Every drummer has their favorite pair of drums and drum sets. For many percussionists, their favorite is based on personal experience. For others, a favorite was chosen because a musician they loved used those type of drums.
When percussionists decide to shop for drum sets, they typically choose one they personally enjoy playing or one that an idol of theirs played at some point – or, it’s often a combination of the two.
Many famous drummers have had iconic drum sets that many instantly recognize. A great example would be Rick Allen, the drummer for Def Leppard who uses a set that has numerous electronic drums in addition to acoustic ones to accommodate the amputation of one of his arms.
Looking for some inspiration for your next drum set? There are plenty of other legendary drum sets out there – here are four of the coolest ones of all time.
Gene Krupa’s Slingerland Set
Gene Krupa is considered by many to be the father of modern drumming. He was known for his use of the kick drum and pioneering the use of double-sided toms. As a jazz drummer, he was one of the first drummers to bring athleticism and showmanship into his playing style. He may have been the first drummer to be shown on television performing an extended drum solo.
Using a Slingerland four-piece set with Zildjian cymbals, Krupa influenced countless drummers with his powerful yet melodic sound. Although he played big band and hot jazz, his drumming set the standard for what a drummer could do. His playing is still influencing jazz and rock drummers decades after he passed away.
Ringo Starr’s Ludwig Downbeat Set
Being the drummer in what many consider to be the greatest rock band ever had to be a daunting task, but Ringo Starr was more than up for the challenge. From the Beatles’ first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show until they stopped touring, Starr was known for his Oyster Black Pearl Ludwig Downbeat kit.
Being watched by over 70 million viewers made him a household name and the way he was perched high on the drum riser keeping the beat made him the image of the modern rock n roll drummer. He was another proponent of the less is more style of drumming and his use of a four-piece kit enabled him to focus on laying down a solid beat that allowed the rest of the Fab Four to explore the limits of what could be created in the recording studio,
Ginger Baker’s Ludwig Double Bass Set
Ginger Baker could be the most influential drummer to come out of the British Invasion of the 1960s. He was the first drummer to popularize the use of a double bass drum. While playing with Clapton and Bruce in Cream, he created a powerful polyrhythmic sound that was a blend of swinging jazz and the traditional rhythm and blues beat favored by rock and rollers. For this reason, some say that he was the first true jazz/rock fusion drummer.
His favored seven-piece Ludwig Classic Silver Sparkle kit featured two floor toms, two mounted toms, two bass drums and a snare. This began the trend of drummers expanding their sets to include more drums with a wider variety of sounds so that more complex beats could be played.
Neil Peart’s Time Machine Hybrid Set
Neil Peart is considered by most musicians to be one of greatest drummers ever. He not only kept the beat for Canada’s greatest export Rush, but he wrote their lyrics as well. Their prog rock masterpieces required Peart to continually expand the size of his kits, culminating in his Time Machine Hybrid kit.
It isn’t just the most recognizable drum set around. It could also be considered a work of art. Featuring a mixture of Drum Workshop acoustic drums and 3rd generation Roland electronic drums and triggers, Peart is able to incorporate any percussive sound imaginable. His kit rotates 360° at various times during Rush’s shows and Peart’s infamous solos.
What Makes a Drum Set Cool, Anyway?
Choosing the coolest drum set is a matter of personal taste. Whether you are a traditionalist who likes a smaller kit like Krupa or Starr or you prefer a kit with multiple options to create polyrhythmic grooves like Peart or Baker, there are more than enough options to choose from when looking for a drum set. The key is sitting on the throne and trying out a new set until you come across the one that looks and feels just right.