Most drummers start with a 5 piece drum set, and many people never move up to a higher drum count.
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Sure, the Neil Pearts of the world can do amazing things on a dizzying array of toms, but many excellent, accomplished players play amazing music with only five drums.
The iconic look of the 5-piece set, with its two toms sitting on top of a bass drum, is what most of us think of when we think of a drum set, anyway, right?
What Drums are in a 5 Piece Drum Set?
Almost without exception, the configuration of a 5 piece drum set is carved in stone, and rarely do we see 5-pieces deviate from:
- One bass drum, usually 20” or more in diameter
- One snare drum
- Two toms (sometimes called wing toms, as they mount on top of the bass drum) in diameters at or near ten and 12 inches
- One floor tom that might be 16 inches in diameter
You can find more in-depth discussions of each of these (and more) here.
What is Included in a 5 Piece Drum Set?
The moniker is a bit counterintuitive. The five in “5 piece drum set” refers to the number of drums (see list above), although there are many, many more than five pieces included.
While not all drum sets come with hardware and cymbals included, a complete set includes (on top of the five drums mentioned above):
- Hi-hat and cymbals
- Hi-hat and cymbal stands
- Snare drum stand
- Bass drum pedal
- Three legs to support the floor tom
- Drum throne
- Hardware for mounting the wing toms on the bass drum
Start adding auxiliary instruments like a woodblock or a cowbell, and you can rapidly increase the number of actual pieces included in your 5 piece drum set.
Our Top Picks for 5 Piece Drum Sets
So many choices can overwhelm us, so let’s break some great sets into categories so you’ll have a better idea of what’s available.
There’s a set out there for every kind of drummer, so take your time and explore your options. You’ve made a good start by ending up here as part of your research.
Best Ludwig 5-Piece Drum Set: Ludwig Element Evolution 5-Piece Drum Set*
Ludwig drums have been around for more than a century. They have staying power because these sets are durable, well-made, and they sound fantastic. While it’s the poor musician who blames his instrument, it’s still a nice bonus to play an exquisite set.
Built with poplar, the six-ply wood of the drums makes for great resonance, and the Ludwig hardware can take a beating, so if you’ve got this set on the road, you can rest assured it will stand up to your demands.
The included Zildjian cymbals are two hi-hats, a 16-inch crash, and a 20-inch ride, and that’s about as standard as you can find, which means versatility and dependability.
Plus, they’re Zildjian cymbals, which are, to many, the industry standard. Not included is a cymbal bag, which you’ll want to find for your precious Zildjians.
- Best for intermediate players, though no advanced player will turn her nose up at this set
- Produces big sound, great for rock playing
- Several different size configurations are available
Best 5-piece Drum Set for Beginners: Pearl Roadshow Drum Set 5-Piece Complete Kit*
Featuring a larger, 22-inch bass drum, Pearl’s Roadshow set looks imposing and can produce a corresponding sound.
However, at an affordable price point, this set is an excellent choice for those just now taking on the whole drum set. This terrific first kit provides quality drums from an established brand that won’t wreck your budget.
Included cymbals are Pearl’s own brand, and the drum heads are single-ply. What these facts mean is that you’ll get performance from them, but at higher playing levels, like playing in a nightclub, it may require more from the set than it can provide.
- Best for beginning set players
- Cymbals are functional but not the best on the market
- 9-ply poplar drum shells help produce a solid sound
Best Modular 5-Piece Drum Set: Yamaha Stage Custom Birch 5pc Drum Shell Pack*
This is truly a 5 piece drum set in that it includes five drums and nothing else. This means that when you decide on purchasing this set, you’ll also need to budget for cymbals and all your hardware.
If you’re a brand new drummer, you might forget something, or you may not want to sink more money into something you don’t know if you’ll stick with.
These drums will serve a beginning drummer well and will allow her to improve without outgrowing the set. Along the same lines, more than one working professional plays on the Yamaha Stage Custom line.
While no set can prevent common drumset problems we all encounter at some point, having a quality set to begin with can cut down on those issues’ frequency.
Yamaha has created lug nuts (the hardware that holds the drum head down, tight, which helps the drums produce different pitches) that are small and light, which means less mass on the outside of the drum to dampen its vibrations.
Since the vibrations of the drum literally are the sound, engineering for maximum vibration just makes sense.
- Allows for customization since you pick your own everything once you have the drums
- Birch construction is sturdy and unlikely to lose its shape
- A versatile set for many ability levels
Best 5-Piece Drum Set with Cymbals: Tama Imperialstar Drum Set
A 22-inch bass drum and Meinl cymbals set this drum apart from many others in this class. Since people have their preferences, some prefer Meinl cymbals, Paiste, or other quality brands of cymbals.
But the drums are the star here. Tama has been around for almost half a century because it makes great drums.
This particular line uses an oak wrap for its drums, giving them a distinctive look and sound, and you won’t find tougher drums and hardware than Tama’s. These are also incredibly versatile drums at home in a large variety of genres.
Also, the Tama bass drum pedal is a thing of legend. Even if you argue about what shoe to wear when you play, it’s hard to argue against this pedal.
- Tama drums are tough and sound terrific
- While this price level appeals to beginners, this is a set that many pros use throughout the music world because it produces
- Many sets have an included snare drum that needs to be replaced by a higher quality drum, but that is not the case with Tama, as their snares are crisp and solid
Best 5-Piece Drum Set with Cymbals (Runner-Up): Gretsch Energy 5-Piece Drum Set w/Hardware and Zildjian Cymbals
Another in the everything-included category, this set from Gretsch is a great value. Gretsch is a respected name in the percussion world, and snagging a set of this quality with cymbals included at this price is pretty impressive.
Zildjian Planet Z cymbals come with the set, and while Planet Z isn’t Zildjian’s top line of cymbals, Zildjian cymbals are like pizza—even those that aren’t the best are still pretty good.
Add these to a Gretsch set, and you’re on your way to becoming an accomplished player (provided you practice) with a great set. If you’ve got a great kit like this, practice will be more fun, which means practicing more, making you better, etc.
- Poplar shells make for great sound
- Higher-end set for beginner and intermediate-level players
- Four different finishes are available
Learning the drums involves a great deal of effort. Mastering the drums requires so much more. When you’ve worked that hard, you want to play on a drum set worthy of your talent and time investment.
Finding the best 5 piece drum set means evaluating how and where you play, as well as an honest assessment of your abilities.
Once you settle on the right set, you can turn your focus back to playing those drums and making music. When that happens, your search will have been worth it. Until then, do your research to find the right set for you.