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Bass drums are one of the most iconic pieces of a drum set. They provide the deepest part of your sound, producing impactful tones that maintain steady rhythms.
Having a bass drum with excellent tonal quality makes all the difference to the overall sound of your drum setup.
You may want to find a bass drum to replace the one you’re currently using, or you may want one to play rhythms with your foot while you’re performing on another instrument. Whatever reason you have, here are some of the best bass drums to buy individually.
What are the Best Bass Drums?
How I Tested and Selected the Best Bass Drums
I’ve used countless bass drums over the years. Most of them have been on my drum sets, but a few of them have been standalone instruments to add rhythm when playing guitar.
When finding bass drums for this list, I made sure to pick a versatile range of options that could cover every situation.
I first looked at sound quality, as that’s the most important factor. I tuned each bass drum in a variety of ways to see how rich the tones were in different areas.
I then looked at hardware features. I carefully inspected all the parts that held the bass drum together to see how they improved the overall quality.
Lastly, I tested out a few electronic bass drums, as I know that some people may be looking for those over acoustic ones.
In-Depth Bass Drum Reviews
The DW Performance Series bass drums are incredibly beautiful drums with incredible tones.
The cool thing about this line of drums is that DW sells several of these bass drums in different sizes.
Out of every option, my favorite has always been the 24” x 14” Performance Series bass drum. With it being larger, it provides a massive sound that remains controlled.
It’s an excellent drum to swap the one out in your current kit with if you’re looking for something big and powerful.
The HVX maple shell brings out a wildly deep tone, and the 60-degree bearing edges sharpen it a bit while extending the sustain as well.
I’m just always impressed with how this bass drum sounds when I hear it. I always love how responsive a drumhead feels on it, even though it has a larger size than usual.
The bass drum has a few of the iconic DW hardware features, such as True-Pitch tension rods and low-mass non-slip stabilizing spurs. You have the option of getting this 24-inch version in multiple finishes, which is awesome.
- Huge deep sound
- Easy to tune and has a surprisingly manageable resonance
- Incredibly well built
- 24” kick drums aren’t ideal for every setting
The Yamaha Stage Custom Birch is an incredibly popular mid-range set due to its affordable price tag. Luckily, it’s quite easy to find Stage Custom Birch bass drums on their own, whereas most affordable drum kit lines only offer full drum sets.
This particular bass drum is quite popular, as it’s small but packs a heavy punch.
It has a pure birch shell, and birch wood tends to heighten the amount of impact you hear when the drum is played. The 18” size makes the bass drum sound amazing in the mid-range frequency area, but it’s more than capable of being tuned quite low to sound booming as well.
The drum has fairly standard hardware features, but something to note is Yamaha’s Air Seal System which ensures the bass drum is perfectly round and gives it incredible durability and consistent tones.
Consistency has always been my favorite aspect of this bass drum. I’ve borrowed one from a friend for a few gigs, and it always sounded as good as the last time I played it.
The small size makes it work well for gigging purposes. It also makes it ideal for younger drummers. However, you don’t get as much oomph from this bass drum as you would from a 20” or 22” one.
- Extended attack from birch shell
- Smaller size makes it great for gigging
- Very affordable
- The size doesn’t produce as much heavy bass as some drummers would want
The DW Design Series Maple Pancake is a unique option. It has an incredibly shallow depth with only one drumhead. It stands tall at 20”, but the shallow depth makes it extremely portable.
The maple shell gives it a warm tone. However, it sounds a lot thinner than other bass drums with standard depths. This results in the bass drum being a bit softer, even when it’s hit quite hard.
I’ve found the quieter sound makes it an excellent option for softer venues, which is often where musicians who need a standalone bass drum will play.
At first, I wasn’t quite sure how exactly this thin bass drum remained in place. DW has designed claw hooks, and they work surprisingly well.
I found it has decent stability when being played by a bass drum pedal, but it’s still quite unstable compared to standard bass drums.
You’ll also need to muffle the drum significantly to stop the extensive resonance.
It’s a great bass drum to have as a traveling option or an auxiliary option in your setup. I wouldn’t recommend using it as your main bass drum, though.
- Very portable
- Great for quiet venues
- Top-tier DW construction quality
- Lots of resonance without muffling
- Tends to wobble quite a bit
The DW Collector’s Series is one of the highest-quality lines of drums in the world. My suggestion here is the 22” x 18” Collector’s Series bass drum that has a maple and mahogany shell.
This is honestly one of the best bass drums I’ve ever played. It just thrives in every area, including tone, build quality, and overall playability.
The two woods create a perfect combination for a bass drum, as the maple brings out a bit of controlled attack while the mahogany boosts the low-end warmth.
The tonal range you get out of this bass drum is amazing, and you’ll find that you don’t need to apply too much muffling for the overtones to stay controlled. As with the previous DW bass drum, the True-Pitch tuning rods ensure that the drum stays in tune for a long time. The process of tuning is also very painless.
When it comes to tone, hardware quality, and aesthetic appearance, not much can beat this bass drum, which is why it’s my premium option.
- Maple and mahogany shell mixture produces an amazing deep sound that is controlled
- Looks and feels very luxurious
- Easy to tune
- Very expensive
The Pearl Export EXL is one of the most sought-after deep bass drums that also comes with an economical price tag. The EXL line is an updated version of the famous Export Series, adding a few top-quality features to the drum.
The shell is a mixture of poplar and mahogany, having six plies and being made using Pearl’s Superior Shell Technology.
The outcome is an incredibly deep bass drum that is almost indestructible. The mahogany plies are the biggest contributors to the drum having such a low fundamental tone.
This is one of the easiest bass drums I’ve used that has allowed me to tune it low without having the bass drumhead feel paper-like.
The bass drum comes with one of Pearl’s mini muffler pads. You can place that inside the drum to stop it from sounding too hollow. However, the best way to get a pleasant tone is by replacing the stock drumhead that it comes with.
Overall, it’s a good bass drum that is very durable and won’t break your bank.
- Affordable price rag
- Produces an excellent deep tone
- Incredibly durable - and comes with a muffling pad
- Stock drumhead isn’t of a great quality
The Roland KD-180 is a great alternative to using an acoustic bass drum if your plan is to have it for timekeeping while playing another instrument. It’s an electronic bass drum that maintains the appearance of an acoustic bass drum.
You’d need to connect this pedal to something that reads trigger inputs, such as the Roland SPD-SX or the Roland TM-1. The benefit of using an electronic bass drum over an acoustic bass drum is that you have the option of switching sounds very easily.
This is incredibly ideal for someone playing guitar and using the pedal as a timekeeping tool. Certain sounds may be more appropriate for certain songs, and it will also give your music a bit of variety, as the sound of the same kick drum being played has the potential to get a bit stale.
This is definitely the best electronic bass drum available at the moment. Nothing else I’ve tried has beaten its playability.
The downside, however, is that you’re limited to technology. You’ll need to buy all the tools and connections to make this work.
- Maintains the appearance of an acoustic bass drum
- Excellent option for musicians who want to change their kick drum sound
- You have more control over the output volume
Bass Drum Buyer’s Guide
Bass Drum Size
Picking a bass drum size will be your most important deciding factor when buying a bass drum.
The larger the bass drum is, the deeper its tone will be. However, larger bass drums also take up more space. While you may want a deep tone, getting a 24-inch bass drum just won’t be practical for many situations.
If you want a bass drum to use as a timekeeping tool while playing another instrument, something smaller than 20” will be a lot easier to manage. A smaller bass drum will also work well for a compact drum set.
The shell material used to make the bass drum is another determining factor in how it sounds. Knowing what qualities different shell materials produce is valuable when you’re looking to buy drums.
Maple drums produce warm and controlled tones. Birch drums like the Yamaha Stage Custom Birch Bass Drum and the DW Collector’s Series Bass Drum have a bit more attack. And mahogany drums like the Pearl Export EXL Bass Drum have extended low-end tones.
You’ll find with most acoustic bass drums that they make booming sounds with plenty of resonance. The amount of resonance a bass drum has can often become unbearable when playing. The solution to this is to apply a bit of muffling.
You need to put something inside a bass drum shell to muffle it. The more items you put in there, the more the resonance will be cut short. You’ll also find that muffling makes the bass drum feel tighter when you hit it with a pedal. Be careful not to put too much in the bass drum shell, as that will kill the tone completely.
Bass Drum Pedal
All acoustic bass drums require a bass drum pedal to play them. If you don’t have one of those, you’ll need to get one along with whichever bass drum you choose.
I wouldn’t recommend any expensive pedals to musicians who just want a bass drum to keep time. Any cheap kick drum pedal you can find will work well.
I do recommend a good bass drum pedal for dedicated drummers, though. Higher-quality pedals feel a lot better to play with, and they have multiple customization options to allow you to feel as comfortable as possible.
If you’re looking for a bass drum to replace the one that is currently on your drum kit, consider getting a higher-quality one to boost your sound. If you just need a bass drum to keep time while playing another instrument, I’d suggest getting a more affordable one. This is because when you use a bass drum alone, the sound won’t be comparative to drums around it.
Remember that a good set of drumheads and some decent muffling will also allow you to get an amazing bass drum tone, even if you’re using a lower-quality one.