Buyers' guide: portable drum kits

5 best compact setups from £399

Yamaha Hip Gig

The worst part of gigging is setting up, tearing down and carting home your drums. Normal kits take up a lot of room and are heavy. So-called portable kits represent various enterprising ways to reduce the aggro.

They're also ideal for nimble dance beats, unplugged/acoustic sets, jazz and Latin gigs, small stages (and small bedrooms), practice sessions, teaching and so on.

"Many people think an electronic kit is the answer to noise problems, but a compact kit that you can damp down is often no noisier"

Noise problems

Many people think an electronic kit is the answer to noise problems, but a compact kit that you can damp down is often no noisier. (Banging on a pad set can cause as much reverberation as a damped drum kit...).

There are three types of kit here. The virtually shell-less Traps is the most portable, and yet generates as much sound as a full-shelled kit. The Hip Gig and Jungle kits employ 16"x16" floor toms as bass drums, while Premier and Taye go for normal diameter (20" and 18") bass drums with foreshortened shells to maximise stage space.

Speed, boom and punch

So the Hip Gig and Jungle kicks produce higher pitched and harder sounding beats suitable for small group jazz, techno, jungle, drum 'n' bass and the like. The Premier and Taye kicks are pretty much like normal bass drums, but they're faster, less boomy and more punchy.

5 best portable drum kits from £399

5. Taye Go Kit

Another double-headed kit in small sizes for quality sound at lower levels. Shells are birch/basswood in three lacquered finishes. Lightweight hardware is included and the central tom mounting stand means you can position the toms up high on the small (16") kick. The timbale is a nice addition for Latin gigs.

4. Premier Artist Heritage Club

Proper double-headed dum kit but in small sizes: 20"x8" bass drum, 10"x6" mounted tom, 13"x11" floor tom and 13"x5 1/2" snare. Shell sare Artist Heritage six-ply birch with Remo heads. A punchy kit that solves that old problem of the stage not being deep enough for your normal bass drum.

3. Sonor Jungle Force 3007

The maple shell Jungle does just what it says on the tin, especially when coupled with the ultra-snappy 2" deep Jungle snare provided at this price. With 16" kick, 10" and 14" toms, it's similar to the Hip Gig and (maybe with a different snare) just as versatile. Nine finishes from red maple to blue sparkle available.

Next page: Yamaha Hip Gig Junior and our top pick


2. Yamaha Manu Katche Hip Gig Junior

Yamaha's ingenious Hip Gig comes in three variations, Manu being the smallest, cheapest, lightest and, well, hippest. Originally conceived for little kids, it's great for big kids, too. 'Floating' 16" bass drum, warm Philippines mahogany shells, and complete hardware set with stool/throne.

1. Traps A400

Traps is the ultimate in transportability – and a kit you can hang off the garage wall. It also proves that 80 percent of a drum's sound comes from the heads. Look away and the sound's almost indistinguishable from a 'real' kit. It's as loud as a 3D kit and it mic's up a treat. (Read the full review of Traps' A400 kit)


Liked this? Then try:
Get the Led out with Afro-Cuban drum rhythms
How to build the ultimate drum setup… on a budget
6 career defining records of Aerosmith's Joey Kramer

Sign up for our free weekly newsletter
The free MusicRadar newsletter serves up the week's biggest artist and product news stories alongside exclusive tuition and gear reviews. Sign up here!

Follow MusicRadar on Twitter
Get instant updates and bonus content plus chat with the team. Start here!