Small vs Large Drum Kits: Comparing the Pros and Cons

Do you need a huge drum kit or is it unnecessary? Are smaller kits the way to go? In this article I’ll be comparing the pros and cons of small and large drum sets so you can decide how many drums you actually need!

Small vs Large Drum Kits

Larger drum kits with more drums and cymbals are more versatile and allow the drummer to perform more complex and interesting fills. However, smaller drum kits are easier to transport and set up at venues, take up less floor space and cost less to purchase and maintain.

Small Drum KitLarge Drum Kit
Lower cost  More versatile
 Easy to transport and set upMore interesting to play on 
 Take up less floor spaceLooks more impressive on stage 
Small vs large drum kits


The main advantage of having an extended drum kit with multiple toms, snares and cymbals is that it gives the drummer more options. This is particularly useful for some styles such as rock and metal where you’ll typically find more complicated fills requiring more drums.

Think of Neil Peart for example. He had a huge drum kit for most of his career and it allowed him to be a real pioneer of the instrument. He was hugely influential in the drumming world and his progressive style helped him to become one of the most well recognised drummers in the world.

As another example, think about one of the most famous drum fills of all time. “In the Air Tonight” required a large drum kit in order to be able to perform the fill. In addition to the snare and bass drum, the kit had 5 toms (3 rack toms and 2 floor toms).

Granted it’s not the most complicated fill in the world by any means, but it did require more toms to get the right sound.

Floor Space

A significant disadvantage of having a larger drum kit is that it takes up a considerable amount of floor space. Smaller, more compact drum kits on the other hand take up less space and can fit inside a home allowing the drummer to practice more frequently.

Here’s a quick guide to how much floor space different sized drum kits take up on average:

  • 3-Piece: 45″ x 40″
  • 4-Piece: 60″ x 55″
  • 5-Piece: 75″ x 55″
  • 7-Piece: 95″ x 70″

Check out my article on how much space is needed for a drum kit to learn more.

Gigging and Travelling

Larger drum kits are much more difficult to transport to gigs compared to smaller, more compact kits.

There are several issues with larger kits when it comes to transport:

  • Takes up more space in a van
  • Takes longer to set up at the venue
  • Increased weight (an issue if you ever want to ship the kit to a venue)

Smaller kits on the other hand are easier to travel with and also make the setup and packing away process much faster since there are fewer drums to contend with.

This is one of the reasons why some professional drummers have a larger drum kit for practising at home and recording, and take a smaller kit for gigs and live performances.


If you are a beginner it’s best to keep your kit relatively small. The reason being is that it avoids over complicating things. If you sit a beginner in front of a 7-piece drum set then the chances are that they’ll feel pretty overwhelmed.

4-Piece and 5-Piece kits are ideal for beginners and even intermediates as they give the drummer enough versatility, but without overcomplicating things.

Typically, extended drum kits with 7 or 8 piece and multiple cymbals are only used by more advanced drummers as less experienced players will may the additional components unnecessary and distracting.

Kit Cost

It should hopefully go without saying but larger kits are of course significantly more expensive compared to smaller kits because they contain more drums.

Check out these lists comparing the average costs of 4-piece, 5-piece, 7-piece drum sets when purchasing high quality piece individually to give you a rough idea of the price difference.

4-Piece Drum Set:

  • Snare = $400
  • Kick Drum = $800
  • Floor Tom = $450
  • Rack Tom = $200
  • Hi-Hats = $450
  • Crash Cymbal = $250
  • Ride Cymbal = $400

Total = $2950

5-Piece Drum Set:

  • Snare = $400
  • Kick Drum = $800
  • Floor Tom = $450
  • 2 x Rack Tom = $400
  • Hi-Hats = $450
  • Crash Cymbal = $250
  • Ride Cymbal = $400

Average = $3150

7-Piece Drum Set:

  • Snare = $400
  • Kick Drum = $800
  • 2 x Floor Tom = $900
  • 3 x Rack Tom = $600
  • Hi-Hats = $450
  • 2 x Crash Cymbal = $500
  • Ride Cymbal = $400

Average: $4050

Pros and Cons of Small and Large Kits

Large Drum Kit

Pros of Large Drum KitCons of Large Drum Kit
More versatileMore difficult to transport and set up
Easier to perform unique fillsMore expensive
Looks cool on stage Take up more floor space
Advantages and disadvantages of large drum kits

Small Drum Kit

Pros of Small Drum KitCons of Small Drum Kit
CheaperCan sound repetitive
Easier to transport and set upLess interesting to play on
Saves floor space Less impressive to look at 
Advantages and disadvantages of small drum kits

What Size Drum Kit is Best?

Unless you really need loads of toms and cymbals for your style of playing, my advice would be to stick to a smaller kit if possible. It’s fine to have spare drums/ cymbals which you can swap in or out, but having a larger kit than you need set up all the time just isn’t necessary.

Larger drum kits give you more versatility, but you don’t need to have loads of drums to be a good drummer.

There are also several advantages of smaller kits including the fact that they take up less space, are easier to transport and don’t cost as much.

For most players a 5-piece drum kit will give them enough versatility but without being overly complicated. Then, if you want to start experimenting then you can throw in some extra toms or cymbals but don’t feel any pressure to have a larger kit if you won’t use it.

Small vs Large Drums

I won’t go into this in much detail as I have some separate articles for you to check out on this topic.

Drums with a smaller diameter have a higher pitch compared to drums with a larger diameter. Shallower drums sound more direct and sharper compared to larger drums which have more resonance and sustain.

Check out these articles to learn more:


I’m here to share with you my passion for drumming, as well as some tips and tricks for choosing and making the most out of your drum kit and accessories. Whilst I play primarily on electronic drum kits, I love all things drumming and hope to share this with as many people as possible!

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