Are High End Drums a Giant Waste of Money?

Chris Whitten

Silver Member
For the most part that's right.
But, often people who hire us do expect a high quality, professional level of equipment.
It goes also for auditioning, any recording, etc...
It's ok if you are amongst friends or your music playing is purely recreational.
The first few studio sessions I went to without a Supraphonic or Black Beauty snare, and with clangy 'rock' cymbals, the recording engineer had already made up his mind as I was setting up none of it was going to sound good. Regardless of whether it's judgemental or not, you don't want to start the day on the back foot.
 

Juniper

Gold Member
For the most part that's right.
But, often people who hire us do expect a high quality, professional level of equipment.
It goes also for auditioning, any recording, etc...
It's ok if you are amongst friends or your music playing is purely recreational.
The first few studio sessions I went to without a Supraphonic or Black Beauty snare, and with clangy 'rock' cymbals, the recording engineer had already made up his mind as I was setting up none of it was going to sound good. Regardless of whether it's judgemental or not, you don't want to start the day on the back foot.
Completely agree, if you're wanting to make it as a professional turning up to a session with beginner gear or a lack of / selection of choices isn't going to cut it in that environment. We're completely on the same page.

My comment was more directed at this kind of blanket statement.
Yes, they are…..at least for 99% of the players who own them and judged by the question..: are these drums making me play and sound better..?

But the ones who own them will never admit that ofcourse…because, well, that would look kinda foolish…

But yes, if all drummers (or any other sort of musicians) in this world would be as busy with learning to play as they are with gear, the world would only have top players…

Unfortunately nothing will ever change this…
 

Chris Whitten

Silver Member
Agreed, but also auditioning for a busy local band. I know a few people who have a 9 to 5 weekday job, but play for money EVERY weekend. In those situations, it helps you get the gig if you have good quality gear, rather than turn up to the audition with a mid-priced kit, maybe rickety hardware and some so-so cymbals.
 

Neal Pert

Well-known Member
It's a video designed to spark a lot of clicks and likes, hence more income for his channel.
Some people DO need the best of the best. It's a nonsense point unless he prefaces it with 'average drummer', which of course he doesn't because he doesn't want to insult his viewers.

Hey, Chris-- serious, non-combative question:

I think there's some implied difference here between, say, what used to be a normal, top of the line kit and one of these super top-of-the-line kits. A bunch of companies have these "boutique" drum kits now-- Tama with the Star series, Yamaha with the PHX. I guess I was hearing the question as "do you need one of those boutique kits?" For me, the answer is "probably not." I do think that a professional drummer needs professional gear, but I suspect almost no one needs a PHX when Recording Customs and AHMs exist. So, for me I guess I see certain of these ultra high-end kits as existing mostly for hedge fund managers and retirees and such.

The idea that I should show up at any real gig or session without something the quality equivalent of a Recording Custom kit with a Black Beauty and some great, well-chosen cymbals is an easy one. That's what I do. But there's no gig on earth where I will suddenly NEED a PHX kit because of the sound or build quality. Want? Sure. Need? Probably not. Or is there?
 

Chris Whitten

Silver Member
I perceive 'high end' as professional quality. All the mainstream companies make 'high end' drums.
* I guess I should watch the video* although it pains me.
I read all the time that all you need is a Gretsch Catalina etc.
That's fine, but if you want to play a much more expensive vintage Grestch RB, you are not 'wasting your money'. If the sound inspires you, plus the history.
 

Neal Pert

Well-known Member
I perceive 'high end' as professional quality. All the mainstream companies make 'high end' drums.
* I guess I should watch the video* although it pains me.
I read all the time that all you need is a Gretsch Catalina etc.
That's fine, but if you want to play a much more expensive vintage Grestch RB, you are not 'wasting your money'. If the sound inspires you, plus the history.

Yeah, I'm with you on that.

I do think that a lot of these discussions fail to take into account the various musical "worlds" we all inhabit. If all you know are VFW gigs, it may be hard to imagine why someone would want professional gear. If you're in a punk/DIY scene, a "professional" kit may be seen as elitist or out of place. But you always want to put a smile on the faces of the people who'll be playing with you and engineering you and all that, and showing up with gear that sounds great and looks the part is a big part of that.

You probably don't need to watch the video, tbh.
 

Chris Whitten

Silver Member
OK, I waded through most of it.
First it's framed around new kits and their prices. Second he tends to frame high end as exotic finishes, expensive hardware.
On these forums I always say, buy a high end kit from ten years or so ago second hand. I don't care at all about exotic finishes, it's all about the sound for me. I don't own any exotic wood drums - it's usually maple, birch or mahogany. I use the same single set of DW hardware on all of my drum kits.
When I could have had any drum from any drum company, I chose Noble & Cooley. The kit was hand built by an American family using local materials, designed by an American (Bob Gatzen), and a lot of care and love was put into those drums. They sounded amazing and it felt like an honour to be using them. They were painted a plain piano black.
35 years later people still ask me about those drums. Playing a 'high end' kit from the factory production line at Yamaha or Pearl wouldn't have had anything like the same impact on me, or the people who saw me play.
Recently I've been buying used Pork Pie kits. They are super cheap in the UK, because most people looking for a $1000-$2000 kit are looking at new Yamaha, Ludwig, Tama. These Pork Pie kits eat mid-priced Tama and Yamaha for breakfast.
I emailed Pork Pie about adding an extra tom, and got a reply from Bill Detamore himself, not the west of England sales rep at Tama.
I guess Brown's overall message is OK, but I just wouldn't say buying 'high end' is a 'giant waste of money'.
Just buy high end from ten - twenty years ago if you are on a budget. DON'T buy gold hardware, or exotic finishes, if your main priority is a great sounding drum set.
 

Chris Whitten

Silver Member
Sure, it probably has to be older in the UK and Europe, where the market is less competitive than the USA. The two Pork Pie kits I bought recently were first sold in the early 2000's.
 

jda

Silver Member
I think there's some implied difference here between, say, what used to be a normal, top of the line kit and one of these super top-of-the-line kits. A bunch of companies have these "boutique" drum kits now--
This is true. Think back to all the greatest recorded music- any genre-. It was done mostly on top line- but off-the shelf- and near approachable (moneywise) to any near anybody.

what's happened in recent years was-is - a top-tier above that.

Young/ younger people today are "faced" (being sold on) Top tier isn't or wasn't enough; a Top Top Top tier has been added.
 

WuHan Solo

Active Member
Just like nutrition and psychiatric help, the price point of your drums vary greatly based on the individual's needs, and wants.

Therefore, the answer to the initial question is "it depends". But, that answer doesn't really allow the opportunity to bloviate, so carry on.
 

Chris Whitten

Silver Member
Well a lot of The Beatles records were made using custom built gear. EMI didn't rate most of the top end gear at the time, so they modified it all, or had someone make it to their specifications. Rudy Van Gelder had all his custom studio gear hidden under covers?
In 1978 an analog synth cost as much as a small car - a Prophet Five, or an Oberheim Four Voice. When the Fairlight sampler came along it cost £60,000, which was the going rate for a one bed apartment in London at the time.
I couldn't afford a Camco kit or Paiste Sound Creations when they were new in the shops.
By and large, quality across the board has never been more accessible to musicians.
If we're talking 'top top' as in exotic woods, gold hardware etc, it adds nothing to the quality of the sound and is mostly aimed at retirees, surgeons and dentists.
Most working professionals (just as an example) will play the top top kit any company makes, but not the exotic/gold kit. there is no point.
 

jda

Silver Member

jda

Silver Member
what "people do" on the other side of the "glass" is not my business (or concern)
(I know not the most popular opinion..)
I'm concerned with notes.
Notes played. What happens after that (I never concerned myself (didn't have to etc. (with..
Felt that was a whole nother "line of work"..
from the "actual" drumming event.
~
As an aside Chris some of the hippest heaviest "drums" (I've heard) you (notationally-speaking)...play were in the Live performances of "Strawberry Fields Forever"- Some Mean az Drum fills in there. Thanks for them : )
 
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Highway Child

Senior Member
Rob Brown presents a reasonable case. In different personal circumstances, I’d probably have a decent quality & robust kit to cover most of my gigs, leaving the Guru’s at home.

I may still do that one day, but here’s the thing, I built those drums to be played. I built those drums with a distinctive manner of delivery in mind that I can’t replicate elsewhere, & if anything happens to them, I’m in the unique position of being able to repair them.
With you there Andy. My Tours are my main gig kit - sleazy pubs to gilt covered halls. But no sharing and no outdoor stuff if we're not under adequate cover.
 

Caz

Senior Member
Built??? Re-wrapping some Pearl exports isn't exaclty "building" in my book. And those cymbals???? Covering the Zildjian ZBT label and writing a different with a black marker does not make them sound any better. The 37 dollars you investing in "building" all of this really shows!
Haha - I know right... @Andy and his re-wrapped Pearl Exports 😆

Interesting thread this! I always used to say I'd get high end drums when I deserved them.. I've put any spare money wherever possible into drum lessons, travelling to places with good music scenes to play with better musicians, studio costs to record original music etc. When I started playing bass though I got two decent instruments - a Fender Precision 4 string and a Fender Jazz active deluxe 5 string... even as a beginner, these were just what was needed to get a good sound to do the job. I didn't want to be wasting time with crap sounding instruments for that, wanted to hit the ground running. Would actually really like a top end drum kit for recording these days - although like in the video, would be scared to take it out to gigs in case it got scratched. Often for studio work producers have hired in whatever kit they want for that project.

Out of curiosity, has anyone played a Yamaha Stage Custom and a Yamaha Recording Custom back to back? I've always wanted to try comparing these - am sure there would be a difference, I'd just like to hear it.

Caroline
 

Chris Whitten

Silver Member
I have kits I wouldn't take to a gig.
My beater kits I would gig are still 'high end'. A red Pork Pie I bought used for around $1500 and a green Pork Pie I bought used for around $800.
I would rather play those than a new mid-budget kit from a factory. That's really my point.
 

Neal Pert

Well-known Member
I have kits I wouldn't take to a gig.
My beater kits I would gig are still 'high end'. A red Pork Pie I bought used for around $1500 and a green Pork Pie I bought used for around $800.
I would rather play those than a new mid-budget kit from a factory. That's really my point.

My beater kit is a scratched up 12/13/14/20 Recording Custom kit that I bought for $1600.

Yamaha Recording Custom 12 13 14 20.JPG

It has just enough scratches and scuffs that I don't worry about it. So, I guess I'm on Team Whitten for this argument.
 

harryconway

Platinum Member
Out of curiosity, has anyone played a Yamaha Stage Custom and a Yamaha Recording Custom back to back?
Yes. I have. I've had 3 Recording Custom kits, 1 split lug 9000 series kit (pre-RC) and I'm currently collecting a shell bank of 1st gen. (2008 - 2014) all birch Stage Customs. I'll preface with this .....

I've always "liked" owning a birch kit ..... although I gotta say I'm not totally mesmerized by them. My three #1 "keeper" kits are my vintage Ludwig 3 plies (26, 14, 16, 18), my vintage Gretsch Round Badge/Stop Sign badge kits. (20, 24, 12, 13, 14, 16), and my Yamaha vintage 8000 Series (20, 12, 14). I find I actually prefer the 8000's birch/philippine mahogany shell over the all birch 9000 Series/RC's.

But ..... I do like having an all birch kit, in the collection. And to that end, the Stage Customs more than fit the bill. If the RC's were the love of my life (drum wise), I'd certainly have a set. Bar none, the Recording Customs are better drums. But with a new SC kit costing $750, and a new RC kit costing $3,700 ...... you don't get a kit that sounds 5 times better. There's a "diminished returns" factor involved. I think this is true with any brand.
Middle weight kits punch really hard, these days. Going to the upper level ..... gets you another 20%, more or less. And at 3 to 5 times the cost, you have to decide if it's worth it ???
My beater kit is a scratched up 12/13/14/20 Recording Custom kit that I bought for $1600.
It has just enough scratches and scuffs that I don't worry about it. So, I guess I'm on Team Whitten for this argument.
I had an RC kit (in Real Wood) that was my beater kit, for about 10 years.
 
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