When many people think of the instrument they’d most like to learn, drums are near the top of the list. Unlike stringed instruments like the guitar and ukulele, learning to play the drums is much more physical and emotional. It’s less about learning finger placements, notes, and chords, and more about jumping into the action right away.
If you have a love for creating beats and rhythms or if you are constantly fidgeting with your hands all day, then learning the drums is perfect for you!
Once you have your heart set on the drums, what comes next is picking out the best drum kit for a beginner, and we’re here to help you with that decision.
Since we’re talking about beginner instruments, we’re going to keep our price limit at $500. This is a much bigger budget than what’s required for other beginner instruments, but that’s because drum kits have so many more components that it requires a bigger investment.
What Makes Up a Drum Kit?
A drum kit can really be any size you wish by adding or removing pieces to suite your needs. That being said, the most common setup, especially for beginners, is a 5-piece drum set.
The “5 pieces” refer to the snare drum, three different sized tom-tom drums (or just “toms”), and a bass drum that sits vertically on the floor. Drum kits also typically have metal symbols such as a hi-hat and a crash-ride.
All of the components are struck by drumsticks, with the exception of the bass drum which is struck using a foot pedal. The hi-hat can be struck with a drum stick, but it also has a foot pedal which can be used to strike the two symbols together, making sound, or to open/close the hi-hat to produce different sounds when it’s struck with a drum stick.
The below image shows a top-down view of what a five piece drum set would look like with additional cymbals added in.
What Makes a Drum Kit Great?
When it comes to ranking drum kits, it really comes down to how much value the kit offers. This means comparing the quality of the drum kit to the cost, and making a decision that fits your needs the best.
All of the drum sets we choose will make excellent beginner drum kits, so have no fear. You just need to consider which kit suits you the best, how much you’re willing to pay, etc.
Top 5 Beginner Drum Kits
1. Pearl Roadshow
When it comes to drums, Pearl is one of the most widely respected brands in the game. That’s why it’s shocking to some people that they offer an entry level kit for under $500!
The Pearl Roadshow is the perfect intersection of high quality materials and price tag.
The cymbal, hi-hat, and snare drum all feature double-braced legs to keep them standing strong and steady during ever the hardest of sets.
The snare drum is one of the most important components of the drum kit, and this one performances excellent regardless of loud or soft notes being played.
These drums feature high-quality 9 ply 7mm shells (the thickest and best of any drum kit on this list), 16″ crash-ride cymbal, 14″ hi-hat, 10″ tom, 12″ tom, 16″ tom, 22″ bass drum, chain-drive bass drum pedal, small drum throne, and maple drum sticks. Everything you need to get started.
The kit comes with a limited 2 year warranty and is available in 4 different configurations – fusion, jazz, new fusion, and rock. If you’re not sure what configuration suits you best, we recommend you go with New Fusion if you think you will play a wide variety of music, or Rock if you think you’ll only mostly rock music.
Check out the video below to hear this drum in action.
Read more about our pick for the best drums for beginners!
2. ddrum D120b
Another hugely successful drum manufacturer, ddrum, offers a high quality 5-piece drum kit in the D120b. It’s worth noting that the D120b can usually be found for $50-100 less than the Pearl Roadshow, which makes it an excellent cheaper drum kit option for those on a strict budget.
The construction of the drums is 6 ply, with the bass drum being 8 ply, so not quite the thickness of the Roadshows 9 ply.
The D120b features a 10″ tom, 12″ tom, 14″ tom, 14″ snare, and 20″ bass. It also includes a 14″ hi-hat and 16″ crash-ride cymbal. It also comes with a cheap pair of drum sticks and a small drum throne.
Overall, we like the D120b for the sound it produces for the price point it’s at. While it’s not quite as nice as the Pearl Roadshow, it’s still an amazing value worthy of the #2 spot on our list.
Check more reviews for the ddrum D120b!
3. Alesis Nitro Kit
We’re switching it up here at the #3 spot and going to suggest you check out an electronic drum kit! We have an entire article dedicated to the best electronic drum kits, and we think they’re so awesome they deserve a spot on this list as well.
Electronic drums have a few big advantages over standard acoustic drums. To name a few –
- You can practice more without disturbing others
- They take up less space and are easier to transport
- You can change the sound of your drums to nearly limitless configurations without spending a penny more
These benefits are especially great for beginners and people living in apartments or with family that wouldn’t be able to stand hearing the drums being played for hours as you practice.
The Alesis Nitro Kit comes with a bass drum and kick pedal, 10″ hi-hat, 10″ crash, and 10″ ride cymbal. It also has four 8″ rubber pads, 1 snare and 3 toms. It’s basically the same setup as a 5 piece drum kit with an extra cymbal.
The electronic module on this kit will allow you to change the sounds of each component, for example switching between a jazz setup and a rock setup in seconds. You can output the sound to headphones for practice, or through an amplifier for performances. You can also record your jams directly from the module without the need for microphones!
You can hear the amazing sounds this kit is capable of below with a hip-hop style sound kit.
Read more about the Alesis Nitro drum kit for beginners.
4. Gammon Percussion 5 Piece Drum Set
If you’re looking for a really cheap drum set for beginners that still delivers a playable experience, then this Gammon Percussion drum set should be what you’re after. You can usually pick up this drum kit for only $250, making it a perfect Christmas present that can introduce your child to drumming without breaking the bank.
This kit comes with all the components you need to get started, including a 22″ bass drum, 14″ snare, two 10″ toms, 16″ tom, 12″ hi-hat, and 14″ crash-ride cymbal. It also includes a drum throne, drum sticks, and bass drum pedal.
With this drum set, you’re obviously going to get what you pay for. It’s not going to sound as good as either of the top options that are made by more respected manufacturers, but you’re still going to get a drum set that a beginner can learn and grow on. Eventually you can give this kit a big upgrade by purchasing some new cymbals which would make a big difference in the overall sound quality.
Check the price on this cheap drum set for beginners.
5. Gammon Percussion 5 Piece Drum Set
Our final pick for the best drum kits for beginners is the Mendini MDS80. This is another drum kit that falls into the very cheap catagory, often available for under $250, but from a relatively unknown manufacturer.
Once again, you’re not going to get the same performance as you would from the Pearl or ddrum kits, but this is still a serviceable drum kit to learn on.
The MDS80 comes with a 22″ bass drum, 12″ tom, 13″ tom, 16″ tom, 14″ snare, 14.5″ hi-hat, and 16″ crash-ride cymbal.
This kit does also include a small drum throne, bass pedal, and sticks, so it’s all ready to play once you assemble it at home.
Check the price on this cheap drum set for beginners.
Other Drumming Components
Two things every drummer needs – a great drum throne and a set of drumsticks. These are included in the kits above, but you’ll probably want to upgrade at some point.
A drum thone is the stool that a drummer sits on while they perform, but it’s really much more than a basic stool. Drum thrones are designed to be comfortable for extended use.
Drum thrones are also much more stable than a standard stool and the seat swivels, allowing you to shift around your drum set easily.
Drumsticks may be included in your kit, but there’s a lot to learn about drum sticks. You can start with our guide to drumsticks to learn about the differences and variety out there.
When it comes to learning to play the drums, there’s many different methods you can try. The most effective methods are getting in-person lessons, video lessons, and lots of practice!
You can check in with a local music shop for teacher recommendations, but those can be more costly than a beginner wants to spend just to get started. A more affordable option is using an online video service such as Drumeo.
Drumeo is an incredibly useful and in-depth drum lesson service for people of all skill levels. The lessons are taught by highly respected and award winning drummers, so you can be certain you’re learning the very best techniques. Read our full length Drumeo Edge review for all the details.
Drumeo also covers every possible genre you could be interested in, lets you track your learning progress, gives you play along songs, and much more. 1 year of Drumeo is less than the cost of a month of in-person drumming lessons, so it’s the perfect way to affordable learn drumming!
Take drumming lessons from the top experts in the industry.