If you’re looking to buy a new drum set, you should consider getting one made from birch wood. Drum sets made from birch have unique tones that set them apart from sets made from the other woods.
They’re excellent for gigging, thanks to their increased stage presence. They often work well for recording too. I’m going to mention my top picks in a list, and I’ll help you choose which one will be best suited for you.
Bottom Line Up Front
You’re not going to find birch drum kits as commonly as you will with maple. You also don’t get beginner kits that are made from birch. When looking for a birch kit, you’ll have to budget $500 or more.
These kits have amazing punchy tones that shine through on live stages. They’re some of the most impactful drums you can play, and their attacking tones are great for energetic drummers. Here is a quick glance at all my recommendations.
My Top Picks at a Glance
- ddrum Dominion Birch – Surprisingly affordable birch drum kit.
- Yamaha Stage Custom Birch – Best birch kit costing under $1000.
- Yamaha Stage Custom Hip – Best compact birch kit. It also has an interesting floor tom with snare wires.
- Sonor SQ1 – Professional quality birch kit from Sonor. One of the best options to get.
- Yamaha Recording Custom – My number one pick. It’s one of the most recorded drum sets, living up to its name.
Tips for Buying Birch Drum Kits
When buying a birch set, there are a few things to think about that may be a bit different from when you buy other types of kits. Keeping these things in mind will help you make a good decision and choose the right kit. You may even decide that a birch kit isn’t for you. So, let me iron out the details!
Understanding how birch wood affects the sound that drum shells produce is a good start. When looking at birch kits, you’re going to notice that they have boosted high-end punchiness. This means that when you play the toms, they’re going to sound slightly higher-pitched and more aggressive than with other kits.
However, birch also brings out impressive low-end, so toms that are tuned low will also bellow out with that same punchiness. The mids are where birch shines the least. The drums will always sound powerful and punchy, thanks to the decreased mid-range frequencies. If you want a kit with balanced tones, then you’d need to go with one made from maple.
Since you don’t get entry-level birch drum sets, you’ll only ever be able to buy birch kits as shell packs. Shell packs only include the drums with no hardware or cymbals. This makes birch kits less accessible to first-time drum kit buyers.
It’s ideal for a beginner drummer to buy a set that has hardware and cymbals included, and those sets are typically made from poplar wood.
The general idea is that birch wood is only used for intermediate and professional kits. Many birch kits don’t even come with snare drums, so be prepared for that extra cost.
While birch drum sets have been abundant over the past two decades, I’ve noticed that many drum brands aren’t selling them as much anymore. I’m not sure why this is, but there aren’t many pure birch kits available compared to woods like maple and poplar.
The kits that I’m going to mention in the list below are most of what is on offer at the moment from all the major brands. You may be able to find pure birch kits from smaller drum brands, but they won’t be as widely accessible. The kits from major brands are what music stores typically keep in stock the most.
While there aren’t as many pure birch options as I’d like, there are countless kits on the market that have mixed shells that include birch wood. These are typically higher-end kits that mix shells to combine the tones offered by all of the woods.
When you mix maple wood with birch, you’ll get warm tom tones that have the benefit of birch punchiness. One of the best brands to find mixtures like this from is Mapex. All their higher-end intermediate and pro kits have shells that have mixed woods together. Tama is another brand that does this with their Starclassic drum sets.
If you love the sound of birch but still want the benefits of other woods, getting a mixed shell drum set may be a better option for you.
As there are no entry-level birch kits available, you’re going to be spending at least $500 or more on a kit. They also only come as shell packs, so you’ll be spending more to get cymbals and stands if you don’t already have them.
The intermediate birch kits available all cost under $1000, while the pro kits that are purely made from birch cost over $2500. The only birch kits that cost in between those ranges that are available are ones that are mixed with other woods for the shells.
For my picks below, I’ve only selected drum kits that are purely made from birch wood. These are the drum kits that demonstrate the effects of birch the most in their sound. All are punchy, all are lively, and all are fantastic kits to own.
They’re also all from reputable brands, giving you peace of mind knowing that the production quality is good. My first three picks intermediate kits and affordable, while my last two picks are top-quality professional drum sets. There’s something for everyone here, and all the kits give you that birch goodness.
Best Birch Drum Sets
ddrum Dominion Birch
ddrum isn’t one of the top popular drum brands, so they’re a bit of an underdog in the drumming industry. However, I discovered this ddrum Dominion Birch kit a few years ago, and I think it’s an incredible option to consider.
The drums are made from 6-ply birch shells. They’re quite snappy, and the toms sing beautifully when you hit them. I was surprised to find out that these drums come with fairly decent Remo heads. Although they’re not the US-made heads, they’re a lot better than the heads that come with other drum kits costing less than $1000.
The matching snare that comes with the kit is also decent. It has a good crack to it but also a fair amount of depth to its body. It’s not as responsive as some drummers may like, but you can only get so much out of an intermediate snare drum. I’d replace it first if I were to make upgrades to the kit.
The hardware of the kit is solid, with a strong double tom holder and triple-flanged hoops on all the drums. The shells have 45-degree bearing edges, which is to be expected from kits of this level.
Overall, it’s a great affordable kit to get. Although ddrum isn’t very popular, this set has my stamp of approval.
- Affordable birch drum set
- Strong hardware quality
- Great stock drumheads
- The snare drum is the weak point
Yamaha Stage Custom Birch
The Yamaha Stage Custom Birch is one of my favorite drum kits of all time. I honestly don’t think there’s a better-sounding kit available that costs under $1000. The toms have epic tones, and the snare is incredibly responsive, especially when tuned high.
I used to teach on one of these kits when I still worked as a full-time drum teacher, and I often thought it sounded much better than my higher-quality, more expensive personal kit that was sitting next to it.
The YESS mounting system for the toms is one of the standout features. It allows you to position them very easily, and it keeps all the resonance from them as well.
This is the kit I suggest that people get if they want to save some money to spend on better cymbals. It’s perfectly usable in professional settings, and the available finishes all look quite eloquent. You’d just need to replace the stock drumheads to get the best sounds that you possibly can.
- Most affordable set that works well in professional settings
- The sounds are amazing compared to its price
- Incredible hardware, especially the YESS mounting system
- You’ll need to replace the stock drumheads to get the best possible sounds
Yamaha Stage Custom Hip
The Yamaha Stage Custom Hip is the smaller version of the previous kit. However, it has a few notable differences that are more than just the altered drum sizes.
This is one of the only compact birch kits that I know of, making it a great option for drummers who play in small venues such as bars and restaurants. The great thing about it is that the bass drum is still a large 20”. This keeps the deep tone that we all know and love. However, the drum is quite shallow, saving plenty of space.
The most interesting thing about this set is the 13” floor tom. It performs well as a floor tom and sounds good while doing it. On a closer look, you’ll see that it has an extra layer. This floor tom also has snare wires underneath that you can turn on and off, giving you a second snare option with a much deeper sound.
That deep snare sound is fantastic for modern genres of music, and it comes in quite handy when you want a unique sound.
I’d suggest getting this kit as a second kit to own. The sounds are a bit flat to be used as a primary main set.
- Great compact kit for small venues
- Maintains a deep sound for the bass drum, unlike many other compact kits
- Floor tom can also be used as a snare drum
- Not an ideal option to be used as your main drum kit
Sonor is a highly reputable drum brand that is known for its exquisite design quality in all its kits. That’s why the Sonor SQ1 is one of the best birch kits that you can buy. The biggest difference between this kit and the previous ones is the quality of the hardware that keeps it together.
Firstly, the shells are constructed using Sonor’s CLTF method. The result of it is a set of drum shells that are far stronger than many others. They stay in tune for much longer, and their overall tone tends to be a lot more pleasing to the ears.
The company also uses a method called Optimal Shell Sizing, which allows the drumheads to float quite freely on the shells. This is another cause of the superior tones that you get from the drums, as they resonate a lot more.
The Sound Sustainer tom brackets are another top-quality hardware feature, and the TuneSafe lugs are what keep the hoops firmly planted on the shells.
Sonor has a custom line of drum kits called the SQ2s. This SQ1 kit lends many features from that line but puts them in a kit that is more affordable and more accessible to drummers. It’s still quite expensive, though. You’ll be paying close to $3000 for a shell pack that only includes one rack tom, one-floor tom, and a bass drum.
- Incredibly high-quality drum kit from Sonor
- Immaculate hardware quality
- A lot more durable than the previous kits
- Beautiful matte finish options
- Very expensive
Yamaha Recording Custom
My top pick for this list is the Yamaha Recording Custom. It’s fairly similar in looks to the Stage Custom, but it’s superior in every way. It’s honestly one of the best drum kits I’ve ever heard being played.
It was a kit that was sold back in the 20th century, but Yamaha worked with Steve Gadd to modernize it and make it more desirable in modern times. They did a great job, as I don’t think there’s a better birch kit than this one.
The weight of the lugs is quite heavy, lessening the overtones from the drums. When you hit them, you get a beautiful sound that isn’t harsh like many other kits often are. The shells have 30-degree bearing edges, giving them an extended tuning range. So, you can tune this kit to sound both high and punchy and low and bellowing.
The toms mount to the kit with the same YESS mounts used in the Stage Custom. I’ve always found this quite interesting, as most high-end kits have toms that mount to cymbal stands. I’m not complaining here, though. I think it’s amazing to have a professional kit where you don’t need to worry about positioning the cymbal stands in exactly the right place to have a comfortable tom setup.
I can’t say enough good things about this kit. You should get it if you can afford it. It doesn’t come with a snare drum, though. You’ll be paying an extra $500 for one if you want it.
- One of the most recorded drum sets
- Modern version was made with the help of Steve Gadd
- Incredible tone quality from all the drums
- One of the few high-end kits that have the toms mounted to the bass drum
- Very expensive
Answer: Maple drums produce warm tones that sit evenly across all the frequencies, whereas birch drums have more emphasis on the high and low ranges. They’re a bit louder, and they’re typically a lot more aggressive when played hard.
Birch drums are ideal for use in live gig settings as their strong tones give off a big presence on stages. Maple kits are ideal for recording as they’re the most versatile.
With that being said, both maple and birch drum kits can easily be used in any setting. You should just be aware of the differences before buying either.
Answer: Besides birch, drum kits are made from maple, poplar, beech, mahogany, and specialty woods that don’t have high numbers of production.
Poplar wood is what most entry-level sets are made of. It’s the most affordable wood to use, but it also has the lowest musical outcome. Maple is the most common type of wood used in intermediate and pro kits. Mahogany produces low tones and is often used for rock and jazz kits.
Beech isn’t used as commonly, and it provides a sweet tone. Companies will occasionally use special woods to make drums, and these will have tones unique to those woods. A good example of this is how DW uses Purpleheart wood for some of their Collector’s Series drum sets.
Answer: There is no definite answer here, as there are multiple brands that produce top-quality drum kits. Some of the most popular drum brands in the world are DW, Gretsch, Tama, Pearl, Mapex, PDP, Yamaha, Ludwig, and Sonor.
Every brand mentioned has a long list of drum sets that range from entry-level to intermediate. Most of them also have drum sets that are made from birch wood – if not entirely, then mixed with other woods to create unique sounds.
Answer: Entry-level drum kits are designed to be affordable. They’re the kits that are intended for beginner drummers to buy. If you’re just starting out, you’re most likely not excited to spend more than $500 on a set.
So, all entry-level drum kits are made from poplar, which is the most affordable wood type to use. Birch is a lot more expensive, so you won’t see drum brands making birch kits that cost anywhere under $500. You won’t find entry-level maple, mahogany, or beech kits either.
Entry-level kits also often come with a set of cymbals as well. If the kit were made of birch and had cymbals and hardware, it would likely cost over $1000, which wouldn’t be ideal.
Answer: While the Yamaha Recording Custom and Sonor SQ1 kits are the top-quality options that are widely distributed, you could custom order a set that is a lot better. Companies like DW, Sonor, and Pearl have custom drum kit programs.
These allow you to put in an order for a drum kit made to your specifications. You get to choose every aspect, from the shells to the hardware to the finish. You could opt for the shells of the drum kit to be made of birch while having every other aspect being the highest-quality option that the company offers.
This custom-made birch drum kit that you’ve ordered would be the highest-quality birch set available. Just be ready for a price tag that is over $10 000!
Out of all the birch kits that I’ve listed, I’d say that the Yamaha Stage Custom Birch has the most value for the money. If you’re looking for a new kit to buy, that’s the one I’d suggest getting. However, the Recording Custom is the best-sounding option, and you should get that if you have the money for it.
All the other options are perfectly viable as well. Read about what they offer and decide if they’d be a good fit for you. If you love the qualities of birch but want something a bit more versatile in its tone, I’d suggest looking into the kits that combine birch with other woods for their shells.
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