DW and PDP are two drum brands that often get spoken about together. They’re two of the best drum brands in the world, so it’s for good reason.
However, there is a lot more joining these two brands than what you get with any other brands, so it’s good to see what makes them similar.
In this guide, I’m going to compare all the features of DW and PDP drum sets. I’ll also explain which option you should go for depending on what you’re looking for in a drum set.
PDP’s Relationship to the DW Brand
The big reason why DW and PDP get mentioned together is that they’re essentially part of the same company.
PDP is a sister brand to DW, so many of the design features are shared and the kits fall under the same marketing umbrella with distributors and music stores.
DW is popularly known as one of the most expensive drum brands available. The brand makes kits for professional drummers and collectors who love luxurious gear.
You don’t get any budget DW kits, so the company formed PDP to offer far more affordable options with very similar design quality.
When you get a PDP kit, you get many of the draw cards from DW kits, but you’re going to pay a lot less for it.
That’s an overall comparison between the two, but let’s now look at all the small differences and similarities.
Similarities Between DW and PDP Drums
The one big similarity between most PDP and DW drum sets is that they use the same tension rods. DW has a propriety design here, calling them the True-Pitch tension rods.
They’re really high-quality rods that allow precise tuning, and they tend to hold their tuning exceptionally well with most drum shells.
These rods have a few more threads than typical rods from other brands, which is why they give more precise tuning.
A few of DW’s higher-end kits use more personalized rods, but the majority of DW and PDP kits have the True-Pitch ones.
I’m personally a big fan of them, and I’ve seen how they can enhance the overall quality and stability of drum shells.
Another big similarity is the MAG throw-off. This is a snare drum lever system that you can find on both DW and PDP drum sets.
All DW snare drums have the MAG throw-off, while you won’t find it on the entry-level PDP drum sets like the New Yorker and the Center Stage.
The MAG throw-off has a magnet on the snare drum that locks the lever to it when you push it close. This is quite different from the clicking design we see on other snare drums, and it makes the lever feel very smooth and effortless when you push it back and forth.
This is another design that I’m a huge fan of, as I’ve had plenty of gigs where turning the snares off has been tricky mid-song. You just don’t get that issue when playing a snare drum with the MAG throw-off design.
Most PDP shell finishes are fairly plain. However, they all look fantastic. I’ve always thought that PDP drum kits look like some of the best budget kits, and it’s mostly due to the available finishes.
The Concept Maple kits have a few interesting finishes that are more high-end, but that’s only with the Exotic and Classic versions.
The reason I’ve mentioned this under the similarities section is that every PDP finish is available on a DW drum set.
The DW drum sets come in the same colors, but you also get far more options regarding mixtures and lacquers, etc.
The DW kits also look more pristine, even when doing a direct comparison between two kits with the same finish.
The final similarity comes with the stands that hold all the drums together. While PDP hardware stands are quite basic, they share the design techniques used to make DW stands. So, they have a similar level of quality.
Purchasing a set of PDP hardware stands is a fantastic way of experiencing DW quality at a much cheaper price.
However, PDP only offers really basic snare drum stands, hi-hat stands, and cymbal stands.
The one area where I think the quality matches DW is drum thrones. You can get a few really good PDP drum thrones that offer similar performance to the famous DW ones.
Differences Between DW and PDP Drums
Where They’re Made
DW drum sets are proudly made in the US. John Good and his team have a factory in California where most of the sets are crafted by hand.
The Collector’s Series kits, in particular, have a seriously immaculate construction process, and the proudly US quality makes them far superior to PDP drum sets.
PDP kits are made in a factory in China. These kits have a more streamlined production process with cheaper materials being used, and that’s what makes them cost less than DW drum sets. However, that also means that they don’t have the same high-end quality.
Things like the True-Pitch tension rods and MAG throw-offs are used on those kits, but the other hardware pieces are locally sourced in China.
Shell material is another huge differentiating feature between DW and PDP drum sets.
All PDP drum sets are made from maple or poplar wood. Most PDP kits have Asian-sourced maple, with a few limited edition ones having European maple plies.
DW drum sets with maple shells use North American Hard Rock maple, which is a much higher-quality wood, as it gives the drums better tones.
So, when you compare a DW maple kit with a PDP one, the DW kit will always sound slightly better.
I should also mention that DW kits have far more wood options. The Design Series and Performance Series kits have maple shells, but there are dozens of Collector’s Series drum kits with unique and wonderful woods that were used to make them.
PDP has a limited number of drum kit lines available, with all of them having set configuration options.
One of the beautiful things about DW is that you can buy a DW set in a wide variety of setups. You can also buy the drums individually to add to your existing setup. If you own a standard 5-piece Design Series kit, you can purchase a 20” Design Series gong drum from the brand to spice things up.
The Collector’s Series is also a completely custom line. While there are plenty of pre-built Collector’s Series kits available, you can also place a direct order to DW to create whatever drum kit you want.
It will be massively expensive, but you can choose the shell material, hardware features, finish, and overall configuration.
Drum Kit Lines
I’ve briefly mentioned the drum kit lines above, but here is a complete breakdown of all the lines from both brands with short descriptions of what they offer:
PDP Center Stage
An entry-level drum kit with poplar shells that is made for complete beginners.
PDP New Yorker
Another entry-level kit with poplar shells, but it has small shell sizes to make it compact. It’s great for children and drummers who need a small gigging kit.
PDP Concept Maple
PDP’s main drum set. It’s a maple set with great performance quality, and it comes in a variety of setup options.
DW Design Series
The most affordable DW drum kit. It has maple shells and high-end hardware to make it a great pro kit option.
DW Performance Series
Another high-end drum set with maple shells. It shares many of the features of the brand’s flagship Collector’s kits, but the configurations are more streamlined to make it more affordable.
DW Collector’s Series
DW’s flagship kit. It’s completely custom, so you’ll find dozens of Collector’s Series sets with all kinds of shell and hardware mixtures.
The last thing to mention is that DW offers far more lines of hardware than PDP does. While PDP offers the 700 and 800 Series lines, DW offers 3000, 5000, 6000, 7000, and 9000 Series lines.
These are all really high-quality lines of hardware that are loved by professional drummers all over the world.
DW definitely makes some of the best hardware out of any drum company, and I’ve seen plenty of drummers using DW hardware mixed with other brands’ drums.
Which Brand Should You Choose?
The easy answer to this is that you should pick a PDP drum set if you want something affordable. However, there are more factors that go into the choice, and I think that both brands make some really compelling options.
The PDP Concept Maple drum set is more than good enough for a professional drummer to use. If you pair it with good cymbals and drumheads, it will sound amazing.
You just don’t get the same pristine quality from PDP kits that you get from DW ones. If you’re happy to save to get a higher-end kit, DW would be my preferred option. There are also far more options to choose from, which is great!