In addition to producing some of the most consistent and reliable professional and mid-grade drumsets on the market, Yamaha also continues to up the ante in the entry-level price point by making smart, value-increasing upgrades. Earlier this year, the company replaced its GigMaker beginner’s kit with the Rydeen, which is named for the Japanese god of thunder. These drums, according to Yamaha, are “designed to inspire drummers to keep playing on a kit that will last.” Let’s see how they fare.

Specs and Configurations

Rydeen drumkits are available in two five-piece configurations. The RDP2F5, which is what we received for review, includes a 16×22 bass drum, 7×10 and 8×12 rack toms, a 15×16 floor tom (with legs), and a matching 5.5×14 wood snare. The RDP0F5 includes a 16×20 bass drum, 7×10 and 8×12 rack toms, a 13×14 floor tom (with legs), and a matching 5.5×14 wood snare.

Both setups feature a double tom mount attached to the bass drum, and they come with two 22.2mm tom arms with Yamaha’s infinitely adjustable ball mount. The bass drums sport black metal hoops with finish-matching inlays and simple yet sturdy telescoping spurs. Yamaha also throws in an adhesive-backed plastic hoop protector to prevent the paint from marring and to help secure the pedal in place.

The shells are made from 6-ply poplar, and six wrap finishes are available: Fine Blue, Black Glitter, Silver Glitter, Burgundy Glitter, Hot Red, and Mellow Yellow. We received a kit in Fine Blue, which gave it a clean and simple but eye-catching appearance. The lugs are small and unobtrusive and borrow the rounded-square design used on Yamaha’s professional-grade lugs. The bearing edges were cut cleanly, with no significant inconsistencies, and the interiors of the shells were unsealed. The snare drum has a simple, serviceable throw-off.

Included with Rydeen kits is a HW680W hardware pack, which comprises a double-braced but lightweight hi-hat stand, a chain-drive FP-7210A wire-frame bass drum pedal (with round felt beater), a double-braced snare stand, and two double-braced hiding-boom cymbal stands. Yamaha is known for its highly functional, dependable, durable hardware, and this package falls right in line. In fact, professional giggers could rely on these stands for normal everyday use.

The bass drum pedal is smooth, quick, and easy to pack up. The cymbal stands offer plenty of stability and positioning options, the hi-hat stand is smooth and features a clutch that holds the cymbals firmly in place, and the snare stand does exactly what it needs to do. If young Rydeen players decide to upgrade to professional-grade drums, I doubt they’ll feel a need to replace these stands right away.

In Use

Rydeen kits are built very well. I had no problem getting the toms into a comfortable playing position, and the knurled floor tom legs offered plenty of height and stability. The drums also tuned up surprisingly well, even with the stock heads (single-ply clear on toms, single-ply coated snare batter, and single-ply with muffling ring on bass drum). I personally would have preferred clear double-ply or coated single-ply batters on the toms to facilitate easier tuning by eliminating some of the higher, troubling overtones. But I was able to dial in a pretty pure and resonant tone from the toms without making a ton of fine-tuning adjustments, and the bass drum had a nice, deep sound with both heads tuned low and no internal muffling. A ported front head would help beginning drummers achieve a punchier sound and would make it easier to toss in some muffling. The matching wood snare sounded best tuned tight for a cracking attack and short sustain. Medium and low tunings didn’t quite gel as well; the overtones became a bit unruly and the tone lacked a bit of depth. But I was able to coax a useable fat sound from this drum by applying a muffling ring or a couple damper pads.

Overall, we found very little to criticize about the Rydeen series drums. They sounded really good with minimal effort, and they’re built to withstand many years of woodshedding. I personally think Yamaha should consider replacing the wood snare with a more versatile and professional-sounding steel drum, but I appreciate the consistency of having a matching finish across the entire kit. And with a street price of less than $400 for the shell pack, it’s pretty much a no-brainer for the young, aspiring drummers among us.