With the Internet becoming more relevant every year, online shopping has become the norm. Going to a music store and testing out all the available gear was what we all had to do in previous years. Nowadays, you can get your favorite drum gear without ever leaving your house. It’s amazing.
One of the biggest online instrument retailers is Sweetwater. In this Sweetwater review, I’m going to explain why the company is so popular. We’ll look through everything they offer as well as what sets them apart from other online retailers.
Bottom Line Up Front: Sweetwater was formed in the 90s and started offering online purchases as early as then. Today, Sweetwater is the largest online musical instrument retailer in the US. They have an extensive list of drum kit products offered by most of the major brands from around the world. One of Sweetwater’s best features is their store credit card, which allows you to finance gear with no interest.
What Is Sweetwater?
Sweetwater is a musical instrument retailer. They’re a big store that sells all the instruments that you can think of. For the sake of this review, I’m going to look at the store through the lens of a drummer. I don’t know of many other stores that have as large of a list of drumming products available, making Sweetwater one of the top options for drum gear.
The unique thing about Sweetwater is that the company puts most of its focus on the online space. There’s only one in-person store in the US, and it’s based in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The company is run from there, and you can visit the store to purchase gear from the floor.
Other than that, everything is based online. The idea is that you order gear to be shipped to your door. There’s a strong team of consultants that you’re able to phone and get guidance on all your needs.
Amazing Customer Service
Speaking of consultants, Sweetwater’s customer service team is incredible. It’s one of the best aspects of the whole company, and I know so many people who have had amazing experiences with members of the sales team.
If you’re unsure of what gear to buy, you can phone the Sweetwater line and ask to speak to someone. One of the sales workers will ask for a bit of information and then suggest a few options for what you may love. They may even strike you a deal, allowing you to get the gear for a better price than if you were to order it without speaking to them.
It’s also incredibly common for the sales team members to phone a few months after your purchase to check in and see how you like your gear. Having this relationship with them is incredible, and it makes you feel right at home whenever you’re looking to buy something.
Another exciting feature of Sweetwater is that you’re able to get a Sweetwater shopping card. This card works on a credit system, and you can finance drum gear so that you pay it off monthly. Most items don’t come with any interest, making it a highly valuable card to have.
However, certain brands don’t allow their products to be financed through retailers. They want everything to be purchased upfront. Just check to see which brands you can utilize financing with if you decide to get this card.
The no-interest policy is what sold me on it. If you’re not paying any interest, there really isn’t anything wrong with paying smaller monthly installments on high-end gear for a while.
Sweetwater ships all their gear anywhere throughout the US. When it comes to countries around the world, there are a few limitations. Some manufacturers have restrictions on where their gear can be sent, and Sweetwater must remain faithful to those restrictions.
Unfortunately, you may not be able to get the exact gear you want if you’re shipping it internationally. You’ll be able to see what can be shipped by entering your location details on your profile. If you’re adamant about getting a certain piece of drum equipment, you can phone the Sweetwater customer line and ask whether it would be possible to get the gear to you. I know a drummer who did this, and it worked! So, it’s always good to try.
Sweetwater YouTube Channel
One of the coolest things about Sweetwater is its YouTube channel, especially for drummers who watch it. Whenever you want to see demos of drums or cymbals being played, the chances are high that you’ll find a video of Nick D’Virgilio playing and talking through those pieces of gear.
There’s a lot more to the channel than product demonstrations. They regularly upload educational and entertainment content. Some big-name drummers come to the Sweetwater studios and do lessons and interviews. Sweetwater has uploaded a decent number of hilarious drum videos that don’t take themselves too seriously.
My favorite entertainment video on the channel is the drum battle between Casey Cooper and Cobus Potgieter. These two drum cover drummers were pretending to have a feud for months, and the video finally dropped on Sweetwater’s channel of them thrashing it out. It’s a top-notch piece of content. I love things like this, as they boost trust with the Sweetwater brand, even if you’re not looking to buy anything yet.
Pros and Cons
- Amazing customer service team
- Almost all the major drum and cymbal brands are available
- Top-quality YouTube channel with Nick D’Virgilio doing excellent product demonstrations
- Sweetwater card offers financing with no interest
- Limited international shipping
Sweetwater vs Other Online Stores
There are several other online stores to buy drum gear from. Compared to the rest, I’d say that Sweetwater holds the top prize. There’s just no beating their customer service, and the Sweetwater card is highly valuable for those not looking to drop large amounts of money in one go.
If you’re in the US, you can buy literally any piece of drum gear from Sweetwater. The only brands they don’t stock are the smaller and more obscure ones. I’m hoping that they’ll add Dream and Bosphorus cymbals to their catalog soon.
I’d suggest buying drum gear from Sweetwater if you can. However, here are the other online stores to check out that may cater more to what you’re looking for.
Alternative Stores to Consider
Reverb puts special focus on used gear. While the most popular secondhand marketplaces are Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and eBay, Reverb is one of the only ones to purely focus on musical instruments.
While you can buy used gear from Sweetwater, the list of drum gear options is nowhere near as extensive. So, I’d suggest going to Reverb if you’re looking to buy used gear for affordable prices. You should also go to the platform if you want to sell your own gear.
Reverb has a lot more seller protection than Sweetwater’s used gear platform. Reverb will handle disputes, making you feel safe with what you’re purchasing or selling. Sweetwater doesn’t handle any disputes in this area, so it’s up to you to be wise with your sale if you go that route.
- Easiest place to sell used drum gear
- Best place to find used drum gear
- Excellent customer protection processes in place
- Reverb takes a small percentage when you make a sale
There’s no hiding the fact that Amazon is the largest online store there is. Whatever you’re looking to buy, you’ll find it on there. I’ll always go to Amazon for two reasons. The first is to read the customer reviews of gear that I’m looking to buy. There tend to be more reviews on there than on dedicated instrument store sites.
The other reason, which is the most important for acquiring drum gear, is to get drum equipment that I can’t get shipped by retailers like Sweetwater. With Amazon being such a huge entity, you may find that it’s easier to get gear over to your country than it is with Sweetwater.
There are also often more options to choose from on Amazon. You’ll be able to find all the equipment from obscure brands on there. For example, I used to think the Sabian and Zildjian were the only brands that made low-volume cymbals. After a quick search on Amazon, I realized that there are dozens of options from brands that I’ve never heard of. If you love having a large number of options, Amazon is the store for you.
- Higher likelihood of drum gear being internationally shipped
- Amazing customer review section
- An incredibly large number of drumming products are available
- Customer service is nowhere near as personal as the dedicated music stores
Andertons is my final suggestion to check out. I’m suggesting this store as it’s based in the UK, and it makes acquiring gear a lot easier if you live on that side of the world. The store isn’t as big as Sweetwater, but I’m a big fan of the products they sell that Sweetwater doesn’t.
The store is a lot more popular with its guitars than it is with its drums, but I can see the drum department growing over the next few years into something massive. There’s also a massive Andertons YouTube channel that actually has more subscribers than the Sweetwater channel. However, that channel focuses on guitars. There’s a smaller channel to check out from the stores that are purely drum-focused.
- Easier shipping to UK and Europe
- A few drum brands offered that Sweetwater doesn’t have available
- Fantastic YouTube channel run by the Andertons Drum Department
- Not as much drum gear available as Sweetwater has
Answer: The main benefit of buying drum gear online is that you can get drums and cymbals that aren’t available at your local music store. The selections offered open up drastically. You may also be able to get certain pieces of gear at lower prices since you can compare prices from different retailers and choose the best ones.
You also get to read customer reviews from people that have purchased the gear already. This gives you a better idea of what the gear is like, as you can learn from personal experiences.
Lastly, buying gear online is a lot more convenient than traveling to a music store to get it. Instead of having the pack a drum kit into your car, it will arrive at your front door.
Answer: Yes, for the most part. Most companies these days allow you to order their products online. Even if you can’t find the products from a major retailer, the chances are high that you can order straight from the brand themselves.
The only drum brands that may not ship their gear are small ones that have just started out in your local town. However, the bigger they get, the more likely it is that they’ll start selling gear online as well.
Answer: Financing drum gear is a reasonable way of attaining high-quality products without paying major a major sum of money. I’d only say it’s a good idea if you’re not bad with debt. If you already have a lot of debt to play, financing some gear will just make things worse. It’s better to either wait and save or buy something more affordable.
However, getting a high-end drum kit for only $50 a month for a few years is a sweet deal! If you’re responsible with a store card, then it’s an excellent idea. Just make sure that you can afford it, even over the long term.
Answer: My first suggestion is to go to your local music store and test out all the available drum sets. From that experience, you’ll know which types of drums you like and don’t like. After that, check out all the options online. You may be able to find something better for a reasonable price.
The best way to check out kits online is to browse through online stores and then watch YouTube demos of the drum kits being played. The same process works for cymbals. Once you’ve made a decision on what to get, pick it up from your local store or place an online order if it’s not available there.
Answer: Reverb, Craigslist, and eBay are the top places to sell used drum gear. Out of all of those platforms, I’d suggest using Reverb if you can. It’s an online store that specializes in selling used music gear. You’ll find the best buyers there, and the platform will protect you through the entire process.
There’s more room for things to go wrong with Craigslist and eBay. However, you may be able to get a higher price for your gear on those platforms. Facebook Marketplace is another platform to consider using. Just be cautious of giving strangers your personal information!
If you’re looking to buy drum gear online, Sweetwater is the ultimate platform to buy from. There’s such a fantastic culture within the company, the sales reps are amazing, and the choices of gear seem almost unlimited. I highly suggest checking out Sweetwater first before any other store.
Otherwise, you can check out Reverb for used drum gear, Amazon for easier international shipping, and Andertons if you live anywhere near the UK as opposed to the US.
Also, remember that nothing beats trying out the gear yourself. That’s why I still suggest that you check out what’s available at your local music store. Sweetwater is just a phone call away when nothing you want is available.
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