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Deciding to learn a new instrument such as the drums is the start of an exciting journey. You’ve got the combination of the joy that comes from developing skills and the anticipation of the day you can impress others with your playing. However, before you can even start, you must purchase your starter drums. This process can be overwhelming with the many different options on the market. It can feel like you have to learn everything about the drums before you even hit one.
Keep reading for a complete list of the best beginner drum sets available today, plus everything you need to consider before you make your big purchase.
9 Best Beginner Drum Sets – Starter Kits 2020
1. Pearl Roadshow – Best Overall
With the look and sound of a much more expensive kit, the Pearl Roadshow is the best drum set for beginners on the market today. It brings the quality you’d expect from an established brand like Pearl. Expect this drum kit to grow with you as your skills improve. This set comes complete with everything you need to start playing right out of the box. You’ll have a bass, two toms, a floor tom, a snare drum, and two different types of cymbals. Plus, Pearl includes all the necessary accessories and stands.
Most entry-level set-ups have cymbals that leave you desiring more, but not this one. These cymbals sound good enough for you to perform without purchasing any better models. This benefit saves you money in the long run.
Another plus of purchasing from a respected manufacturer like Pearl is the look and durability of these drums. Because they’re so well-made, expect these instruments to last for years, even with regular rocking out.
2. Gretsch Catalina Club – Runner-Up
The Gretsch Catalina Club is a low cost drum set that has great features. The custom Remo drumheads and quality lugs allow it to deliver great sound and easy tunability. The 8-ply mahogany shells give you a low end punch with an incredible range that make it suitable for a broad range of music styles. So if you like lower-pitched tones in your dum sound this kit is for you.
You also get Gibraltar hardware for your set, which is pretty incredible at its price point. Having quality hardware is important as beginners usually tend to be rough with their drum set. The engraved Gretsch along with the finishes makes it a great sight. While the visual appeal might not seem important, a beautiful drum tends to motivate learners better, especially kids.
The Catalina Club 4-piece Drum Kit is able to deliver quality sound while remaining stable and sturdy. The compact form factor of the Catalina Club makes it suitable for intermediates and prospective touring drummers. If you have just begun to learn drumming and you want a kit that sounds good, costs low, and occupies less space, the Gretsch Catalina will be perfect for you.
3. Tama Club Jam
The Tama Club Jam provides an excellent value for your money and produces sound that is well above its price point for a beginner. The blonde satin shells with dark brown bass drum gives it a vintage look. The bass & floor tom sounds great despite their shallow depths. The mersawa and poplar. It is a bob sized kit that is quite portable. However, cymbals and hardware are not included and need to be purchased separately.
The quality of the kit is great keeping with Tama’s high standard.The retro designed hardware and stunning finishes are incredible to look at. The smaller footprint also makes it great for younger drummers for whom a full sized kit will be too big. The 6-ply 7mm Mersawa / Poplar hybrid drum shells give amazing quality sound that is better than most beginner drum sets in the market. The rich soft high and mid sound is great for some small intimate gigs.
If you are sure about your commitment to drumming, this will be a better starter drum kit than most in the market. This is because usually beginner drum kits have low quality sound and will need to be replaced pretty soon. However, the higher quality of the Club Jam means that you won’t have to upgrade your drum kit for many years.
4. Gammon Percussion
This drum set brings an extra visual flair to your drumming experience. If you’re looking for something special, the Gammon Percussion is sure to make an impression. In this set, you receive all of the drums you need, including a full-sized bass drum. Many beginner sets come designed for children and therefore are smaller.
With this kit, drummers of any age can play comfortably. When you open the box, you’ll have everything you need to start experimenting, including the sticks, cymbal stands, and throne. The cymbals are not the highest quality but work well for home practice. You’ll likely want to upgrade before playing serious gigs.
5. Ludwig Breakbeats
The Ludwig Breakbeats is an excellent choice for beginners who want to buy a kit from an established company without breaking the bank. Also, getting a drum from Ludwig means that you can be assured of quality while also ensuring you have an easy time replacing parts.
The Breakbeats shells are made from 7-ply hardwood which along with clever designs allow this compact kit to feel and sound like a full sized kit. The drums deliver great projection and sound sweet.This will be a great starter drum set as you will be able to grow with the drums and probably won’t have to buy another drumset for many years. The compact size makes it perfect for beginners who want to take up drumming but don’t have a lot of space in their house.
There are a few issues that you might face though. The included drum riser for the bass drum is quite hard to properly position and it can be especially hard for an amateur. While you can buy the breakbeats as a full set with cymbals and hardware, you should avoid it as the included cymbals and hardware are simply not good. Instead buy a shell pack and pick out the hardware and cymbal yourself.
6. Mendini MDS80
When you’re an aspiring drummer with a tight budget, you need quality drums like Mendini MDS80 that won’t break the bank. This set comes with everything you need to start playing as soon as you assemble it. From the seat to the sticks and the cymbal stands, you’ve got all the necessary accessories right in the box. That includes a bass drum, two tom-toms, a snare, a floor tom, a hi-hat, and a crash cymbal.
Though it may not be the most striking set of drums, it won’t become an eyesore in your home. With seven colors to choose from, you’re sure to find the perfect match for your decor. The one downside to this set-up is the cymbals. They’re low-quality and, as a result, don’t have the best sound. You’ll likely want to replace these quickly. However, they’re perfectly adequate for learning.
7. Pearl Export
Sometimes, you just know you’ve found the instrument for you. Maybe you’ve taken lessons to confirm your interest, or perhaps you’ve been dreaming about a set while you bang on every surface around you. When you’re certain drumming will be part of your life for a long time, a more significant initial investment on your instrument might make sense. High-quality drum sets don’t come neatly packaged with everything you need.
Instead, you purchase components that work together well in small groups. In this instance, the Pearl Export kit contains a bass drum, a snare drum, and three different sizes of tom-toms. You’ll purchase your cymbals and accessories separately.
This kit is the best entry-level option for those with a bit of money saved and who are looking to make one purchase that will last a long time. Beginners will be able to grow as musicians with the drums from this set for many years before requiring a new instrument.
8. Ludwig Accent Drive
When choosing an instrument, a brand name makes a difference. A reputable brand ensures quality manufacturing and more reliable customer service. Ludwig has made drums for over 100 years, including for famous musicians like Ringo Starr. You can’t go wrong selecting their drums. The poplar wood gives these drums a bright sound. These drums aren’t putting out dull or flat tones, as you hear in discount set-ups. They ring clear and focused.
This kit is full-sized and includes all of the components you need for your lessons. There’s a bass drum, three toms, a snare drum, and two cymbals. The company also includes sticks, stands, a bass pedal, and a drum key for tuning. You won’t have to spend any additional money to begin mastering your new instrument.
Choosing to invest in a name brand instrument from the start is a wise purchase. If you decide drumming isn’t for you, then your components will maintain a high resale value.
9. Ddrum D120B BR D Series
Research shows that most beginners are more likely to practice on a visually appealing instrument. This bright red drum set with black-coated hardware looks like a much more expensive kit. The Ddrum D120B will only elevate the décor in your home.
A correct initial assembly is a secret to making these instruments sound as good as they look. If you follow the instructions for tuning the heads, you’ll have a set of drums with a sharp, high-quality tone. Your ears will thank you for taking the extra time while you put the drum set together.
Like most of the other drum sets on our list, this package includes everything you need to jump onto the throne and begin making music. You’ve got a full-size bass drum, toms, and a snare, in addition to both a hi-hat and crash cymbal. Eventually, most drummers will want to replace the cymbals with fancier versions.
Buying Your First Drum Kit
In a perfect world, everyone would purchase their starter drum sets at a music store. They could spend hours playing different set-ups or perfecting their stool preferences and would leave the store with a drum kit customized for them. However, this is not a realistic option for most people.
Besides, it’s not always a good idea to spend a lot of money on beginner drum sets. When you’re learning, you don’t know your style or which size bass drum works best for you. That’s why it’s important to shop around for the best deal on your new kit.
Online retailers have less overhead than retail stores. This means they can offer quality instruments at a fraction of the price. These savings help new players leap confidently into drumming.
When purchasing a drum set online, carefully read what comes in the box. You want to know what you get so that you can compare it fairly with your other options. Also, check the return policy to ensure that you can send it back if it doesn’t work for you.
How to Choose a Beginner Drum Set
There are many variables to choosing the perfect beginner drum set. For example, the size of the stool and drums is larger for adults than that for a young drummer. Related to that you can check out the list of the junior drum sets.
There are so many technical terms and so much industry jargon that it’s hard to understand what exactly you’re purchasing with your beginner drum set. Read our full guide for setting up a drum it for beginners.
Below, we’ve explained all of the crucial decisions you’ll make when purchasing a starter drum set.
Consider Price and Quality
Typically, higher quality items cost more than those manufactured with flimsy materials or imprecise methods. That trend holds for drums as well. if you’re looking to buy only the cheapest beginner drum kits, read this article too.
However, that’s not always a deal-breaker. Often, a starter set is capable of growing with you as you improve and become more confident in your unique style.
As long as the bodies of the instruments themselves are solid, then it’s easy to replace the drumheads with improved versions. Better sounding cymbals will fit on your existing stands, which brings down the cost of the new ones.
To optimize your investment and save money in the long run, find a balance between an affordable entry-level cost and a set’s ability to grow with you.
Remember Floor Space and Size
Drum kits take up a significant amount of real estate in your home, so it’s essential to have a plan for where you’ll put your drums. Measure the area carefully and leave room for you to move comfortably both for walking around the drums and while you’re playing.
If you’re in a cramped living situation, consider a junior or electronic kit.
In a junior kit, the bass drum and toms are slightly smaller than standard. Petite adults have no problems playing these set-ups comfortably. Even slightly narrower drums save significant space.
Electronic drum kits always take up less floor room than acoustic set-ups. You can work them into the corner of any room. Better yet, they store compactly and efficiently. You can put them into a closet or stow them out of the way when they’re not in use.
Research the Drum Hardware
Often, manufacturers include less sturdy hardware in starter drum packages to keep the price down. It’s common for the instruments themselves to be high-quality from respected brands, while the accompanying stands might be hastily produced knock-offs.
Even purchasing online, you can check the durability of the hardware. If a stand is going to hold up to years of rocking out, each leg should have two pieces. If it doesn’t, you’ll have to invest in new stands shortly down the road.
Stands with only one piece of metal per leg are called “one-ply.” They are not as strong. Furthermore, this style of stand tends to use less durable connections. A stand that uses wing nuts to adjust the height will not last long.
Look for Bundled Hardware
Sometimes, companies offer packages to facilitate a bulk buying experience for beginner drum sets. If you purchase multiple items together, they will be cheaper than if you buy them individually. These options can make it easier to have all of the components you want now, instead of waiting to slowly grow your collection as your budget allows.
Be careful to check that every part of the package is a quality item you want. Manufacturers will try to sneak in one-ply or lower-level options as a way to keep the price low.
The drums that have unique pitches are called either toms or tom-toms. These drums circle the three main elements described above. Typically, the smallest and highest-pitched tom attaches to the bass drum and sits close to the snare. They wrap around to the lowest tom that will have a stand on the floor to accommodate its larger size.
Beginners are fine with two or three tom-toms. As you improve, you may find that you want more. But a larger number can be confusing at the start.
Even with the hi-hat, drum sets are not complete without a few extra cymbals. They add a depth and tone which drums alone cannot achieve. Most beginners will want both a ride and a crash cymbal. The ride cymbal creates a lighter “whoosh” sound while the crash is the traditional loud ring.
Acoustic vs. Electric
One of the main decisions when buying your first drum kit is to choose between an electric and acoustic drum set. Both have their pros and cons. The best choice is the one that works with your living situation and playing goals. Read our detailed article on the difference between acoustic vs electric drums.
Electric drum kits are ideal for those living in small spaces or with others in the house. They’re quieter, take up less space, and are more affordable. For most people, this is a great place to start while you develop your preferences and see if this is an instrument that sticks. If they end up in a closet, they’ll fit nicely out of the way.
However, if you’ve been playing for a while or have space for it, you cannot beat the sound and feel of an acoustic set. Most of the sets we’ve covered here are acoustic.
If you’re looking for the best beginner drum set, purchase the Pearl Roadshow. It has a quality sound that you’d only expect from a much more costly set-up. These drums will grow with you as your skills and style improve. If you’re on a budget, then Mendini MDS80 is the right choice for you. Though you’ll likely want to replace the cymbals quickly, this is a great value way to begin drumming at home.
Whichever set of drums you choose, remember to pay close attention to the bonus components in the package. Avoid one-ply stands or chintzy adjustment points. Replacing those out of necessity will eat into your budget for drum additions and other more important tools.