Cymbals vs Drums - Which to upgrade?


New member
I've been saving for a new drum kit for a while now, and I'm up to about £800. Not sure how much that is American or otherwise.

It's always been in mind to buy the Mapex Pro-M Maple Rock kit. I've heard good things about it, the tech-specs sound good and I like the config of it. But the past few days I've been thinking if the money would be put to better use on some cymbals.

I currently have a Session Pro drum kit. Pretty bad to be honest. It was about £200, 3 years ago or so. My cymbals are all Sabian XS. I got them as a pack. 16" + 14" crashes, 20" ride and 14" hats.

I don't mind my cymbals at all. They have a certain character, but my drums I do really dislike. It seems impossible to make them sound good, no matter how many times, or long it takes to tune them.

Opinions? :)

Suggestions on what cymbals/kit to buy would also be good :)

Naomi McFadyen

New member
For 800 quid, you could get both better drums and new cymbals.... I got my Pearl Export 2nd hand in the paper for about 400 quid in 2001 and then upgraded the cymbals and put new skins on it...

You have so many options! lol... You certainly wont need to spend 800 quid on cymbals only. I've seen some decent sets for the 220 mark, but it depends on what sound your after as to how much that can go up by.... I use Sabian B8s just now, not the bestest no, but they do me for what I need em for. My next upgrade, which hopefully will be my last, I'll be going for no more than 250 quid on...

It's best to try before you buy on cymbals, or I'm sure others have myspace pages or youtube vids with what there cyms sound like, which'll give you a rough idea....

Do you have your mind set on the Mapex kit??? I'd personally go Pearl and I know a of a guy on here who would swear by Yamaha lol!


New member
Thanks for the reply. I didn't really think about going used. Bit silly to not think of that to be honest :oops:

I didnt have the Mapex kit set in stone. If another caught my eye I'd be made to think, but it's my first choice. I'll have a look at the different makers and what they offer.

To be honest, I'm not sure of the differences between the different woods, which seems to be the main difference between kits in my sort of price range. And how many ply the shells have. Care to fill me in briefly on their different characteristics?


New member
IMHO, upgrade that which will inspire you to play. If you are inspired by your cymbals, and not your kit, you've answered your own question.

Also, the used route is not a bad way to go. Good luck.

Naomi McFadyen

New member
LeJayk":65idg1jn said:
To be honest, I'm not sure of the differences between the different woods, which seems to be the main difference between kits in my sort of price range. And how many ply the shells have. Care to fill me in briefly on their different characteristics?
I'm sure one of the lads will step in on that one... I'm in the blue, I just go by what I like from what I've heard...
It's all a personal preference for me, not nessessarily the wood that was used... of course the newer kits are made slightly differently from the old old ones and you can hear the difference.... but remember that the skins on it can make the world of difference to the overall sound as well.
I went from using Remo Pinstripes to Evans EC2s and the difference was amazing! the kit has never sounded so bloody good! lol... The Bass Drum had original stock batter and the ol' Pearl front with big mic hole at the front.... changed those to the EQ3 with mic port hole at the front and the EMAD2 and WOOW WEEEE!!! amazing sound.

Pearl are one of the best makes of kit in the world and the kits last for years on end... I love my ol' Pearl Export :) But of course I'm sure they'll be people on here who'll boohoo the Pearl for what they prefer... each to their own innit really! lol....

Defo try and go 2nd hand if you can... You can find some great bargains and they may come with good enough cymbals for what you need!
I got my kit 2nd hand and it was in fantastic condition.... not a stratch! Just needed some TLC :)


New member
Hey dude, i say you just get the new drums. Mapex M kits are amazing and the Sabian XS series isn't a bad sounding cymbal line at all.


New member
ive got an m birch and mine sounds pretty awsum i must admit. i did change the heads to pinstripe, but even then they sounded pretty good before. remember no matter what you get tho, tune them right! no matter how long it takes, it makes alot of difference. all in all, i think the pro m would be a good choice. but down to u son. peace


New member
Well the type of wood you are looking for all depends on your sound. What type of music you play, what tone you like, that sort of thing. As far as the snare drum goes, as long as it's wood, you can pretty much get any sound you want out of it by tuning it a certain way. With wood types you are looking for the tones you get from the toms and the bass drum. Here's a breakdown of the types of wood and tones they create:

Maple: Brighter rock tones with the toms, very punchy mid-toned bass
Birch: Highest pitched wood of them all for the bass and toms, usually used for jazz
Ash: Awesome, deep rock tones, very deep and full sounding kick drum and toms
Bubinga: Much like Ash, except a little bit higher in pitch
Mahogany: Deepest of them all, Hellacious bass drum sound, toms don't cut through very well though
Basswood: Basic mid-range sound (most of your entry level kits are made of basswood or a combination of it and something else)
Pearl Reference Series: Made of several different types of wood in different layers depending on the size of the drum. Said to be the "perfect sound".
Acrylic: Really depends on the thickness of the shells. Most I've heard that are affordable sound kind of empty, like there's no tone. If you wanted to spend a big chunk of change you could get some really nice ones though.

Those are really the main kinds of wood (and acrylic) that are available. There are other kinds but they are few and far between. There are several variations of maple and they pretty much all sound the same in my opinion. There are also several different kinds of african woods that have all of these crazy names that produce various sounds. In the end you'll probably want to play any kit before you buy it anyway. I hope this has helped a little...........


New member
RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH! Do your research. Look at everything, from wood types to your playing style to what you can afford. Don't be afraid to haggle. If the salesman wants your business, he'll negotiate on the price. I picked up a very nice Ddrum maple kit for less than $700 brand "NEW". They sound great! Read reveiws on the drums you're interested in. As far as cymbals, I use Paiste 2002 "red lable" series cymbals. They're less expensive than the "signature" series, but I like em for their "bright" sound qualities. I do also own some Zildjian "new beat" Hi-hats, a 22" Platinum Ping ride and a 16" china boy, that I got a really good deal on used. Maybe consider some used cymbals, you can find some good equipment at reasonable prices on ebay.

just my.2cents :D


New member
Heya, Vox_Drummer. Thanx 4 the concrete breakdown on wood types & acrylic shells! I'm glad I bought Birchwood all around 4 the stuff I (we) play. :lol:


New member
I've been in the situation of "What shuld I get? Cymbal or drum?"

I say, lets go for the cymbals! When you go play a show, if you play on somebody else's drum, you need to bring your own cymbals. Its your signature.

After you got your main part: Hi-Hat, Crash, Ride... Its time to go for the wood.

Between that, concentrate about exploiting the maximum of sound from your bass drum and snare by using good head.

When you play a song, you usuly use those 2 main part, so it will keep you patient for a while until you save your $$$ for the new upcoming best friend.

By the way, when your ready to buy your master kit, don't tell your band and watch their faces go :shock: "YEAH MAN!!! NO MORE CRAP THING!!!"


New member
Here's my two cents..

Drums that don't sound good, unless they are physically damaged can almost always be made to sound better or closer to what you want with a combination of new heads and a good tuning.

Cymbals that do not sound the way you like can never be fixed.

An expensive and great sounding drum-kit that has bad sounding cymbals is a bad sounding drum-kit.

I have bottom of the line Yamaha Stage Customs ($500) with Paiste 2002's all around ($1400)

Unless your drums sound like wet cardboard boxes, to the listener your kit will sound as good as your cymbals do. Good cymbals sound good, bad cymbals sound like shit. Period.


New member
sharkscott is absolutely right, and so is NylonMan; I never play gigs with my own kit, it's always someone else's, so I've dropped $800 on Sabian AAs and AAXs and $300 on a pair of Iron Cobras. It's what you bring to the gig, really. And with enough EMADs and EC2s you can make a two-bit walmart kit sound pretty decent.
For 800 you could probably pull off getting a new kit and new cymbals. I found that Pacific drums are fantastic drums to use. I am a DW owner and a Pacific Drum owner, and quite honestly, there is no sound difference between the two. The DW drums are just crafted better than the Pacific. You could get a second hand Pacific Drum set on ebay for 300-400. With the rest, you could invest in some nice zildjian crashes or invest in a really nice zildjian ride. (Zildjian is just my preference). But otherwise, Sabian XS aren't to bad, I just would never invest in Sabians, but In your case, you should for sure look for the new drums first. Now if you had like Sabian B8 or Zildjian ZBT's, then I would say to invest in some new cymbals first. Hope that helps! josh