A friend first told me about how great his new ddrum Journeyman Player sounded in 2013. I thought he was referring to an electronic kit and soon found out how little I knew about recent developments in the drumming industry (that has even changed since): ddrums, a US-based Swedish company specializing in electronic kits had branched out into acoustic drum kits in 2005. Late, in 2013 they launched what I consider their best entry-level kit so far. Besides, I also think it’s could be one of the best beginner drum sets on the market.
Who Is this Kit for?
The ddrum Journeyman is a very good kit for the beginning drummer which has one cheaper entry-level series (the D2), but to my mind the ddrum Player is a world ahead of the D2 for only about 100 bucks more. I think you can already tell by comparing their looks:
In terms of genres, the ddrum Journeyman is probably best used for rock and similarly punchy genres, because of its shell sizes. Most likely, you’d also get away with it as a fusion drummer. But if you’re mainly into jazz, you’d better look at sets such as the Sonor Martini or the Ludwig Breakbeats.
- Shells made of basswood in sizes: 22″ x 18″ (bass drum), 13″ x 7″ (snare drum), 10″ x 7″ and 12″ x 8″ (mounted toms), 16″ x 14″ (floor tom)
- Bass and snare drum are 8 ply, toms 6 ply
- Comes with double-braced hardware (hi-hat, snare, cymbal and boom stand, tom mount and single bass drum pedal)
- Suspension tom mounts
- 45 degree bearing edges
- Out-of-the-ordinary snare in 13″ x 7″
This snare is 1″ smaller and 2″ deeper than those coming with most other beginner kits. The depth lends this thing an authoritative punch, but with the smaller diameter it also retains a good snap that makes it useful for a variety of musical genres.
- Punchy kick drum
When I ordered the Journeyman I was most curious to see whether the bass drum would live up to its considerable size (22″ x 18″). And I’m pleased to say it does. It’s super punchy – especially after changing the bass drum head to an Evans Emad2. But see for yourself (with original heads) in the video below.
- Great-looking (black) sparkle finish
It might not come through fully on the picture above, but the ddrum Journeyman has a noticeable but not overly aggressive sparkle finish. And looking good on stage is very important, because audiences judge you more by your looks than by your skills. And in case you don’t like it in black: the Journeyman is also available in yellow and white.
- Decent wood for the money
The shells of the ddrum Journeyman Player are made of basswood. This is obviously not the most expensive material on the market, but it also doesn’t mean it’s bad. It simply means that it will have its own sound qualities (or better: sound potentials, because how you tune the drums will contribute a good bit to how they’ll sound in the end). In the case of basswood, these sound qualities will be similar to those of maple or mahogany: an emphasis on the midrange and warm lower frequencies with somewhat less projection than those other two woods would have. I’ve achieved a very decent and balanced sound with my Journeyman.
- Heads to be changed sooner rather than later
Speaking of the large impact the heads have on your sound, I’d rather not go on stage with the Journeyman’s stock heads. These are Remo heads, but the lower-quality UX ones made in China that come with most other entry-level kits too. Of course you can mess around with them and you might get a fairly good sound out of them. But I’ve never gotten them to sound good enough for the stage. (I recommend Evans Emad2 heads all around on the Journeyman.)
- Packaging is miserable
I got this kit from Amazon and it came fully intact. But a friend of mine wasn’t so lucky: because of the fairly lax packaging, his bass drum had a crack right through. This might be an extreme case, and I haven’t heard from more people with this issue. Still, most of them say that the packaging wasn’t what it should be like with drum kits (unprotected edges, very little foam, etc.).
Please keep in mind that this is not a “play right out of the box”-type beginner kit. It doesn’t come with cymbals, so you’ll need to have some or be ready to invest some money for them (at least $200-$300). Also, there’s the packaging issue (but of course you can always request a replacement for damaged items).
Other than that, I think there really is no reason not to buy the ddrum Journeyman Player. Great sound, sturdy hardware, great design…I fully recommend this for any drum beginner.