Jazz drum sets are a lot like regular kits in many ways, though the main difference is that they can react far more dynamically to subtle playing techniques to deliver low-frequency tones that you always hear in jazz music.
It’s incredibly important to take your time when selecting a jazz drum kit for that very reason.
Luckily for you, we’ve decided to curate a list of some of the best kits on the market so that you can get to playing as soon as possible.
The Pacific Drum Company has some of the best models on the market in terms of jazz drum sets. If you’re looking for pure craftsmanship, look no further than the PDP DW 7-Piece.
When it comes to jazz, they have one of the best reputations for delivering skin-bashing goodness. This particular set is constructed with all-maple shells and Remo heads that helps to give you a roomy sound while providing punch when you want it.
With five different drum tops to mess around with, it’s pretty much perfect for jazz, especially when you consider the fact that much of jazz music is driven by the toms. Having as many of them to play with as possible gives you more versatility in your playing.
All together, you have a 22″ bass drum, 10″ and 12″ rack toms, an 8″ free-mounted rack tom, 14″ and 16″ floor toms, and a 14″ snare drum. Each of these drums provides deep and rich tones that give you a solid sound at an incredible value.
Bottom Line: If you’re looking for a large kit with tons of variety, the PDP DW 7-Piece Concept Maple is one of the best on the market.
Small drums have become more and more popular over the past decade, and the Sonor AQ2 Safari is at the top of the game.
Gigging jazz drummers everywhere have been using the Safari AQ2 for the mix of response and portability. These shells are made out of a 7-ply maple with three of the interior plies being Asian Maple and the out plies being North American Maple. The mix of woods gives the shells a wonderfully unique sound.
The one very unique thing about this drum set is the smart mount isolation system that is made to hold your drums sturdy in place while maximizing their resonance.
Altogether, you get a compact 16” bass drum, a 10” rack tom, a 13” floor tom, and a 13” snare drum.
Bottom Line: If you’re looking for a small jazz drum kit to play more intimate venues, or if you want a playable set for your little one, the Sonor AQ2 is one of the best around!
No, we’re not Mapex fanboys. We just wanted to give another spot on the list to a different Mapex set with its own jazz characteristics. This gorgeous shell pack comes in a warm, walnut color that fits well with the natural aesthetic.
Thanks to the 6-ply birch and maple build, you get a warm and focused tone that works perfectly with jazz. It is also incredibly dynamic, great for those softer, more subtle hits.
The Saturn IV-style lugs help to keep the drums in tune over time. They also add to the vintage look.
Our favorite part about the Armory Series 5-Piece is the 14″ black-plated steel snare. You get a bright and focused tone that is solid for adding that snappy backbeat to jazz and neo-soul grooves.
Beyond jazz, many players love this kit for rock as well, so you don’t have to worry about it not having versatility.
Bottom Line: If you’re looking for a classic jazz kit with a natural aesthetic and a solid feel, the Maple/Birch Mapex Armory Series is one of the best in the game.
Gretsch is one of the biggest names in terms of classic drum sets, and the Catalina Club provides everything you need for that distinctive jazz sound. Not only do you get the classic configuration that has been used by jazz drummers throughout history, but you also get sleek and modern hardware innovations that help bring the kit into the 21st century.
They provide you with a low-profile GTS mounting system, reduced-mass tom brackets, and ball/socket L-arms for incredible stability and freedom in positioning.
The 4-piece pack makes it easy to play and get used to, and the 14″ deep bass drum gives you that vintage, warm tone while packing a small punch. The shells are made with a rich Mahogany and 30-degree bearing edges with natural interiors. Each of the drums has Remo drum head with coated batters and clear resin to give them that warmer, muffled sound.
Bottom Line: The Gretsch Catalina Club is one of those time-tested drum sets that will probably never go out of style. If you’re looking for that warm, roomy sound with a vintage look, this set is one of the best around.
The Yamaha Stage Custom Birch Set is a set for beginners, professionals, and everyone in-between.
One of the best things about these drum shells is their ability to rumble and resonate. This is thanks to the fact that these shells are made from 100% birch, a type of wood that is used in extremely high-quality kits. The six-ply structure gives it punch and depth while the high-gloss lacquer finish makes it shine when on stage.
In terms of hardware, Yamaha has gone all out. The YESS Mounting System gives you even more resonance and sustain while holding the kit together. The die-cast claw hooks help to hold the drum heads on while the rubber insertion plates work to reduce any added noise. They’ve even added some new bass drum legs to help make setup easier and also prevent any annoying slippage while on stage.
Altogether, the drum set comes with a 22×17 kick, a 10×7 rack tom, a 12×8 rack tom, a 16×15 floor tom, and a 14×15.5 snare. Each provides warm tonal qualities that make the set great for jazz.
Bottom Line: The Yamaha Stage Custom Birch pretty much outweighs all other drum sets that are in the same class. It’s an instant classic that with a versatile sound that will please all drummers.
Like we said earlier, the PDP drum sets are some of the best for jazz drumming. The 5-Piece PDP Concept Kit is one of our favorite jazz drum sets in the range thanks to the beautiful sounding toms.
The toms, as well as the other shells, are made from either all-maple or all-birch, so you know that you are getting some high-quality wood that helps to create deep and rich tonal characteristics.
All of the drums are 7-ply with the snare being 10-ply, providing you with an incredible amount of depth.
In terms of the hardware on this bad boy, you get dual-turret lugs, True-pitch tension rods, and die-cast claw hooks, each of which come together to keep the drums both sturdy and in tune.
Bottom Line: If you are in the market for a high-quality drum set with a large, roomy bass drum, the PDP 5-Piece Concept is an excellent choice. It’s both versatile and durable, supporting the most eccentric of players.
The Pearl Roadshow is about as classic as it gets for bargain jazz drum sets. This 4-piece set is made with high-quality Poplar shells and hardware that only Pearl could supply.
The depth and thickness of the drums give it that warm and rich tone that is necessary for jazz. Each of the shells is 9-ply and 7mm thick with double-braced hardware that provides the drums that extra reinforcement.
One of the best things about this set is that you get everything you need right out of the box. Unlike many of the shell packs that are on our list, you get included cymbals with this set.
The Brass crash-ride and hybrid hi-hats sound pretty solid too. Altogether, you get those, multiple stands, a bass drum pedal, a throne, and a chain-drive bass drum pedal.
Bottom Line: The Pearl Roadshow is a classic jazz drum kit that is great for beginner jazz players who are studying in school or practicing at home. If you are just starting out and want something that you can learn and grow with, this drum set is a solid choice!
Best Budget Option
If you are new to drumming or you want a beater kit that you can mess around with, we recommend checking out the Gammon Percussion 5-Piece set.
In terms of sound, it has a pretty basic tone, though it is very versatile as well, making it great for jazz and all other genres.
Altogether, you get a bass drum, hi-hat, crash cymbal, floor tom, two rack toms, and a snare. You also get a drum throne so that you can get started right when you pull everything out of the box.
The drums are made from solid wood and come in an array of different finishes so that you can find the best one that matches your style. The finishes look great too thanks to the high-gloss designs and can easily be used for on-stage performances.
Bottom Line: For those of you that are beginners looking for a way to enter into the world of jazz drumming, the Gammon Percussion Full Size 5-Piece offers one of the best, budget-friendly ways to do so.
So obviously as you can tell, there is quite a wide range of jazz drum sets in terms of tone, quality, price, and more.
We recommend the PDP DW 7-Piece Concept Maple to any professional drummers who have the money to spend and who are looking for a high-quality kit that can be used in studio and on tour.
If you’re a drummer who is just starting and wants something a bit on the budget side, the Gammon Percussion Full Size 5-Piece might be your best bet.
Whatever you decide, we hope that our article was helpful in giving you the information you need to narrow down your choices and find your ideal jazz drum set!