Maybe you’re just starting out as a drummer. Perhaps you’re transitioning into jazz playing from another genre or working on a fusion sound. Or maybe you’re an old jazz hound looking for a great new sound.
But the big question is, what set sounds best for jazz without breaking the bank? We had a long look through the multitude of options, and we’ve got a shortlist for you. To us, these four options sound great for jazz playing and represent the best jazz drum sets we can recommend.
So strap in, and get ready for some incredible sounding kits!
4 Best Jazz Drum Sets of 2023
1 Pearl Roadshow Jazz Set – Best Budget Jazz Drum Set
What you get:
- Kick drum 18″ x 12″, snare drum 13″ x 5″, tom 10″ x 7″, floor tom 14″ x 10″
- Hi-hat stand, one cymbal boom arm, one tom arm, snare stand, bass pedal, and a throne
- 16″ Brass Crash-Ride, 14″ Hybrid Hats
- Red wine, bronze metallic, charcoal metallic, aqua blue glitter, or jet black wrap; chrome hardware
The Roadshow is Pearl’s bargain line of drums but still looks, feels, and sounds great.
The big standout for us is the sound quality and the completeness of the kit, making it such a great deal. You’re getting a full 4-piece drum set complete with hi-hats and a crash cymbal, stands for both, and a throne, all for a low price.
But how does it sound?
The cymbals will get you started as a beginner, but their generic sound definitely isn’t rich enough for an advanced artist. The hardware, however, is all Pearl’s trademark sturdy tubing, double-reinforced legs, and quality, heavy nuts, and lugs.
This thing is built to last!
Now for the drums themselves. Let’s start off by mentioning that this kit comes with generic heads from the factory. They honestly didn’t sound too bad, but to be really fair, we swapped them out for good Remo heads (the other kits all came with Remos). And the improvement was instantly noticeable.
With those good heads on, this kit really sounds great!
The poplar shells give great attack and sound bright and popping, though they lack a bit in reverb. The only thing really holding this kit back is the compact-sized bass drum. Though it offers some decent reverb, we were hoping for a fuller sound.
- Great quality and durability at a beginner price.
- Complete set – ready to play with hardware and cymbals.
- Bass drum needs more boom.
- Drum sound could be warmer.
2 Gretsch Catalina Maple – Best Looking Jazz Drum Set
What you get:
- Bass drum 18″ x 22″, snare drum 14″ x 6″, toms 8” x 7″ 10″ x 7″ 12″ x 8″ , floor toms 14″ x 14″ 16″ x 16″ (Yes, 7 pieces!)
- 2-tom suspension system with an extra hole for cymbal stand
- Black Stardust or Silver sparkle wrap; Deep Cherry Burst, Satin Deep Cherry Burst, or Walnut Glaze lacquer; chrome hardware
Yep, that’s how we’re starting this review! You would too if you’ve seen these beauties and had a bang around on them. The finishes here are incredibly lush and absolutely look the part. These are some special drums.
And here’s why…
The 7-ply maple shells are topped off with some decent Remo Ambassador heads and sound just oh so warm. With bearing edges are cut in at 30 degrees, this provides ample reverb letting the drums really sing out loudly. Some will call this a vintage sound, but we’ll just call it wonderful!
But what about the sounds of that all-important bass and snare combo?
The snare here is absolute quality. At 6 inches deep, we think you’re going to find a lot of room to maneuver. It can be tuned up high and still sound great, but at a mid-level tuning, we might recommend an o-ring to control reverb completely when you need to.
The bass drum is really just about our only complaint here, and only because we had to be picky about something. Considering the rich sounds of all the other shells, we thought the bass could be deeper and richer. Now you can play around with muffling and modifications, but we just expected more depth of tone here.
- Excellent construction and absolutely fab finishes.
- Sound quality is incredible.
- Bass is great, but could be even deeper and warmer to match the rest of the kit.
3 PDP Concept Maple
What you get:
- Bass 18″ x 22″, snare 14″ x 5.5″, toms 8″ x 7″, 10″ x 8″, 12″ x 9″, floor toms 14″ x 12″ 16″ x 14″ (Yes, Another impressive 7-pieces!)
- Holder for 8″ tom (attaches to almost any cymbal stand), and bass drum tom suspension system
- Black Sparkle, Blue Sparkle, Pearlescent Black, or Pearlescent White wrap; Cherry Stain, Natural, Red to Black Fade, or Silver to Black Fade Lacquer; chrome hardware
PDP, a boutique brand manufactured by DW drums, has really nailed the jazzman’s kit with the Concept Maple.
As another high-quality 7-piece drum set, we have to put it directly up against Gretsch’s Catalina. Both feature beautiful European maple shells topped with Remo skins.
So what’s different?
The sizes of the shells are somewhat different. The Concept has a slightly shallower snare at 5.5”, deeper suspended toms, and shallower floor toms. So overall, this kit provides a smoother transition from high to low toms. However, we found the Gretsch suspension system had greater flexibility for tom positioning.
All of these drums sound absolutely superb, though. They’ve got the same warmth and excellent reverb at the Catalina maple set, so much so that it’s hard to tell them apart!
Cuts through a mix…
With a shallower depth, the Concept snare really bites through the other drums to stand out loud and proud. With all those other drums booming, we think this definitely necessary.
The bass drum, though, was a bit disappointing. Rather than a clear, booming tone, we found this drum to be muddy. Surely this can be remedied with some mods, but we had expected more out of the box.
- Great sounding drums with a smooth range from the high to low end toms.
- Stunningly beautiful kit.
- Excellent snare, loud, and with teeth.
- Bass drum comes across muddy.
- Suspension mounting system could be more flexible.
4 DrumCraft Series 5 Jazz Drum Set – Best Value for the Money Jazz Drum Set
What you get:
- Bass drum 18” x 16”, snare drum 14” x 5”, toms 10” x 7”, 12” x 8”, floor tom 14” x 12”
- Hi-hat stand, snare stand, bass pedal, two cymbal boom stands, tom suspension system
- Crimson Fade, or Hard Coal lacquer
DrumCraft have recently thrown their hat into the ring with eight series of drums, aimed at disrupting the industry on all levels. With the Series 5 jazz kit, they’ve definitely laid down a challenge!
This mid-level 5-piece kit comes complete with hardware for a standard cymbal set and a bass pedal, though the throne and cymbals aren’t included. From a price perspective, this makes it a much cheaper option than our Gretsch and PDP kits, but still a lot higher than the Pearl Roadshow.
Series 5 shells are made from alternating layers of birch and poplar plywood. This combination, topped with Remo heads, produces something of a hybrid sound somewhere between the Roadshow and the Catalina.
They still show great attack, but also offer more warmth than the Pearl’s poplar only shells. With much less reverb, though, these drums don’t sing like the pricier Gretsch and PDPs.
Solid and bright…
The series 5 snare sounded really high and bright to our ears. It’s a bit shallow at 5 inches, but it has a solid bite. However, the bass drum, as seems to be the theme of this article, was a bit disappointing, too. At 16”, it definitely could have done with a deeper sound.
The hardware provided is all sturdy stuff, with strong tubes and double-reinforced legs, just like the Pearl Roadshow. A throne thrown in would have been nice, but who’s complaining?
- Great price with hardware included.
- Nice sound, very good for a mid-level kit.
- Bass needs more boom and more clarity.
- Give us more finishes!
Best Jazz Drum Sets Buyer’s Guide
Our list is a firm starting point for choosing the best kit for your needs. However, there are many great kits out there to consider. The important thing is to think through your priorities and see how each potential jazz drum set adds up.
So, ask yourself these questions…
What’s your price?
From the fully accessorized Pearly Roadshow to just the drums of the Concept and Catalina, there’s a big price gap. How much are you willing to spend?
If you’re just starting out with jazz drumming and money is tight, by all means, look to a high-quality beginner kit that will still sound great. On the other hand, a well-build drum set could last for life. If you know what you’re after, durability and excellent sound, then consider a higher-end kit a lifetime investment!
How does it sound?
For a jazz drum set to sound excellent, there are all sorts of factors to consider. What are the shells made of, and what sizes are they? Deeper shells of harder wood like maple are going to be warm and sensual, with loud voices. Birch and poplar provide more attack and may be better suited to rock or fusion sounds.
And what about the tunings of your kit as a whole?
With lots of toms, smooth transitions allow for a smooth drum sound. Bigger gaps between sizes will lead to greater contrast, which may allow for more interesting voicings.
Probably the most crucial sound pairing in any drum set is the snare and kick combination. Do you want your snare to really pop out and cut through any background sound? Or are you looking for a smoother sizzle to blend in well with all the other textures?
In contrast to a rock bass, jazz bass drums tend to offer less thud and more boom. So, also bear in mind versatility when you are making your final choice.
How does it feel to play?
Think about your playing style, what you want in your kit and where it feels best to strike it. Choose a kit that has the full complement of toms and cymbal positions that you feel you need to complete your repertoire. Or if you have a basic playing style and can be creative on a limited set, you can get away with a smaller, lighter, and less costly kit.
Does it take your breath away?
Let’s face it – a jazz drum set isn’t small. It’s not supposed to be a shrinking violet either. Most of the kits out there come in a variety of great finishes, so don’t worry about wanting a great-sounding kit that also looks spectacular. Choose a look you love – after all; you’ll be seeing a lot of it!
Looking for more great Drum accessories?
So, what are the Best Jazz Drum Sets?
After all the outstanding jazz drum sets, we’re left with a hard decision. But, before we get to the overall winner, we have to state that we can thoroughly recommend any of these kits because they’re all great value for the money.
But if we HAVE to choose, we have to give it to the…
This is simply one beautiful, solidly built, and most importantly, fantastic-sounding drum kit. These drums truly sing, and for our money, this is the best jazz kit you can buy.
But, no matter which kit you choose, have a great time beating away!