Ludwig Element Evolution Review – Worthy Upgrade for a Beginner Drummer?

The Element Evolution is one of Ludwig’s lower-tier kits. It takes all the successful qualities from the entry-level Ludwig Accent and adds in a few higher-quality features from Ludwig’s hardware range. The result is a decent kit with hardware and cymbals, all for less than $1000.

I will give you a deep dive into everything about this drum kit. We’ll look at what it’s made from, what you get with the kit, and how it compares to some competitor kits in its price range.

If you’re wondering whether this is a good drum set to get for yourself, read on!

What is the Ludwig Element Evolution?

The kit is advertised as a solid intermediate kit. However, I’d argue that it’s better suited as being described as a top-of-the-range entry-level kit. There are plenty of intermediate kits that are far superior, but not many entry-level kits that can compete.

You can buy the kit in 3 different configurations. They look like this:

Configuration 1

  • 14” snare drum
  • 10” & 12” rack toms
  • 14” floor tom
  • 20” bass drum

Configuration 2

  • 14” snare drum
  • 10” and 12” rack toms
  • 16” floor tom
  • 22” bass drum

Configuration 3

  • 14” snare drum
  • 10” & 12” rack toms
  • 14” & 16” rack toms
  • 22” bass drum

Whichever configuration you choose, the makeup of the drums remains the same throughout. The cymbals and hardware are the same as well.

Key Features

Ludwig Element Evolution

The Ludwig Element Evolution has some distinct key features, from the shells to the classic Ludwig lugs and badges. Here’s what you get when you buy the kit:

  • A set of poplar drum shells
  • 2 boom cymbal stands
  • 1 hi-hat stand
  • A full set of Zildjian I cymbals (14” hi-hats, 16” crash, and 20” ride)


The drums are the main star of the show with this package. They’re made of poplar wood which gives them a strong attack, balanced sustain, and a fair number of musical overtones. Although poplar is the most inexpensive shell material, I found that these Element toms sing quite beautifully.

The drumheads feel a bit paper-like with no muffling, though. You’ll find this often being the case with lower-priced drum kits. So, it’s no surprise here. However, the drums feel great to play on once you apply some tape or Moongel to them.

They sound best when tuned between the low and medium frequency ranges. The 16” floor tom, especially, has the potential to sound like a cannon when tuned low.

I’ve heard from a few drummers that the snare drum is a bit of a hit or miss. It sounds excellent when tuned properly and equipped with a high-quality drumhead. It’s warm and full-bodied. However, it has a few harsh overtones and doesn’t stay in tune for as long as most drummers would like. You’ll love the sound, but you might get frustrated with the body quality.


The kit comes with a full set of Zildjian I cymbals. These are an updated version of the classic ZBT cymbals that used to come with many entry-level drum kits in the past. While the ZBTs were clearly cheaper cymbals, these I cymbals sound fairly decent in many settings.

They’re quite thick, giving them bright and expressive tones. The hi-hats are fairly aggressive, sounding heavy and loud in every way that you play them. The 16” crash is mostly the same but has a powerful force on impact. The 20” ride cymbal has a shimmering tone with a very bright bell sound.

Overall, these cymbals are better sounding than the brass cymbals that come with cheaper entry-level sets. They’re not as desirable for intermediate drummers, but they’re some of the best cymbals for beginners. They work quite well for rock, pop, and metal music.

They’re also very durable, thanks to their thickness.


The hardware is one of my favorite parts of the set. I’m a sucker for things that are future-proof, and these stands are perfect for keeping whenever you decide to upgrade the set in the future. The kit comes with two boom stands and a hi-hat stand.

Most kits in this price range that include hardware will only have one boom stand along with a straight stand for the cymbals. While straight stands are great, boom stands are always the better option, thanks to their extended adjustability features. So, it’s a huge plus to have two boom stands with the kit.

All the stands have memory locks, allowing you to lock the positions in place and make the stands easier to set up comfortably whenever you move your gear around.

You could find a set of stands like this for a few hundred dollars if you were to buy them separately. So, it’s a huge bonus that they’re included with the kit. It even comes with a Ludwig drum throne.

Pros & Cons

Ludwig Element Evolution


  • Affordable kit that comes with hardware and cymbals
  • Sounds excellent when tuned in the low to medium range
  • Zildjian I cymbals are fantastic for beginners
  • Includes two boom stands which isn’t common for included kit hardware
  • Includes a drum throne


  • Stock drumheads feel a bit paper-like with no muffling
  • The snare drum tends to go out of tune quickly

Who is this Drum Kit For?

As I said earlier, I don’t think this kit is the best choice for intermediate drummers. Instead, I’d put it as one of the best options for a beginner drummer who wants a high-quality yet affordable drum set.

I’d recommend this kit to any beginner drummer who already has an entry-level kit but wants to upgrade to something a bit better. The sturdy hardware and superior cymbals will provide a better overall feel. The drums will also sound a lot better when tuned nicely.

This is also the exact kit I would get if I were to start a teaching studio and needed one or two drum sets to put in my teaching room for the students to play on. Since it comes with everything you need and is a relatively decent set, it would be perfect for that. Affordability would be the biggest factor in that buying decision.

If you’re a more experienced drummer, you should consider getting something a bit higher in quality. A good intermediate or pro set would be a better option for you.

Alternative Drum Kits to Consider

Tama Imperialstar

Tama Imperialstar

The Tama Imperialstar is one of the main competitors of the Ludwig Element Evolution as it’s essentially the same package. However, you’re getting Tama drums and hardware with a set of Meinl HCS cymbals. This kit is a few hundred dollars cheaper, though.

The kit is also made of poplar shells and has a quick attack on all the drums supported by a full-bodied tone.

I’m a big Tama fanboy, so I’m inclined to prefer this kit over the Element Evolution. However, when I look at the two kits objectively, they’re incredibly similar and one isn’t better than the other. The Tama has a better price, though. You just don’t get the option of choosing different drum sizes, which is a bit disappointing in comparison.


  • Full set with hardware and cymbals
  • More affordable than the Ludwig Element Evolution
  • 7 clean finishes to choose from
  • Excellent for beginners


  • Doesn’t have different shell size options as the Ludwig does

Pearl Export EXX

Pearl Export EXX

The Pearl Export EXX is a higher-quality drum kit option to consider. The Export kits from Pearl are incredibly popular. In fact, they’ve been noted as being the most sold drum kits of all time. I used one to learn on for years when I was growing up. The EXX is an updated version of the kit with higher-quality hardware and shell design.

This kit doesn’t come with cymbals, but it comes with a full set of heavy-duty hardware. Pearl hardware is no joke. The company is known to produce incredibly pristine cymbal stands which last decades, so the hardware that comes with the kit is highly valuable.

The drums themselves are made with a mix of poplar and mahogany. This is one of the only mahogany kits on the market that you can find for under $1000, and the sounds of the drums are quite warm and full.

I’d suggest getting this kit if you’re willing to buy a set of cymbals separately. You’ll be spending over $1000 when you add in the cymbals, but it’s well worth it.


  • Most sold drum kit of all time
  • Mahogany and poplar shells are fantastic
  • Includes very heavy-duty hardware


  • No cymbals included

Yamaha Stage Custom Birch

Yamaha Stage Custom Birch

If you’re an intermediate drummer and you’ve been reading this article thinking that none of these kits quite fit your needs, then the Yamaha Stage Custom Birch is for you. This kit has a wonderful reputation for being the most affordable pro kit on the market.

It costs under $800, yet it’s good enough to be used in any professional setting you place it in. The birch shells sound so punchy, articulate, and musical. The snare drum is sensitive and has a massive crack when you play rimshots.

My favorite aspect of the kit is the YESS mounting system. It’s used on all of Yamaha’s drum kits, and it makes it so easy to adjust the rack toms in different ways.

Unfortunately, this kit only comes as a shell pack. This means it doesn’t offer as much as the previous kits we’ve looked at. However, it offers better quality and longer use as it’s a perfectly good pro kit.


  • Affordable pro kit
  • Punchy birch drums
  • YESS mounting system is amazing


  • No hardware or cymbals included


Question: Is the Ludwig Element Evolution Good for Recording?

Answer: Since it’s a top-of-the-range beginner set, it’s not the ideal drum kit for recording purposes. The main reason is its poplar shells. Drum sets with shells made from maple, birch, or mahogany are always better recording options.
Those kits are also always more expensive and designed for intermediate and pro drummers. Pro drummers are more likely to do studio recording with their drum sets, so those kits are always better options to use.
However, you’ll get a relatively decent sound from this kit in a recording environment if you have to use it. You’d just need to use a better set of cymbals than the Zildjian I Series.

Question: How Popular is the Ludwig Brand?

Answer: Ludwig drums were incredibly popular in the 20th century. One of the biggest contributing factors to the brand’s fame was the drummer, Ringo Starr. Since he played with The Beatles, millions of people saw a Ludwig set being played and wanted one for themselves.
The brand isn’t as popular with drummers nowadays. However, it’s still a top contender in the drum industry next to names like DW, Tama, Pearl, and Yamaha.
Some notable drummers who play Ludwig are Nate Smith, Questlove, Tre Cool, and Jason Bonham.

Question: Why are Ludwig Snare Drums So Good?

Answer: Ludwig snare drums are incredibly popular. There’s a whole culture in the drum industry of collecting vintage Ludwig snare drums that have been popular in the industry for years.
The Ludwig Supraphonic has been one of the first-choice snare drums for recording over the decades. There are countless albums that have that drum as the main snare for all the songs.
This popularity overflows into all of Ludwig’s other snare drums, and you’ll find many drummers using them along with other drums from different brands.
You can check out this guide here to read about Ludwig snare drums in greater depth.

Question: Should You Get a Full Drum Set or a Shell Pack?

Answer: I’d recommend a full drum set to anyone who is buying their first kit. A full set package will come with hardware, cymbals, drums, and often things like sticks and a drum throne. That’s everything you need to start playing with a single purchase.
Shell packs are more commonly bought by drummers who already have the gear to supplement what doesn’t come with the pack. If you are buying a set for the first time, you’ll need to buy a set of cymbals and a set of hardware to come with the shell pack. It can get quite expensive compared to buying a full drum set package.


Ludwig has a strong contender in the entry-level kit world with their Element Evolution kit. While it has its faults here and there, it’s a fantastic drum kit to buy that comes with relatively decent cymbals and excellent hardware.

Compare this kit to the other kits on the market that come with hardware and cymbals and see which kit you end up liking the most. If it ends up being the Element Evolution, I don’t doubt that you’ll love the kit.

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