Find the dream kit for your first drumming steps with our ultimate guide to the best starter drum sets. We review the top kits and tell which we recommend over the others.
Whether you’re a parent looking for the perfect drum kit for a budding Roger Taylor or whether you’re channelling your own inner Ringo Starr, finding the best beginner drum kit is a top priority.
So, how do you go about making the right decision? With so many drum kits on the market, it can be hard to know which one is right for you.
A drum kit is a major investment, so if you’re just starting out or buying for a child who may decide that drums aren’t their passion after a few months, you won’t want to spend a fortune on a professional quality kit.
However, that said, the best beginner drum set should be stable, sturdy and robust without costing the Earth. The primary purpose of a beginner's drum set is to practice skills and to hone the muscle memory - however the best starter drum kit will also produce high quality sound.
Are you ready to start your search for the best cheap drum kit? Then read on, and discover our expert reviews that’ll help you make an informed decision.
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The Top Models Compared
Take a look at how the best drum sets for beginners compare in the table below.
OUR TOP PICK
- Impressive sound
- Quality construction
- Good size
- Sounds amazing
- Quality pedal
- Lifetime warranty
Tama New Imperial Star
- Great sound
- Double braced stands
- Quality construction
Gammon Percussion 5-Piece
- Robust construction
- Amazing value
Mendini Kit by Cecilio
- Decent sound
- 1 year warranty
The Top Models Reviewed
Read about them in more detail and find out which we’d choose over all others.
1. Pearl Roadshow *OUR TOP PICK*
If you’re looking for the perfect drum kit for teenage or adult beginners, the Pearl Roadshow is hard to beat. Since it hasn’t been specifically designed for beginners, you can benefit from a sound quality which is above and beyond that which can often be expected from beginner kits.
The 5-piece kit has everything you need to get started with drumming, and as you’d expect from such a big-name manufacturer, you can expect outstanding hardware – the double braced, dual-reinforced legs will keep this drum kit sturdy and stable even if you drum away like Animal from The Muppets!
This starter drum kit isn’t ideal for kids since the individual pieces of the kit are slightly larger when compared to the majority of other starter kits. For example, the snare drum measures 14” x 6.5” and the bass drum measures 22” x 16” – a bit on the big side for mini drummers!
As well as the bass and snare, you’ll get three toms together with a cymbal and high hat on stands. The result is a kit that can accommodate all of your early drumming needs. When it comes to learning rhythms and beats, there isn’t a thing that you won’t be able to learn with this drum kit.
An added bonus of choosing the Pearl Roadshow is the impressive quality not just of the construction materials but also the sound. Almost unique among starter kits, this has gig quality sound, so you can use it to rehearse and perform without having to upgrade. That’s pretty impressive value for money right there.
As an added professional touch, this kit also comes with locking, geared stands and a chain-drive bass drum pedal so you can feel like a pro as you learn.
Are there any downsides?
Well, there are a couple of factors to bear in mind before you buy. Firstly, if you’re looking for a beginner’s drum kit that’s suitable for your young son or daughter to learn on, the Pearl Roadshow isn’t the one for you. The larger size of the drum components means that your school-aged child could easily get lost behind the toms! It should be fine for teens though, and it’s a great choice for adult learners.
The only other gripe, and it’s a minor one, is that the drumsticks aren’t the best quality. It’s the only area in which this drum kit has skimped on quality and it shows. Of course, it’s relatively inexpensive to invest in a new pair of better drumsticks and the ones that come supplied as standard are perfectly serviceable for any drumming novice to get to grips with.
Bottom Line: In our expert opinion, if you’re looking for a long-lasting, great value 5 piece starter drum kit for teens or adults, you’ll struggle to find a better choice than the Pearl Roadshow. It’s impressive sound quality, together with its strong and sturdy construction makes it a strong contender for the title of best drum kit for beginners!
2. Pearl Export *LUXURY CHOICE*
This simple drum kit is the ideal choice for any novice drummer who has a passion for jazz or fusion music. This is because of its excellent shell quality which can generate beautiful low-end sounds that have extended sustain – absolutely perfect for those musical styles. As you’d expect from the Pearl brand, one of the leading names in drumming, the Export is a seriously impressive and well-made piece of kit.
One of the top features of this kit is the high-quality pedal. Smooth, and offering minimal resistance, it is impressively durable so even if you become too enthusiastic during your lessons you won’t have to worry about breakage or damage. The Pearl Export also boasts superior shell technology – made from a blend of Asian mahogany and poplar, the shell delivers plenty of volume together with well-sustained low-end notes - (good news for you, but maybe not your neighbours!)
All beginners know that stability of their kit is paramount when learning to play. The way in which the 3-way tom mount enables the shell to have free resonance without any wobbling means that you’ll never need to worry about your kit accidentally collapsing at a key moment in a song! The stands are also double braced for extra robustness and durability, while the bass drum pedal is chain drive operated for professional quality – something that isn’t always seen in a beginner’s kit. If you’re serious about learning the art of drumming, this kit is a great choice for you, offering you all of the solidity you demand from your learner kit.
Even better, this kit is protected by a lifetime warranty, reflecting the Pearl brand’s commitment to both players and tradition of quality manufacturing. This makes the kit a brilliant long term investment for anyone who’s in it for the long haul.
Of course, you can expect a couple of negative points, after all, nothing’s perfect – even a Pearl drumkit!
One point to bear in mind is that if you want to enjoy the advantage that optional cymbals will bring you, you’re going to have to pay out more money – this kit doesn’t come with them included. Many other kits come with cymbals supplied, so that could be viewed as a major downside.
Also, and this is somewhat unexpected since many people think that all drum kits are equally good when it comes to playing in different musical styles, the drums have a very particular sound which may not be to every player’s taste. That’s why we’ve recommended that this kit is better for anyone with an interest in fusion or jazz genres. If you’re more interested in rocking out, this probably isn’t the right choice for you and you should consider one of our other options instead.
Bottom Line: It’s our opinion that if you’re searching for the ideal drum kit to play fusion or jazz, the Pearl Export is the one for you. Well-made, well-protected and incredibly sturdy, you’ll be making a long-term investment with this kit.
3. Tama New Imperial Star
Delivering everything that you could possibly need in a starter drum set, this five-piece kit is packed with everything that drummers need, all topped off with a stylish hairline blue finish for an eye-catching look on stage!
Not every drum kit has been designed to take the beating that a novice drummer can give it! The Tama New Imperial Star certainly has with its poplar shells that feature precision-crafted bearing edges. Not only are the shells exceptionally resilient, their poplar construction produces a focused and bright sound. Not all drum kits for beginners produce a high-quality sound, but this one features toms that boast decent sustain and a pleasant warm sound as well as a bass drum with an impressive boom that the neighbours are going to love!
The one true standout feature of this set is its snare, which has an attacking, sharp sound that really makes it stand out from the crowd. Perfect for cross-clicks and rim shots, the snare drum’s quality is head and shoulders above that of its competitors in the entry-level bracket. Like any good beginner’s drum kit, the Tama New Imperial Star also has double braced stands for extra sturdiness.
You can also expect to receive two quality additional components with this set. The first is a hi-hat stand with a rotating 360-degree pedal for even greater convenience – you’ll never again have to worry about where you can put your stand to avoid the legs being in your way! The second is the bass drum pedal which features a strong and sturdy metal base which gives the drum better stability and improves drumming exponentially.
Although this set is a little more expensive than the Pearl kits, it’s well worth the investment thanks to the impressive extra touches. However, there are a couple of small niggles which could be worth bearing in mind.
The poplar shells produce a sound quality that is inferior to that produced by a birch or maple kit. Its tone is also not to every drummer’s taste. Also, the drum heads which are supplied with this kit aren’t the best quality and will require replacing in the long term if you’re serious about your playing.
One further minor point is the omni-sphere system for mounting the toms. You probably won’t find this an issue if you’re a complete novice, but if you’re already at an intermediate level, not being able to put your toms in your preferred position might get on your nerves.
Bottom Line: If you’re prepared to spend a little more and are serious about drumming, the Tama New Imperial Star is a great investment. Although there are a few minor points, the quality components and resilient construction makes this the perfect starter-to-intermediate set.
4. Gammon Percussion 5-Piece *BUDGET CHOICE*
Whether you’re investigating the best cheap drum sets for a child or for yourself, the Gammon Percussion 5-piece kit is should certainly be on your shortlist. Suitable for use by drummers of all ages, this starter set comes complete with two mounted toms and a floor tom, snare, bass drum, crash cymbal and hi-hat. All of the components save the front two toms are on a stand or floor-standing and can be adjusted to suit your reach no matter how tall or short you are, making this a truly flexible choice for every novice drummer.
Although not officially marketed as a starter set, the Gammon Percussion kit is ideal for beginners. Durable, strong and well-built, it can withstand the beating you’re likely to give it in the early days of your drumming career and if you accidentally damage or break something, its low price means that you won’t be devastated.
One of the selling points of this kit is that it comes with absolutely everything you need to get started – it’s a professional size kit with no need to pay any extra to get hold of cymbals or anything else you might need. This is great news for drummers on a budget who need an affordable kit to learn on before progressing to something more advanced at a later stage.
The stylish black high gloss finish is a nice touch, and is eye-catchingly appealing (although the true benefit of this glossiness won’t be displayed to its full potential if you’re relegated to practising in the garage!) The chain driven pedals are also sturdy, smooth and easy to use, for ease of learning.
So, what are the downsides? First, we need to bear in mind the affordable price tag of this set – you’re not going to get the same sound quality as you would expect from a costlier kit. If you want a kit that you can use for live performances or recording, this isn’t the set for you. Its wood quality is also distinctly average, hence the low cost. The drumsticks which come supplied with the Gammon Percussion aren’t the best, but they’re pretty cheap and easy to swap out when you’re ready to move onto something more advanced.
Overall, if you’re in the market for a truly affordable way to get started with your new musical hobby, this set is hard to beat.
Bottom Line: In our opinion, this is without doubt the best drum set for beginners who are on a low budget. Giving you plenty of bang for your buck – literally – this kit is the perfect introduction to this fantastic musical skill thanks to its resilience, robustness and durability which can withstand everything you care to throw at it.
5. Mendini Kit by Cecilio
If your goal is to find the perfect beginner drum set for teenagers, the Mendini Kit by Cecilio should be your first port of call. A much better choice than a child starter kit, this set is incredibly durable and can endure the harder hitting that a teenager can dish out.
The 5-piece set has a reasonable sound quality – certainly adequate for any garage band’s needs – and the stool which comes supplied is surprisingly good quality. It is fully adjustable and features high quality padding so you won’t be uncomfortable during those long hours of practice. As an extra surprise, the drumsticks which come with this simple drum kit are impressive – something that you rarely see with a starter kit.
The shells are made from poplar, which makes them strong and resilient to damage and they have quality lamination for extra aesthetic appeal. After all, even if you are only playing in your garage, you still want your kit to look the part!
Sturdiness is always paramount with a beginner’s kit, and the legs have been double braced like all the best beginner drum kits, so you can be confident that your set will stay upright throughout every practice session no matter how carried away you become!
The one year manufacturer’s warranty which comes supplied with this set protects you for 12 months against any damage or faults, so you can even enjoy complete peace of mind.
As you would expect for a starter kit, it isn’t all perfect. When it comes to sound quality, for example, while it’s on the good side of average, it still isn’t good enough for stage performances. Not many teenagers are going to be performing live in public, which is why this is probably a better choice for your youngsters than for you.
While the chain-driven bass pedal is strong, sturdy and well-made, when compared to some of its rivals on the market it has less sensitivity. That means that if you favour genres that rely on a faster tempo such as metal or progressive, this probably isn’t the kit for you. One further thing to bear in mind is the lack of a drum-key with this set – something which tends to come as standard with most beginner kits.
Bottom Line: It’s our expert opinion that if you’re searching for a drum kit for your novice teenage drummer, the Mendini kit by Cecilio could be the best option for you. Well-made and protected by a manufacturer’s warranty, its affordable price tag makes it ideal for parents on a budget, while its high-quality accessories such as the stool and drumsticks add additional value for money.
When it comes to quality beginner drum kits, knowing what to look for is essential. It can be all too easy to make an expensive mistake, and since drum kits are not a cheap investment you need to be certain that you’re getting value for money before you pay out.
The purpose of a starter drum kit is to have a set which won’t cost the Earth but which will be strong, sturdy and produce a good enough quality of sound to enable you to learn the basics of playing. In the early days of drumming lessons, practicing muscle memory and learning rhythms is the name of the game. You need a kit which can withstand the beating that a novice drummer can give and which will stand the test of time as a robust instrument. Once you’ve progressed further with your learning, you can then invest in a more professional set to suit your more advanced playing skills.
With those things in mind, these five kits that we have recommended here are all outstanding choices for children, teenagers or adults who are starting out on their drumming journey. While all of these starter sets are impressive, if you’re looking for the best value for money, you’d find it difficult to beat the quality of the Gammon Percussion 5-piece kit.
With its low price tag, this set comes with absolutely everything you need to get started at a fraction of the cost of some of its competitors, and with its great build quality and excellent resilience, it’s a perfect choice, especially for young drummers who are just getting started.
For overall quality, we would recommend the Pearl Roadshow kit. Its excellent sound quality gives it the edge over its rivals and will take you from practice sessions in your garage to performing on stage.
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If you’re ready to invest in your first drum kit, you need to have some idea what features and qualities to look for if you want to avoid making an expensive mistake. There’s nothing worse than investing a lot of money in a drum kit which turns out to be unsuitable for your needs. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the things you’ll need to consider.
Remember Your Floor Space
This is a basic consideration, but it’s one that is often overlooked by novice drummers. Full sized drum kits take up a whole lot of room, and during the set up phase you’ll be spreading all the components around. You’re also sure to be surprised by the distance your bass drum will travel during your practice session! With this in mind, it’s important to remember that you’ll need a kit that your space can accommodate.
If you’re really limited in terms of space, you could buy an electronic drum kit instead. Their footprint is a lot more compact than an acoustic kit, so you can squeeze it into your room with ease. They’re also very simple to dismantle and assemble, so putting them away when they’re not in use isn’t going to be a gigantic pain. They’re also very portable and can easily be loaded into the back of your car if you’re heading to a gig. Of course, they can’t compete in terms of quality or experience with an acoustic set.
The Shell Material
Some novice drummers are unaware that the shell of your drum kit could be made of different materials and that those materials produce different qualities of sound. It isn’t only the depth and diameter of the shell that affects the sound you make when you hit your drums, the type of wood will have a major impact and different types will be best suited to different musical styles.
Maple, for example, produces slightly boosted lows and smooth high-to-mid-high frequencies. Maple has an open, resonant tone which is warm yet bright.
Birch produces boosted high frequencies and packs a stronger lower end punch. This wood type is known for its darker tones and great attack.
Mahogany produces very rich lower end frequencies and produces very smooth mid frequencies. This is ideal for any musical style that requires a lot of attack, punch and bottom.
Finding the right wood type to suit your musical style is therefore important.
Getting The Hardware Right
Although you might be primarily focused on the kit which you’re buying, the hardware which comes supplied with it is equally important. Solid hardware will ensure you can carry on drumming for many years to come without worrying about damage or breakage. It’s usually a good idea to invest in quality hardware from your very first kit – shells can be upgraded at a later time, but the hardware is a more long-term investment.
The bass pedal and stool are the two key elements of hardware to consider as they take most of the wear and tear. You’re going to be spending a lot time sitting on the stool while you put in the hours of practice, so you need to be certain that you’re going to feel comfortable right from the outset. A quality stool with good padding is well worth it.
Your bass pedal can also last a lifetime if you get the choice right, and can be adjusted to accommodate your playing style as it evolves. Your chosen pedal should be rugged and customisable. It also goes without saying that is should feel smooth and comfortable to use.
Other elements of hardware to keep in mind are the snare and cymbal stands. Most starter level kits already come with the hardware as part of the package, although it could be upgraded at a later date when you’re ready to progress to something more advanced. As a bare minimum, double braced legs and memory locks should be among the features of your chosen hardware.
You need to make sure that you have enough hardware to accommodate all of the elements of your drum kit, otherwise you’re going to end up with a snare without a home!
Getting The Drum Size Right
If you’re brand new to drumming, you might not be aware that drums come in different sizes, or that it even matters what size drum you invest in. However, it matters a lot.
First of all, you’ll need to determine the number of drums you need and the size you’re looking for. Jazz players will need less kit than someone who wants to play for a metal band. Most starter kits come ready equipped with either five or four drums, and this is a good option for getting started, allowing you to add on more drums at a later date if and when you’re ready.
The standard beginner drum kit comes with a 22” bass drum, three toms measuring 12”, 13” and 16” and a snare drum with a 14” diameter. This setup is flexible and won’t limit you to a single musical style.
A Quality Drum Head
One key factor when buying your first drum kit is how good the drum head quality is. Good drum heads are capable of making even beginner kits sound fantastic.
In general, a thicker drum head will produce a more focused, dark sound with reduced resonance. Meanwhile, thinner drum heads create a brighter sound and more resonance. Thanks to their lighter touch, they’re also perfect for quieter pieces.
The drum head’s coating also has a part to play in how good the drum’s sound is. Coated heads provide a more controlled and darker sound, while clear heads produce bright sounds with extra attack. Usually, players prefer clear heads on toms with coated heads on snares.
Choosing A Kit Which Grows With You
Drum kits are a major investment, and since you’re looking for high quality you need to choose the very best kit you’re able to afford. Choosing a kit which suits your requirements and which feels good to play is important, but you also need to think about choosing a set which is flexible and can grow along with you when you’re ready to progress to the next level.
A Glossary Of Drum Terms
Bass drum – the lowest sounding drum which stands on the floor and is operated with a pedal
Cymbals – disks made from bronze or copper and which produce a crashing sound
Drum head- the membrane which stretches over the drum and which is hit with the drumsticks
Hi-hat – two cymbals set close together and which clash together when a pedal is operated
Snare drum – a smaller drum with wires on the bottom to produce a buzzing sound
Toms – single drums which can be mounted or floor-standing