In this second installment of our 2015 holiday gift guide, we’re taking a look at some great four-piece shell packs for under $400. All but one kit still requires hardware, cymbals, and a throne. However, they each offer plenty of bang for the buck, featuring solid construction and reliable tone, for any beginning drummer.
by Miguel Monroy
1. ddrum Speak Easy Flyer Series ($399) – These shells are 100% basswood and are available in two wrapped finishes, Blue Pearl and White Pearl. According to ddrum, the basswood shells provide, “punchy, balanced warmth with dry resonance.??? The bass drum–mounted tom stand also includes a suspension system. Sizes include a 14×18 bass drum, an 8×12 tom, a 12×14 floor tom, and a 5.5×14 snare.
2. Ludwig Breakbeats by Questlove ($399) – These 7-ply poplar shells are available in three wrapped finishes: Azure Sparkle, White Sparkle, and Black Sparkle. According the Ludwig, the shells provide a “focused attack with dry, clipped resonance.??? The kit includes velvet storage bags, which can be used to transport the kit and to reduce the volume of the drums by placing them over the heads while you play. Sizes include a 14×16 bass drum, a 7×10 tom, a 13×13 floor tom, and a 5×14 snare.
3. Pearl Roadshow Jazz Drum Set ($379) – These poplar shells are available in four different wrapped finishes: Charcoal Metallic, Wine Red, Jet Black, and Bronze Metallic. Unlike the other kits on this list, the Roadshow kit also includes a 16″ crash/ride, a set of 14″ brass hi-hats, a hi-hat stand, bass drum pedal, throne, and bass drum–mounted cymbal stand. The stands are height- and angle-adjustable and feature double-braced legs. Drum sizes include a 12×18 bass drum, a 7×10 tom, a 10×14 floor tom, and a 5×13 snare drum.
4. Sonor Martini SE Shell Pack ($359) – These 9-ply shells are offered in two different wrapped finishes: Turquoise Galaxy Sparkle and Champagne Galaxy Sparkle. Unlike many of the other options on this list, the Martini SE Shell Pack includes a steel snare drum. The dimensions of each drum are also a little more unique. Sizes include a 12×14 bass drum, an 8×8 tom, a 10×13 floor tom, and a 5×12 snare.
5. Sonor Safari Shell Pack ($389) – This second option by Sonor also includes 9-ply poplar shells, but in more traditional sizes and with a matching wood snare. Two wrapped finishes are available: Black Galaxy Sparkle and Red Galaxy Sparkle. Sizes include a 16×16 bass drum with riser, an 8×10 tom, a 12×14 floor tom, and a 5×14 snare.
6. SPL Street Bop Shell Pack ($299) – This kit from Sound Labs Percussion comes in at a much more competitive price point but with fewer color options. The birch/basswood shells include a 16×18 bass drum, a 7×10 tom, a 13×13 floor tom, and a 5×13 snare.
7. Tama Imperialstar Bop Shell Pack ($349) – These 6-ply poplar shells are offered in three different wrapped finishes: Hairline Blue, Candy Apple Mist, and Galaxy Silver. According to Tama, the shells “provide focused tone and full projection.??? Sizes include a 14×18 bass drum, an 8×12 tom, a 14×14 floor tom, and a 5×14 snare.