The 4 Best Intermediate Drum Sets Ever – Reviews 2023

best intermediate drum set, best drum set ever

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Although there is a fine selection of top-quality beginner drum kits on the market these days, every musician reaches the point where a newbie set simply won’t cut it anymore. There are plenty of reasons why you have to advance to a higher level, and the main one is that a cheap drum kit simply isn’t capable of delivering the sound worthy of pros.

But don’t think you need to look at thousands of dollars of investment, either. There are quite a few mid-level sets that deliver high quality sound at a fair price. They say that the second kit is the one you hold on to the longest.

Here are our recommendations for the 4 best intermediate drum sets on the market:


Kicking things off, we’d like to introduce you to this gorgeous and sleek white PDP drum kit. PDP is known as the manufacturer of some of the finest mid-level kits on earth, and the PDCM2217PW easily stands out among top representatives.

What we have here is a massive seven-piece kit, and if the amount of components is your primary concert, this is the instrument you’ve been yearning for. A set of two floor toms, three mounting toms, a snare drum, the big bad bass drum, a hi-hat, and a set of three cymbals with all the stands included – you get it all with this PDP.

The kit’s sound is rich, full, and worthy of pros. While we’re not saying that this is the ultimate drum set, it is without a doubt one of the best intermediate drum sets, especially a seven-piece drum set.

Among quality features, note that the PDCM2217PW includes copper snare wires, graduated counter hoops, and die-cast claw hooks. The kit’s specific components include 22″ x 18″ bass drum with a tom mount, 7″ x 8″ tom, 8″ x 10″ tom ,9″ x 12″ tom 12″x14″, floor tom ,14″ x 16″ floor tom, and a 5.5″ x 14″ snare drum.

PDP by DW Concept Maple 7pc Drum Set Demo - Natural Lacquer - Greenbrier Review

Ludwig Signet 105 Drum Set

This kit from Ludwig may not include quite as many pieces as some of the others on the list, but what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in sound. It’s a four-shell set that gives you all the exciting new drums you need and nothing that you don’t, all for a price that should be within the scope of an intermediate player.

These shells have a natural finish that lends the entire kit a simple elegance. In terms of dimensions, you’ll get a 22” kick drum and three sizes of toms. All four shells are built of a durable 6-ply maple. What’s especially cool is that they don’t come fully-assembled. The player builds the kit, giving them the chance to customize it along the way. It’s a quick process and great hands-on experience for an advancing player.

Now to be fair, this isn’t technically a complete kit on its own right out of the box. It doesn’t come with cymbals, or the hardware to go with them—the focus here is completely on the shells. For most intermediate players, though, this isn’t a problem; you can re-use many of those pieces from your old kit and upgrade as needed to match with your new shells. If you can keep this caveat in mind, this remains one of the best intermediate drum sets period.

Dale's Drum Shop - Ludwig Signet 105 Drum Kit

Yamaha Stage Custom

As more of a budget-friendly option, a Yamaha Stage Custom kit is an item you can’t go wrong with. If you’re looking to save a few bucks yet still buy a great intermediate set, get yourself one of these babies.

The sound is very accurate and punchy, and although we’re talking about a five-piece kit, the SC is still capable of delivering tonal versatility in right hands. The drums are 100-percent birch, giving them the ability to strongly resonate and pack a serious punch, something you simply cannot expect from a beginner kit.

The set’s additional notable features include a YESS Mounting system, and a set of die-cast bass drum claw hooks. Once again, we have a versatile item at our hands, meaning that the Stage Custom works equally efficient with rock, jazz, pop, and metal.

Yamaha Stage Custom Maple 5-Piece drum set

Gretsch Catalina Maple

Finally, a piece of beauty for all the jazz-driven drum fanatics out there. Gretsch kits are known as jazz man’s favorite, and a Catalina Maple set is a perfect example why. The seven-ply maple shells provide a bright, yet strong sound, giving the player ability to sway across the sonic specter with mean fills and improvisational patterns.

Note that this is a seven-piece kit, meaning that two floor toms and three mounting toms are included in the mix, which gives you even more freedom to express your inner groove with sonic variations offered by extra drum toms. The drums feature a hand tinted shell interior, as well as a satin shell exterior. They come with all the necessary hardware and a set of Remo heads, making this item one of the best intermediate drum sets on the list.

If you are into jazz drumming, please place this kit among your top options.

Miles Metko - Gretsch Catalina Maple - Interface Test

“What should I focus on when buying an intermediate drum kit?”

Essentially, there are two paths you can take when buying a kit. The first option is to focus purely on sound quality and get yourself the best possible shells, the best wood, and overall the best basic drum components for the budget you’re willing to invest.

By basic drum components, we mean a kick drum, a snare drum, two mounting toms, one floor tom, a hi-hat, and optional crash and ride cymbals.

The second path is to focus on getting more components, such as extra floor or mounting toms and additional cymbals. This gives you additional sonic options, but usually limits the quality since more items means more money you need to invest. There are people who say that less is more, but sometimes you just need to have a few extra components to deliver a certain groove or pattern, so always keep that in mind as well.

Needless to say, there is a path to walk between these two extremes as well, which brings us to that inevitable note – always figure out what you want before hitting the music store. Once you determine how many toms and cymbals you need, feel free to consider one of the options listed above. They’re all top-notch stuff, and among the best drum sets ever.

Written and Reviewed By

  • Micah Johnson started playing music in high school, when he taught himself the bass to join his friend’s band. He added guitar and drums during his twenties playing in local clubs, and along the way, he picked up unique, hands-on experience from hand drums to studio mixers. On Song Simian, he aims to share this knowledge from 20+ years playing and recording music. When not in gearhead mode, he enjoys photography and travel.

  • Marko is the senior editor and writer on Ultimate Guitar, the No. 1 guitar spot on the web, since early 2013. His work was also featured on a variety of other notable gear spots such as Guitar Fella, Consordini, and, of course, Song Simian. His musical journey began at a very young age, and he finally opted to pick up an instrument in his early teenage years. A fan of King Crimson. A travel enthusiast.

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