Metal Drummer, Eh?
Whether you are a new drummer to the metal scene or you’ve been playing metal music for years, you may be wondering, what are the best drums for metal?
Drums And More Drums
The best drums for metal are the following 10 based on ratings, reviews, and versatility:
- Ludwig Vistalite 50th Anniversary “Zep” 5-Piece Shell Pack
- DW Design Series 5-piece Shell Pack with Snare Drum
- Pork Pie Rosewood Zebra Maple 5-Piece Shell Pack Rosewood Zebra
- Mapex Armory Series Exotic Studioease Shell Pack
- Pearl Export 8-piece Double Bass Drum Set with Snare Drum
- Tama Starclassic Walnut and Birch 5-piece Shell Pack
- Gretsch Drums Catalina Maple 6-Piece Shell Pack With Free 8″ Tom
- Ludwig Centennial Zep 4-Piece Shell Pack
- Yamaha Stage Custom Birch 5-Piece Shell Pack With 22″ Bass Drum
- Pacific Drums Concept Maple Drum Shell Kit, 7-Piece
It’s difficult with so many choices and different scenarios, but you have a lot of good options. With metal having so many different subgenres, versatility in our drums is a great thing. Let’s dig into these drums and what makes them stand out.
The Best Drums For Metal Explained
1. Ludwig Vistalite 50th Anniversary “Zep” 5-Piece Shell Pack with 26 in. Bass Drum
Ludwig has been making some of the best drum kits for various genres across the music industry since the early 1900s.
They are/have been associated with drummers such as: Ringo Starr, Roger Taylor, and Dave Lombardo to name a few!
This is a recreation of John Bonham’s legendary acrylic set from his performances in Led Zeppelin’s film, The Song Remains the Same. From his drum solo in “Moby Dick”, to the intro of “When the Levee Breaks”, this is basically that beautiful kit.
It also includes a LM402 Supraphonic snare and with this setup, you’ll have an identical drum sound to Bonham!
This shell pack features a 14″ x 26″ kick drum, 10″ x 14″ rack tom, 2 floor toms (16″ x 16″ and 16″ x 18″), and the 6.5″ x 14″ Supraphonic snare, which is one of the best snare drums you could get in this case.
With acrylic, bigger drum sizes, and 45 degree bearing edges with a slight outer bevel, the overall sound has a huge attack and is very responsive!
From rock music to thrash metal, this drum set has you covered with its loud, sensitive, and present tone.
The acrylic is also very durable, so you can rest easy knowing shell cracks won’t be a thing. This is one of the best drum kits you could get to play in your metal band.
Drummers have said they like the sound projection this kit makes and that the tone of these are completely unsurpassed.
They also say it’s extremely warm, can be used for a variety of music genres, and that if you have the chance to purchase it, you should.
Some negative things said about the drums are that they could have used the original T-shaped tension rods that Bonham used and that the kit could be more identically replicated.
I’ve never played this kit, but it sounds phenomenal. I play a Ludwig Keystone X and my kick drum is a 24″ and it has a huge sound, so I could only imagine the sound of a bigger kick made of acrylic! I would never NOT recommend Ludwig. Ludwig are definitely some of the best drums for metal.
- Very responsive and huge attack
- Great sound projection
- Could have been more identically replicated to John Bonham’s kit
2. DW DDAC2215CL Design Series 5-piece Shell Pack with Snare Drum
Metal drummers, here is another top pick for those who want some punchy drums. DW make some of the best drum sets in the industry and have been around since the early 70s.
This kit is clear acrylic, so also your best option for naturally projecting loud punchiness! This is a really warm sounding kit with a nice crack to the kick, but with low-end tonalities (beefy).
This shell pack features a 18″ x 22″ kick drum, 2 rack toms (8″ x 10″ and 9″ x 12″), a 14″ x 16″ floor tom, and a 5.5″ x 14″ snare drum. Drummers have said that this kit sings and it’s easy to tune with true pitch tuning. The design series hardware is also of outstanding quality.
Drummers have said that if you’re not careful you can scratch these. Also, no tom mounts are included for the rack toms
This would be a great choice kit for several styles including death metal and progressive metal as the beefy and expansive sound is plenty with this one. the kick drum is large enough, but not too big (Ludwig Vistalite’s 26″ vs. this 22″). The smaller toms will allow the drums to cut through the mix more instead of blending in with guitars and bass (like larger toms can).
There is nothing wrong with huge kicks, but it can be easier to exhaust yourself on larger kick drums. With fast double bass drum pedal parts in a lot of different subgenres of metal, you’ll need more stamina, so it would make sense to go with a reasonable size that is easier on your playing.
Plus, the kick apparently feels great to play. Tune up the snare, throw some single-ply Remo drum heads on the toms, and you’re ready to effortlessly stroke out blast beats with a bright sounding great kit.
- Natural projection and punchiness from acrylic
- Warm sounding with a nice crack to the kick
- True pitch tuning makes it easier to stay in tune and sound good
- Can be easier to scratch if not properly cleaned
- Doesn’t come with a tom mount for the rack toms
3. Pork Pie Rosewood Zebra Maple 5-Piece Shell Pack Rosewood Zebra
At a lower price range than the Ludwig Vistalite, you can get this Pork Pie kit that sounds and looks superb. Pork pie makes solid drums and has been associated with bands such as Fleetwood Mac, Van Halen, and Blink 182.
Constructed with Pork Pie’s progressive-ply design, this shell has maple interior shells and an exterior of rosewood with a cool looking ‘zebra’ design.
The maple shells add warmth while the rosewood gives great attack! The pack includes a 22″ x 18″ kick drum, 2 rack toms (10″ x 8″ and 12″ x 9″), a 14″ x 12″ floor tom, and a 14″ x 5.5″ snare drum.
It comes with Remo heads, so you’ll be able to jam as soon as possible (no cymbals or hardware included). Drummers have said this kit has a huge tone and is very responsive.
It is also great for many styles of music. One drummer had mentioned that this kit is up there, in terms of sound, with the more expensive DW line. No matter what kind of drum beats you are laying down, this kit handles all tuning really well.
A negative is that it doesn’t come with any tom mounts, but just a mounting system. Also, this picture shows 2 floor toms, but it only comes with 1, which is kind of misleading.
I’ve played Pork Pie a lot in the past. One time, we played a show with this heavy metal band called Tearing Down Vegas back in 2008 and their drummer was using a Pork Pie kit. I think they made some of the best drums for metal.
I couldn’t believe how cutting and beefy it sounded. I eventually ended up getting a Little Squealer snare drum and actually have that tattooed on the inside of my left arm.
Whether you are playing black metal or jazz, this covers a lot. Don’t be fooled into thinking smaller tom sizes won’t get you the ‘metal drums’ sound, Pork Pie kits have unmatched volume and tone.
- Very versatile for many styles including metal
- Huge tone and responsive
- Misleading picture, as only one floor tom comes with this pack
4. Mapex Armory Series Exotic Studioease Shell Pack Ultramarine Gloss
These Mapex Armory drums are a setup ready for any style of playing. These are the latest realization of Mapex and their hybrid shell realization.
They have taken their Armory series and applied this beautiful wrap. These drum shells are a fusion of maple and birch, delivering the nicest tones wrapped in one.
They are 6 plies thick and the SONIClear bearing edges allow better response, sustain, and easier tuning because how well the head sits on these shells.
This pack features a 22″ x 18″ bass drum, 2 rack toms (10″ x 8″ and 12″ x 9″), 2 floor toms (14″ x 14″ and 16″ x 16″) and a 14″ x 5.5″ Mapex Tomahawk steel snare drum.
This kit really has a lot of punch from that birch and a very nice attack, warmth, and depth due to the maple. Drummers have said this kit is sensitive but has huge tone!
The kick is beefy and snappy, the snare has nice crack, and the toms sing. They also like how you can swap our your snare drum (*within 2 weeks of buying*) with Mapex if you don’t like it and choose from another one of their 4 snare drums in the line.
Drummers have complained about cracks happening in the lacquer on the shells and also how the snare drum includes poor hardware.
I haven’t played this series from Mapex. I have played the Mapex Mars crossover kit in the past though, which is a cheaper line than this intermediate kit and it sounded and felt flawless.
I think I had one of my best shows playing that kit. It sounded so big and mean. I was playing metal for that show and if that one worked as a ‘metal drum set’, than I know the Armory series has you covered.
- Beefy and snappiness with nice depth and attack due to the birch/maple hybrid
- The toms really sing
- Potential problems of poor hardware on the snare drum have been made known
5. Pearl Export EXX728DB/C 8-piece Double Bass Drum Set with Snare Drum
If you want a large kit with 2 kick drums, this is it! There’s a reason the Pearl Export is one of the best selling drum sets and now you can get it with new hardware features, SST shell construction and mounts that are suspended.
The shells are 6-ply poplar and mahogany and they really put out some balanced attack and full tone. Pearl’s new lugs are designed for sound as it helps the shells maintain maximum resonance and sustain.
This shell pack features 2 bass drums (22″ x 18″), 3 rack toms (“8 x 6″, 10″ x 7″, and 12″ x 8″), 2 floor toms (14″ x 14″ and 16″ x 16″), and a 14″ x 5.5” snare drum.
It also comes with all the hardware (minus drum throne), so a really great value. All the other drums we’ve talked about don’t include any hardware like this one.
Drummers have said this has a huge tone and is super responsive right out of the box. The kick drums are nice and punchy and don’t slide and this kit is easy to tune.
Drummers who have been playing Pearl Export for years say that they keep improving with time. Also, using coated heads will round out your tone on this kit.
Some complaints about this one are that the tom mounts could be longer and some are complaining about their kit having a flat sound.
I’ve never played this specific kit, but I played a regular Pearl Export for years and always loved how punchy and loud it was.
It worked for so many styles of music and I used it to play a lot of metal and heavy rock. I got compliments on my toms a lot and all I did was use some weather stripping under the batter heads to rid some of the overtones.
The sound of modern metal has definitely been affected by drummers with double kicks and this kit gives you the chance to make more great music.
Joey Jordison (RIP), who was the drummer of Slipknot, was endorsed by Pearl and his kit always sounded phenomenal and he utilized double kicks.
- Balanced attack and full tone
- All hardware is included (minus a drum throne)!
- Tom mounts could be longer
6. Tama Starclassic Walnut and Birch WBR52LS 5-piece Shell Pack
Tama has to be mentioned on a list of best drums for metal! Famous metal drummers like Mike Portnoy, Dave Lombardo, and Lars Ulrich all use/have used Tama drums.
They are a staple for metal music and these drums would be perfect. These drums feature a combination of birch and walnut. From that we have this awesomely dynamic sound that really have the warmth of birch shells increased by the heavier attack of the walnut plies.
It has a punchy attack and a lot of sustain is really preserved due to a number of things. These shells feature their great hardware that sets the Starclassic series apart from the rest.
It also comes fitted with Evans G2 coated, Evans G1 clear heads, and an EQ4 kick batter head. This shell pack includes a 16″ x 22″ bass drum, 2 rack toms (8″ x 10″and 9″ x 12″), 2 floor toms (12″ x 14″ and 14″ x 16″), BUT a snare drum is not included with this shell pack.
I know that’s a bummer, but you’re not skimping out on quality at all here. Drummers have said this pack is of the highest quality and has superior low-mid frequency warmth.
It compliments the attack and projection of birch. They’ve also said this kit has great body and is delicious. 🍔 I’ve played and owned Tama drums and have always enjoyed the fullness they provide.
I will never use any other cymbal stands other than Tama and I’ve been in love with the Iron Cobra pedals since I was a teenager. I recommend Tama. I wrote all about them in this article here.
- Birch and walnut hybrid gives really nice attack and warmth
- Different Evans series heads included
- No snare drum included with this pack
7. Gretsch Drums Catalina Maple 6-Piece Shell Pack With Free 8″ Tom
Gretsch’s legacy has made so much impact on American music. I had to include them on the metal list! Also, this is actually a 7-piece due to the FREE tom!
This Gretsch Catalina Maple kit in particular has so many toms for you to come up with some really cool parts on. It has a wide-range tone and explosive dynamics.
It’s a 7 ply 100% maple that is bright and punchy and sounds good no matter what. It features 30 degree bearing edges and that along with the maple give it a bit of attack with a punchy warmth.
Gretsch’s 5 lug design also allow the smaller toms to give more resonance. There is nice beef from the floor toms, even more beef and punchiness with the kick, and a snappy attack with great volume on the snare.
This pack features a 18″ x 22″ kick drum, 3 rack toms (7″ x 8″, 7″ x 10″, and 8″ x 12″), 2 floor tom (14″ x 14″ and 16″ x 16″), and a 6″ x 14″ snare drum.
Drummers have said this kit stays in tune and that there is a real tone difference between the toms, allowing them to sing.
Some complaints have been about the hardware going into the bass drum shell and how that could affect the resonance.
Other complaints have been about the hoops being bent pretty bad. I’ve never owned a Gretsch, but I’ve played and recorded on one a handful of times. I think they are one of the best drums for metal.
I remember being impressed at how much punchy thud I was getting from the kick drum. I could feel every note I played. Aaron Gillespie of the metalcore band Underoath endorses Gretsch drums.
- Explosive dynamics and wide-range tone
- 30-degree bearing edges and 5-lug design allow more warmth and resonance
- Potential problem with bent hoops
8. Ludwig Centennial Zep 4-Piece Shell Pack
Here’s another shell pack that will work amazingly for heavy music and was inspired by John Bonham.
Originally created to honor the 100th anniversary of Ludwig drums in 2009, Ludwig Centennial Series Drums, such as this Centennial Zep 4-piece shell pack, have been expanded to include three new models, each of which is popular and has tour-ready configurations.
Made from 6 plies, the warmth and projection of North American maple shells provide countless options for harmonizing with a wide range of band setups.
This pack has supreme resonance and a dependable tune. The shell pack features a 26″ x 14″ kick drum, a 14″ x 10″ rack tom, and 2 floor toms (16″ x 16″ and 18″ x 16″), but no snare drum.
Drummers have said this shell pack has a huge tone and is multidimensional in terms of the great sound of it. There have been complaints of the shells not being made in USA, but rather, Tawaiin.
Also, there were some complaints about certain toms coming in defective. I love the way this kit sounds and almost bought it back in 2018.
I opted for a Ludwig Keystone X instead and canceled this order. It has a huge sound and the floor toms give the thunderous noise that you’d want in floor toms. Also, you can’t beat a 26″ kick drum!
- Extreme resonance with the size of these drums
- Dependable tune
- Potential tom defects
9. Yamaha Stage Custom Birch 5-Piece Shell Pack With 22″ Bass Drum Raven Black
Yamaha is another brand you shouldn’t sleep on. This Yamaha Stage Custom shell pack is made of 6-ply 100% birch and is great for both beginners and working professionals alike.
These drums really sing and the birch wood really gives it a full roundness with plenty of projection. The tonal qualities are undeniable!
Also, the low-mass lugs allow the shells to vibrate, adding to the great tone and sustain. This shell pack features a 22″ x 17″ kick drum, 2 rack toms (10″ x 7″ and 12″ x 8″), a 16″ x 15″ floor tom, and a 14″ x 5.5″ snare drum.
Drummers have said this kit has a great natural resonance and a balanced, warm tone with exceptional punch, especially the kick drum.
These shells are durable as well. Drummers have complained of a lack of weight in sound projection volume and also a hard time tuning the toms.
I played a Yamaha kit growing up at church and always enjoyed the sound of it. I’m not sure if it was a stage custom, but it projected fine and worked for the music. Lots of double bass was played on that kit.
- These drums sing with full roundness and projection
- Greater tone and sustain due to low-mass lugs
- You may have a problem tuning the toms
10. Pacific Drums Concept Maple Drum Shell Kit, 7-Piece
This PDP Concept Maple kit is another one worth mentioning! This 7-ply maple pack is perfect for anyone looking for the amazing quality of DW kits, but for a fraction of this cost (as PDP drums are made by DW).
This is a great sounding kit with warm depth and responsiveness. It features suspension tom mounts and true pitch tension rods to help the drums resonate more and for easier tuning. Its versatility allows you the opportunity for different sounds and the huge tone is perfect for metal.
This pack features a 22″ x 18″ bass drum, 3 rack toms (8″ x 7″, 10″ x 8″, and 12″ x 9″), 2 floor toms (14″ x 12″ and 16″ x 14″), and a 14″ x 5.5″ snare drum.
That is plenty of toms and a great option for different genres. Drummers have said this kit has a full, rich, open sound with great shattering projection.
Also, no muffling was needed on the toms or bass drum. Apparently, these drums sing like birds! Some complaints about the tension rods coming loose and detuning and also the quality of the tom holders have been mentioned.
I have never played a PDP kit, but I’ve played shows with many drummers who’ve used them. They stand the projection and quality test for sure. They also sound exceptionally responsive! They are made by one of the best drum manufacturers!
- Bright and punchy and easy to tune
- Nice tone difference between each drum
- Great value
- Detuning issues
- Tom holder quality may be questionable
Some Notes About Recording Drums/DAW:
If you are looking for the best drum vst or drum plugin to use to give your drum tracks more pop in your DAW, I’d recommend Steven Slate drums, Addictive drums, Superior Drummer, or EZDrummer to name a few. I have always used Steven Slate’s products and love the drum samples that are basically plug-n-play. I like that I don’t have to mess with samples and can just find something within seconds in the drum library. There are tons of choices that perfect for metal drummer!
So Many Best Drum Kits.. Explore!
There are so many great choices for you to play for metal. Sadly, only 10 are on this list, but I hope it’s been helpful for you.
I’m certain all these shell packs and kits work for metal and all kinds of other styles. Drummers like Chris Adler, Lars Ulrich, Dave Lombardo, and Mike Portnoy wouldn’t use these drum brands if they didn’t deliver.
What you like today will be different tomorrow. Our styles and ears change as we progress through this musical journey together.
Your Drum Sound Is Unique
I’d love to hear your thoughts! What are your opinions on the best drums for metal? Which one is your favorite or is there one I didn’t mention? I’d love to hear in the comments below.
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Until next time, stay attuned!