Buying Drums for Worship Part 2


Last week worship drummer Jon Skaggs discussed real vs. electric drums. This week he shares his favorite brands for churches:

Here are some quality drums and cymbals that I prefer. The price range can depend on how many pieces you add on. We’ll base the ranges on the standard 4-5 piece configurations (not including hardware or cymbals)

Higher Budgets ( If you have a large budget for drums)

Craviotto: $7k – 9k. Boutique cream of the crop drums that can be bought at select drum shops or online. These are my dream drums and I love the way they sound but they’re pricey. They’re loud and are perfect for big stages and churches.

C&C: $2k – 4k. Great sounding, top of the line drums for the price. Can be found at select drum shops or online. I’ve never heard a bad sounding C&C kit and they’re gaining popularity beyond the Boutique drum community.

DW: $1.5k – 7k. DW Drums have been a very popular and solid drum kit for a long time. I always ask for them when I do fly dates with artists and I need to rent a kit. They sound great and have a distinct sound. They do tend to detune in the lug system at times but that’s about the only problem I’ve encountered. You can find them at about every Guitar Center, drum shop, or online store for affordable prices.

Gretsch: $1k – 5k. Gretsch are great drums for the range of price. I once set up a Gretsch Renown kit for Vinnie Colaiuta and sat behind him while he played it. Needless to say the kit sounded amazing (Vinnie can make anything sound good) and I was hooked on Gretsch after that. They’re solid high end drums for the price.

Ludwig: $1k – 4k. Ludwig has really stepped up their game in the last 5 years with their higher end drums and they look and sound great. Ludwig was one of the first drum kits manufactured and have been around a long time. Some of the greatest drummers choose Ludwig. I am frequently asked when doing session work if I have any vintage Ludwig drums and usually rent them for studio work because of their coveted antique sound. If you don’t want to pay for the new ones then you can often find the vintage Ludwig kits on Craigslist or Ebay. The vintage Ludwig kits are high in demand and sound great. It’s up to you how retro you want to look and sound for your church service.

Lower Budgets (But you still want a kit that sounds good)

Yamaha: $500 – 5k. Yamaha makes the entry level Stage Custom all the way to high end Maple Customs – Yamaha is known for that tight and punchy sound and have been the choice of many drummers for many years. I think Yamaha is great and they have their own distinct sound. You can find Yamaha Drums about everywhere.

Pacific PDP: $300 – 1.5k. DW makes Pacific PDP drums and I think they are the best midlevel drums for the price and quality. I recommend them to many worship leaders who don’t want to spend a lot of money but still want good drums. Guitar Center usually carries a Pacific PDP kit.

Mapex: $300 – 3k. I have to give Mapex recognition because they were the first drums I ever owned. They have always made great kits and great drummers like Gregg Bissonette and Russ Miller swear by them. And like the other drum kits in this category you can usually find them at a Guitar Center.


You really can’t scrimp on cymbal quality. The cheaper or lower line cymbal you buy will give you that “trash can” effect. Lower line cymbals are usually heavy and not hammered. The hammering done by the manufacturer takes time and creates the tone of the cymbal. The different cymbal makers in the drum community also create cymbals from bright to dark to trashy to splashy. It’s important to understand the qualities of each cymbal line and not just pick any cymbal before knowing what will sound best in your church.

Cymbals are the loudest and the hardest thing to control on your kit even behind a drum shield. Over the years it seems the darker cymbals work better the in a church environment than brighter cymbals. They aren’t as shimmery and reflective as a bright cymbal. The cymbal line that has usually been the most successful in this regard has been the Zildjian K line. The Zildjian K’s are made to be a darker overtone and have recently released the Hybrid Zildjian Ks to blend the bright with the dark.

I personally have always used Paiste Signature and Traditionals for years. The Paiste Signature line are beautiful and bright. They are very loud and I started using them for Studio work to have cymbals that cut through a rock ‘n roll mix. Drummers like John Bonham and Alex Van Halen are some of the most famous Paiste users using the 2002 and Signature lines for rock. The Paiste Traditional and Dark Energy lines are the opposite of the Signature and 2002s in that they are definitely darker and a little softer. They are a great answer to bright and loud.

Most churches benefit going to the darker lines of cymbal before using a Zildjian A or Paiste Signature line which are brighter and loud. You want a cymbal that doesn’t take over the stage and be a hassle for your sound man. Most cymbals bleed right into vocal mics and make a sound man have to use gates on overheads and vocal mics just to control the bleed. So usually darker has been, in my experience, better. The frequency and natural softness are easier to maintain in a church setting and you’ll probably save your sound man a lot of headaches.

I think a great and practical cymbal setup are a pair of 14″ Hi Hats – 18″ Crash – Another 16 – 20″ Crash – A 20 – 22″ Ride (All cymbals will usually range from $250 – $600 within the diameters I mentioned above)

Here are some cymbals I suggest:

Paiste – Traditional, Signature Dark Energy

Zildjian – K, K Custom, Constantinople

Bosphorus – Any

Istanbul – Any

Meinl – Byzance Traditional, Byzance Dark

If you want or need louder/brighter cymbals look to Paiste Signature or 2002s or Zildjian A Customs.

Jon Skaggs has played drums for Christian artists like Brandon Heath, Chris Sligh and Nichole Nordeman, is a music producer, clinician, and author of the Worship Drums Guide. Visit his website at


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