I get more resonance out of those drums;
2) Is the tuning range any greater; and
3) If you've gone from a mid-level kit (I appreciate the XPKs were a very strong value for money), did the higher end kit meet your expectations?

Inasmuch as I've been able to acquire some great high-end cymbals, I'm now looking back realizing I've always played mid-level drums and had limited opportunity on higher end kits. I think I should be happy with what I've got... I suppose I'm trying to justify (or quell) my temptation for something else.

I realize I have the space to store another kit. Premier drums just don't seem to command any value these days, so I doubt I'd be able to sell them for any appreciable figure.

I'd welcome learning about your experiences.
 

Mcjnic

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There is not a huge difference if you are currently playing a nice mid-line kit. Yours is pretty cool.
There are some lower end kits that just lack the sound. They are difficult and fight you to get a good sound. Now, there is a huge difference between one of the rougher mid lines and a top tier kit.
Again, if you start with a nice one, there is not a huge difference stepping up.
There are some amazing high end kits. But I’ve not come across one that is genuinely that much of a step up from a nice mid level.
They are a step up, but not HUGE. Just a tap dance away.
I’ve had vintage kits that put current top tier kits away sound wise.
I own a top tier kit. It sounds phenomenal. But it isn’t my go to kit.

If you’re searching for a different sound, then yes. You might want to venture out. But it may not be a high end kit. It just might be an old vintage kit or a mid level birch or something.

You just gotta enjoy your kit. Put away all that noise and focus on your sound.
Enjoy what you play and don’t concern yourself with what could be. Stand on what is.
 

lossforgain

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Mcjnic is right. You have a decent set. But there's nothing wrong with wanting to "upgrade" or try something new. As someone who has owned sets from all the major drum companies, some minor ones, and some not producing drums anymore, I can confidently say that there are a ton of good choices out there. I don't think anyone currently making drums is making total crap (although every company makes a bad one sometime).

Do your homework, listen to sound samples, watch YouTube videos, and if you can, go to the music store and tap on some nice drums. Decide if you like the sound of maple, birch, poplar, or something else. Consider saving a ton of money by buying used. If you're only going to buy one more drum set in your life, are you confident enough in your choice to be done shopping? If not, no shame in that, but make sure you leave room in your budget or have a plan to raise the funds to buy and try more.

My suggestion for pro level sets on a budget (used):
- Ludwig Classic Maple from the 90s and 00s can often be had for $800-1500 a set
- Tama Starclassic birch or birch/bubinga are great sounding drums in the same price range or less
 

Squirrel Man

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I got back into drumming earlier this year and got a Pearl Roadshow then thought I'd get a better set and got a Decade.

After replacing the mounting hardware on the Roadshow because the stock arms, mounts were junk I found out that with the right heads and tuning the Roadshow is fine compared to the Decade and I've been playing that kit exclusively.

I could easily chalk off the Decade purchase as an impulse buy but I'm pretty sure I'm at some point soon hopefully be playing with other musicians and I think I'll need a second kit so I'm keeping it but in hindsight I would have stuck solely with the Roadshow and picked up a used something or another or a mid range second kit like an Export.
 

Mn02

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Unfortunately, better gear does not make one a better drummer. That said, I fully subscribe to Todd Sucherman’s statement that you should play gear that inspires you. Thus, whether it is vintage, mid line, top line or firewood, if it inspires you to play, it is a good buy and worth it. I have a mid line kit that makes me smile every time I hit and a top line kit that does the same thing. They sound slightly different, but I couldn’t tell you one is objectively better than the other.
 

pwc1141

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I had an up-grade at end last year when I went back to a custom conventional sized bop kit after some years of portable small sized and shallow drums that were versatile and convenient but not truly what my acoustic jazz gigs called for in sound or aesthetics. I don't expect to ever buy another kit from here on in.
 

cruddola

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My main question is how much of a difference did you experience going from a mid-line kit to something at the top?

I have a Premier XPK kit from the late 90s with some additions... it's served me well. The toms are RIMS mounted, and I've generally used Ambassadors or G1s for heads (with the exception of Super Kicks on the bass drum). I've added some toms over time, and a larger custom bass and floor tom. It's a mutt of a kit, but it seems to work.

Lately I have seen some decent deals for used kits such as a Yamaha Absolute Hybrid (bass and four toms plus cases for $2500 CAD), and an Oak Custom (bass, snare and four toms for $2350 CAD).

Inasmuch as I'd like to upgrade, is it worth it in your opinion or do I just have gear envy? More specifically:
1) Will I get more resonance out of those drums;
2) Is the tuning range any greater; and
3) If you've gone from a mid-level kit (I appreciate the XPKs were a very strong value for money), did the higher end kit meet your expectations?

Inasmuch as I've been able to acquire some great high-end cymbals, I'm now looking back realizing I've always played mid-level drums and had limited opportunity on higher end kits. I think I should be happy with what I've got... I suppose I'm trying to justify (or quell) my temptation for something else.

I realize I have the space to store another kit. Premier drums just don't seem to command any value these days, so I doubt I'd be able to sell them for any appreciable figure.
Preliere
I'd welcome learning about your experiences.
I've had many drum sets come and go over my near 6 decades of drumming. I will tell you that I've settled on what I believe to have the widest tuning range of drums available. They are the most recorded in modern history and are powerhouses in performances. I've toured with them too. They were always available but I never owned one until my retirement. The Legendary Yamaha Recording Customs. RC's and an ACRO snare will go with anything. Anything. While waiting for a used set to come up for sale I purchased a used 7-piece set of Yamaha Maple Custom Absolutes in Plumb stain to hold me over. WOW! I even bought another exact set I keep at another residence. I love their sustain, the more, the merrier! I have since acquired an exact-sized 1990's Recording Custom set in Piano Black Stain. Nothing like the blending of long sustaining drums. Much like a chord. Those Recording Customs ARE the bomb! Good luck at finding your gear!
 

Drumbumcrumb

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Yeah, you’re not going to see a huge difference based on higher price alone. You have good drums. The good mid level drums are made so well that the differences as you go up are pretty small as far as tuneability, sustain, etc. The law of diminishing returns is in full effect. Different sizes, edges, and materials make a bigger difference than price. Does a $3000 set necessarily sound 3x better than a $1000 set? No, certainly not. If you like a fat, woolly vintage vibe, a $1000 set of vintage drums with rerings and triple flanges will blow away a $3000 set of ultra-modern drums with sharp edges,shallow toms, and cast hoops, for YOU.

I’d approach it more like this -

What is my ideal sound? (This will be about shell sizes, shell materials, bearing edges, vintage/modern. Maybe there’s an artist whose sound you’ve always aspired to, or a YT drummer whose kit you long for. Maybe there’s a sound in your head that you haven’t heard in any kit)

What would I most like to sit down to? (Size of kit, number of toms, finish. Bop kit? 7 toms on a rack? Bonham tribute?)

Once you narrow those things down, maybe the ‘ultimate’ kit for you is a pricey custom kit OR maybe it’s old Ludwig Club Dates OR maybe it’s Starclassics. Or whatever. And hey, if you find ‘THE’ kit and it costs - if you have the space and can afford it, DO IT. You only live once. Play your favorite set, whatever that ends up being.
 
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I made the choice some time ago to have multiple mid-range kits vs 1 or 2 high end kits. This allows me to have access to a variety of tonal woods and sizes vs having 1 static high-end configuration. I can also make some mistakes and resell mid ranged kits pretty quickly and pivot into something else, I fear a high-end custom kit may not resell as easily.. But that's just me, I love exploring what is out there and like to switch things up regularly just to keep it fun and would personally not feel comfortable commiting to 1 long-term kit.
 

Jazzhead

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The drum teacher I work with has a Chinese made Sonor drum set with 20” bass drum ($400 for the set brand new) with all remo heads and nice tuning, the set sounds like a $4000 set, no joke!
He even uses the stock snare that came with the kit with a Remo Emperor X head and it sounds beautiful tuned up.
I think what you have is good unless you really really want a specific drum set for any reason.
 

Drumceet

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I currently play a s Yamaha SC but always wanted a Ludwig set, I’m just conflicted on the sizes to get. I’ve found a used classic maple 24x16, 13x9 and 16x16 in cortex black for $1450 Canadian. Wondering if that’s a good deal? I’m not sure I should hold out for a 24x14 bass drum and another color. Black cortex would not be my first choice but I assume it’s a good deal.
 


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